FIRST IMPRESSIONS: These are the second Silk Road & Sushi Bar restaurants onboard a Crystal Cruises ship. The first opened five years ago on Crystal Serenity, and this new version was launched on Crystal Symphony at the start of its Hongkong-Beijing leg in March. Celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa (pictured with team) personally oversaw the opening run and made himself available to guests, posed for pictures and signed copies of his cookbooks.
At the helm of this outpost is Nobu’s friend and fellow chef Hiroshi Nakaguchi, who has worked in his establishments in New York, Las Vegas and Miami, “and knows my menus very well,” the globe-trotting kitchen mogul told Business Traveller. While he strives to frequent his restaurants, which span the globe from Tokyo to Nice, he believes it’s the employees – once he has trained them – who should grow and shine. “They are the real face of the restaurants, not me,” he said.
Located in what was formerly Jade Garden Asian outlet, the new restaurants on the Tiffany Deck 6 can take up to 70 guests, with seating for six at the sushi bar. The pervading atmosphere is contemporary Asian in deep shades of sage, citrus green and aubergine and accented with organza sheers, plum tiles and marine-inspired sculptures. Mood lighting sets the pace for relaxed but stylish dining.
THE FOOD: Known for his successful presentation of Japanese cuisine combined with Peruvian and European twists, Nobu wisely didn’t deviate from what Crystal Cruises’ well-travelled clientele expected of him. The favourites were all there in the line up, among them: Assorted Seafood Tossed with Nobu Ceviche Dressing, Broiled King Crab Leg Meat with Creamy Spicy Sauce, Masago and Scallions and Lobster Spring Roll and Shiitake with Maui Onion-Tomato Salsa for appetisers, and for mains, Grilled Wagyu Beef Rib Eye Steak (I ordered this because it was among the ship’s low-carb alternatives) on Wok-Fried Vegetables served with three kinds of dips – Anticuccho, Teriyaki and Nobu-Style Wasabi Pepper Sauce (the best of the trio as its tangyness provided a nice counterpoint to the slightly salted meat) – and the Nobu Box carrying his Most Popular Signature Dishes: Beef, Cod and Rock Shrimp.
While the dessert section featured only five selections, they all appeared tempting. As I had already sampled his Trio of Crème Brûlées of Sweet Ginger, Pink Guaza and Passion Fruit and Citrus Custard on land at Nobu in the InterContinental Hongkong, I went for the Vanilla and Coconut Tapioca Soup, hoping it would prove to be the perfect cooler to a hectic day. It was.
THE DRINKS: We had a variety of fine wines to choose from, but the sommelier strongly pressed upon the drinkers in our group to try Il Borro 2003 Toscana, a hearty red from the estate of the Ferragamo family in the heart of the triangle formed by Florence, Arrezo and Siena. Sake was also available.
PRICE: Meals are included in the Crystal Cruises packages. All restaurants have a 1800 seating and another at 2230. Reservations are highly recommended. Package rates vary. For example, a 12-day Hongkong-Singapore cruise in a Balcony A Stateroom for one passenger costs from HK$58,388 (US$7,494).
VERDICT: An extremely satisfying dining experience. The quality of preparation was unquestionable.
CONTACT: Miramar Express in Hongkong at 852 8200 1155 or visit www.crystalcruises.com
Margie T Logarta