Bonsai Sushi, Bonsai Teppanyaki Japanese Steakhouse and Bonsai Sushi Express are your go-to eateries onboard Carnival Cruise Line ships when your tastebuds crave the flavors of Japan.
The full-sit-down dining experience of sushi, sashimi and more is available on more than half the Carnival fleet. Six of those ships also have the addition of Bonsai Teppanyaki where you can enjoy steak and seafood cooked on a hot grill at your table.
Bonsai Sushi Express take-away counters are available on five ships that don’t have the larger specialty dining experiences for cruisers. The main Bonsai Sushi restaurants and the express eateries feature a la carte pricing, while the teppanyaki restaurants have fixed per person pricing.
Bamboo accents and golden lantern lighting give the restaurant a contemporary Asian atmosphere, and small bonsai trees and black tea kettles set the mood for the tasty Japanese cuisine. At the sushi venue tables (both high tops and standard) accommodate two, four and six people, and there is a lot of seating at the bar for front-row views of the sushi-rolling action.
On some ships, including Carnival Panorama, Vista and Horizon, there's also an outdoor seating area located in the shade, making it ideal even on the hottest days. No reservations are required; it operates as first-come, first-served.
Bonsai Teppanyaki features similar decor to what you'll find in Bonsai Sushi, though seating is around one of two hibachi grills where the chefs are part of the entertainment, flipping ingredients and telling jokes to the delight of patrons. Sizzling serves as the background noise.
*Note: [This Bonsai Sushi menu is a sample from Carnival Vista](https://images.r.cruisecritic.com/pdfs/bonsai-sushi-menu-vista.pdf) and might vary by ship or itinerary. The Bonsai Teppanyaki menu sample is from Carnival Horizon and also might vary.*
You'll find a variety of menu items at Carnival's Bonsai Sushi, including appetizers, main dishes and even desserts, all priced a la carte. Starters include green salads, edamame and miso soup.
Diners can order sushi rolls as a main course or order a small roll if they want to try more than one. Other options include bamboo skewers of beef, chicken or pork and sushi and sashimi rolls of shrimp, yellowfin tuna or amberjack.
In some versions of the restaurant, Japanese food aficionados will discover ramen or udon noodle bowls with piping hot dashi broth and the option to include beef, chicken, mushrooms, egg or tempura vegetables. One of the most popular menu items is the tempura roll.
The smaller Bonsai Sushi Express, which is a limited-seating restaurant available on only some ships, offers a similar but slightly narrower menu.
Dessert choices include tempura green tea ice cream or yuzu custard with kombu rice. The Bonsai Teppanyaki menu includes filet mignon, shrimp, salmon, lobster and chicken. You get a meal and a show, with chefs entertaining guests with knife tricks and other joyful antics.
All entrees are served with fried rice. Dessert is a six-slot bento box, with items like green tea ice cream and a gooey chocolate cake bite.
At both full-service restaurants, a complete bar menu runs the gamut from wine and beer to sake and cocktails.
There is no set fee to dine at Bonsai Sushi; rather, cruisers order as much as they like and pay by the item. Individual items are all priced below $10 with smaller rolls, soups, salads and appetizers priced low enough to order several to create a variety.
While everything at Bonsai Sushi is served a la carte, there are bundles like bento boxes or sushi "boats" for two; these include miso soup and a side salad. Ramen bowls are enormous, too, making them a definite value.
There's also a clever option that allows diners to let the chef decide for them. The surprise-and-delight feature can be ordered for one person or for two and is a great way to try something you might not have considered at a reasonable price per person.
Bonsai Teppanyaki Japanese steakhouse dining, which is available on five ships, has per person pricing, well below the $50 price point for dinner and a lower price for lunch. The price includes your choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert. Note that alcoholic beverages are not included in the price.
The bar menu at both restaurants matches the prices found elsewhere on the ship.