Avalon Myanmar has one restaurant, located on Deck 2. The space is open and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow plenty of light during the day. Wood carvings and beautiful paintings from Burmese artists grace the walls. All meals are open seating, meaning passengers can dine with whomever they wish from meal to meal. Tables accommodate from four to six people, and they can be pushed together for larger groups. An oval buffet takes up space in the middle, while a hot chef's station is located at the back of the space. There, a chef might prepare eggs in the morning or soup in the afternoon.
As with all things onboard Avalon Myanmar, the approach to meals is casual. Dining times change depending on how the day goes. For example, if an excursion ran late or fog caused a delay, meal times could be pushed forward or back. Lunch and dinner are announced by a crewmember striking a gong. All meals skew toward local flavors, with a variety of Burmese dishes offered at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Getting up early to watch the sun rise over the Irrawaddy River is a real treat. Luckily, early-rising passengers can grab coffee and pastries in the Panorama Lounge. Afterward, a full breakfast is served in the dining room, buffet style, though eggs and pancakes can be made to order. Everyday options include bacon, pork sausage, muesli, oatmeal and fruit. Breakfast soup selections rotate every day. One day, you might try chicken and egg noodles in coconut broth and the next vegetable vermicelli in chicken broth. You can add more noodles, as well as toppings like fish sauce, onions, shallots and chili flakes. (Warning: A little chili goes a long way.) An onboard pastry chef makes fresh bread and treats each day. Try the cheesy buns -- soft and light pastries with a crisp layer of melted cheese on top.
Lunch generally comes after a morning in port, sometime between noon and 1 p.m. It's served buffet style. You'll get a hot entree choice, like a savory pork and noodle dish, as well as multiple side dish options like roasted vegetables and pasta. A salad bar is available every day, while cold salads, such as avocado and onion or green papaya, rotate daily. Sandwiches and cold cuts, along with fruit and a cheese plate, are available every day, too, and these also rotate.
The highlight of lunch tends to be the soups; you'll have a hot and cold option each day. Hot options might include beef and noodle, while cold options verge on dessert-like. Don't miss the cold lychee soup, which is so creamy and sweetly exotic that you won't need a dessert, though options are available at every lunch and include items like fudge brownies or cookies. Other dishes to keep your eye out for: a salty and sour pickled green tea salad and a ginger salad.
Dinner is the only waiter-served meal of the day, and it's generally around 7 p.m. The four-course meal includes an appetizer, soup, entree and dessert. Appetizers might include dried shrimp salad or pork salad. Two soups are offered each night -- one a traditional Asian dish and the other a more Western option like tomato or potato. Entrees include curry dishes, tiger prawns and goat. While most options are Asian, Western favorites are available every night as well and include selections like chicken breast or salmon. Chefs are from Myanmar and trained in Burmese cooking, so the traditional dishes are excellent; the Western selections are fairly average by comparison. Desserts include ice cream, as well as items like key lime pie and a sweet-but-not-too-sweet "chocolate soup." Complimentary wine is served.
The menu was designed to introduce Western passengers to Burmese food, but the chefs recognized some adjustments had to be made for the Western palate. Chefs use significantly less fish sauce, and traditionally spicy dishes have been toned down extensively. If they've turned down the heat a little too much (as passengers thought they did with the curry chicken, for example), request some extra spice when you order. Burmese cooking naturally appeals to vegetarians, and all vegetarian dishes are clearly marked on the menu. Passengers with allergies should notify the cruise director as soon as they come onboard so the chef can create appropriate dishes.
Room service is not generally available onboard, but if someone is feeling ill, crew will deliver food to his or her cabin. Finding a snack between meals is tricky, though cookies and addictive sesame brittle are always on hand in the Panorama Lounge, and chips, impossible-to-stop-eating roasted cashews and small appetizers are served daily at the pre-dinner cocktail hour.