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Dining Review: Orchid Garden & Sushi Bar on Norwegian Gem

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I fell in love with Norwegian’s Asian-fusion restaurant, Orchid Garden, on a cruise I took on the Norwegian GemThe same restaurant or similar can be found on most of Norwegian’s ships, but always by a different name.

One of the reasons I loved it is because it’s one of Norwegian’s few complimentary specialty restaurants, and it’s a nice break from the dining room and buffet food. Instead of picking days to go there, we played it by ear, checking the dining room menu first to see if there was anything there we really wanted, and then going to Orchid Garden when the menu wasn’t appealing. Since it’s all free, we went back a couple of times to try different things.

norwegian gem orchid garden sushi bar restaurant

Orchid Garden & Sushi Bar on Norwegian Gem (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Appetizers

For appetizers, we tried the Salt & Pepper Calamari, Harvest Spring Rolls, and Pork Pot Stickers. 

The calamari was light, crispy, and perfect. The pot stickers can be ordered steamed or fried. We picked fried, but generally didn’t care for them too much. 

We were hesitant to order the spring rolls because they’re filled with veggies, which I’m not keen on. I decided I could try them since mushrooms were also listed as an ingredient. They were amazing and I regretted not trying them sooner.

spring rolls orchid garden norwegian gem

Entrées

For entrées, we tried the Orange Peel Beef, Sweet & Sour Pork, Lemon Pepper Shrimp, and Peking Style Shrimp & Chicken. 

I loved the Shrimp & Chicken so much more than I expected, and I did expect to like it. Everything about it was great and I especially liked the inclusion of mushrooms in it. 

The Orange Peel Beef was okay. We didn’t order it again on future visits. The Jumbo Shrimp was really good but it was a really small portion. Order at least two if you want this to be more filling. 

The Sweet & Sour Pork was a favorite for both of us. It’s the least-healthy item on the menu, but it was very tasty.

orchid garden norwegian gem

Desserts

We tried two of the desserts: the Five Spice Chocolate Cake and the Crispy Chestnut and Red Bean Triangles. I thought I was going to love the chocolate cake when I saw it on someone else’s table, and I ordered it even though I was really full. I actually didn’t end up liking it though.

chocolate cake orchid garden

We didn’t like the Crispy Triangles either. It was my husband’s idea to order them. The green tea ice cream is really good, and I should have just tried to order it without the triangles.

dessert green tea ice cream bean triangles

MORE: A Picky Eater’s Guide to Dining on Carnival’s Mardi Gras

Sushi Bar

Another reason I loved Orchid Garden was because of its proximity to the sushi bar. Sushi costs extra, but it’s nice to have a few items from the complimentary menu and then pick just one or two items from the sushi menu. The cost ranges from $5 to $8.50 per item, depending on what you order. 

I try not to spend extra money on food when I cruise, but they walk you right past the Sushi Bar with all this fresh fish in the window, so how could I not?

sushi bar norwegian gem

We would have tried more from the sushi menu, but after we found out that our favorite things were the lowest cost items, we didn’t feel that compelled to try the higher cost ones. We tried the Salmon Nigiri, The Two-Timing Tuna Roll, Hawaiian Poke bowl, and Crispy Rice. 

The Salmon Nigiri was good, but a little small, and they only come with two per order. While this is my husband’s favorite sushi item, we didn’t order it again because of the other choices we had. This was the only item at the $5 price point.

The Hawaiian Poke was also good, but not worth the money as this was one of the higher cost items. This comes in at just under the highest cost at $8. The Two-Timing Tuna roll was one of our favorites and we ordered it again on other visits. It’s a spicy tuna roll — my favorite — topped with more tuna! This was one of the lower cost items at $6.

sushi norwegian gem

We didn’t know what to expect with this one, but the Crispy Rice sushi ended up being our favorite, also clocking in at $6. It was filled with salmon. The sauce the bits of salmon was dipped in is what hit this item out of the park, and the lightly fried rice patties were delicious. 

We went back for the Crispy Rice and the Two-Timing Tuna a couple of times. Once with dinner again at Orchid Garden, and one last time as an appetizer before our dinner at Teppanyaki. We liked them that much.

Beverages

Let’s not forget about drinks! There is also a Sake Bar on board, not surprisingly right next to Orchid Garden and the Sushi Bar. There are two kinds of sake and two kinds of Japanese beer offered. 

sake bar norwegian gem

We tried both sakes and they were both good, but I suggest you split them instead of trying to each drink two. The beers are Tsingtao and Sapporo, which kind of equivalent to Budweiser or Coors in the U.S.

Other options for drinks are the Wasabi Cocktail and Saku-Saku cocktail, but personally I like to drink prosecco with sushi.

Orchid Garden is a full-service restaurant and the menu has a good variety of freshly prepared noodles and wok-fried dishes to pick from, along with appetizers, fried rice, and desserts.

READ NEXT: Review: Dining at Cagney’s Steakhouse on Norwegian Cruise Line

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