Kona Grill Chef AndrewThe Divas traveled to Clay Terrace to test the culinary limits of one of Carmel’s hippest restaurants, Kona Grill. Open since November of 2004, Kona Grill claims to put an exciting twist on American cuisine. Prepared daily are over 40 sauces made from scratch, which bring incredible variety to the vast array of delicious appetizers and entrees. Several signature dishes are offered, such as the Macadamia Nut Chicken, Sweet Chili Glazed Salmon and Kona`s Big Island Meatloaf. Also served is award-winning sushi, hand-crafted daily by talented sushi chefs at the elegant sushi bar, which is located right next to colorful exotic fish in a mesmerizing 2,000 gallon seawater aquarium.

The décor, while definitely swank and modern, will make you feel like you have just traveled to the Orient. One can chose to dine at the sushi bar, the large, open dining room – which is suitable for larger groups and families – or the heated outdoor patio. Also available is the start-of-the-art private dining room, which offers a 52-inch plasma TV, a sound system with a CD player, PC connections to TVs for presentations, high-speed internet access, a large, adjustable mahogany dining table and a one-way mirror partition for complete privacy.

Kona Grill Sushi BarAfter taking in the lush surroundings and being greeted by our waiter Marc, we perused the menu and found a large selection of seafood, meat and pasta dishes, all in a moderate price range. Kona Grill also has an equally impressive wine and drink selection. The Divas ordered a selection of drinks and wines, as well as a few appetizers. We sampled two sushi rolls, the California Roll and Spider Roll, as well as Tuna Wasabi (spicy tuna and avocado wrapped in a flour tortilla, flash friend, and served with wasabi sour cream, pico de gallo and shrimp and pork friend rice) and the Avocado Egg Roll (sun-dried tomatoes and red onions, with a honey-cilantro dipping sauce). The sushi was delicious, the tuna was surprisingly zesty and the Avocado Egg Roll was excellent.

As we were preparing to make our main course selections, Assistant Manager Jay Prouty came over to greet us. He went into great detail about specific dishes and informed us that any sushi item could be made to our personal specifications. Our waiter Marc was also instrumental in helping us narrow down the large menu to make our dinner selections. We chose the Baked Sea Bass, which is prepared in a Miso sake marinade and served with shrimp and pork friend rice and Szechwan beans; the House Salad with Macadamia Nut Chicken; the Big Island Meatloaf (angus beef, sweet Italian and Andouille sausage served with a mushroom ragu, white cheddar mashed potatoes and wok tossed veggies); Sweet-Chili Glazed Salmon; the Soft Shell Crab Roll; Catapillar Roll; and a Nigiri Tuna. The Meatloaf, Sea Bass and Salmon were huge hits. All three had a wonderful mix of flavors, and it’s clear why they are house specials. The salad with Macadamia encrusted chicken, and it took three attempts for the kitchen to deliver the salad with the dressing on the side. While Marc was extremely attentive, the promise from the general manager that sushi can be custom made fell short, due to the fact that meals are served to patrons by restaurant employees other than the original waitstaff, who are most likely unaware if they are delivering meals that do not met that specifications of the diner.

Jay Prouty at Kona GrillOverall, the main courses were well received; however, there are a few kinks in the system that Kona will need to work out to obtain optimum success. Kona Grill also offers a children’s menu for those families with younger diners.

Dining Divas almost never pass up dessert, so we selected the Ultimate Fudge Brownie, with vanilla bean cream, chocolate sauce and caramel sauce, served with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious and large enough for all of us to share. Also available for dessert are turtle cheesecake, macadamia nut pie, key lime pie, passion fruit crème brulee and old fashioned root beer floats.

In general, the Divas enjoyed our trip to Kona Grill. The atmosphere was truly breathtaking and quite enjoyable. The wine portions were a bit of a disappointment considering the price, but the food, when delivered as ordered, was delicious. Kona Grill’s location is perfect for those wanting to meet after attempting holiday shopping, after a long day at work or just gathering with friends for a few laughs and good food.

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