The Dragon Lady is one of the complimentary speciality dining options onboard P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer and Pacific Aria cruise ships. It is an inspired ala carte dining option with dishes from all over Asia including Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and India. Most recently, we’ve eaten here onboard P&O Pacific Explorer, and it is arguably some of the best food onboard.
This article is our own experience. Our bookings were all paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, many of the links below are affiliate links, which means that we get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase.
The Dragon Lady Menu
You have a choice, you can choose your own selection, or go with the chef’s set menu. When you make your own menu selections, the portion sizes are adjusted to be entree and main sizes, or if you go with the set menu then the dish sizes are reduced so you can try more options.
If there are things you don’t want on the standard set menu, you can replace them with other dishes from the menu by letting your waiter or waitress know.
We opted to go with the chef’s set menu, but as we don’t eat pork or prawns, and my wife has coeliac disease, we replaced a couple of the dishes. So our customised menu looked like this:
To Awake (aka Starters)
Seasonal Pear Orange and Ginger Shooters
These are non-alcoholic and are deliciously refreshing. For those that aren’t big on ginger, it is noticeable but it is very well balanced so as not to be overpowering.
Crisp Fried Kumara, Beetroot and Plaintain Chips
These chips are pretty similar to the veggie chips you can find in the health-food aisles of most supermarkets these days, with the exception of the plantain chips that I’ve never seen before. They are served to the table for sharing along with a selection of three dipping sauces.
Sauce number one is a mildly burning but delectable jalapeño-wasabi sauce.
Sauce number two is gentle on the palette and perhaps the nicest sweet chilli sauce I’ve tasted.
Sauce number three is the one for those warm-blooded people that want absolutely no warmth at all in their sauce, a sesame-soy sauce. This sauce is also the only one that is not gluten-free. Gluten-free soy sauce is available though for those that would like it instead.
To Embrace (aka Entrees)
Tempura Crusted Uramaki Sushi
Ocean trout, cream cheese, and avocado with wasabi mayonnaise.
I quite enjoyed this sushi. The flavours are yum, and the crispy tempura crust adds some great textural variation, but it would be fair to say it is not very true to what sushi is. The rice is not sushi rice and seems to have been processed into a finer texture. It’s almost more like a savoury rice pudding in roll form.
Gluten-Free Uramaki Sushi
Ocean trout, cream cheese, and avocado with wasabi mayonnaise. The gluten-free version doesn’t have the tempura crust or wasabi mayonnaise, and for some reason is also missing the seaweed salad.
Coriander and Turmeric Beef Satays
Carrot salad, green onions and yoghurt. This dish is already gluten-free.
Yuuuuum! The carrot salad is pickled so it might not be for everyone, but the Malaysian inspired beef satay skewers are absolutely delicious! This was definitely the stand-out entree for us.
The Essentials (aka Mains)
Szechuan Blackened Salmon
Wasabi pea puree, beetroot, minted cucumber and chicharon.
The salmon is tasty and goes very well with the pea puree, beetroot relish, and minted cucumber. I didn’t think to ask what chicharon is at the time, but it turns out it is usually either fried chicken or pork skin. So I don’t know what kind it is, and I don’t recall even noticing it at the time, but you can see it in the picture above.
If you are worried about the wasabi pea puree, there is no need to be. We didn’t even notice the wasabi, it just tasted like pureed peas.
Aromatic Yellow Curry Duck Confit
New potatoes, broccoli and sugar snaps.
Fragrant honey and pink pepper dipping sauce. Unfortunately, this dish could not be made gluten-free.
Ooooh boy. Where to even start! KFC move over, this fried chicken is the bee’s knees.
With hints of honey and a dipping sauce with just a little bite to it, this was my top pick of the savoury dishes we tried. I almost never eat meat at home, but this is one of those moreish dishes you just want to keep coming back to. Or at least I did anyway.
To Cool and Calm (aka Dessert)
The dessert menu isn’t shown with the sample menu on P&O’s website, so I’ve included it below.
Having approximately six sweet teeth instead of one, and seeing as how all of the desserts are gluten-free, we naturally opted to try them all.
Flourless Five-Spice Chocolate Pudding
Coffee syrup and mango sherbet.
The pudding is a cake on the outside with a soft gooey centre. Very chocolatey. The coffee syrup is just the smear on the plate, so it isn’t very noticeable if you aren’t into the coffee flavour. The mango sherbet is pretty amazing, especially with the mint leaf and is probably my favourite part of this dessert.
Peanut Butter Parfait
Soft chocolate, roasted peanuts and salted butterscotch.
This one was wifey’s favourite dessert, and I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty inspired! The peanut flavour is subtle and it has a distinct peanut brittle flavour when combined with the salted butterscotch sauce. The soft chocolate ball on top is super rich and very dark. Normally a peanut and chocolate dish would take the cake for me, and this is up there with one of the best peanut and chocolate dishes I’ve had, buuuuut….
Cardamom, pistachios and passionfruit ice cream.
I really, really, really enjoyed this carrot halwa. I’ve had it elsewhere before, but this was so yum. If I had to play favourites, I’d put this one down as my favourite solid dessert. I have to distinguish between solid and liquid dessert because…..
Dragon Lady’s Apple Caramel Milkshake
The Dragon Lady’s Apple Caramel Milkshake is unbelievable!
This is the one. This is it.
I’ve had apple with caramel before in the form of crumbles and pies, but in a milkshake is unusual. Add in the watermelon granita and this flavour combination is mind-blowing!
Or at least I thought so anyway. Wifey didn’t think it was so great. 🙂
What’s your favourite?
Well, that’s it. We haven’t tried every dish, but Dragon Lady would definitely be one of our favourite places to dine on P&O, and we love the fact that it is a complimentary speciality restaurant. In other words, you don’t pay any extra for it. So, what about you? Do you like the food and atmosphere at Dragon Lady? And of course, what are your favourite dishes here?