Explora Journeys Reveals Five Dining Venues, Signature Dishes

Cuisine to be served on the new Explora I of Explora Journeys. Photo by Explora Journeys.

In a delicious “reveal,” Explora Journeys serves up a culinary snapshot for five of its onboard restaurants for Explora I.  That’s the line’s first new ship, one of six vessels planned.

The new ship, which has 461 spacious luxury suites, will set sail on its inaugural journey on July 17, 2023, from Southampton, U.K. A few weeks ago, The Meandering Traveler published a blog looking at the new luxury lifestyle brand in more detail. Check it out here. 

Of 18 onboard food and beverage venues, the five restaurants detailed today will offer all-inclusive menus. Signature dishes will reflect influences from a variety of international cuisines.

Explora Journeys’ sommeliers will source boutique labels that offer unusual, sometimes rare wines of unexpected provenance. The line’s new, specially curated mixology program will include a signature “Ocean State of Mind” cocktail.

Specially designed beverages will accompany specific regional menus. In addition, the ship will offer a selection of alcohol-free beverages. Now, here’s a bit about the five (of six total) prime restaurants on Explora I. Stay tuned for details about the sixth eatery.

Japanese-Inspired Sakura

Inspired by the ancient tea rooms of Kyoto, Sakura’s name means “cherry blossom.” Look for this eatery’s chefs to follow traditional Japanese techniques. That said, menus will also embrace Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian cuisines too.

Chefs will meticulously source ingredients to create an authentic Pan-Asian experience. In addition, a specialist sommelier will advise diners about sake, shōchūs and other Asian-influenced drinks.

So, what’s to eat?

Signature Dishes

Wakame Salad, Smoked Madagascan Pepper and Wagyu Beef Tataki:  Japan’s superb Grade 5 Wagyu beef is never cooked or grilled. Instead, it’s delicately torched, an authentic cooking technique that sears the meat at an extremely high heat — preserving a melt-in-the-mouth succulence.

The Madagascan pepper used in this dish grows wild on tall lianas in the heart of Madagascar’s rainforests. Intensely aromatic and exotically spicy, it imparts sweet, very fragrant, rustic hints.

Wakame is a highly nutritious seaweed associated with a range of health benefits. It also gives this salad an irresistible umami flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Kale Salad: In the expert hands of Explora Journeys’ chefs, the humble kale salad is transformed into culinary art. This superfood salad, packed with health-boosting vitamins and minerals, is not simply dressed, but cured with a top-class sesame dressing that produces a mellow, rounded flavor.

Kaffir Lime Pavlova, Mango, Passion Fruit Brunoise, Mango Sorbet: In a delicious Asian twist for a classic dessert, Sakura’s “East-meets-West” interpretation of pavlova typifies the passion, creative expertise and multicultural diversity of Explora I’s pastry team.

The zest and leaves of the tropical kaffir lime provide a floral aroma. They also give the meringue base an intriguing kick. Then the dessert is topped with finely diced mango and passion fruit. It’s then served with a refreshing mango sorbet.

Cool, Contemporary: Marble & Co. Grill

Described as cool and contemporary, Marble & Co. Grill reimagines the European steakhouse experience. It delivers soft lighting and relaxed, attentive service. Think of it as a mellow and welcoming place to dine.

Diners will discover exceptional cuts of sumptuous, sustainable meats, rigorously sourced for their intense flavor and provenance. The restaurant has an in-house “Dry Ager,” as well as a cellar stocked with fine wines.

Prime rib and other savory cuisine will be served on Explora Journeys' new Explora I. Photo by Explora Journeys.
Grilled prime rib will be served on Explora Journeys’ new Explora I. Photo by Explora Journeys.

Signature Dishes 

Grilled Prime Rib, Aged for 30 Days, Cherry Tomatoes, Hollandaise Sauce: Sourced from a top-quality producer found only in the Deux-Sévres region of France’s Loire Valley, Jersiaise beef offers a sensational flavor and intense marbling.

One of the most sought-after cuts for prime rib, it sports a topping of cherry tomatoes and a velvety hollandaise sauce.

Crushed Fingerling Potatoes, Le Beurre Bordier Butter from Normandy, Calvisius Oscietra Caviar, Creme Fraiche, Chives: Explora Journeys says this dish exudes simplicity. Only the finest ingredients go into it.

Chefs will take heirloom fingerling potatoes, crush them together with France’s renowned Bordier butter, and top with Calvisius Oscietra caviar. That premium caviar hails from Italy, where there’s a constant supply of pristine spring water. The result is a low-salt flavor.

Ocean-Inspired: Med Yacht Club

The Med Yacht Club will reflect the aura and style of a sophisticated Mediterranean beachside restaurant and offer ocean-inspired regional dishes. But it’s also expected to become a convivial place for guests to enjoy dining with friends and family.

Look for the tastes and textures of Italy, Spain, Greece, France and North Africa. Diners will share plates that include plant-based ingredients. Cocktails and wines from Mediterranean vineyards will be served.

Signature Dishes 

Grilled Octopus, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Taggiasca Olives, Green Beans, Parsley:  Sharp, sundried Taggiasca olives will complement sweet San Marzano tomatoes, creating a “balanced bed” for displaying the tasty grilled octopus.

Sweet Caprese with Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, Burrata, Pesto:  This is a surprisingly creative twist on the Italian classic caprese. Diners can expect a base of cherry tomatoes and strawberries topped with burrata made from an emulsified burrata cream.

The dish then receives another layer of tomatoes and strawberries. Then a drizzle of pesto based on Sicilian Bronte pistachios completes the caprese dish.

Emporium Marketplace with Cooking Stations

Decked out with marble minimalism, Emporium Marketplace offers cooking stations, which are used to create destination-inspired cuisine. We can’t wait to sample the sushi, seafood and meats presented alongside cooked-to-order pasta and freshly baked pizza.

Guests also will enjoy charcuterie and fromagerie. Bread and pastries will be delivered straight from oven to table. Fresh juices, smoothies and acai bowls will also be served at breakfast.

Signature Dishes

Handmade Tortelloni, Ricotta Cheese, Spinach, Tomato-Sage Butter: Made onboard from scratch, the ring-shaped tortelloni offer filled pasta “pockets.” This tradition originated in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.

Carefully sourced flour is used to make dough with the correct degree of elasticity. That gives the tortelloni a mouthwateringly light and silky texture. Then they’re filled with ricotta and spinach and gently coated in tomato-sage butter.

Plant-Based Chia Yoghurt: Freshly made from cashew milk every day, this calcium-rich chia yoghurt will deliver a fusion of delicious creamy flavors. While flavorful, it will also deliver fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a delicious way for guests to add probiotics to their daily diet.

French-Inspired Fil Rouge

If you love French cuisine, Fil Rouge will likely appeal. It will offer French-inspired international cuisine in an intimate setting. Decor-wise, intricate hexagon shapes will contrast with clean white walls, a tribute to timeless elegance.

Signature Dish

Explora Journeys will offer superb cuisine in multiple restaurants. Photo by Explora Journeys.
Explora Journeys promises diverse cuisine in multiple restaurants. Photo by Explora Journeys.

Tuna Tataki, Crispy Tomato-Olive Tart, Vegetables, Vanilla White Pepper: Explora Journeys’ chefs have chosen bluefin tuna for their tataki. Caught in the sea close to Cartagena Bay along southeastern Spain’s Mediterranean coast, it’s among the best grade tuna to be found worldwide.

This Japanese dish involves searing the tuna at a scorching temperature before rapidly cooling it, leaving the center rare. 

Explora Journeys’ Culinary Team

So, who’s leading the Explora Journeys’ culinary team? That’s Franck Garanger, head of culinary for the brand. He’s personally responsible for sourcing and hand-selecting the finest ingredients from all over the planet. He’s assisted by the following team members with vast experience, artistic flair and culinary sophistication:

  • Alban Gjoka, senior lead, culinary operations, who helps conceptualize menus and source top-quality ingredients.
  • Jérôme Toumelin, corporate executive chef, with a strong culinary background. He spent six years as executive chef at Market by Jean-Georges in Paris.
  • Christophe Sapy, corporate executive pastry chef, is an expert at turning desserts into works of art.
  • Frederic Godineau, senior executive chef, comes to Explora I with 19 years of hospitality experience.


Again, for more detail on Explora Journeys as a new luxury lifestyle brand, see our blog in December 2022. For details on all the itineraries, visit the Explora Journeys website.

Want to know more about accommodations, pricing, contract airfare, any special deals, accessible needs or solo travel? Then definitely consult with a professional travel advisor.

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