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.
“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.”
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.
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.
Sun | Radiant vegetables playfully reinvented
Baby vegetables in the garden | black rice
Dubbed “baby vegetables in a garden,” this gorgeously plated salad features various vegetables seeming to sprout from a patch of dirt (in reality, crumbled rye bread, if I’m not mistaken). Your server then covers the scenic vista with a white dressing, making it appear the garden is buried in snow.
Slow cooked baby beets | sriracha yoghurt
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.
Ice | Chilled to exhilarate the palate
Crispy crab cones | cilantro, avocado mousse, ohba leaf
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.
Fire | emanating wonderful warmth
Buffalo chicken eggs | smoke, blue cheese, hot sauce
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.
Duck liver fritter | Crispy crumb
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.
Crispy tempura kim chee leaves | marinated melon
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.
Sea | Oceanic inspirations from the tide of the imagination
Liquid lobster | bone marrow, caviar
We started off with a liquid lobster dish with a dollop of caviar, which was part of the sea element.
Branzino in crispy bread | tamarind spice emulsion
I took a bite of the perfectly prepared branzino, served atop a tasty rice with a tamarind infusion. The fish was instead topped with a thin piece of baked bread which maintained its crunch much better than a traditional breading would have.
Earth | Dishes grounded in whimsy
Terrior beef | river stone potatoes, bordelaise sauce
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.
Slow roasted chicken | crispy skin, potato butter purée
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.
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.
Eating at Wonderland was a great experience because of how odd the place is from a decor and presentation standpoint. The food was good, maybe not the best I’ve ever eaten on a Royal Caribbean cruise, but definitely met my expectations.
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. I think Wonderland is the kind of restaurant you have to experience for yourself at least once. I’m not sure it will become the kind of restaurant like Chops Grill or Izumi, where I’d want to dine there multiple times per sailing.
Cruise date : Nov 2016