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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: Family Style Feast for the Family by the Family

by Reuben Gutierrez

21 June 2013

Author's note: This week we celebrate Who's Who Wednesday's author Erik Anderson! Our resident Disney character expert has recently covered such beloved Disney characters like Lilo Pelekai from 2002's Lilo and Stitch who is also a frequent visitor to Erik's favorite Walt Disney World restaurant 'Ohana.

I lai la
Ua i la
No mala hini ohana
Welcome cousins, e komo mai
Aloha e komo mai

Meeting Minnie at Ohana

In 1993, Minnie Mouse welcomed my cousins, my family, and all her guests to a 'French Colonial' restaurant called the Papeete Bay Verandah at the Polynesian Village Resort. While such details weren't retracted from my memory, the experience is one of my strongest memories: having breakfast with my brother, sister, and nearly all my cousins along with Minnie and her friends. Being one of the first Disney Character meals (and the first of my life), Minnie's Menehune Breakfast included a buffet meal with visits from all her friends decked out in colorful Hawaiian vacation attire. While the Papeete Bay Verandah served plenty of Walt Disney World guests, the winds of change closed its doors in the fall of 1994. When it finally reopened, it would become one of the most popular dining locations on property as 'Ohana.


'Ohana at breakfast time is pretty much the same as the Papeete Bay Verandah, though this time Lilo and Stitch join Minnie and Mickey. While the food is given Hawaiian names, it is generally a standard American breakfast of eggs, meat, potatoes and breads. At dinnertime, the menu takes leaps and bounds to an incredible Polynesian feast served family-style. The themes of family make guests feel right at home, even if they didn't grow up in a tropical house with a 16-foot long pit of fire in their kitchen. Everyone is family, as the restaurant name suggests, so your seater, server, cooks, and even the guests around you are all your cousins.

Ohana bread
Ohana food
Cousin Ava presents the dessert we'll be having that day and gathers our bread for our meal

After being seated, another cousin comes along to take your drink order and soon they just don't stop coming with platters and enormous skewers of food. There is no menu to order from, other than the list of dishes posted at the restaurant entrance. Cousins just come along and bring you course after course. Where else will you find family this eager to serve you?

Pineapple Coconut Bread at Ohana

When seated, your family is welcomed with amazing Pineapple Coconut bread, fresh and warm out of the oven.

Appetizers at Ohana

Appetizers arrive in rapid succession with such delectable treats as Mixed Greens with a Mango-Poppy Seed dressing, Honey Coriander Chicken Wings, Pork fried dumplings, and pineapple.

Appetizers at Ohana

Soon, entr'e accompaniments join the party: egg noodles with pineapple in a peanut sauce and stir fried vegetables.

Ohana fire pit
The Fire Pit!

Skewers at Ohana

Then the main attraction: oak fired skewers of chicken, pork, steak, and shrimp. The chicken is simply seasoned and oak grilled. The sirloin steak in a flavorful marinade was one of my favorites. Pork Loin is prepared in an Asian Barbecue style and giant shrimp is grilled spicy.

Skewers at Ohana

Dipping sauces at Ohana

Another nice touch is a trio of dipping sauces to enhance your feast: House-made Peanut sauce, Chimichurri Sauce, and Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce. According to my research, recent guests report the sauces have been reduced to only the house-made peanut sauce. Hopefully this is only temporary as all the sauces were incredible!

I've eaten at 'Ohana only twice, my first almost 10 years ago (wow!) being a memorable blur of food with my immediate family; the second was last year with my self-proclaimed 'ohana circle of friends. I had to rush to work right after (those were the days I worked overnight), so the meal already felt rushed, but I remember everything coming out so quick. My friends told Cousin Chris the situation and he made sure the meal came out with enough time for me to get to work!

'Ohana isn't just about the feast, it's about time with the family. Evening entertainment includes live musicians and coconut races for the kids. Probably the best part about eating dinner at 'Ohana (or any Magic Kingdom resort restaurant around the Seven Seas Lagoon) is that if timed right, you have a wonderful far off view of the evening's fireworks show. The music is played in the restaurant itself, creating a magical beginning, middle, or end to your meal.

Ohana pineapple drink
Cousin Kayleigh shows off her Beverage in a Pineapple!

In case you haven't realized, 'ohana is the Hawaiian word for family, and 'Ohana the restaurant does a terrific job in making sure that theme is clear. Family isn't just a classification of human beings related to each other. In addition to its literal meaning, family could apply to a group of friends, a group of coworkers, or even a group of strangers experiencing something terrific in the same moment. Family isn't just a group of people; it's togetherness, it's sharing, it's a feeling.



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