Food is a big part of cruising. It conjures up images of fruity drinks with umbrellas, midnight buffets with butter carvings and fruits carved into flowers and to some 24 hours of food. You could go to an al la carte breakfast lunch and dinner then eat in the main dining room, room service is available at your beckon and call 24/7, and there are the endless snacks, sandwiches and if that was not enough you can get late night nachos. Although the midnight buffet has disappeared, specialty dining has been growing in popularity. Specialty dining has been around for a few years but now celebrity chefs are creating new restaurants aboard cruise ships. You may see a restaurant by Jaime Oliver, Curtis Stone, Thomas Keller or even Jacques Pépin. Steak houses, rustic Italian or even a British pub. Our hands-down favorite is Izumi, a Japanese sushi restaurant.
Since we are frequent passengers with Royal Caribbean, we have fallen in love with IZUMI. Think sushi at sea. Over the years, they have added dishes such as ramen soups (the hubster’s favorite is the spicy ramen), table top cooking with hot rocks. The choices of sushi rolls seems to change from time to time, too. One of our favorites was the Dragon Eel sushi roll. Just about makes my mouth water. We always look forward to stuffing our faces with the eel or with any of our other favorites. On our last cruise, we made our way to lunch and noticed it was not on the menu. Our waiter explained to us that they could not get a good supplier of eel so they had to take it off the menu. You could hear our cries of anguish in the lounge next door! Then we realized that we could try and possibly like something new. It was not that difficult to get over the disappointment. We gave another roll our full attention, the Spider Crab roll. Dragon eel roll, what is that?
While at sea, there is no better way to spend your lunch hour. IZUMI is not part of your complementary dining but it is well worth the extra splurge. Saki, sushi, tempura and gyoza you cannot go wrong. Eating great fresh sushi and watching the sea roll by. IZUMI is just like any Japanese restaurant, you get hot edamame with sea salt flakes sprinkled on top as your first course. For me, they seem to disappear quickly while waiting for the other dishes.
Our last cruise we had three sea days, which meant three opportunities to stuff our faces with Japanese cuisine. We took advantage of two of the three and ate to our heart’s content. My favorites are the seaweed salad (I did not take the picture fast enough), spicy crispy shrimp roll, spider crab roll, and the pan-fried dumplings. Ok, I like most of the menu. It is fun to try different things, and even if they did not have the eel I was able to try the octopus sashimi. If after you have eaten all the sushi and veggies if there is room may I suggest the mochi cream to end your meal.
From a wide variety of sushi and nori rolls, there is something for everyone. Although I did not order it this time, they have hot rocks to cook your dish right at your table. If you do not like any of those choices then try the Tempura vegetables. Alternatively, you can get a ramen bowl. You will not go hungry if you do order it.
Izumi on most Royal ships is located on deck 11.There are only two elevators that can reach it. Therefore, it seems like a private dinning club. Your view is the ship’s aft but calm blue waters surround you, if you are lucky! If you are up for it, you can even take a sushi making class. You get to eat what you make. You get a choice of champagne or Saki to accompany your lunch. We discovered the longer the lunch, the louder the laugher. It seems the free flowing booze is a booster.
Our next cruise is not until January 2020 and I am already dreaming of the all the sushi rolls I can get.