Pandaw’s new culinary journeys on the rivers of Indochina

River Cruise pioneer unveils a fresh menu of dining delights designed by award-winning Chef and Restauranteur
River cruise pioneer, Pandaw Expeditions, has unveiled a series of delectable new menus to tantalise the taste buds of guests as they cruise the greatest rivers of Indochina. The new lunch and dinner menus offer fresh, authentic dishes inspired by the destinations visited on Pandaw’s exotic itineraries, using locally sourced ingredients and prepared by the excellent onboard chefs.

The food onboard a Pandaw cruise is an important element of the overall experience and Pandaw pride themselves on the reputation their culinary expertise has gained among previous guests.

The new menus for the Indochina region have been overseen by Pandaw’s newly appointed Food & Beverage Manager (Indochina), Brian Woolley. Born and raised in Australia, Brian has 40 years’ experience having trained and worked in Australia, France, the UK and USA, South America and Southeast Asia. Brian has been the owner of two award-winning restaurants in Australia and his career highlights include time as an Executive Chef for a number of the five-star Fairmont Hotels & Resorts properties in North America and Canada.

“Sampling the local cuisine and discovering new flavour combinations is one of the best things about travel, as the experience creates lasting memories and inspires cooking techniques to take home and share with friends and family,” says Brian Woolley, Food & Beverage Manager for Pandaw (Indochina). “I am delighted to be working with Pandaw to deliver these exciting, culinary experiences and to open up a world of new flavours to guests as they cruise the majestic waterways of Southeast Asia.”

For cruises on the Red River, such as the 10-night ‘Halong Bay And Red River’ itinerary, guests can enjoy new exciting new dishes at each course. New starters include chicken, scallop & banana blossom salad; a My Tho province rice noodle soup topped with prawns, calamari, chicken & pork; and Vietnamese pork bone & green papaya soup. New main courses include pan fried fish with lemongrass-scented coconut milk & sawtooth coriander; pork belly marinated in coriander seeds, black pepper & oyster sauce; and stir-fried chicken with lolot pepper leaves. To finish, desserts include banana fritters crumbed in coconut; and white rice with palm sugar caramel & tapioca sauce. 

While cruising in the Vietnam and Cambodia region, on an itinerary such as the seven-night ‘Classic Mekong’, new starters include fresh squid & mango salad; spicy pork rib soup; and marinated lemongrass beef skewers. The new main courses include locally caught lobster with Khmer curry sauce; vegetarian Quảng noodle soup; braised grouper with pineapple; spicy coconut catfish; sautéed crab with green kampot peppercorns; and Vietnamese caramelized & braised snakehead fish. To finish, desserts have an Asian twist, such as cacao cheesecake; and meringue with dragon fruit. Pandaw has also refreshed the wine list for the Mekong Pandaw, selecting crisper, lighter wines to best suit the climate.

On ‘The Laos Mekong’ itinerary, which traverses Laos and touches Thailand and Burma too, the new starters include Lao spicy minced pork salad; Luang Prabang salad; and rustic and spicy Laotian fish soup with grilled eggplants & oyster mushrooms. New to the choice of main courses is Kurobata pork cutlet with honey chipotle & apple relish; steamed barramundi with Thai herbs and Asian greens; and golden egg curry. New sweet treats, heavily based on the abundance of exotic fruit readily available, includes fried banana with roasted rice & ice cream; and banana cake with shredded coconut cream. 

For cruises on the Irrawaddy River, such as the seven-night ‘The Upper Irrawaddy’ itinerary and the new-for-2018 ‘The Great Irrawaddy Delta’, the new menus have recently been curated by Pandaw’s Stuart Hickman, Food & Beverage Manager (Burma). 

The recently introduced starters include Myanmar tea leaf & ginger salads; traditional yellow lentil soup; and Myanmar samosas with tamarind sauce. The national dish of ‘Mohhin Hkar’; local river prawn ravioli with basil; and Bagan style pork curry are some of the new main dishes. For vegetarians, fresh additions include Rakhine lemongrass and vegetable curry with shwe bo rice; and Shan state pineapple rice. New desserts include banana fritters flambéed in honey and Mandalay rum; lemongrass crème brulee; and coconut panna cotta with papaya coulis. 

“I like to create contemporary dishes using locally sourced produce, adding new twists and utilising different cooking methods to create my own definition of the cuisine of Myanmar,” says Stuart Hickman, Food & Beverage Manager (Myanmar). “We have a great array of local chefs who showcase the best authentic cooking techniques. As with all good cuisine, the cornerstone of great food is great produce. We search local markets and work with producers all over Myanmar to bring guests nothing short of an amazing culinary journey on Pandaw’s beautiful ships, served by wonderful crew, accompanied by fine wines and incredible, ever-changing landscapes.” 

On all of Pandaw’s ships, breakfast is a buffet, lunch features buffet stations with the main course served at the table, and dinner is by waiter-service. Pandaw will happily cater for dietary preferences, such as European-style alternatives to spicy foods and for vegetarians. Other special diets may be accommodated by prior arrangement. 

As the longest established river cruise company in Southeast Asia, Pandaw Expeditions is the pioneer of adventurous river cruising in Asia, specialising in creating exhilarating itineraries that take guests off the beaten track. The unique design of Pandaw’s small but powerful shallow-draught ships, beautifully hand-crafted in teak and brass, allows them to reach remote areas that other cruise operators cannot in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.

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