Review: Kona Grill at The Village, Meridian

Apr 19, 2014 by     4 Comments    Posted under: Boise, Idaho, Restaurants, Reviews

Only about 6 months late, I finally made it into Kona Grill for a review.  They opened day one with The Village at Meridian’s grand opening.  I was at that opening ribbon cutting, and peaked inside Kona Grill to see their extravagant decor.  Just look at this place!

Kona Grill Entry

Kona Grill Entry

Kona Grill Bar

Kona Grill Bar

Kona Grill Sushi Bar

Kona Grill Sushi Bar

Kona Grill Open Kitchen

Kona Grill Open Kitchen

Kona Grill Fish Tank

Kona Grill Fish Tank

It looked fancy, and the menu sounded good, but too many other priorities in life have been keeping me away.  Finally, I had the chance to dine at Kona Grill when choosing a business lunch setting the other week.  My experience was very pleasing, so I returned again to write this review.

Soft-shell Crab Po Boy Sliders at Kona Grill

As I surveyed the menu, this little gem stood out with glaring resonance.  Soft-shell Crab Po Boy Sliders!  Deep fried soft-shell crab, andouille sausage, and grilled pineapple, all served on a bun with a spicy chili mayo. ….does it get any more Bald Gourmet than that?

Kona Grill Soft Shell Crab Po Boy

Kona Grill Soft Shell Crab Po Boy

This thing was awesome!  The soft shell crab was very large, crunchy, fresh tasting, and perfectly seasoned.  There’s not really a lot of flavor with soft shell crab, but what it does provide is a perfectly mild taste of the ocean.  Very nice on a sandwich like this.  The andouille sausage was a perfect pairing with it.  It was a little bit smokey, a little bit spicy, and had all the flavors the crab didn’t.  The grilled sweet pineapple was a nice touch, and helped to mellow the flavors out to an enjoyable blend of sweet, salty, and savory.  But the assembly Kona Grill chose of half sausage, half pineapple under the crab was a bit stupid because I could never get a complete bite of all the flavors.  This Po Boy would have been much better with a full layer of sausage and pineapple, but regardless, this sandwich was still exceptional.

Kona Grill Soft Shell Crab Po Boy Sausage and Pineapple

Kona Grill Soft Shell Crab Po Boy Sausage and Pineapple

The spicy mayo was very spicy.  It burned, but was a nice combo with everything else.  I loved this sandwich and haven’t had anything else like it elsewhere.

Beef Bulgogi Tacos

As if Kona Grill new who they would be serving, they just introduced these tacos onto their menu the same week I came in to write a review.  I am a slut for Korean bulgogi.  To put it on a taco was pure genius.  There really was no option; I had to order them.  And I’m quite glad that I did.  They really were quite nice.  They were very rich though, so it’s no wonder they put them on their appetizer menu.

Kona Grill Bulgogi Tacos

Kona Grill Bulgogi Tacos

The bulgogi was good, and was heavily flavored.  It wasn’t nearly as good as traditional bulgogi I’ve had at home, but good none the less.  It had a nice rich beef flavor with strong soy tones, deep oil taste, and a touch of sweet 5 spice to lighten things up.  It also had Korean gochujang chili paste, which is traditionally served along side bulgogi, already in the marinade (or so it seemed).  This was a nice touch and ensured that each bite had a good balance of everything.

Kona Grill Bulgogi Tacos Close Up

Kona Grill Bulgogi Tacos Close Up

An interesting concept was the taco shell, which was made out of filo dough.  It was unique, and actually worked amazingly well.  It was very crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and all the layers of it worked well to soak up the juices of the taco.

The tacos were topped with a colorful and crisp Asian slaw that had carrots, red cabbage, red bell peppers, white cabbage, and cilantro in it; all seasoned with a bit of soy sauce, vinegar, and a 5 spice flare from hoisin sauce.  It was pretty good stuff that helped to mellow the richness of the bulgogi.  What a great fusion taco.  I hope Kona Grill decides to keep these tacos on the menu for a long while to come.

Spicy Korean Tuna Roll

Sticking with my Korean them, I also ordered the Spicy Korean Tuna Roll, another brand new menu item.  It sounded so good, and paired with my tacos perfectly.  But it was a total disappointment.

Kona Grill Spicy Korean Sushi Roll

Kona Grill Spicy Korean Sushi Roll

The menu said, “green onion, gochujang sauce, sprouts, cucumber, and smelt roe.”  That sounded like there would be tons of flavor, but the strongest flavor I got was from the sprouts.  Those were some good sprouts, but come on!  I couldn’t taste the chili paste at all.  The presentation wasn’t even exciting.  What the heck?  Lame.  But I will say that the sushi seemed very fresh and high quality.  I’m guessing that a lot of their other rolls are exceptional.  I think I just chose poorly.  Unlike the Korean tacos, let’s hope this sushi roll doesn’t last.

Recommendation of Kona Grill

To be fair, I’ve only been to Kona Grill twice now, and only during lunch hours.  I look forward to trying their dinner menu, but based on my experience with their lunch items, I definitely recommend dining at Kona Grill.  The ambiance is beautiful, the menu creative, and the food pretty dang tasty.  Not perfect, but quite delicious.
Kona Grill on Urbanspoon

The Bald Gourmet enjoys some unique dining options at Kona Grill, including Soft Shell Sliders and Korean Tacos.

 

4 Comments + Add Comment

  • I like soft shells. We usually just dust them in seasoned flour and sauté in oil with a little garlic. The flavor is mild. I wouldn’t think to bury it with Andouille and pineapple. The other stuff looks good. H Mart, the Korean Super Market chain hasn’t made it to you yet but they are in quite a few states. They have pork ,beef and spicy beef bulgogi marinated and ready for a quick sear at home. YUM.
    My wife and I were at a farm stand in Doylestown ,PA yesterday for my only local source of stone ground grits from Castle Valley Mill. They had raw milk in the old style glass bottles. I was too far from home with no refrigeration so next time I’ll bring a cooler.
    Shrimp and grits is on the menu with U15s from Costco.

    • Jeff, you’re a man after my own heart. Stone ground grits and giant shrimp for dinner…..nice! That’s a meal I may have to do soon myself. Wishing I had an H Mart in Idaho. I need a store like that here. I loved the giant Japanese and Chinese stores in Portland when I lived there. There were always so many delicious things to be found there! Anyway, keep eating happy my friend.

  • Thanks for the review and pictures. Wondered if we should wander out to Meridian one evening and try Kona or Twigs Bistro. Several months ago we went to an afternoon movie on a Saturday and thought we would check out the options for dinner afterwards. That turned out to not be possible…every restaurant we considered had an hour wait + at 6PM. I have to admit to limited dining at chain restaurants, preferring to support the locals. But this is one I will try one day when it is less busy. When I think back over the last six months, the best meal I had in the Boise area was at Cafe Vicino. We were there on a spring evening a few weeks back and had the most wonderful halibut with fiddlehead ferns. That restaurant keeps putting out some of the best seasonal food in Boise. If you haven’t been in a while…. And a location I am keeping an eye on. The Kind Cafe (the people who owned the Koffee Klatsch downtown) was ready to open in the Collister Center next to Green Chutes, when they posted an announcement that they were moving a few stores down. Wondering what is going into the Green Chutes/Salt Tears location. Hope it will be a restaurant as our neighborhood is in an underserved area of
    Boise. Thanks for providing a local food column!

    • Hi Joan. Thanks for commenting. I feel the same way about chain restaurants, though I will admit that I stay away from them more for their lack of serving good food than I do for a desire to support the “local guys”. Local support is important though, and it’s nice to find the locals doing a better job than the chain enterprise. I think you will like the food at Kona Grill though. Pretty tasty for a chain. I think you’ve mentioned Cafe Vicino to me a couple times now. I haven’t been there, but need to go give them a try. You had me at fiddleheads! Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll let you know what I think.

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I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.

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