Sherman's Food Adventures: Food Republic (NCL Bliss)

Food Republic (NCL Bliss)

As a rule, when we find a restaurant that is all things to everyone, it is a reason to run far away.  Hey, I've always said (and others as well) - do one thing right and do it well.  So when we looked at the menu of Food Republic aboard the NCL Bliss, it initially scared us and we vowed not to eat there for the duration of the cruise.  Think of it, put Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Chinese into one restaurant - there is no way it can be good.  But I get it.  Limited space on a cruise ship means they have to group some things together.   So for the purposes of curiosity, we did eat there anyways.

We ended up doing mostly the Japanese offerings including the Tonkatsu and Black Cod Skewers.  Inexplicably, the pork loin tonkatsu was cut into think strips and topped with honey mustard, radish, dried chorizo and bonito flakes.  Although each piece was crispy, the meat was slightly dried out and there was just too much "stuff" on top.  We would've much preferred a whole tonkatsu (that was less thin) that we could cut up by ourselves.  Coated with a lemon miso glaze, the Black Cod Skewers were actually pretty good despite the lack of charring.  Although it is pretty hard to mess up black cod due to its fat content, they still did a good job where the fish was buttery and soft.  I found the glaze to be a nice balance between sweet and savory with a background tang. 

Of course we didn't ignore the sushi, so we went with classic Dragon Roll consisting of unagi, avocado, shrimp tempura, imitation crab and unagi sauce.  This certainly looked like any other specialty roll from a Japanese restaurant on land.  In some aspects, it was not bad but the rice was a little soft for our liking.  Other than that, the avocado was fresh while the eel was soft and there was enough sauce.  The other roll was the Salmon Belly Roll with salmon roe and green apple.  As expected, this was a light and refreshing as there were not many strong flavors at play.  Again, the avocado as well as the cucumber were fresh.  Salmon was buttery and soft but a little lacking in flavor though.  Rice was still soft, but since there was a bit less, it wasn't as apparent.

Continuing with Japanese, we tried the Ramen with BBQ Pork Belly in a lemongrass broth.  Okay, I know I shouldn't have been expecting much, but still this was a fail.  First, the broth didn't really go with the rest of the ingredients.  It wasn't rich nor flavorful enough to stand up to the noodles and the pork belly.  The belly was probably the only good thing about this as the egg was not even done properly.  At the very least, we ended off with a fairly decent attempt at Shrimp Pad Thai made with real tamarind.  It was also spicy, which was a pleasant surprise.  The noodles were a bit soft though, but this was our favorite item of the bunch.  The large shrimp were also done properly with a meaty snap.  Yet, that wasn't enough for us to justify spending any extra money to eat at Food Republic.  We suspected this already.  It was just plain stupidity on our part.

The Good:
- Lots of choice
- Excellent location with plenty of natural light
- Interesting "order-at-your-table" computer screen

The Bad:
- Food is okay, but not worth the extra cost
- Small portions


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