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Forget sweet and sour pork from your local Chinese restaurant, the Shanghai, Cantonese and Hong Kong cuisine served on SuperStar Virgo comes from Michelin-starred restaurants. Alycia Lim reports.

For the past four years, Star Cruises has been named Asia’s leading cruise line at the prestigious World Travel Awards, beating better-known (in Australia at least) competitors such as P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Cunard. A lot of this is down to the food. At the biennial Food and Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge 2016 held in Singapore in April, the line brought home seven medals for its onboard cuisine, one silver and six bronze.

Star Cruises’ executive Chinese chef, Lee Eng Heng, understands that it’s the combination of travel, food and entertainment that creates a memorable cruise experience.

“A cruise vacation is unique as it is not only about the destination, but the onboard experience altogether, which includes the various cuisines,” he says. “At Star Cruises, we offer a culinary adventure prepared specially by award-winning chefs, creating an unrivalled gastronomy experience at sea.”

The line has collaborated with a series of Michelin-starred restaurants including Kam’s Kitchen, Sun Tung Lok, Ye Shanghai and, most recently, Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, to serve premium Shanghai and Cantonese cuisines, as well as Hong Kong specialty roast items on board SuperStar Virgo, currently homeported in Guangzhou.

“The ongoing collaboration with the Michelin-starred restaurants provides the perfect platform and opportunity for Star Cruises’ chefs to constantly push gastronomic boundaries, raising the standard and learning from the very best,” says Lee, “While our culinary emphasis is on Asian and Chinese food concepts, we also serve Western, Indian, vegetarian, Japanese and Korean in both our inclusive and specialty restaurants.”

Australian cruisers will also appreciate the distinctly Asian sensibilities that go into crafting the onboard menus. “The Chinese believe that it is best to eat seasonal cuisines that have healing factors suited for different times of the year,” Lee says. “For example, food with high yin elements, such as melons and cucumber, are great for the summer season, while food with high yang elements, like garlic, onions and red peppers, are better for the winter season.”

As it is currently summer in China, the menu includes more food options with melons, gourds and fruit. The line also offers different menus planned around key Asian festivals and celebrations such as Lunar New Year and the Mooncake festival.