By Julie Ann
On a recent trip to Aulani in Ko’Olina, Hawaii, I was fortunate enough to scope out their on-property restaurants. While meals can get rather pricey, it’s a good idea to try each of them at least once, before heading to lower cost restaurants at surrounding hotels or to make meals in your room.
Now you should be aware that our reservations were made MONTHS in advance. As any frequent Disney visitor will tell you, the 180 day reservation policy is there for a reason. You can easily make reservations on Aulani’s web site, where there is also a place to enter if you are celebrating anything on the trip – code word: FREE DESSERT! We saw countless people get turned away and become quite angry when told that there were no reservations available during their stay, and the resort was only about 30% full at this time. If you can imagine this resort when the second phase is open in 2013, you know you’ll need to hit that 180 day window.
On the first day of arrival, we headed for dinner at AMA AMA – one of the two restaurants on the property. When you make your reservation, you can request to sit at a table with a view, which is precisely what we did.
However, most of the open air restaurant does have a view of the Ko’Olina lagoon.
With drink prices ringing in at about $14 for a Pineapple Cosmo, we each had one delicious drink before ordering.
I ordered this selection of appetizers.
- Hawaiian Apple Banana and Maui Onion Soup Au Gratin $12– EXCELLENT
- Kalua Pig Rillettes with Manchego Cheese Croquettes, Serrano Ham, and Romesco Sauce EXCELLENT, but tiny tiny for $16
- Hamakua Mushroom Tart with Baby Arugula, Coriander Crème Fraîche, and Parmesan, $16 – Good.
My boyfriend ordered the Salt Crusted Fish of the Day. It was very good, but for the price, you could have ordered a filet of beef and been much more satisfied.
The service was quick but generally lacked personality. Although they did send me a small birthday dessert, the cake that was ordered for the occasion was not delivered. We received it during check out upon asking, but really, this was just a very small upset on the trip. Above all, this restaurant is ok and the atmosphere trumps anything else. However, for the price, the food was not anything that special. We did go back for breakfast, which was a much better idea.
For breakfast, AMA AMA was practically empty and the food was wonderful!! Here’s what we had.
- We shared a Hawaiian pastry basket – with delicious Guava Fans – $8
- A 100% Kona coffee press pot – $9.50
- POG (passion, orange, guava) juice, Chocolate Milk-dipped Haupia (Coconut) Bread French Toast – stuffed with Bananas and Peanut Butter- $15.00
- Belgian Waffle with Pineapple Chutney and Coconut Syrup – $13.
It was wonderful; however, our server lacked that certain “Aloha” that we had become accustomed to during our stay.
Every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, Makahiki, Aulani’s other restaurant, holds a Character Buffet Breakfast. Again, book this way in advance. We watched parents fighting the hostess for a seat, and this is not an exaggeration. For $32 per adult or $18 for kids age 9 and under, you are treated to bountiful buffet. You really need to try the guava fan pastries and the POG (passion, orange, guava) juice.
Familiar Disney friends Goofy, Mickey and Minnie are available for photos. “Auntie,” who is a Hawaiian Grandmother figure, is also prominent at the breakfast, playing songs with her ukulele and encouraging young ones to participate in games and dances.
I must say that the entire resort evokes a curiosity of learning more about Hawaiian language and culture. This breakfast teaches patrons Hawaiian words, and the servers are more than happy to explain local birds and foliage that you see. The buffet was great, and we even returned for a buffet dinner on Valentine’s Day – outstanding!
If you are lucky enough to be at Aulani for a holiday, be on the lookout for holiday-themed meals. We were treated to buffet items such as Dark Chocolate Rubbed Prime Rib and countless Valentine desserts. Also a bonus is that Photo Pass is available all throughout the resort and the restaurant, capturing those magic moments with Disney characters.
So treat yourself to a meal at these two restaurants at Aulani. You’ll get a taste of the island with great service, and a touch of Disney. Just remember to think like you’re going to Disney World and book your meals way in advance. At the current time, there is no penalty for canceling reservations, so plan away!
Curious about traveling to Disney’s Aulani Resort? Be sure to read my article detailing everything wonderful Aulani has to offer. Move Over Waikiki: Three Reasons to Drop Everything and Head to Disney’s Aulani!
Visit www.aulani.com for more information, and thanks for stopping by for a photographical Disney ride.
Julie Ann lives in Connecticut with her boyfriend and her two dogs. When she isn’t working her day job, she is planning for her next Disney trip and writing for her blog, To A T Travel (http://toattravel.blogspot.com. She has been to Walt Disney World countless times over the past 30 years and looks forward to Dole Whip each time. Her favorite park is Epcot and her newest favorite location is Aulani.
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