A Culinary Guide to President Cruises’ 2019 Menu

Having worked closely with Michelin Star celebrity chef John Burton-Race for an extended period in order to produce this menu, it’s safe to say that we’re proud of the results. We’ve put together a short guide to some of the finest ingredients available on the menu to get you in the mood for our fine dining experience.

Oscietra Caviar

Aboard the President, we like to provide only the finest luxury available, that’s why we spared no expense in importing some of the world’s most desirable caviar. Oscietra is famed as one of the most highly sought-after varieties of caviar, obtained from the oscietra sturgeon, and second in price to only the legendary Beluga caviar. It varies in color, and can range from a deep brown to gold, with gold oscietra producing the richest flavor.

Hạ Long Prawn 

One of the many local ingredients that we’re ever so proud of here in the bay; the prawns that we catch in the area spend very little time out of the water before making their way to your plate. Besides just how fresh this ingredient is, one of the best parts of our prawns are their size: big in stature, meaty but still succulent, and tender – they’re a must-try for anyone visiting Halong Bay.

Truffle 

Think of a truffle, in layman’s terms, like a fungus, or mushroom, that grows underground. Growing them is no easy feat and due to living underground, around the base of a tree, they’re fairly hard to find. This is, in part, what makes them such a delicacy. They’re a prized ingredient within French, Italian, Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Spanish cuisine, with French chef Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin calling them, “the diamond of the kitchen.”

Fillet of beef

Back in December we proudly announced the arrival of our beefsteak into the bay. John Burton-Race arrived shortly after the steak, bringing his incredible standards and high-end cuisine with him. After much demand, we decided to maintain this incredibly high standard of western cuisine for future guests and kept John’s take on the fillet of beef on the menu.

Wasabi

When it comes to western cuisine, wasabi alone has grown in popularity over the years, due to the growth of a global taste for sushi. The green paste has garnered a certain reputation, however, for being mustard disguised as wasabi, in certain parts of western cuisine. There will be none of that aboard the President, of course. We use only the finest wasabi root to produce our wasabi, and then mix it with mayonnaise to create a fine blend of flavor and texture.

Top 5 Celebrity Chefs in Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine has received a lot of attention over the past few years. Unsurprisingly, this has garnered the attention of some famous faces, a few of which have come along to try it for themselves. Here’s our list of the top five celebrity chefs that have been to Vietnam and made it a part of their career.

Gordon Ramsay

Perhaps better known these days for his fiery temper rather than his cuisine, Ramsay visited Vietnam in 2011 to shoot an episode of Gordon’s Great Escapes. Ramsay was enthralled by the abundance of fresh ingredients that go into Vietnamese cuisine, calling the local market a ‘chef’s dream,’ as well as being slightly perturbed by the broad use of certain ingredients.

Ramsay’s newfound infatuation with Vietnamese cuisine comes as high praise from a chef whose restaurants have been awarded a total of 16 Michelin stars. Following his visit, Ramsay continued to celebrate Vietnamese cuisine by tasking the final five contestants of his TV show MaterChef US to prepare of bowl of hu tieu in 2013.

Anthony Bourdain

It should come as no surprise to see Anthony Bourdain’s name on this list. A strong advocate of Vietnamese cuisine right up until his tragic death in 2018, Bourdain became something of a spokesperson for Vietnamese food in the west, even accompanying former US President Barak Obama to a meal out in Hanoi.

Bourdain’s career as a chef eventually stopped as he took to the television screens instead. Here, Bourdain introduced the world to what was an otherwise unfamiliar, exotic cuisine. Through shows like A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, The Layover and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, the TV host shone a light on Vietnam’s rich culinary history. In an interview with Conde Nast Traveller, Bourdain stated, ‘the trip to Vietnam changed my life!’

Bobby Chinn

International celebrity chef Bobby Chinn, born in New Zealand to Egyptian and Chinese parents, has, perhaps, the strongest link to Vietnam – literally putting his name to the country in 2001 with his restaurant: Restaurant Bobby Chinn. After an unpleasant back injury in 1996, Chinn decided to move to Vietnam to learn the art of Vietnamese cuisine under street food vendors.

Chinn eventually took his love for Vietnamese food back to the west, opening up his Vietnamese restaurant House of Ho in London. These days, Chinn’s celebrity status is on the rise as a judge on MBC’s Top Chef Middle East, broadcasted across the Middle East and North Africa.

Christine Ha

Ha’s position as judge on MasterChef Vietnam has made her a popular household name in Vietnam, but her fame goes beyond borders. Her celebrity career actually started as a contestant on season three of MasterChef in the US. Ha was the first-ever blind contestant on the show, winning the coveted title and a $250,000 cash prize. Ha’s cuisine throughout the show reflected many of Vietnam’s traditional dishes.

John Burton-Race

Born in Singapore to a British diplomatic father, John was destined for a globe-trotting career, spending much of his youth traveling with his family. John claims that these formative years have gone on to inspire his culinary style to this day. In 1983 John cut his culinary teeth under renowned chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, where he was soon promoted to sous chef. John impressed Raymond so much as sous chef that, when Raymond opened Le Petit Blanc in Oxford, he put John in charge of the restaurant and the kitchen, this is where John was awarded his first Michelin star.

John visited Vietnam in January 2019, stepping aboard President Cruises, Halong Bay’s most glamorous floating hotel, to share his world-class culinary knowledge. Besides the Michelin standard cuisine that he’ll bring with him, we expect that Vietnamese cuisine will leave an inevitable imprint on John.

Michelin Restaurants and Michelin Stars: How it all Works

At President Cruises, we’ve recruited help from celebrity chef John Burton-Race to craft our Michelin standard menu. As a multi-Michelin Star holder with a background in global cuisine, we knew John would be the man for the job.

Being awarded a Michelin Star is the gold standard for restaurants, indicating exceptional, world-class dining. They are so well regarded amongst the industry that Gordon Ramsey reportedly cried when he lost one at his New York restaurant, stating that it was, “like losing a girlfriend.”

But what is a Michelin Star exactly? And how does one receive one?

Stemming from unassuming roots, the Michelin in Michelin Star does in fact come from Michelin, the tire company. It started back in 1900, when the UK-based tire manufacturers launched their first guidebook, encouraging people to take a road trip in France.

This expanded in 1926 when they recruited anonymous reviewers to go out and try different restaurants. To this day Michelin still uses the anonymous reviewer approach, where each reviewer must blend in with the scenery and not make themselves known. Their system has changed a little over the years, however.

As Michelin are somewhat understaffed (one former inspector revealed that, at the time, there were just seven in the whole of the US) there have been a few extra steps added.

First of all, food websites and blogs are combed for the best-reviewed restaurants and added to a pile. A scout will later be sent out to dine in the restaurants that have been dug up and if it’s outstandingly good, a memo will be sent to an inspector. If the inspector finds it remarkable too, the restaurant will likely be visited again, and maybe, if lucky, awarded a star.

While the rules may have changed a little bit since the introduction of the star system in 1931 (though Michelin claim that it is still the same), the established rules are supposed to be as follows:

One star: A good place to stop if you’re passing by, offering cuisine cooked to a consistently high standard.

Two stars: Worth a detour, indicating excellently prepared cuisine, skilfully and carefully crafted dishes or an outstanding quality.

Three stars: A restaurant worthy of a special journey, indicating exceptional cuisine, where diners can enjoy a superbly crafted meal.

Though, as suggested before, it is popularly believed that these rules have deviated a little. This is backed, somewhat, by the amount restaurants that currently hold stars. In the GB and Ireland Guide, for example, there are just five restaurants with three stars, 20 restaurants with two stars and 150 with one star – suggesting that there are just 150 restaurants in GB and Ireland worth popping into if you’re passing by.

Michelin fought back against claims that their standards were somewhat pretentious or French-centric in 2016, when they awarded a one-star rating to two Singaporean hawker food stalls, where diners line up to buy meals for just $2.00.

While there are certain criteria that a restaurant must uphold, such as their location, which has to be within the boundaries of a Michelin guide (currently any restaurant in Hanoi would, for example, be off limits) a Michelin star remains the highest point of nobility for any restaurant.

While restaurants in Hanoi or Halong Bay obtaining a Michelin Star might currently be out of the question, Michelin Star standard dining is still well within reach. If you cruise with President Cruises, you’ll see this for yourself.

— Explore a Michelin Star Journey in the World Heritage Site —

Magnificent A La Carte Menus for 2019

While Vietnam has a strong cultural heritage, you can’t deny that there has been influence over the years. Nowhere is this more prominent than in our cuisine. Though all of our food is distinctly Vietnamese, influences like French baguettes and Chinese roast duck are undeniable.

We drafted Michelin Star chef John Burton-Race, the first celebrity chef in the bay, to curate the first Michelin Star standard menu. This sumptuous menu will roll out throughout 2019, depending on which ingredients are fresh, in order to provide the most indulgent cuisine available in Halong Bay.

President Cruises is one of the only cruise ships with an a la carte dinner menu, meaning that you can craft the culinary essence of your Halong Bay experience.

To start things off, we’ll be serving a range of bite-sized delicacies aboard the President, determined by what’s available and fresh in the bay. Expect the finest locally caught ingredients for our amuse-bouche course, such as king prawn and spiced pumpkin soup or a delicious concoction of dressed crab, taramaslalata, squid ink cracker, and watermelon.

All of our starters have been handcrafted to deliver a delicate taste of the finest authentic Vietnamese cuisine, along with poignant western influences. Depending on the season, expect dishes such as carpaccio of venison, brandade of cod, or rock lobster tail with garlic and chilli.

Along with sweeping vistas of stunning limestone karsts, Halong Bay is famous for its fresh fish, a defining point of the bay’s cultural heritage. Aboard President Cruises, we want to do justice to Halong’s fishing reputation. That’s why you’ll find our fish courses to be the freshest available.

We have a range of fish options throughout the year. Highlights include grilled red snapper with sweet red pepper puree and seared kingfish with sweet ginger, garlic, chives and shallot dressing. Other delectable gifts from the sea include filet of seabream and soft-shell crab.

A point of pride aboard the President is our Michelin standard beefsteak, which created a splash in the bay as the finest beefsteak available, with a recipe handcrafted by celebrity chef John Burton Race.

Our own chefs maintain this fantastic standard of cooking throughout the meat section of our 2019 menu. Meat lovers can also tuck into squab pigeon with huckleberry gastric, roast duck breast with corn syrup, roast rack of lamb with white onion cream, or loin of Dutch veal.

To cleanse your palate following our various meat courses, we’ve put together the finest in gentle pre-desserts, to tease you before the real thing. Our selection includes carrot ice cream, peanut butter parfait, cherry and Madagascan vanilla compote and lemon posset with elderflower jelly.

The final course on this luscious menu is our indulgent desserts. Fruit and nut lovers can finish off the meal with carpaccio of spiced pineapple, coconut sabayon, or pistachio cake. For those with richer tastes, there’s chocolate and almond parfait with coffee foam and nougat.

Whatever you choose to eat when you cruise with us, you can be sure that dinner is always something to look forward to aboard President Cruises.

>> Check out the elegant A La Carte Menus

President Cruises’ Signature Roast Duck

We decided that for the most indulgent on-board dining experience, we would split our menu between lavish western cuisine and innovative Vietnamese dishes. For our delectable menus we drafted Michelin Star Chef John Burton-Race to handcraft the finest in Michelin standard delicacies, including the most succulent beefsteak in the bay.

For our innovative Vietnamese dishes, John worked with our world-class chefs to shape recipes that have been passed down generations into fantastic modern creations. This has made for a delicious and unique result: authentic Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist.

To highlight just how special this menu is, we want to give you a peek at one of our finest dishes: roast duck breast with corn syrup, confit tart, coriander, and ginger. For this dish, we’ve blended together an East Asian staple – roast duck – with traditional Vietnamese herbs and spices.

You won’t go far in Vietnam without coming across coriander and ginger. Coriander has been used within our cuisine since the beginning. You’ll find it used generously in street food like pho, as well as packed into banh mis throughout the country. Whilst ginger is a popular addition to many meals, it is also considered a cure-all for any ailment, creating a hearty and healthy addition to any meal.

As the centre of our Vietnamese menu, we thought duck would be the most fitting choice for this sumptuous dining experience. Duck has a prominent history throughout Vietnam and East Asia. Dating back all the way to the Ming Dynasty, around 600 years ago, Peking Duck slowly made its way out of Beijing to the rest of East Asia, eventually landing in Saigon before spreading to the rest of the country.

While the dish has royal roots as a delicacy enjoyed amongst emperors and other members of the ruling classes in Beijing, these days, roast duck is a popular takeout item and is prominent on any menu during a special occasion, like weddings, holidays, family gatherings, and death anniversaries.

We feel that, due to its reputation as a food for celebration, roast duck would be the perfect fit as the figurehead of our grand Vietnamese menu. There is no better cause for a celebration than being on a President Cruise.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise 

A Taste of John Burton-Race’s Michelin Event Menu

 

 

John Burton-Race has revealed his bold new menu, hand-crafted especially for President Cruises’ Michelin event. John’s menu will prove to be the perfect match to world-class sommelier Stephanie Voy’s wine list. Together, Sephanie, Maison Castel’s Wine Ambassador, and multi-Michelin star chef John, have fashioned a menu to the highest standard, sure to make for one unmissable night.

John will be stepping aboard the floating hotel in January to premier this new Michelin standard menu. John, whose decorated career began underneath his mentor Raymond Blanc, has been awarded multiple Michelin stars and was the star of Channel 4’s hit television series French Leave. This world standard chef will be training President Cruises’ highly skilled team to create his menu, joining the ranks of high-end restaurants.

The delectable menu launches with an amuse-bouche, which has been crafted from salmon, marinated in juniper berries, black pepper and citrus zest, alongside a delicate balance of salmon jelly, soy, cucumber, wasabi mayonnaise, fennel flower, and oscietra caviar. Stephanie has selected a Maison Castel to join this unbeatable introduction to the evening.

Following the amuse-bouche is an exquisite starter befitting Halong Bay’s own grandeur. Tuna and scallop carpaccio take the starring role in this magnificent dish, with yuzu sorbet, salted peanuts, and lime dressing orchestrating a unique and unforgettable taste. A Chateau Cavalier from Cuvee Marafrance, Cote de Provence will be bought aboard the ship as a perfect pairing.

A succulent fillet of turbot, resting gently in a chive butter sauce awaits you following your starter. The turbot is dressed with asparagus and wild mushrooms, and served with turned new potatoes. Atop the fish will be a tasting of caviar. Stephanie has paired this dish with Chateau Ferrande Blanc, a Graves wine from 2015. This medium bodied white has a vibrant creaminess in the mid palate and finish.

John’s main course for this Michelin event sets a new standard for cuisine in Halong Bay. A fillet of the finest beef resides with a red wine jus, set to sweetheart cabbage, crispy shallots, capers and crispy sourdough croutons, along with a small pouring of olive butter. A Chateau Montlabert is the finest wine to drink with the main course. The St Emillion Grand Cru wine is a deep, vibrant red, with a dense palate and fruity notes.

The pre-dessert is an intricate yet bold palate cleanser consisting of a coconut crumb, heated until caramelized, and topped with a papaya sorbet and lime syrup. This gentle dish will leave you fulfilled yet dying to see what comes next.

The final dish to arrive on this lavish evening will be a decadent base of chocolate nut ganache, along with a zesty poached pear, with a dusting of icing sugar and, set to the side, the soft touch of a pear sabayon. As if to mark the end of one event and the beginning of the next, a champagne defined by its subtle and delicate bouquet, with the aroma of yellow peaches and dried apricots from Taittinger Nocturne will come alongside the dessert.

 

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise 

 

Beefsteak Arrives in Halong Bay

At President Cruises, we revel in providing the finest in high-end cuisine, from complex Vietnamese dishes to indulgent meals from the West. We’ve ensured our latest menu, created by multi Michelin star chef John Burton-Race, has the most succulent beefsteak dish in the bay.

Our brand-new menu shows off a delectable array of the finest Michelin star cuisine, from the first taste of our marinated Salmon amus-bouche, with salmon jelly, soy, cucumber, wasabi mayonnaise, fennel flower and oscietra caviara to the final bight of the chocolate nut ganache and poached pear with pear sabayon.

At the centre of this bold new menu is the revolutionary new fillet of beef, with sweetheart cabbage, crispy shallots, capers, sourdough croutons, olive butter and beef marrow jus. This brand-new beefsteak is an example of the exceptional standard that President Cruises has brought to Vietnam and Halong Bay.

John has brought his unrivaled skills in French cuisine aboard President Cruises for this indulgent meal. John’s connection to beefsteak and French cuisine dates back to his time working under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, where French cuisine was the focus. John was soon promoted to sous chef and later found himself at the helm of Raymond’s newly-opened Le Petit Blanc in Oxford. His time there earned him his first Michelin star.

In 2002, a short time spent in France rekindled John’s passion for sourcing quality produce, with premium beef in particular. Channel 4 documented this period in John’s culinary adventure for French Leave and made John a household name for more than his Michelin star cooking.

John decided in this period that, if he didn’t like the meat, he would change the cut or the animal. At President Cruises, we like to keep our menu fresh, which means fresh ingredients and a fresh, up-to-date menu.

Like John, we’re not afraid to change our menu, which is why our recipes will evolve with the seasons, but we’ll always make sure we keep a succulent beef steak dish lined up for you whenever you visit – always with that John Burton-Race touch.

>> Check out the best Halong Bay overnight cruise