Explora Journeys is pleased to present additional information on five of its outstanding six onboard restaurants on EXPLORA I, the first of six ships, that will set sail on July 17, 2023 from Southampton in the UK. Among the ship’s 18 food and beverage venues these five restaurants offer guests superb all-inclusive menus that include unique signature dishes influenced by a variety of international cuisines.
The visual excitement and sheer variety of luxury dining experiences at Explora Journeys’ restaurants come thanks to the leadership of Franck Garanger and his extraordinarily talented team. Restaurant kitchens of international stature are all about precision and technique; but equally important is an understanding of produce – perfectly fresh, sustainable and locally sourced, with components such as bakery and pasta made from scratch onboard. The culinary team aims to maintain a delicate balance of creativity and restraint, an approach that allows beautiful ingredients to shine, taking guests on a journey of discovery via flavours drawn from cuisines around the world.
Explora Journeys’ sommeliers have also gone the extra mile to source boutique labels offering unusual, sometimes very rare, wines of unexpected provenance. A specially curated mixology program includes the signature Ocean State of Mind cocktail, as well as beverages uniquely designed to accompany specific regional menus. Alongside this offering is a special focus on interesting, alcohol-free beverages.
This is the level of focus invested in providing consistently exceptional dining experiences at all Explora Journeys’ venues, including the five restaurants under the spotlight here:
World-leading refined dining
Sakura is inspired by the ancient tea rooms of Kyoto (the name means ‘cherry blossom’). Its chefs follow traditional Japanese techniques, using meticulously sourced ingredients to create an authentic pan-Asian experience. Menus embrace not just Japanese, but Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisines, too, with a specialist sommelier on hand to advise on sake, shōchūs and other Asian-influenced drinks.
Wakame salad, smoked Madagascan pepper, and Wagyu beef tataki
Japan’s famously luxurious Grade 5 Wagyu beef is never cooked or grilled – it’s delicately torched, an authentic cooking technique that sears the meat at an extremely high heat, preserving its astonishing melt-in-the-mouth succulence. The Madagascan pepper is an exceptional variety that grows wild on tall lianas in the heart of Madagascar’s rainforests. Intensely aromatic and exotically spicy, it imparts sweet, very fragrant, rustic hints to the dish that linger long on the palate. Wakame is not only a highly nutritious seaweed that is associated with a range of health benefits, but it also gives this salad an irresistible umami flavour with a hint of sweetness.
In the expert hands of Explora Journeys’ chefs, the humble kale salad is ingeniously transformed into culinary art. This superfood salad, packed with health-boosting vitamins and minerals, is not simply dressed, but cured with top-class sesame dressing, which produces a mellow, rounded flavour. An ingenious fusion of clean living with the flavours of Asia, it’s an example of the culinary team’s creative skill in elevating a humble ingredient to fine-dining greatness.
Kaffir lime pavlova, mango, passion fruit brunoise, mango sorbet
This East-meets-West interpretation of pavlova typifies the passion, creative expertise and multicultural diversity of the talented pastry team. The zest and leaves of the tropical kaffir lime are prized for the complex floral aroma they bring to Thai and Vietnamese dishes. In this delicious Asian twist on a classic dessert, kaffir lime gives the meringue base an intriguing kick, which is then topped with finely diced mango and passionfruit and served with a refreshing mango sorbet.
Marble & Co. Grill is cool and contemporary, with soft lighting and relaxed, attentive service – a mellow and welcoming place to dine that redefines the European steakhouse concept. The aim is simply to provide exceptional cuts of sumptuous, sustainable meats, rigorously sourced for their intense flavour and provenance. There’s an in-house Dry Ager, as well as a cellar stocked with fine wines.
Grilled prime rib, aged for 30 days, cherry tomatoes, Hollandaise Sauce
Sourced from a top-quality producer found only in the Deux-Sévres region of the lush Loire Valley, the Jersiaise breed is world-famous for its sensational flavour and intense marbling. As such, it is one of the most sought-after cuts for prime rib, the chefs’ choice for creating the finest version of this steakhouse classic. For optimum enjoyment, it is topped very simply with cherry tomatoes and a velvety hollandaise sauce.
Crushed fingerling potatoes, Le Beurre Bordier butter from Normandy, Calvisius Oscietra caviar, crème fraiche, chives
Like many creations whose success depends on simplicity combined with the finest ingredients, this dish is breath-taking. Take heirloom fingerling potatoes, crush them together with France’s renowned Bordier butter, and top with Calvisius Oscietra caviar. This premium caviar is sustainably produced in Italy, where there’s a constant supply of pristine spring water, giving it its low-salt flavour and elevating the quality to best in class.
Med Yacht Club recalls sophisticated Mediterranean beachside restaurants offering regional ocean-inspired dishes, a convivial place for guests to enjoy with friends and family. The tastes and textures of Italy, Spain, Greece, France and North Africa are captured in sharing plates that include plant-based ingredients, accompanied cocktails and wines from the vineyards of the Mediterranean.
Grilled octopus, San Marzano tomato sauce, Taggiasca olives, green beans, parsley
Sharp, sundried Taggiasca olives complement sweet San Marzano tomatoes, creating a perfectly balanced bed for expertly grilled octopus. The dish is a tribute to the importance of province when sourcing the finest ingredients – a minimum requirement of Explora Journeys’ chefs.
Sweet caprese with cherry tomatoes, strawberries, burrata, pesto
This surprising, creative twist on the Italian classic caprese is a sweet interpretation that calls for a delightful base of cherry tomatoes and strawberries topped with burrata made from an emulsified burrata cream. Another layer of tomatoes and strawberries is added, and the dish is finished with a drizzle of pesto based on Sicilian Bronte pistachios.
Emporium Marketplace is all airy marble minimalism where the food is king. Cooking stations serve destination-inspired dishes, with sushi, seafood and exquisite meats presented alongside pasta cooked to order and freshly baked pizza. Guests can enjoy charcuterie and fromagerie, and bread and pastries delivered straight from oven to table. Fresh juices, smoothies and acai bowls are served at breakfast.
Handmade tortelloni, ricotta cheese, spinach, tomato-sage butter
It’s often the simplest dishes that take great skill – this classic is no exception. Tortelloni are ring-shaped, filled pasta ‘pockets’ that originate in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Made onboard from scratch every day in the authentic Italian way, it’s a process best described as art-meets-science. Carefully sourced flour is used to make dough that has the correct degree of elasticity; this is essential to giving the tortelloni their mouth-watering light and silky texture before being filled with ricotta and spinach, then gently coated in tomato-sage butter.
Plant-based chia yoghurt
Freshly made from cashew milk every day, this calcium-rich chia yoghurt is a fusion of delicious creamy flavours. This sublime start to the day isn’t just flavoursome, it also offers abundant fibre, protein and omega-3 fatty acids – a delicious way for guests to add probiotics to their daily diet.
Fil Rouge offers exquisite, French-inspired international cuisine in an intimate ambiance where guests can linger longer to truly appreciate the level of gastronomic creativity. The decor features intricate hexagon shapes contrasting with clean white walls, a tribute to timeless elegance in its purest form.
Tuna tataki, crispy tomato-olive tart, vegetables, vanilla white pepper
Explora Journeys’ chefs choose bluefin tuna for their tataki. This Japanese dish involves searing the tuna at a scorching temperature before rapidly cooling it, leaving the centre rare – only the finest quality will do for this time-honoured technique. Caught in the sea close to Cartagena Bay on the Mediterranean coast in south-eastern Iberia, it’s among the best-grade tuna to be found anywhere in the world.
A world-leading international culinary team
None of these superb restaurants would exist without a world-class professional culinary team behind them. Balancing contemporary techniques and creativity with a deep respect for regional culinary history, Explora Journeys’ chefs have one aim: to enhance the memories that guests take with them long after their journey has ended.
Franck Garanger, Explora Journeys’ Head of Culinary, is greatly respected for his exacting gastronomic standards. He has raised the bar for the industry, moving it forward at a pace that promises to transform fine dining in general, but particularly at sea. Personally responsible for sourcing and hand-selecting the finest ingredients from all over the planet, he and his team combine them to create a magical palette of flavours that reflect the regional cuisines along each journey. He is assisted by a team that’s at the top of their game:
Alban Gjoka, Senior Lead Culinary Operations helps to conceptualise exciting menus and source top-quality ingredients. Jérôme Toumelin, Corporate Executive Chef’s earned his expertise worldwide, including six years as Executive Chef at Market by Jean-Georges in Paris. Christophe Sapy, Corporate Executive Pastry Chef, has a formidable reputation for turning desserts into works of art and Frederic Godineau, Senior Executive Chef, comes to EXPLORA I with 19 years of experience in hospitality.
The vast experience, artistic flair and culinary sophistication that these experts bring to Explora Journeys kitchens ensures that guests will enjoy dining that is simply exceptional.