The giant space that the Irvine Improv formerly occupied, next to the Yard House in the Irvine Spectrum, has been vacant for, what feels like, forever! There has been a giant green construction fence with a poster proclaiming, “Coming Soon Kona Grill” and I have been dying for the new restaurant to open. This week my wish was finally granted.
Described in the press as having a “global menu of contemporary American favorites, award-winning sushi, and specialty cocktails – all freshly prepared in a scratch kitchen,” this is a restaurant that sounds like it would be right up my alley.
Their lunch menu was HUGE: A full sushi bar with a very big and diverse variety of rolls (unlike other local sushi restaurants, NOT ALL BASED ON TOP OF A CALIFORNIA ROLL!), creative appetizers, the dish everyone who works here seems to like: Macadamia Nut Chicken, to Spicy Shrimp Tempura, BBQ Chicken Flatbread, burgers, sandwiches, pasta and even steaks. They also have separate menus for Vegans, Vegetarians, Children, and those with Gluten intolerance. Do be prepared when you get the check – it was pretty pricey for lunch.
The restaurant is very open with lots of TVs scattered about so you don’t miss the latest sporting events, 3 big fish tanks, a fully visible kitchen & sushi bar behind glass, fire places, a patio and very well designed bar. Both the General Manager and Manager stopped by our table to check in, chat about the Angel game that was on TV, and even talk about hockey as the GM’s Philadelphia Flyers and my Los Angeles Kings are both currently in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The wait staff was friendly, attentive and efficient and I will definitely be back.
Did I mention the cocktails yet? They have the traditional cocktail selections, martinis, mojitos, beer, wine, and Sake, but I was really impressed with their variety of specialty cocktails. I went with a very refreshing (very tall) mojito made with cucumber, mint and Effen Vodka. It SO hit the spot that I texted a picture of the drink to two girlfriends who joined me after my business lunch and we threw back a “few.” With happy hour from 3:00 – 7:00 and again from 7:00 – 10:00, this will definitely be a happening cocktail spot!
My only complaint about the restaurant was that, although I checked in for my reserved table and was seated by the hostess, they reported to OpenTable.com that I was a no-show for my reservation. If that’s the only bad thing someone can say about a new restaurant, then I think they’ve got a great shot at making it!
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