By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
Ambiance, elegance, and…kids. If you think you can’t have them all when it comes to dining out, give Kona Grill a try. We were invite to check out the new Kona Grill at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia, today, and it was a nice surprise! I had heard of Kona Grill but had not yet visited any of its restaurants (in Northern Virginia, there is another one in Arlington).
What I found was a nice restaurant that combines elegance with comfort, ambiance with fun, and grown-up options with a kid-friendly vibe. The restaurant has an 800-gallon fish tank at the entrance, a nice “water wall,” modern decor, and comfortable seating.
The enormous tank is the centerpiece of the entrance. If you’re lucky enough, you can get a table that is near both the tank and the water wall.
The water wall is always in motion, which provides a nice, soothing ambiance. You will feel like you are dining near the coast, near the deep blue sea, even though you are, of course, in what I like to call “deep suburbia.”
For my meal, though, I stuck with “turf” instead of surf and went with the restaurant’s popular Macadamia Nut Chicken, which pairs a panko-breadcrumb crusted split chicken breast with Japanese shoyu cream sauce. This dish was mild and tasty comfort food and SO delicious! The chicken was tender and juicy and the flavor combination nice. I think next time I’ll request more sauce (even though it’s tasty) as I like sauces only as a light accent, though.
For an appetizer, I had the house salad, which was heartier than I had expected, with bleu cheese and a good mix of veggies. Although I had forgotten to ask for sauce on the side (I always feel restaurants put way too much), I was pleasantly surprised to find that even mixed in already, they didn’t overdo it with the dressing (an onion-soy vinaigrette that is not at all tart). The Kona Grill menu offers a nice mix of entrees, sandwiches, soups, salad, sushi, seasonal specials, and desserts.
Our son had the kids meal cheeseburger, which was a nice sandwich, not your second-rate burger that kids often get. This was a four-ounce quality burger with cheddar, served — as all Kona kids’ meals are — in a nice bento box with the restaurant’s signature decoration of a fresh orange cut up to resemble a bear.
Here is the bear-making in action:
You actually can see most of the kitchen action thanks to the restaurant’s open design:
Other kids’ meal choices were nice. You’ll find “the usual suspects” — burgers, pizzas, grilled cheese, chicken tenders — but also more sophisticated choices such as salmon, sushi, and chicken satay. Each meal comes with a two sides, and the selection was great: 10 options including salad, mac and cheese, shrimp and pork friend rice, sweet potato fries, and soybeans. Another twist on kiddie options: you won’t find paper menus and crayons here, but good ol’ fashioned Etch-a-Sketch devices that kids can play with before or during the meal — if they can take them away from nostalgic adults, that is!
Thanks to Kona Grill for inviting us!
Disclosure: We were invited to bring our families to try out the restaurant. No other compensation was received and this review was not required; I share it, with my own opinions, for the benefit of my readers.
All photos (c) P. Hall