Seabourn Encore has been the darling of the global cruise industry since her launch last year and ahead of her return to the Middle East, with a Dubai cruise due to depart for Europe in April, Cruise Arabia & Africa went on-board to sample some of her culinary offerings.
Our favourite is ‘Sushi’, an ‘as it says on the tin’ premium dining concept that specialises in the Japanese delicacy.
The airy, intimate room located just off the Atrium on Deck 8 was designed and decorated by renowned hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany and provides a delightful change of pace for guests in the mood for something different for lunches and dinners during their voyages. While Tihany designed the venue, the concept and execution of a sushi restaurant on board is the brainchild of Seabourn Culinary Consultant Chef Anton “Tony” Egger.
Egger is responsible for everything from the recipes, menus and service style to the choice of uniforms, china and tableware. “I was an executive chef on Seabourn ships and also corporate executive chef for a while, so I’m familiar with the taste and expectations of Seabourn’s guests,” says Egger. “I love really good sushi myself, so I was committed to developing the best sushi dining experience, not only with impeccably fresh ingredients and expert preparation, but also with the cultural aspects of the Japanese sushi tradition.”
Egger spent months developing a network of suppliers to ensure that top quality ingredients, including Japanese fish and seafood and crucial elements such as the special Japanese sushi rice, differently flavoured vinegars and a variety of fresh Japanese produce can be supplied to the ship as it cruises the world. This included working closely with Japanese chef friends to ensure a quality supply chain.
His menus are ingredient-specific, so no substitutions are permitted and Cruise Arabia & Africa understands that Seabourn has partnered with dnata’s cruise catering arm Emirates Holidays to ensure re-supply on her Middle East itineraries.
These re-supplies are important, because if an ingredient is unavailable, the chefs will not serve the dish.
The Japanese sushi tradition is exemplified by small, family-run restaurants, and that is the fun, friendly atmosphere that guests will find at Sushi on Seabourn Encore.
“The staff in Sushi, from the three specialized Asian sushi chefs to the wait-staff, all interact as one team, focused on the guests,” says Egger. “You’ll see the sommelier delivering food plates, the waiters fetching drinks, it feels like a family operation. But like in a family, when it comes to the preparation, there are specialists,” he adds. “Properly cooked and vinegared rice is the heart of sushi, so one person is the rice master, for every meal, every day.”
Lunches at Sushi are designed around the Japanese bento box tradition, which offers a nutritious, tasty meal in a quick and casual style. Sushi will offer three options daily, with main courses of meat or poultry, seafood and vegetarian. Each box is accompanied by a hot miso soup, a Japanese-style salad and a simple dessert.
Dinners offer an a la carte menu, including edamame and miso soup, an array of salads and small plates of various sashimis and tatakis, as well as a variety of sashimi, nigiri and maki sushi, and signature rolls exploiting the best ingredients selected by the chefs.
All selections can be ordered either as individual servings or to share, as the guests prefer. Unlike the sequence of courses in a Western meal, sushi is served continuously as it is prepared by the chefs. Desserts are simple but delicious, consisting of Asian-flavored ice creams, sorbets and puddings.
Seabourn’s master mixologist, Brian van Flandern, has created two special cocktails for Sushi, a craft drink called the Sushi Verde, and a unique Yamazaki Whiskey Tea Ceremony for couples or quartets. The venue also offers a variety of hot or cold Japanese sakes, beers and a selection of wines to complement the menus. And in another bow to tradition, a selection of five distinctive Japanese teas are available, brewed in artisanal cast iron pots.
Sushi is open for lunch and dinner daily. In keeping with Japanese tradition, reservations are not required. If a seat is open, guests are welcome.
Adam D. Tihany, is also responsible for the design of Seabourn Encore herself, a ship that features modern design elements and innovations in keeping with Seabourn’s reputation for understated elegance.
The 40,350-GRT ship carries just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite features a private veranda. Cruise Arabia & Africa has been told Sushi will also debut on the Seabourn Ovation when it launches in Spring 2018.