Kona Grill is not a sushi restaurant, yet their sushi would look right at home on the tabletops of one of Japan’s most exclusive hangouts. It’s also not a steakhouse, yet even the most discriminating Texan would give Kona Grill their fullest endorsement. Kona Grill is most certainly not a nightclub, either, but its menu of delicious specialty cocktails and swank atmosphere easily lend themselves to occasions that might call for a little savoir faire.
Kona Grill manages to meld the best aspects of these three very different establishments within a singular upscale casual atmosphere – hence its versatility. Go to Kona Grill for your lunch break or with business clients whom you aim to impress. Take a date and, should the date go well, return for your 10th anniversary with your kids in tow. It's even a great spot to go on your lonesome for happy hour. You may just be ushered to your stool by the inestimably gracious Steve Thomas.
“I’ve worked in restaurants for better than 30 years – first as a dishwasher, then as a busboy, and so on and so on until I finally became the general manager,” says Steve Thomas, General Manager. “I love this business because it engages both halves of your brain. You’re making a series of fundamentally sound and logical decisions, of course, but you're also constantly refining your sense of hospitality – an artform by any right. In essence, you’re applying every part of yourself to make really good food and put smiles on your guests’ faces.
“When I moved to Minnesota 12 years ago, I was immediately drawn to Kona Grill. This restaurant had something no other place did: a sushi bar combined with a fully realized American kitchen that makes no compromises on either cuisine, as well as a certain, indefinable energy. No other workplace appealed to me more.
“I am fortunate to manage a sushi bar during an era when air transport is so refined that we can fly in fresh fish nightly. The sushi we serve when we open our doors at 11am has only just been carved from a whole, fresh fish – never frozen.
“Even better, I have the privilege of working alongside our head sushi chef Sunny Om. In my opinion, there are no better sushi chefs in Minnesota than him. Anyone who joins Sunny behind the sushi bar quickly masters their craft. His sushi, whether he has prepared sashimi, nigiri or rolls, is simply beautiful, so much so that our guests often tap whoever is sitting next to them so they can show off their order. And thanks to Sunny’s guidance, our sushi’s consistency is unparalleled. Come dine with us tomorrow, and then order the same thing a month from now. It will be just as good as you remember.
“We are just as selective about the steak we serve at Kona Grill. We share ownership with STK, the leader in vibe dining with more than 20 locations worldwide, so Kona Grill serves the same quality beef that has been sourced from around the world. Whether you choose a classic New York strip, the hand-carved Big Island ribeye, or the best surf and turf Eden Prairie will ever offer, you can look forward to enjoying steak the way it’s meant to be.
“Sushi and steak comprise only a fraction of the menu our kitchen prepares from scratch, though. You could argue our KG cheeseburger, made with double-stacked quarter-pounders, offers an even purer American experience than steak itself. Should you choose to add lobster butter or blue cheese to it, the KG cheeseburger quickly becomes elevated to gourmet status. Our sweet-chili glazed salmon and miso-saké Chilean sea bass are both just as fresh as the fish we prepare for sushi, and our Korean 5-spiced ribs are simply divine thanks to our house-made sauce.
“Our brunches have become an institution among many of our guests. The Hollandaise that tops our eggs Benedict is so good I often worry whether or not it should be legal, and our spicy lobster avocado toast pairs perfectly with a mimosa (or two).
“It has been wonderful to see our regular business crowd returning to our restaurant in the wake of the pandemic. They enjoy our power lunch menu, which offers a choice of soup or salad, an entrée from our grill or sushi bar, and a chocolate brownie to take back to the office. Many of our guests say the brownie is the best part, as it can be a lifesaver when you hit the wall around 4pm. Just make certain to hide it from your co-workers.
“We take just as much pride in our beverage program as we do in our food. We pour from over 50 different bottles of wine to suit every taste, which allows us to create several pairing recommendations for every item on our menu. While chardonnay often complements sushi, if you’d rather have a more authentic experience your waiter can help you choose a bottle of saké to enjoy.
“Like our dishes, all of our cocktails and their mixers are made fresh. Without question, our Kentucky, London and Moscow mules are the most popular cocktails on our drink menu. We serve these in the only worthy receptacle: the copper mug. I personally wouldn’t trust a restaurant that doesn’t serve their mules in copper drinkware – would you? And if you’d like to enjoy saké without paying quite so much attention to its nuances, then you will love our saké bomber made with Kirin beer and Ozeki Saké Go.
“Whenever you dine with us, you’re greeted at the door by a stunning 450-gallon fish tank before being escorted to your setting of choice, which includes our formal dining room, our busy sushi bar where you can watch our chefs’ masterful knifework up close, and our expansive patio.
“On the service front, we are truly unmatched. Our waitstaff and I see every table as an opportunity to create a superlative dining experience. This requires sensitivity. If we perceive that our guests are meeting for a business lunch and don’t need to speak with us outside of placing their orders, so be it – we will give them every bit of privacy they seek as we become all but invisible. On the other hand, if we have the pleasure of hosting a small family reunion, a long-awaited anniversary, or a milestone birthday party, then we’ll complement the festivities with the utmost warmth and enthusiasm.
“This all ties into our central philosophy: How can we make things better for you? It’s not a profound philosophy, but it’s at the core of what makes us one of the best restaurants in Eden Prairie.”
Kona Grill is located at 11997 Singletree Lane in Eden Prairie. You may learn more, make a reservation, or order takeout or delivery by visiting konagrill.com or calling (952) 941-3262. (Steve wishes to emphasize that Kona Grill’s inspired fare sparks just as much joy at home as it does in their immaculate dining room.)