Viking Mekong Dining

Editor Rating
Very Good
Diane Bair

In the world of river cruising, Viking is considered middle-of-the-road, in terms of amenities and value. We would rate the food similarly, but perhaps a notch higher, and several Viking regulars commented that the fare on Viking Mekong is better than they experienced on other Viking ships. The variety of fresh local fruit, including jackfruit and dragonfruit, is a nice touch.

All meals are served in the sun-lit main dining room located on the second floor, with most of the tables set for six. Meals are served at set times each day; the bang of a gong heralds mealtime.

A cafe breakfast consisting of coffee, juice and pastries is available on the Sun Deck from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. each day. A buffet breakfast is offered from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. each day, with breads and pastries, an assortment of fruit, meats, cheeses, cereal, a hot porridge and yogurt. Hot dishes are cooked to order, and typically include eggs, bacon, grilled tomatoes and potatoes. A selection of fresh juices and Champagne for mimosas is available, besides the usual teas and coffee. Passengers are asked to order their choice of luncheon entree at breakfast, and their pick for dinner courses at lunchtime.

Lunch consists of items from the salad bar and a pot of flavorful soup like chicken with lemongrass, plus a choice of three entrees -- typically a tuna or roast beef sandwich or BLT, as well as a vegetarian option and a local dish, such as sweet-and-sour Gobi fish served with a scoop of rice. Dessert might be mango mousse or creme caramel, although desserts are not a strong point on this cruise, with the exception of the raved-about chocolate fondant. Unlimited beer, house wine and soft drinks are offered at lunch and dinner. House wines are not bad, and premium bottles are available with a charge.

Beginning at 7 p.m., dinner is a lively affair, with wine flowing and four courses served at a leisurely pace. Regional specialties are noted on the menu and worth trying; you might sample fish wrapped in banana leaves or local vegetables in ginger sauce. During one night of the cruise, a Cambodian family-style dinner is served, offering passengers the chance to try more unusual items, like fried tarantulas. (Sampling is optional.) There's always a vegetarian dish on the menu, and, in addition to the nightly choices, passengers can always opt for a tenderloin steak, chicken breast, grilled salmon or a Caesar salad. A typical dinner menu might feature tom kha gai (a spicy chicken soup with a coconut base), banana blossom salad, braised pork with bok choy and jasmine rice, and passion fruit sorbet.

Room service is not available, unless you are suffering from intestinal distress and unable to get to the dining room. There are no refrigerators in guest rooms, but the room steward will keep an ice bucket filled if you wish. Peanuts are available at the bar on the Sun Deck, and glass jars full of cookies are accessible in the salon. Large bottles of water are placed in cabins daily, and used for brushing teeth as well as drinking. Small bottles are given out before excursions.

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