Dining out, leaving the ship behind «

    Dining out, leaving the ship behind

    Cruises rarely lack for dining options, but when ships are docked, either in ports along their routes or before they set sail, passengers are offered rare opportunities to explore local cuisines. Here's a list of restaurants in ports of call around the world — some storied, some new — that should entice travelers to leave the comfort of the ship behind. BUENOS AIRES: El Baqueano. In the Argentine capital, beef is the main culinary focus. But for those seeking a more adventurous menu, there is El Baqueano (www.restoelbaqueano.com), where the European-trained chef Fernando Rivarola presents his diners with modern preparations of meat from indigenous animals. For guests at the dark-toned bistro in the San Telmo neighborhood, that can mean a tasting menu featuring llama carpaccio or caiman empanadas. Rivarola uses meats that have been farmed on a small scale and are still consumed in rural areas. COPENHAGEN: Kodbyens Fiskebar. This spot in the former meatpacking district infuses the seafood restaurant formula with populist irreverence. The decor includes an aquarium full of jellyfish, and decorative meat hooks that hang from the ceiling. Fiskebar (www.fiskebaren.dk) serves as a casual, clubby arm of the New Nordic scene and it shows in the treatment of otherwise prosaic dishes. The fish and chips, for example, features fresh haddock that's lightly smoked before frying, then served in the traditional newspaper cone. Razor clams are served raw, twirled in their long shells and topped with curling pea tendrils. HONG KONG: Lung King Heen. Located in the Four Seasons Hong Kong, with its glassy dining room overlooking the glittering harbor, Lung King Heen (www.fourseasons.com/hongkong) is the first restaurant serving Chinese cuisine to receive three Michelin stars. The chef, Chan Yan Tak, balances the demands of international patrons with dedication to the refinements of Cantonese haute cuisine and its trophy ingredients such as bird's nest, abalone and shark fin. This is a key place to seek out dim sum, which is available at lunch every day. ISTANBUL: Ciya. Do you want your kebap (kebab) with tomatoes, eggplants, peaches, loquats or sour cherries? That's the sort of decision you might face at one of Musa Dagdeviren's three Ciya outposts, in the Kadikoy neighborhood. Dagdeviren has earned praise for his dedication to preserving half-forgotten regional Turkish recipes; that enthusiasm has created a culinary repertoire of dizzying scope. At Ciya Sofrasi (www.ciya.com.tr), its website says, “all the Azerbaijani, Georgian, Turkish, Arabian, Armenian, Ottoman, Syrian, Seldjukian and Jewish dishes are prepared according to the original customs and beliefs.” PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO: El Arrayan. Chicago-based Mexican-food guru Rick Bayless said in an interview that El Arrayan (www.elarrayan.com.mx) “will expand your horizons in terms of what Mexican food has to offer.” The restaurant seeks to rescue old family recipes from around the country, so diners might sample Veracruz-style plantain empanadas, or baked Tabasco-style fish served with a herbaceous tomatillo sauce. El Arrayan does serve modern Mexican food as well, but it's always married to a traditional concept, like quesadillas stuffed with tart, red hibiscus flowers or carnitas made with duck instead of pork. SANTORINI, GREECE: Selene. Last year, the famed Santorini restaurant Selene (www.selene.gr) moved from the town of Fira to the quieter village of Pyrgos, a short drive away. The owner, Yiorgos Hatziyannakis, said the move has brought Selene closer to the farms and vineyards he has championed since he opened the restaurant in 1986. The chef, Konstantina Faklari, infuses traditional dishes with a modern sensibility. SINGAPORE: Maxwell Road Food Centre. For culinary adventurers in Singapore, the best bet isn’t a single restaurant, but a regulated hawker center, where street vendors serve a wide variety of items: all the delicious benefits of street food, without the street (plus better sanitary oversight). At the Maxwell Road Food Centre, the most famous stall is the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall (No. 10), which has been praised by the likes of the Singapore food expert K.F. Seetoh. Other options for curious diners include fried sweet-potato dumplings, Fuzhou oyster cakes and rice porridge. Expect long lunch lines and erratic hours. SORRENTO, ITALY: Don Alfonso 1890. This restaurant (www.donalfonso.com) is a winding 6-mile ride from Sorrento, near the Isle of Capri on Italy's Mediterranean coast. But it's been celebrated by gastronomes. On a ridge between the gulfs of Naples and Salerno, the Iaccarino family's farm grows lemons, grapes, olives and vegetables, which they use at their nearby restaurant. Last year, for example, early spring diners were offered grilled spring kid, red mullet with caper powder, and steamed octopus couscous with Provola cheese foam and cinnamon. SYDNEY: Sepia. In 2009, Martin Benn, who had previously cooked at the famed Tetsuya's, opened his own place (www.sepiarestaurant.com.au), partnering with one of Australia's prominent fish distributors. Naturally, the menu is a festival of regional seafood: Murray cod, scallops, spanner crab, abalone. And the appeal doesn’t end at the entrees. Sepia's Chocolate Forest dessert is memorable. VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Maenam. Chef and owner Angus An worked with David Thompson at London's acclaimed Thai restaurant Nahm before opening this casual-chic spot (www.maenam.ca) in the Kitsilano neighborhood in 2009. He works with northern Pacific fish such as sablefish and halibut, but the roots of his modern dishes are deeply Thai. Each year, An and his Thai-born wife and business partner, Kate, explore a different part of Thailand and set a new regional theme for their menu.

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