In the Hawaiian language, the word “kona” describes the side of a mountain that’s safe from wind and rain. Because the Hawaiians’ ancestors had the foresight to bring hogs with them to the islands, many Hawaiian mountainsides must have provided very comfortable refuge over the centuries.
Residents of Eden Prairie may not have to worry about tropical weather, but we deserve refuge all the same. For that we have Kona Grill, a classic American restaurant which serves superb steaks and chops, deftly rolled sushi, craft cocktails mixed with the freshest fruit juices, and much more. Kona Grill makes a fine retreat for brunch, lunch and dinner. And if you wish to enjoy Eden Prairie’s world-famous nightlife, you couldn’t pick a spot with better saké bombs.
Miranda Hunter and I used to work at different locations of the same chain restaurant – she before becoming general manager of Kona Grill in Eden Prairie, and I before teaching myself how to read and write by studying the labels on cans of crushed tomatoes. Like two members of a secret order, we began our call by singing our former employer’s trademark-safe corporate birthday song. That led to my most pressing question about Kona Grill’s menu.
“Yes!” said Miranda. “You do get a brownie to take with you when you join us for power lunch. We’ll serve your soup and sandwich or sushi roll in 45 minutes, so you can still make it back to the office in time to enjoy the best part of your meal at your desk.
“But if you decide to stay with us for a little while longer, we’ll make it well worth your time. Whether you choose our classic New York strip, our hand-carved Big Island ribeye, or our surf and turf with real wagyu beef, our steaks will meet the same expectations you reserve for a five-star steakhouse. When you opt to perfect your steak with one of our signature butters – such as our lobster butter, which is so good that it will change your perception of butter – your server will finish your steak right at your table with a blowtorch. I am proud to work for the restaurant that discovered the best use for blowtorches.
“We are particular about the steaks we serve to our guests, so we carve up entire sides of beef right in our kitchen. Our fish is no different. If we serve sushi at Kona Grill, then the fish must have arrived fresh at our kitchen earlier that morning. Our sushi chefs cut strips straight from filets, and prepare all 42 of their delicious sauces in-house so they can do justice to all that effort.
“If you try just one of our specialty rolls, I would have to recommend the fire dragon. It’s rolled with shrimp tempura, avocado and jalapeno, with freshwater eel, furikake and eel sauce on top. We drizzle eel sauce and splash Everclear around the roll, and then light it on fire to caramelize the sauce to perfection.
“We have just recently begun serving brunch. Join us Saturday or Sunday from 10 am to 2 am to try our daybreak sandwich – a Spam, fried egg and smoked gouda treat with sweet sesame soy dressing and sides of avocado slaw and sweet potato fries. The sandwich comes nestled in its own Spam can, which I believe to be unequaled presentation. If you order the daybreak, make sure someone else at your table gets the macadamia nut French toast so you can steal a bite. It’s topped with toasted honey butter, fresh mixed berries and powdered sugar, and it is indescribably good.
“If you’re joining us for an especially festive brunch, then I would highly recommend our bottomless mix-and-match mimosas. All you can drink, of course, with eight different flavors of juice to add to your champagne.
“Our guests keep our bartenders plenty busy outside of brunch. We host happy hour every Monday through Friday from 2 pm until 6 pm, Monday through Thursday from 9 pm until 11 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 9:30 pm until midnight. That’s when we serve $3 draft beers, $6 premium wines, and $9 specialty cocktails like our watermelon margarita which we always prepare with freshly split melon. Our bartenders are sticklers for freshness, and will only pour lemon or lime juice if it was just recently inside of a fruit.
“No self-respecting sushi restaurant can do without a wide selection of fine saké. Most Americans are forgivably unfamiliar with the Japanese rice wine, which is why our saké flights are so popular. They give you a chance to try three of the best and appreciate their subtle nuances.
“If you’re not a great fan of nuance, then you can plink a glass of saké into a pint of Kirin beer instead. That’s how many of our guests choose to kick off their evenings with us. We’re one of the few places in town to stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a nice change of pace to welcome college students, couples and the young at heart for an evening of live DJ music, and we serve our full menu right through until closing.
“I describe our ambiance as ‘vibe dining.’ Our servers know how to read a table, and are sensitive to the experiences our guests are after. If you join us for an intimate date night or important business meeting, we’ll make ourselves practically invisible. But if you join us for a livelier occasion – like a birthday party, or any family outing – then we’ll have a great time right alongside you.”
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.