KONA GRILL - IT’S WHAT YOU DO
by Andrew Chalk
Where to eat when it’s Superbowl and Valentine’s Day weekend? Kona Grill is a great choice. There is the comfortable upscale dining room, edged with punchy decor like those eye-catching chandeliers above. The expansive patio with fire pits for an al fresco experience over cocktails. Or the bar, snuggled horseshoe-shaped, around the big screen TVs to watch the game.
Small wonder they were so popular on Superbowl Sunday! But I don’t want to overlook the food and beverages as they will still be the biggest draw every weekend.
I was at a media event where we started with a couple of appetizers. Kona Calamari ($18) which pairs the familiar battered squid with spicy aioli dipping sauce. I was so keen to get a piece of it I drowned a couple of pieces in the sauce in my haste. What a way to go. Avocado Egg Rolls ($17) is an absolute Mona Lisa of an appetizer right down to the smile the overfilled egg rolls resemble weighed down by the mashed avocado. The crisp skin and earthy center are contrasting food pairing at its finest. They come paired with a honey-cilantro dipping sauce that gives the distinctive taste of cilantro a softer edge.
I cheated a bit with mains. The special Valentine’s Weekend menu disappears on Tuesday. If you can get in today opt for the Salmon Crudo ($28) telegenically designed by execuchef Brandon Booth. Those are watermelon radish wings set atop Scottish salmon on a wonton chip with a kiss of sea salt and drizzle of yuzu ponzu and ume mayo. It tastes as good as it looks. Gloriously crunchy and salmon flavored at the same time.
The Moll picked Macadamia Nut Chicken ($27), a dish that General Manager Chase Decker says is one of the most popular. I can see why. The breaded chicken cutlet is served on a bed of miso whipped potatoes with a fruity pineapple-papaya marmalade and a side of broccolini. Shoyu cream is drizzled as a sauce on top. The earthy nuttiness of the breading persists pleasantly on the palate in the same way as the finish on a wine. This dish is on the perennial menu so you don’t have to worry about it vaporizing after Valentine’s Day.
A large selection of cocktails is available at $15 each. With 10 saké choices the menu stands apart from most in town. There is a large selection of beers but, with over 60 breweries now in DFW, one would hope they add a couple of local choices. Wines are mainly domestic. I had a Raeburn Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley that was in the rich, oaky, tropical fruit laden New World style. Ideal with the crudo.
Kona’s final act was a dessert of creamy New York Cheesecake ($15), from the Valentine’s Weekend menu, with a potent raspberry coulis and two chocolate covered strawberries. The ideal way to end.
A good evening can be had by you too! Kona Grill has two locations in the DFW area. We went to the Plano location. The other is in Dallas.