An in-depth review of eating gluten free at Kona Grill. This review is entirely my own opinion and from personal experiences, and is meant to be a guide. When choosing a gluten free restaurant, please use caution according to your individual needs.
UPDATE 3/2019: Unfortunately Kona Grill no longer has a separate gluten free menu… just a few items marked gluten free on their regular menu. They are very accommodating though, so it’s advised to speak with a manager to check on what that location can make safely. I’ve been told they can still make many menu items gluten free, including sushi! I’ve Nima Tested my dishes here, including side dishes, and have had a great experience every time.
I’m so excited to have added a new place to my gluten free restaurant list! Finding a new place makes things even easier for my family and I, since we don’t have to go to the same place/places over and over again. While celebrating my grandfather’s birthday the other weekend, we tried out Kona Grill. I’m so pleased with how everything was handled there, I had to share it.
Kona Grill has many locations across the US, with a menu that features contemporary American food as well as some amazing sushi. They have plenty of gluten free dishes to choose from… including sushi. Their website doesn’t make any gluten free statements regarding preparation and care, but a phone call with my local restaurant let me know they pay close attention when it comes to Celiac Disease. The manager was so caring and understanding, and told me he was confident with anything on the gluten free menu.
I ordered a steak with a few sides (mashed potatoes and steamed veggies). During the wait, the manager approached the table to let me know that something had happened earlier in the day with the mashed potatoes, and he wasn’t confident they would be safe for me (UPDATE: their potatoes are boiled in leftover pasta water, so always check with the manager to see how they prepare sides). He offered me other options, which I was happy to take considering he took the time to pay close attention to the kitchen and inform me of something that could have made me sick!
Now, even with all considering, one of the tools I have been using lately when I go out is my new Nima Sensor. Nima is a small, portable gluten detector that provides that extra boost of confidence when eating out. You simply place a small sample of your food into the disposable capsule, place it into the sensor, and in just a few minutes it will tell you if gluten was detected or not (complete with a smily face if it’s safe).
The Nima app also lets people leave reviews of the places they have eaten at, safe or not, and connects directly to the sensor – the result you get on your Nima shows up in the app on your review. Nima does have it’s limitations though: it only tests the small sample size you put into the test capsule. So, it won’t detect if a piece of bread accidentally touched or crumbled on the opposite side of the plate that you tested. However, it can help detect if your pasta was boiled in shared pasta water, food that was fried in a shared fryer, or if your food was made on a shared surface (was my steak seared on the same surface as breaded chicken or buns). For me, I’m more concerned with shared surfaces and cooking water, so this was a great tool for me to have! Even after asking the manager all my questions, it just adds a little extra confidence when trying out a new place. And yes, it’s already saved me once from a kitchen mistake somewhere else.
In the end, my meal tested clean, tasted great, and I was so happy with how the manager treated someone with Celiac like myself. I’m very excited to go back and try some different dishes out… maybe even some of the sushi. Until next time!
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