There was a totally different feeling the moment we arrived at La Luna. We are on our second evening on board the P & O Pacific Dawn. Our destination is the Pacific Islands starting with New Caledonia. Tonight we are dining at La Luna Restaurant. This restaurant is locate right next door to the Cafe Del Sol buffet, yet the mood was so much more relax and the service perfect.
Mr GG and I were shown to our table where a coloured slump glass plate had been set at each place. The plate contained a mix of spices which we were told would feature in the banquet we were about to be served. The spices were to reinforce the idea of spice and fragrance being important to the balance of the meal. The aroma set the stage perfectly for the meal to follow.
We are told this restaurant was “Asian Fusion,” I am not sure what this means but the style was very much Modern Chinese. The meals were adaptations from authentic Chinese dishes throughout various provinces.
Our eight course banquet commenced with a range of five pickles. My favourite was the “hot and sour carrots with black pepper”. These pickles had a very distinctive chai spiced flavour. There seemed to be quite a lot of Star Anise in the dish, the flavour was simple but so delicious.
Mr GG couldn’t choose between the “Bean Sprouts with dried fish and salted chilli” and the “Szechuan pickled cucumber and radish”. I too enjoyed both of those dishes although hubby managed to polish off the spouts dish before I could try it with a dried fish. Apparently the fish gave it a gorgeous saltiness that finished the dish perfectly. I know I loved the flavours even without the piece de résistance!
The other two dishes were a cabbage sautéed with black mustard seeds and “Celery Salad” with dried shrimp and roasted sesame oil tried the shrimp. Both totally delicious.
The next course was “Yunnan Steampot Chicken” and lovelt light, fresh broth full of shredded chicken and crisp crunchy green vegetables, topped with bean sprouts. It was a lovely salty broth made using chicken, brandy and a shallot puree. This could easily be my favourite dish, so light, healthy and nourishing.
So many courses! next we were presented with a salad of Asparagus, Capsicum and Eggplant. The taste and texture reminded me of a Thai Beef Salad without the meat. The dish share similar ingredients such as the garlic, fish sauce and lime juice topped with crunchy bean sprouts.
The next dish to be served was the Sweet Guandong Blue Ginger Duck Salad. This aroma’s of this warm salad was amazing as it was set down before us. The rich moist duck was thinly sliced and served in a rich aniseed and barbeque sauces with crispy vegetables.
By this time I am short on tummy space, just sampling the dishes and leaving the majority for Mr GG has somehow filled me up!
Dan Dan Mian Wheat Noodles was the next dish to arrived. Crisp garlic pork had been fried with Szechuan pepper and combined with a satay sauce to accompany the noodles. A very rich creamy dish which we managed to polish off quite quickly given the quantity of food we had already consumed.
We had finished our starters and ready for our main course. Yes dear readers, this is no mistake. We are asked to choose our main meal. We have the choice of ordering all six dishes or just a selection. Given the state of our groaning full bellies, we choose just three mains to share.
The first dish to be selected was the Guangzhou, tamarind, pepper and honey prawns, which is served in a golden pineapple and chilli syrup. The taste is very similar to a sweet and sour dish but it also has a nice selection of vegetables included.
Next was the Szechuan Braised Fish, served in a hoisin sauce with beer lime and soy. The flavours in this dish were a nice contrast to the other dishes we had tried. There was a lovely earthy flavour which came from the use of dried mushrooms. I also loved the crisp green snow peas.
Our final main was another winner! Twice baked Char Siu Pork Belly, there is no greater dish than Char Siu, I love the sweet fragrant flavours.
We have come this far we couldn’t leave without sampling the two desserts from the banquet menu.
The first was a Lemongrass and Coconut Creme Caramel with candied chilli. This is a lovely creamy dessert with only a mild flavour of lemongrass and coconut. The candied chilli has the texture of glace cherries, a similar level of sweetness but with the warm after taste of chilli.
Spiced Almond two ways is the name given to our last offering from the banquet. It is a layered slice with is served with a mandarin and apricot sauce. The base of the slice is a moist almond meal cake with a gorgeous large crumb topped with a very simple custard which tastes like a creamy almond milk blancmange. The citrus sauce and the salad of madarine and apricot match the slice perfectly.
We have had the most delicious end to our banquet and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this feast. I think I have really settled into the cruising lifestyle. The ship was still rocking considerably but I am not finding the movement as much of a problem anymore.