Sherman's Food Adventures: East Meets West (NCL Pride of America)

East Meets West (NCL Pride of America)

Call it what you want - taking one for the team or just plain poor judgement - I convinced everyone (including my parents) to try the Asian-inspired East Meets West aboard the Pride of America.  The likelihood of finding good Chinese food at this place was on par with starving aboard a cruise ship.  But we needed some variety and I gotta give NCL props for at least trying.  Then again, as Yoda once said, "do or do not, there is no try"...

We began with one each of the Steamed and Fried Dumplings (only fried pictured). I found the skin on the steamed ones a bit dry and dense, but decently thin. The filling was a good combination of cabbage and ground pork. It was moist and well-balanced in flavor. Crispy and completely deep-fried, the other dumplings ate much more hearty. Accompanying both was a sweet soy that had a slight kick. With large tentacle portions, the Fried Squid was both good and bad. The rings were terrible being chewy and dry while the tentacles were buttery and appealingly chewy.  Both were properly seasoned.

Moving onto the main dishes, we ordered nearly all of the available options including the Orange Peel Beef. It featured severely overcooked slices of beef that were subject to a syrupy glaze. It did exhibit a good amount of bitter orange peel though, but it was by no means appealing in taste. Ultimately, the sugar content overwhelmed everything. The same could be said about the Sweet & Sour Pork which was served strangely in slices as well. Chewy and not crispy at all, the pork was coated in a sweet sauce that was crying out for acidity.  Furthermore, the dish was just too wet in texture, which wasn't particularly appetizing.

Strangely salty, the Kung Pao Chicken was not spicy and vinegary like it should’ve been. Rather, it was not only salty, the dreaded sugary glaze reared its ugly head again. Worst of all, the chunks of chicken were hard and dry which made them difficult to eat. I guess my expectations should've been lowered at this point. Surprisingly and thankfully, the Lemon Pepper Shrimp was pretty good. Despite being a touch greasy, the prawns were meaty and exhibited a nice crunch. Furthermore, the sweetness of the sauce was interrupted by a noticeable pepperiness.

Also dry and slightly hard was the Steamed Mahi-Mahi in a ginger sauce. With that being said, this was one of the lighter dishes that did not suffer from being overseasoned. On that note, Mahi-Mahi was not a good choice for steaming as the leaner meat didn't have a chance in being moist (unless it was prepared in a different manner). Surprisingly, the Special Fried Rice was decent with a bevy of ingredients including BBQ pork, beef, shrimp, snow peas, napa cabbage and carrots. It wasn’t exactly dry, but did exhibit a nuttiness from the stir-fry.  There was nearly as much filling as rice itself.

Seeing how we were in need of soup noodle therapy (we need this every trip), we decided to try the BBQ Pork Rice Noodles.  Bad decision as the pork itself was too lean and featured a very unnatural shade of red. It was also rather bland too. As for the noodles, they were a bit too soft and the broth was very mild. On the other hand, the Beef Chow Fun was the best of the bunch featuring chewy rice noodles that weren’t too greasy. The beef was like the other dishes being dry and salty, but the rest of the stir fry featured crunchy veggies.  Hence, it was passable.

The last noodle, Peking Style Shrimp & Chicken atop wok fried lo mein noodles, was just plain weird.  It featured dry chalky noodles (not lo mein!) topped with overcooked chicken and shrimp that was also quite salty. It was as if they just dumped ingredients on top of under cooked noodles.  At the very least, they were able to keep the veggies crisp (which was consistent with the rest of the dishes).

For dessert, we tried the Coconut Tapioca Pudding with spiced mango and orange syrup.  It had the right consistency being but was far too sweet.  The addition of the syrup merely compounded the problem.  They should've just stuck to a regular tapioca pudding without the bells and whistles.  Next up was the Crispy Chestnut & Red Bean Triangles with green tea ice cream and caramel sauce.  In actuality, this was all about the green tea ice cream with a side of dry phyllo triangles that didn't taste like anything due to the lack of filling.  When we did get a bite of filling, it was dense and chalky, but not too sweet.  Okay, this was a predictable end to a fairly predictable meal.  We give NCL props for trying, but ultimately, it didn't work (even for Americanized fare).  However, with a few tweaks (maybe proper consultation), there is potential here.

The Good:
- Veggies were on point
- Decent wok heat for a cruise ship
- They tried

The Bad:
- Sub-par, even for Americanized Chinese food
- Salty