For the holiday weekend, my boss allowed staff to leave a bit early. I took completely took full advantage of this by heading to Kona Grill for happy hour with a few colleagues of mine.
I didn’t know this, but I assume there is a law about not having a true ‘alcohol’ happy hour in Indiana (if anyone knows something about this – please fill me in.) Since you can’t have a ‘true’ happy hour, drink specials are all day while the discounted food is what is what makes the happy hour. From 3:00-6:00, a select few appetizers are offered at half price and a variety of basic sushi rolls are also offered at a discounted price.
I began with a glass of chardonnay and an order of the sweet & spicy shrimp. Overall, the presentation was nice, but I didn’t think it was necessary. I chomped on a few shrimp and learned quickly that they were a bit more sweet than spicy for my taste buds, not to mention a bit salty. I think it was because of the bed of rice noodles that they were salty, and the deep fried wonton made it that much more salty. The texture of the shrimp was good, a nice crunch from deep frying. But I didn’t really get any shrimp flavor – I think that happens often when it is fried than covered in a sauce. One of my colleagues thought it was too spicy, but I didn’t get any of that flavor – just salt. However, two of my colleagues did try it and didn’t get the extreme salty flavor.
Next up with my beers was the ahi wonton crisps. I was much happier with this seafood selection than my previous nosh. Thick slices of rare ahi tuna were crusted with sesame seeds – I love the nutty flavor and slight texture the seeds gave the tuna. These were placed on top of crisp wonton strips that gave it a bit more crunch. I don’t think this was the same fried wonton as the shrimp, because the level of salt was perfect rather than overdone. The tuna was a good grade of sushi, which you always expect to see at a place that boasts sushi. The thing I really liked about these were the wasabi aioli drizzled over it all. A bit more mayo based than I would prefer, but it was creamy and gave a subtle spice. I always love subtle spice because I don’t want to overwhelm the delicate fish, so the creamy based aioli worked well for this dish. The greens gave it a nice bitterness as well, bringing all the flavors together.
Two of my colleagues ordered food as well. One ordered the dumplings and a brownie sundae, the other two mini cheeseburgers. I didn’t try the dumplings, but I have had them before and they looked to be the same. However, they did look extremely burnt on the bottom – to the point where I would have sent them back. The sundae looked like an average brownie sundae. The burgers were much bigger than I thought they would be for a starter. Served with thin french fries (which tasted like the salty McDonald’s fries, but in a good way) were two ”mini’ burgers that weren’t so many. I wouldn’t say they are sliders, that is for sure, as they are much larger. Cooked to medium well, they were tender and had a good simple flavor. This surprised me for a for a place that boasts sushi. Note – the sundae was NOT part of happy hour, she ordered it from the regular menu. I apologize for a lack of photo as well.
Happy hour at Kona is always busy and there is always some sort of wait to get a table (unless you get there early like we did). I chalk it up to the cheap sake bombs (not only do you get a large beer, but also a full bottle of sake) and cheap food. The service is never consistent – one day I may have someone amazing and the next, not so much. But the atmosphere is always lively, full of people waiting to get their drinks and cheap nosh. I always sit on the patio both in winter (it is heated) and summer (when the windows are open). It is a much more casual and laid back environment than inside, which always seems too dark for me.
I haven’t had a full meal at Kona in a very long time. I remember the food being decent and the prices being too high for what you are getting. Kona is chain, but I haven’t been to any other location so I don’t know if this is the same at all locations. But for happy hour, decent prices keep me coming back…once in a while. The food isn’t anything extraordinary, but it is still better than some of the other establishments in the area for happy hour.
Kona Grill * 14395 Clay Terrace Blvd. * Carmel, IN * 317.566.1400