Dining on AmaDara is a highlight of the trip, with a wide variety of both Western and Eastern choices at every meal. Best of all, the options change every day and, while you'll never find the kind of spicing the locals prefer, there are often excellently prepared Asian dishes that make you happy to eat on the ship. There are no fees for any dining options onboard, and all dining areas are open seating with a mix of table sizes. While, on our cruise, the two-top tables did fill up first, passengers were friendly and social and tended to move around and meet new people, which is good because there is no room service (unless someone is sick or tired from jet lag) and therefore no options of opting out of communal meals. Guests with special diets are catered to with custom choices every day, and we even saw a restrictive vegan, oil-free diner offered excellent choices at every meal.
Mekong Restaurant (Deck #1): This is the primary dining room onboard for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which are served at set times each day. The breakfast spread changes every day, offering a lot of variety, but there is always an impressive buffet of baked goods, Asian fruits, smoothies and juices, eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, pancakes and French toast with maple syrup, cereal and granola, yogurt and oatmeal with a variety toppings, and handmade dumplings in giant bamboo steamer baskets. Every day, there is also an "action station" with both made-to-order eggs and omelets and an Asian noodle soup, which changes every day and is always delicious if not exactly what you would find served on the nearby streets. There are also optional additional dishes that can be ordered from a menu, such as eggs Benedict, and complimentary (and unlimited) espresso drinks. After the first day, our waitress learned all of our order preferences, including the soy lattes of the lactose intolerant gentleman we often ate with and my Vietnamese-style iced coffee addiction, and brought refills throughout the meal with a smile.
Lunch is a similar ever-changing buffet of Eastern and Western treats, with an action station that sometimes includes noodle dishes topped with roasted Asian meats. (One highlighted: roasted chicken stuffed with lemongrass and served with a vinegar-based Cambodian pepper dipping sauce.) You'll also find a salad bar, cold salads, sandwiches, pizza, spreads of baked goods and fruit, two soups and a full menu of dishes you can order that also includes both Western and Eastern options. At lunchtime, there's a daily buffet of Asian and Western sweets as well as a sundae station with flavors that rotate from coconut to chocolate and strawberry.
Dinner does not include a buffet, but instead is a four-course a la carte meal with salad, soup, an entree and dessert, and several choices in each category. There is more of a focus on plating and presenting a fine dining experience at dinner, and less focus on offering authentic local choices and therefore for passengers who prefer the Asian dishes it can be a less satisfying experience. There is a vegetarian option on every menu and there are also additional standard dishes that you can order any night, including roast chicken, steak and potatoes, and an excellent Caesar salad, and we saw an off-menu request for a burger and fries accommodated one night as well. At lunch and dinner, the complimentary house white and red wines (which change daily depending on the menu) are poured freely. On the eight-night trips on the Mekong River, there is also one Vietnamese-focused dinner and one Cambodian-focused dinner as well as a captain's night and a farewell dinner.
Chef's Table Restaurant (Deck #2): Passengers can reserve one meal per sailing in this smaller, aft dining room, where the plating is a step-up from the main dining room and the intimate atmosphere makes it a favorite of couples celebrating anniversaries and families toasting birthdays. These special occasions are celebrated with cakes and a singing gang of crew members, who dim the lights and march into the room with sprinklers to celebrate the moment. Even passengers at other tables are then offered a slice of cake, in addition to the desserts that are on the menu. If there are seats available, cruisers can choose to dine here a second night but the menu remains the same. In addition, we heard one person say that his wife was said to miss the Cambodian menu in the Mekong Restaurant on the night he had made a reservation at the Chef's Table restaurant, and the ever-accommodating staff had offered to serve her those dishes instead.
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Tan Chau, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)