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Why You Need To Eat At Carnival’s JiJi Asian Kitchen

On our last cruise (that we paid for), Carnival provided my family with a complimentary dinner at JiJi Asian Kitchen. To say we loved it puts it mildly. All opinions remain my own.

In fact, we love it so much that we made a point of visiting JiJi Asian Kitchen on our most recent cruise where we did not have a complimentary dinner. And of course, we visit the restaurant during lunch when it is the complimentary Mongolian Wok every cruise.

One great thing about a cruise? Once aboard, it’s mostly all-inclusive unless you opt for extras. Excursions in various ports are generally a no-brainer, but given how good (and fun) the food is throughout the ship, should you upgrade to a specialty dining experience?

Carnival Cruise Asian Restaurant review

Oh heck yeah.

Carnival Cruise has some amazing options aboard, and we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing most of them. Everyone I talk to about the Carnival Steakhouse experience raves about it. We do, too, and I shared why we love the steakhouse.

If you are a true foodie, splurge and book the Carnival Chef’s Table. It is hands down the best meal I have ever had in my life, and with a small personalized dinner that gets offered usually just once per cruise, it sells out fast.

On select ships, Carnival offers an Asian dining experience, as well. JiJi Asian Kitchen happens to be open only for dinner, and with a $24 per adult (12+) and $11 per kid charge, book it! The atmosphere is restful with attentive service, and the food is unique and delicious.

Not only that, but you walk away stuffed, knowing you got your money’s worth. We came hungry – very hungry – and ended up with so many leftovers, even ordering a little less than our waitress recommended.

This restaurant tends to get overlooked, so when the steakhouse fills up, head here instead. You often don’t need a reservation, but to get the time and day you want, you can book either online once you make your cruise reservation or once aboard the ship.

Looking for more great tips on cruising? Make sure you read some of my favorite articles on where to go and what to do on your next cruise! You can find them at the bottom of this article.

JiJi Asian Kitchen Dining Experience

The Carnival Asian restaurant experience doesn’t disappoint. “Ji” means lucky, and you are lucky to enjoy the experience there!

How It Works

When you arrive, the wait staff brings your menu to the table, and alerts you that the meal gets served family-style, except dessert. They tell you how many dishes to order, depending on your party size.

If you have anyone with allergies, that person will order separately and gets to choose an appetizer, a main course, and a side. The wait staff will bring a menu that lets you know what dishes are safe for you to order so you know exactly what you can and cannot eat.

The portions are huge, so don’t fret if you don’t have an appetizer or entree for each person. You will not walk away hungry – and if you want more, you can order more than recommended, but I doubt you’ll need to!

Let the wait staff guide you, and feel free to try things you may not be sure about. This is the perfect opportunity to discover something you didn’t know you liked! The hokka noodles are hands down our favorite side, so make sure you choose those.

Once you order your dinner from appetizers to dessert, you receive your amuse bouche. This is a complimentary “pre” appetizer and is currently a potato dumpling, though this has changed over the years.

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen amuse bouche of potato dumplings.

JiJi Asian Kitchen Drink Menu

Don’t forget about the cocktails! JiJi Asian Kitchen has some really fun cocktails. These have a cost above the $24 dinner, just like other alcohol on the ship, and if you have the Cheers program, you are set.

Green tea martini JiJi Asian Kitchen

Though the cocktails are an additional cost, they are worth the splurge, and I can’t tell you how perfect JiJi’s Signature Green Tea Martini fit the meal. You also have the option of a sake sangria, rum dynasty, crazy mango, or Bali sunset, of which the rum dynasty is the least sweet drink.

JiJi Asian Kitchen also offers Singha, Kirin, and Kirin Light for and Thai iced tea (my favorite) for a small charge.

JiJi Asian Kitchen Appetizers

Though the menu is small for an Asian restaurant, it remains hard to choose dishes. JiJi Asian Kitchen offers seven appetizers. We loved them all, though the chicken and cilantro root soup definitely won our hearts. We expected to each receive a small bowl, but instead a giant tureen appeared. We each had a bowl, and some had seconds (my son had thirds), and the bowl remained half full after we couldn’t eat any more.

Asian chicken soup JiJi Asian Kitchen

I’m so glad we ordered the the jade shrimp har gow (shrimp bonnets), which like the soup had plenty of flavor without heat. We almost skipped those since we already had potstickers, but they ended up a fan favorite.

Shrimp bonnet JiJi Asian Kitchen

My kids also begged to order the potstickers, as they eat any and all potstickers they find. You have your choice of steamed or fried, and they come with a pea shoot and green apple salad on the side.

JiJi Asian Kitchen postickers

Lastly, we also tried the chicken spring rolls. We expected spring roll paper, but found them slightly more reminiscent of egg rolls in texture. These were good but not our favorite. The spring rolls also had lemon marmalade, curry leaves, pink grapefruit, and cilantro pearls dotting the plate.

JiJi Asian Kitchen spring rolls

If we could choose only two, hands down everyone would go for the soup and shrimp bonnets again (and again).

On other cruises, we have also tried the slow-braised pork belly, which I love but my son finds to be too fatty for his tastes. It is sweet and just melts in your mouth. This is one where I could happily eat the entire portion myself.

We also most recently ordered the nanjing-style duck. It came served on the bone, which made it a little difficult to portion to everyone, but it was again absolutely delicious. Again, my son who won’t eat any fat didn’t like the rich texture of the duck, but the rest of my family had no problem eating his portion of the appetizer.

Aside from what we enjoyed, you also have the option a tamarind and shrimp soup. Our next visit, we will have to ensure we try this one.

Main Dish Options

Entrees start to bring a little more heat. Two of the dishes come with spicy pepper warnings, and your wait staff can help guide you towards or away from the spice, depending on your personal preferences.

My favorite entree was the stock pig, clay pot stewed pork that gets wok fried with scallions, sesame, fresh spinach, pea shoots, and snap peas. The presentation has changed over the years, but this remains my entire family’s favorite entree.

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen Chairman Mao Stock Pig on a plate.

The wagyu beef slow braised short rib is another dish I can’t recommend enough. It’s so incredibly tender and full of flavor. And like every dish at JiJi Asian Kitchen, the presentation makes it even more appealing.

In the past, we avoided the kung pao chicken because that’s a dish so many other Asian restaurants offer – whether aboard Carnival or on land – but on our most recent trip, my mom insisted we order it. I’m glad we did, as it was absolutely delicious. This is a spicier dish, but you can request a lower spice level.

Every time we go to JiJi Asian Kitchen, we can’t pass up the peppered beef. The bird’s nest atop the beef looks so pretty, and it adds a great flavor and texture in addition to the Chinese mustard leaves, young garlic, ginger root, and scallions.

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen pepper beef on a plate.

JiJi Asian Kitchen’s entrees include Singapore chili shrimp, a lightly spicy street food dish, and sweet and sour fragrant shrimp, the sweet and sour you’re familiar with but served with shrimp rather than chicken or beef. One day, we will branch out from our favorites and try them all.

JiJi Asian Kitchen Sides

While Carnival’s Asian restaurant calls these sides, I may beg to differ. The eight dishes represent the largest portion of the menu, and many of these are incredibly filling. This is where we really had a hard time narrowing down the options.

The choices cover greens like blistered beans with minced pork to eggplant with mushrooms, soy, and oyster sauce. The carb side of the sides menu is just as extensive with option ranging from wide noodles with mushrooms, sprouts, onions, peppers, ciltanro, and scallions to hot and spicy crisp potato fries to traditional steamed jasmine rice.

We chose the simple hakka noodles and basmati fried rice, as my kids adore fried rice, too. The fried rice comes with no protein, but you can choose to add baby shrimp or chicken if you haven’t had enough elsewhere on the menu.

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen Hokka Noodles in a wide bowl.

The hakka noodles had plenty of flavor and honestly could have counted as an entree dish for my family. This is one of our favorite dishes on the menu and one we order every time we visit.

You can see how huge the portions are for every single item coming from the kitchen. There’s a reason you don’t need one entree per person!

With all the other flavors on the table, I appreciated the simplicity of the fried rice. It wasn’t overly seasoned, nor did it have too many ingredients and textures. The egg, peas, and scallion sufficed to make this a perfect side dish. That said, it may not be exactly what you expect from fried rice in other Asian restaurants.

JiJi Asian Kitchen Fried Rice

To ensure we got our vegetables, we chose the Chinese broccoli with ginger and garlic glaze. As the waitress reminded me, Chinese broccoli is not the same as American broccoli – and in my opinion, this is the far superior broccoli.

Again, this is a dish so good it could be my entire meal. The garlic glaze is fantastic, and this is a great dish to help cut down on the heat in your other dishes, if needed.

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen Chinese Broccoli on a plate.

On our most recent visit, we ordered the steamed jasmine rice, which comes just as you expect it would. We have yet to try the blistered beans – though they sound amazing to me and I keep trying to talk my family into them. The eggplant and hot and spicy crisp potato fries are the only other two sides we haven’t tried, but I suspect the are just as tasty.

Don’t forget Dessert!

By the time dessert rolled around, we tried to beg off. We had so much food from the appetizers and entrees and sides, and we couldn’t finish that. The wait staff insisted we at least try dessert, and who are we to argue?

The restaurant offers three dessert options, and we tried them all.

Our favorite was the caramelized crepes with the citrus ice cream. It was the perfect combination of sweet without being overly heavy. I have ordered this every time I go to JiJi Asian Kitchen and am never disappointed. I love that it’s a relatively unique dessert, too.

JiJi Asian Kitchen caramelized crepes

My younger loved the creme brulee the best. While creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts, I might not order it just because I can get it so many places. This version was a rose creme brulee and came with a ginger ice cream. Again, the flavor combo was spot on.

JiJi Asian Kitchen creme brulee

Our least favorite of the three was the one my son most wanted, but most recently my younger child tried it again and really enjoyed it. The fried wontons wrapped in lychee fruit with tapioca pearls and coconut milk sounds amazing.

Unfortunately, we found the wontons to be a little tough, and none of that dessert had as much flavor as the rest of the meal. I think my kid just really enjoyed the tapioca pearls because the wontons were tough again. But try it for yourself to see!

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen Fried Wonton dessert in a white fluted bowl.

Of course, you cannot end a Chinese dinner without fortune cookies, and JiJi Asian Kitchen is no different. While there used to be a dried fruit roll that accompanied these that we do miss, the fortune cookies are still delicious and fun.

Image shows JiJi Asian Kitchen plate of fortune cookies.

Important Facts About JiJi Asian Kitchen

  • This restaurant is currently available aboard just the Carnival Panorama, Carnival Vista, Carnival Sunshine, and Carnival Horizon.
  • You do not need a reservation, but to ensure the time and day you want, you can book online once you reserve your cruise or once aboard the ship.
  • The meal costs $24 per person for those 12 and older with a kids menu available for $11 for those 11 and under.
  • The meal gets served family style, so you choose a selection of dishes, though each person orders their own dessert.
  • If you know how to use chopsticks, great. If not, you have forks available, as well. Don’t avoid JiJi Asian Kitchen because you don’t know how to eat a dish or use chopsticks. The wait staff are eager to help you and want you to enjoy it no matter what.
  • During the day JiJi Asian Kitchen serves lunch – for free – with fantastic wok bowls. This gets busy fast as people discover it, so scope it out early in your cruise to minimize your wait.

Have you been to JiJi Asian Kitchen? Share your experience

More Cruising Tips

JIJI Asian Kitchen review - all you need to know about the perfect filling dinner on Carnival cruise. Well worth the money - find out why you need to dine here on your next Carnival Cruise

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