Tamarind – ABOARD THE EURODAM on Holland American Line

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Fortune cookie Europdam HALHave you ever seen a chocolate fortune cookie? More specifically, a chocolate almond cookie the size of a woman’s size 6 shoe? That’s just one of the adventures in Asian cuisine on the newly revised menu at the Tamarind restaurant.

Wok seared lobster with ginger and garlic entree at Tamarind Restaurant on the Eurodam.

Our meal at the Tamarind on our previous sailing was a lunch. So I can’t fairly compare that meal, which I recall was quite satisfying, with this dinner. Coincidentally our choice for lunch today in the Lido was Asian as the Flavors of the World offering. It was typically average Asian restaurant fare and I am naturally expecting much more from the Tamarind that touts “food evoking the rich culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, China and Japan,” is located in a space with an understated Asian décor but a commanding view on the ship’s observation deck, and charges an extra $19 per person.

This is just the second cruise after recent additions were made to the Tamarind menu that already comprised a veritable festival of Asian flavors for the curious diner to sample. Everything on the menu is cooked to order and the helpful, charming Asian women serving in the restaurant take care to accommodate any dietary restrictions and adjustments for taste such as spiciness and saltiness.

Soups and appetizers are followed by the choice of either a sushi and sashimi menu or a menu organized around the five Chinese elements of water, wood, fire, earth, and metal (the cooking tools used to prepare the first four).

Tamarind Restaurant’s unique chocolate fortune cookie.

Our soup starters of vegetarian Indonesian-style Laksa and Jewels of the Sea, shrimp-filled dumplings in a lemon grass and sesame broth, were disappointing and delicious, respectively. Appetizers that we shared followed. The first, a satay sampler of meats and shrimp with two traditional dipping sauces covered a swath of cuisine tastes from Malaysia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Next came a Shrimp Tempura Indochine served with a highly tasty tart-and-sweet green papaya salad. Finally, having much experience with Peking Duck in some of China’s best specialty duck restaurants, we ordered up the Tamarind’s version, although we should not have bothered. Best that they leave this dish to the specialists.

For the main course we chose to go with the five Chinese elements menu. The decision was made to select a couple of the dishes newly added as opposed to two retained from the previous menu that are the most popular, Wasabi and Soy Crusted Beef Tenderloin from the Wood choices and Penang Red Curry Coconut Chicken from the Fire list. My quite generous portion of Wok Seared Lobster with Ginger and Garlic from the Water selections was a no-brainer that made a big splash with me (don’t groan, it really did).

On the other hand, Jialin decided to go the adventurous route by choosing a familiar Chinese “delicacy” that few would assume to be exemplary of China’s cuisine, Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly (although ironically for a dish labeled Taiwanese, it was just like Chairman Mao’s favorite pork dish as found in Hunan). Think chunks of unsliced bacon that are five alternating layers of lean and gelatinous fatty pork. My encounters with this dish in China were always decidedly inedible, however, this version was melt-in-the mouth sweetness. Although I found that cutting out that fatty layer and going with just the lean made it more palatable psychologically.

The best dessert on the Tamarind menu is undoubtedly the signature Tamarind Chocolate, a bittersweet chocolate shell filled with rich tamarind-flavored chocolate and ginger mousse. Other choices, such as Mango Cloud and Thai Doughnuts sounded intriguing, nevertheless, I couldn’t pass up having that Chocolate Almond Fortune Cookie. Only problem was it didn’t contain a fortune. When I questioned our server about this omission, she responded sweetly, “As long as your wife is close to you, you have your fortune.”

If you would like to know more about Holland America Line, or to book a Holland America Line cruise, please contact a Cruises-N-More cruise specialist at 800-733-2048 (toll-free USA/Canada), 0-808-189-1292 (toll-free U.K.), 800-076-002 (toll-free Australia) or +1-407-771-4454 direct-dial. Visit Cruises-N-More at http://www.cruises-n-more.com/

Story and Photos above © Dennis Cox / WorldViews

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