Wonderland, Ovation of the Seas by Royal Caribbean
As if dining on a cruise ship isn't magical enough, you can up the whimsical level of your dining experience by having your meal at Wonderland aboard the Ovation of the Seas by Royal Caribbean. Taking cues from Alice in Wonderland, the themed restaurant will make you feel like you've fallen down the rabbit hole and emerged in wonderland, indeed.
Channel your inner Red Queen as you dress up to the tens and make your way into this fine-dining establishment. No one would bat an eyelid if you walked in wearing a ballgown or if you were in the Mad Hatter's costume. They may mistake you as one of the waitstaff, however, because they are all dressed in quirky costumes to fit the theme of the restaurant.
Everything in this restaurant would inspire your imagination to run wild. The furniture is fairytale-like and carefully chosen to suit the ambiance of the place. Even the tableware and cutlery will make you feel like you're having tea with Her Majesty.
Like the other specialty restaurants on board the Ovation of the Seas, a cover charge applies. Pay USD49 per person and enjoy all the fine dining you could possibly have. Drinks are non-inclusive. The prices onboard Royal Caribbean for specialty restaurants are incredibly affordable and reasonable for the freshest ingredients possible and cooked by some of the best chefs there are.
My meal at Wonderland was one of the most memorable experiences. As it was, I was enjoying the luxury of being onboard the largest ship to ever dock in Asia. But to have the opportunity of dining at Wonderland, it made my experience there exceed any expectations I could ever have for a cruise.
Since it was my virgin ride on a cruise, I didn't know what to expect. But Wonderland has set a benchmark that I will carry with me for the rest of my life when it comes to dining onboard cruise ships.
"The story begins as you open the menu and find your element - Sun, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Dreams - each with a selection of small or shareable fantasies. And magical elixirs that whisper "Drink me" amidst amorphous mirrors, mystery and sensory surprises. The intention of it all becomes more certain with each maddeningly delicious bite."
The menu comes blank and you're furnished with a paintbrush and water. If it weren't for the Mad Hatters directing us, we would have just been staring at the blank photo frame, not knowing what to do. They instructed us to dip our paintbrushes in water to bring our menu to life by painting water over the canvas.
The menu magically reveals words previously invisible and we could see the different elements of our dinner.
We started off with a liquid lobster dish with a dollop of caviar, which was part of the sea element.
And that was followed by a fire element dish, which was a duck liver fritter, deep fried in breadcrumbs. I did not expect to like this since I am not a fan of liver, but I was pleasantly surprised and it turned out to be one of my favourite starters. Bite into the crispy skin coating the duck liver and feel the burst of liquified duck liver explode in your mouth with bags of flavour.
The crispy crab cones, part of the ice element, are stuffed with avocado mousse, cilantro and topped with ohba leaf. This makes for a beautiful dish but didn't do much for me personally in terms of taste.
Also part of the fire element is the buffalo chicken eggs. They come in a platter with dry ice and has a smoky effect to it. The egg is served with blue cheese and hot sauce and was easily everyone's favourite starter.
We also tried the slow-cooked baby beets with sriracha sauce. I am not a huge fan of beets, but this was incredibly well-prepared and pleasant to eat.
Another starter from the fire element that is a must-try is the tempura kim chee leaves with marinated melon. This is a moreish dish that will leave you wanting... more.
Another beautiful dish from the ice element that was served was the sashimi - red and white tuna with scallions). The raw fish sat in little limes on a bed of ice, keeping it cool and fresh.
After trying so many starters, we were quite stuffed but there was still quite a number of mains to go. We started off with a cuban pork shank from the earth element. The pork was cooked perfectly and fell off the bone when we put our forks in it.
If it is one dish that could stand as a contender to the pork, it would be the equally perfectly executed, earth element Terrior beef, served with river stone potatoes and bordelaise sauce.
A pretty dish that is also easy on the palate for the less adventurous, would be the slow roasted chicken with potato butter purée, also part of the earth element dishes.
Of course, desserts at Wonderland are a huge hit. They are what dreams are made of, and aptly so, because they belong under the dream element on the menu. The baked Alaska is made extraordinary with the vanilla-cinnamon-chili foam. And the rum in this dish is generous!
They also do a mean key lime pie deconstructed and reconstructed into cute little "lollipops".
But my favourite dessert is hands down the molten chocolate lava cake with nitro pistachio ice cream. This is always a safe dessert to go for but Wonderland takes it to the next level.
The final dessert we tried was the cheesecake served with a dollop of apple and wasabi "air". The flavours are unconventional and elevates the classic mom's after-dinner treat.
Wonderland is also available onboard Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.
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