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Cruise Dinner: Sterling Steakhouse Day 5

October 15, 2013

After spending a night docked in Hong Kong followed by 2 full days at sea, today we finally reached our first real port of call on this cruise. We anchored just off shore at Nha Trang, Vietnam. Nha Trang, located in southern Vietnam is quickly becoming a popular beach resort city.  With many small islands located just off shore, exclusive swanky 5-star resorts have set up shop and are attracting not just locals but foreign visitors alike.  Not knowing what to expect as neither my husband nor I had ever been to Vietnam before, we opted to take a guided city tour being offered by the ship. During our tour we visited a couple of religious sights including the Ponagar Temple and the Long Son Pagoda, in addition to enjoying a break at a local restaurant where we were each treated to a young coconut and a show of local song and dance performed by young girls from the area.  All in all, it was an interesting experience. It was pretty much what we had expected Vietnam to be like in some ways, and not as impressive as we had expected a beach resort town to be like in other ways.


Once back on board the ship, we decided that for dinner we’d take advantage of a gift given to us by our travel agent and enjoy an evening meal for two in the ship’s specialty restaurant rather than dining in the main dining room.  As this particular ship only had one specialty restaurant, our decision was pretty easy.  Every evening, half of the upstairs Horizon Court, the buffet, is shut down and transformed in to a classy steak house known as the Sterling Steak House.  So, after a long day on land, we treated ourselves, thanks to our travel agent, to a nice quiet dinner for two at a steak house restaurant.


On top of the free dinner for two, our travel agent also treated us to a free bottle of house champagne.  Unfortunately, this does no good for me as I am not a drinker of alcoholic beverages, so I told my husband to enjoy.  At first, my husband agreed to just drink his glass of champagne and drink mine as well so it would look like we had at least partaken in some of the champagne they brought us.  However, the service was so good that every time my husband took a couple of drinks, before his glass was even half empty, a waiter was at our table refilling his drink.  In the end, I think my husband finished off about half the bottle of champagne before we finally had to tell them no more, we’re done!  The waiter asked what he should do with the rest of the bottle, we told him he should take it and enjoy some champagne in his room.  Cheers!


Shortly thereafter, we were presented with our menu for the evening full of yummy choices.  Way too many yummy choices to decide upon.  And I’m sure that we’ll probably end up eating more with our eyes than with our stomachs and ordering way more than we could ever finish.


As an amouse bouche, the chef sent out to our table some bruschetta to enjoy while we perused through the menu.  That’s a classy touch.


While looking over the menu, our waiter came to our table with the presentation of the beef.  The same way you’d see at most classy steakhouses, the various cuts of meat are brought out to the table along with an explanation as to what the various cuts are, how they are aged and how long they have been aged by the restaurant.  This is generally the segment where the waiter will give their personal assessment as to the most flavorful or best cuts of beef being offered.413416

To start off my meal, I ordered the Caesar salad tossed to order with parmesan croutons.  I read that it said “tossed to order” but I guess that didn’t really register in my mind that it would actually be tossed tableside.  But after I ordered my salad, the waiter wheeled a cart over to the table and actually tossed my Caesar salad to order.  Kind of neat, and not really seen at restaurants anymore.  At the end, he asked me if I liked bacon bits, to which I responded positively, and had bacon bits tossed in to my salad as well.  I loved the salad, though it’s hard to really mess up Caesar salad that badly.  The Caesar dressing was tangy and creamy and the lettuce fresh and crisp since the salad was just tossed tableside.


My husband ordered the carpaccio of Kobe beef.  Like much of this cruise, this meal had my husband ordering something I’m not used to seeing him order.  Not that he’s not a fan of beef, but it’s more that he’s not a big carpaccio fan and though he’s had some when I’ve ordered it before, I’ve never actually seen him order it before.  I think that the appeal of kobe beef is what grabbed his attention.  The carpaccio was served with wakame salad, ponzu-soy dressing and extra virgin olive oil.  These yummy, bite-sized pieces of wonderfully marbled beef came out to the table, drizzled in extra virgin olive oil.  The ponzu-soy dressing was served on the side so that you could dip the beef into it.  The super tender and delicious kobe beef along with the crunchy wakame salad and the citrus flavor of the ponzu-soy dressing was the perfect combination that my husband just gobbled up.

For our entrees, we were told in advance that the side dishes of creamed corn and creamed spinach would automatically be served to the table and didn’t need to be ordered.  All we needed to order was the beef, chicken or seafood itself and the rest would be taken care of.

Indeed, out to the table came a bowl of creamed corn and a bowl of creamed spinach.  I was so looking forward to this as I love creamed corn.  I will say though, that I was quite disappointed in the creamed corn and the creamed spinach that we were given.  The corn was definitely canned corn and not fresh corn, though I can understand as I don’t think fresh corn is easily found in this part of the world.  But the taste was just not creamy as creamed corn or creamed spinach should be.  Sadly, after a bite or two, I had to say no more and didn’t touch either dish.


My husband took the waiter’s suggestion and ordered the 14 oz ribeye steak rich with heavy marbling.  Each entrée is served with a baked potato, to which my husband added sour cream, chives and bacon bits, along with roasted mushrooms and a roasted tomato.  Several steak sauces were also brought to the table for our choosing, of which my husband opted for the green peppercorn sauce.  Good choice.  Also, as a bit of a treat, seasoning salts were offered as well.  At first, we were both going to decline the seasoning salts as neither of us are being salt fans.  However, the waiter suggested that he give us a little sample of the volcanic black Himalayan salt on the side and just suggested we give it a try – cut off a piece of meat, dip it in to the salt and see how we like it.  This waiver knew what he was talking about because this Himalayan salt was rich and flavorful and super smoky and absolutely delicious.


Knowing I couldn’t possibly finish a large ribeye, I went with the slightly smaller, 12 oz traditional New York strip steak.  I found my dish equally as delicious as my husband did with a perfectly grilled medium rare New York striploin along with the terrific green peppercorn sauce and the yummy volcanic black Himalayan salt.  Where has this salt been all my life!  But, sadly and predictably, I wasn’t quite able to finish my entire steak.  What a shame.

Alright, dessert time!  Just because I was stuffed, you didn’t honestly think I wouldn’t have dessert, did you?


Based on the choices available, I selected the raspberry crème brulee with a sugar cane crust as my dessert.  It came out much larger than I had expected, and even though it was delicious, and a nice touch with some Madelines, I couldn’t finish the dessert either.  No worries though, my husband came to the rescue and finished my dessert for me!  I enjoyed the crème brulee so much that a few weeks after we came back from this cruise, we ended up making a batch of crème brulees at home for our own dessert.


My husband chose the chocolate pecan pie for his dessert.  I guess I didn’t realize until a couple of months back that my husband liked pecan pie.  It’s too bad for him because it’s not something I like and something I will probably never make at home.  But he loved his chocolate ganache covered traditional pecan pie.  A hint of sweetness but not too much to be off putting!

We’ve got to thank our travel agent for the wonderful gift a nice, private dinner for two at the Sterling Steak House and for the bottle of champagne, even if I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it.  I was so stuffed from this meal, it was a wonder I could even walk back to our stateroom.  Time to rest up for an ultra long day in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, tomorrow!

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