Spectrum of the Seas is the newest Royal Caribbean cruise ship to be designed for the Asian market. Wonderland DaDong offers diners an oriental-inspired take on the Wonderland concept with a magical menu and exceptional cuisine. In this post, I review the menu and experience of this specialty dining restaurant.
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Introduction to Wonderland DaDong
Wonderland is a specialty dining restaurant found onboard Anthem, Harmony, Ovation, Quantum and Symphony of the Seas cruise ships. Cruisers are transported ‘down the rabbit hole’ to enjoy dishes that resemble works of art.
DaDong is an acclaimed Chinese chef who is known for his upscale roast duck. The dishes created by DaDong are unique to Wonderland DaDong on Spectrum of the Seas.
As a specialty restaurant, Wonderland DaDong is not included in the cruise fare and has a cover charge of $45pp. You can use Royal Caribbean’s dining package here with no additional fee as it offers a set menu. Personally, I feel the cover charge is worth the food and experience but read on to find out my full opinion.
Wonderland DaDong Atmosphere
Like the other Wonderland restaurants on Royal Caribbean ships, the dining venue has Alice in Wonderland-themed decor that creates a magical feel as you enter. There are flowers and keys hanging from the ceiling and high back chairs.
The decor has subtle lighting for dinner. Tables are arranged in a number of configurations for two to ten guests. The tables are not too close together so you feel that you have more privacy than the Main Dining Room.
This restaurant is designed for event dining. This format means that the menu and food presentation is as important to the experience as the food.
Wonderland DaDong Opening Times
This restaurant is only open for dinner on Spectrum of the Seas. Because it has a set 5 or 9-course menu, this means it’s most suited to the evening.
Reservations are required as it’s a popular restaurant with cruisers and I would recommend booking at the start of your cruise. The specialty dining reservations desk is situated at the front desk of Wonderland DaDong.
Wonderland DaDong Dress Code
The dress code for Wonderland DaDong is smart casual. You should wear attire that you would wear to a nice restaurant at home. For example, trousers and a collared shirt for men and a dress or a smart top with trousers for women.
We enjoyed our meal on a formal night and so chose to wear our formal wear to the restaurant.
Wonderland DaDong Menu
This restaurant does not have an al a carte menu. A carefully crafted 5 or 9-course menu is served to all guests. Once we were seated in the Alice in Wonderland-inspired venue all was revealed!
Placed in front of us was a blank frame and the waitress gestured to us to use the paintbrushes and water provided to reveal the 9-course tasting menu we would be enjoying.
First Course: Geoduck clam fillets
With DaDong being world-reknowned for his duck you could be thrown off by this first dish. Despite it’s name, geoduck is not duck – it’s a saltwater clam. This first course was small but full of flavour. It would have been easy to have eaten a second portion of this but I had to be mindful that there were another eight course to follow. It was served chilled on a bed of ice.
Course Two: Smoked salmon avocado roll
The second dish had the familiar combination of salmon and avocado but the presentation was incredibly intricate. The smoked salmon was encapsulated in the avocado. It bore a resemblance to a grub! The pine cone was for decoration purposes only!
Course Three: Organic salad leaves 有機沙拉葉
The third course was organic salad leaves with a mustard dressing. Sadly there is no photo but I recall that it was light and satisfyingly healthy.
Course Four: Cuttlefish soup 墨魚湯
The cuttlefish soup with black truffle sauce and shredded bean curd was one of my favourite courses of the whole meal. It wasn’t much to look at, especially as it was dark soup, served in a black bowl BUT I thought it was delicious.
There was a clear seafood taste to the soup and as a big fan of seafood, I enjoyed it. I made sure I’d scooped every last bit out with my spoon. It was also nice to have a rest from eating with chopsticks.
Fifth Course: Slow cooked lobster on saffron risotto 藏紅花燴飯的慢煮龍蝦
As a lover of seafood, this dish was very appealing. The saffron in the creamy risotto was subtle but adequate to season throughout. I took pleasure in popping the little capsules of black vinegar. Mixed in, they added a touch of acidity. This dish just beat the cuttlefish soup by a fraction.
Course Six: Grilled beef filet 烤牛肉片
The grilled beef filet with goose liver sauce was a small portion that I welcomed at this point in the meal. The meat was tender and the sauce created a nice glaze.
Despite already enjoying five courses, I was thankful for the tasting menu format. The portion sizes of the previous dishes had allowed us to enjoy the flavours without over-facing us.
Seventh Course: DaDong style roast duck
The seventh course was the highly anticipated DaDong roast duck. The Peking duck was expertly cooked to be moist and it came with a range of accompaniments. There was soy sauce, garlic, ginger, spring onions and cucumber. The sugar was a surprisingly good combination to contrast with the fattiness of the duck.
This course was shared between the two of us. It would have been greedy to have had one each but I did expect DaDong’s famous duck to feature more prominently in the meal.
Course Eight: Traditional Beijing noodles
The penultimate course was a noodle-based dish with soya bean paste, which left me feeling contently satisfied. The substantially thick noodles combined with the soya bean paste is what makes it ‘Beijing-style’. The carbs filled any room I had left!
Course Nine: Dried tangerine ice cream
I admired the beautifully presented dessert course with flower petals among the tangerine threads. By scooping a little of everything on to your spoon, you can taste the sweet, tangy and creamy flavours in one mouthful.
Final Thoughts on Wonderland DaDong
Wonderland DaDong is a unique specialty dining restaurant to Royal Caribbean. Although it doesn’t have the same menu as the other Wonderland restaurants, it will not disappoint.
The simplicity of the tasting menu, forces diners to try things that they may not have ordered if it was al a carte. This suits people who like to sample new things.
The menu reveal was theatrical and set the tone of the meal. Staff dressed in ‘costume’ added to the magical atmosphere but wasn’t too overbearing.
The dishes had a significant Beijing influence, from the geoduck clams to the roasted duck and noodles. The Wonderland DaDong menu ensures that these dishes are presented is a way that will appeal to Western cruisers as apposed to the more Eastern Sichuan Red restaurant also onboard Spectrum.
In my opinion, the $45 cover charge is worth it and those with a dining package should definitely make reservations here at least once on their cruise.
For more information about Spectrum of the Seas including the specialty dining and onboard, check out my video guides.