Peninsula Restaurant Review: Kona Kai Resort

by on August 13, 2013 · 1 comment

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

KonaKai out patio Kona Kai Resort
1551 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 221-8000

 It is not often that I am invited out to lunch to a place as beautiful – and costly – as the Kona Kai Resort. I think it has been at least 30 years since I was here last, and although the Resort has recently been remodeled and reopened on July 4th of this year, it is still breathtakingly beautiful. And, surprisingly, it was not as expensive as I remembered it being.

Denise and I decided to eat outdoors facing the San Diego Bay and the swimming pool. At the time of our arrival at 12:45pm, we were the only ones in the restaurant; however when we left there were three other parties finishing up their meal.

konakai smokfish

Smoked fish with jalapeno sauce.

We were greeted by Sean, the manager, and he was delightful. Apparently he is a new father and told us that he had an opportunity to have lunch today because the “baby gave him some free time.” He showed us to our table where Jesus immediately appeared asking for our drink order.

A few minutes later Rebecca introduced herself as our waitress and again took our drink order. She offered to answer any questions that we might have and offered to give her recommendations. She was conversant of all the menu items, and spent a few moments explaining different features on the various items.

We asked about the appetizers – 5 of them ranging from $6 – $14; the seven salads ranging from $9-$17; the 4 different sandwiches that ranged from $12 to $14; and the Large Plates which boasted 7 different items ranging from $15-$19.

KonaKai cobsal

Cobb salad. All photos by Judi Curry.

Denise and I decided that we wanted to try an appetizer and since she was going to order a Cobb Salad – and I was going to order a Club Sandwich – we elected to try something that would add to our meal.

There was an item on the menu entitled “smoked fish with a jalapeno relish sauce” that was interesting. We asked how spicy the sauce was – after all, jalapeno are known for their “hotness.” She told us it wasn’t very spicy and I asked if we could have a little taste before we ordered. A few moments later she was back with a sample of the sauce, and a few chips, and she was right. It was very tasty; not particularly hot; and we ordered the plate to share.

The fish was wild smoked Atlantic salmon and it was delicious and cost $12. I wish that we had been served two small plates along with the order, for it is always awkward for me to try and find my mouth halfway across the table from the plate. I have a tendency to “wear” my food.

KonaKai TurkeCl

Turkey club.

It was interesting to note that when Rebecca came back for our order and we told her that we were going to try the fish dip, she said, “I would have been disappointed if you didn’t order it!”

Another interesting feature to note is that although we were offered 3 different kinds of water, we elected to have the “Kona Kai water” where-in I said, “you mean San Diego Water?”

She said “yes” but it is filtered. The water was served in a large gallon container and left on the table, and along with it were a few slices of cucumber to place in the water glass to better the flavor. There are other restaurants in San Diego that serve “cucumber water” and I have always enjoyed the flavor.

Denise did order the Cobb Salad, replete with grilled chicken, Gorgonzola, bacon, egg, tomato, egg, greens and served with a white balsamic dressing. It was $14. We both remarked how surprised we were that the dressing was balsamic, because most Cobb’s are served with bleu cheese dressing. Denise said it was wonderful.

I ordered the Club Sandwich – turkey, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, Swiss cheese, tomato and lettuce. It was absolutely huge. (See picture.) It cost $13.

Our order, when it arrived, was delivered by still another employee – Audrey. Needless to say the service was excellent, and my iced Raspberry Tea glass was refilled when needed.

KonaKai choc

“Chocolate Pot de Crème”

At first we were not going to order dessert. We were both already full; had decided to take home a lot of what was left on our plate, but then Rebecca gave us copies of the limited dessert menu. And, although limited, there were many interesting items on it. Each of the 6 desserts were $7 and we opted to share a “Chocolate Pot de Crème”. It was served with “chocolate, vanilla scented whipping cream, sea salt and coconut tuile. The Chocolate had a strong chocolate flavor and if the whipping cream was vanilla scented, the chocolate overpowered it. A nice touch was fresh raspberries on the top. The coconut tuile was a thin cookie that had a strong coconut taste.

KonaKai viewThe meal was delicious; the surroundings were beautiful, and we both said what a nice place it would be to take out-of-town guests to for a special meal. The restaurant has not yet had a “grand opening” but it is coming shortly. They will be trying new items; have different special evenings; music on the weekends; and hope to offer brunch shortly.

This is definitely a place that I will return to.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nostalgic August 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I remember the Kona Kai well. It was the “in” place in the 1960’s. Jerry Lewis kept his boat there – the Pink Pussy Cat. You would see him around the place, and he was very friendly. Glad it is still so lovely.


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