SPLASHY SUSHI: Lean proteins, healthy fats and nutrient-rich vegetables work together on Kona Grill's menu.
HEALTHFUL PALETTE: Color combines with flavor and texture for an appealing menu at Kona Grill.
Today's diner wants to leave a restaurant feeling satisfied and energized by a delicious meal. And Kona Grill has discovered the magic formula: take good care of your customers by creating dishes that meet guests' needs for both flavor and health.
"There is an undeniable growing demand for cuisine that promotes a healthy lifestyle," says Anita Jones, M.P.H., founder of Healthy Dining and www.HealthyDiningFinder.com, a website that allows diners to search for restaurants offering a selection of healthy menu items. "In today's culture, most restaurants gain a competitive edge when they offer healthy dishes that also taste great."
For health-conscious diners who love to eat out, www.HealthyDiningFinder.com is the new go-to guide for restaurant items that not only taste good, but are good for you, too. "Who wouldn't want to be part of that?" asks corporate chef Zack Bredemann.
In fact, Bredemann claims Kona Grill has been committed to health since opening its doors in 1998 as an upscale, chic restaurant with a diverse moderately priced menu featuring everything from sushi to pizza to steaks. The restaurant has a casually elegant atmosphere enhanced by soft lighting and a 2,000-gallon exotic seawater aquarium with colorful, exotic fish.
"We have an eclectic menu which is a nice fit for customers that want to make healthy choices," says Kona Grill's chief operating officer Jason Merritt. "HealthyDiningFinder.com helps us gain exposure and attract new customers who are looking for healthier options." Potential visitors can even view complete nutrition information for featured items online.
A few of Kona Grill's dishes featured on the web site include Grilled Sweet Chili Glazed Salmon, Seared Sesame Ahi Salad and Kona's Sushi Sampler. All of our fish is flown in fresh," says Merritt. "Many of our fish dishes are just lightly grilled and then served with a colorful vegetable medley accompaniment." And because it's sashimi grade, the product has an excellent flavor profile. One signature dish is an 8-ounce portion of baked sea bass bathed for 72 hours in a miso and sake marinade served with Szechuan green beans. "It's so flavorful and it almost melts in your mouth," says corporate sushi chef Takeshi Trinitapoli. Of course the sushi does too. One of Trinitapoli's favorites include Yellowtail drizzled with a Ponzu Jalapeno sauce.
At the heart of Kona Grill's healthy brand identity are freshness and quality–both of which travel well–even in Kansas City, Mo. "Our menu features a lot of sushi," says Merritt. "We didn't know if our concept would take off in the Midwest. But it turned out we were selling more sushi in Kansas City than we were in Arizona." So the concept expanded even farther. Now Kona Grill operates 12 restaurants in eight states, including Nevada, Illinois, Indiana and Florida.
What stands out to Healthy Dining's Dietitian Nicole Quartuccio is Kona Grill's use of lean proteins, hearthealthy fats and bold, flavorful and nutrient-rich vegetables. "Chicken breast and seafood are full of healthful lean protein and the salmon and tuna dishes also contain healthful fats, which are linked with a reduced risk of heart disease," says Quartuccio. "And when it comes to vegetables, Kona Grill's selection of deeply colorful produce indicates a high level of disease-fighting antioxidants." Such meals satisfy diners' cravings for both flavor and nutrients.
According to Bredemann, the trick to pulling off sensational healthy dishes is letting the food's flavors come through rather than masking them with a lot of extra oil, cream or butter.
Restaurants grow and expand because they're giving people what they want. Kona Grill is no exception. "We want to be known as a restaurant where people can go to get a great-tasting, healthy meal," says Bredemann.
HealthyDiningFinder.com is offered in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Express and hundreds of other organizations promoting the website and participating restaurants.