Chef Hans Neuner and his team combine technique and mastery with modern, fresh cuisine that focuses on sustainability and various produce from the heart of Portugal, including fish, seafood, meat, vegetables and wines. The first distinction from the prestigious guide came in 2009 and the second in 2011.

For the past five years, executive chef Hans and the team at two-Michelin-starred Ocean restaurant have embarked on their own age of discovery, seeking insight into Portuguese gastronomy and its roots through a series of voyages into the past. Each trip would take them to a different part of the world explored during Portugal’s Era dos Descobrimentos, between the 15th and 17th centuries, starting with continental Portugal the first year, followed by the islands of Madeira, Azores and São Tomé the second, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mozambique and Goa the third year, and last year to Brazil.

In the culmination of their four-year project, Hans Neuner and the team this year set out on a journey to Asia to uncover the origins, influences, and flavours of the spice trade, seeking inspiration for Ocean’s latest menu. Starting in Bangkok, a city he was familiar with from his youth and where he felt at home, Hans immersed himself and his team in the vibrant culture and traditional cuisine of Thailand. The street food and markets showcased centuries-old culinary traditions that have stood the test of time, offering a rich tapestry of colours and produce.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: VASCO CÉLIO/STILLS;

Moving on to Macau, a place with a strong Portuguese connection owing to its colonial past, Hans discovered traces of Portuguese influences in the architecture and even in the local cuisine. One particular dish using Iberian pork in a 20-year-old orange sauce stood out, exemplifying the fusion of Portuguese and Asian flavours that Ocean sought to achieve. The blending of these influences was a theme that resonated throughout their journey.

Seoul, with its modernity and vibrant cultural scene, offered a unique perspective on gastronomy. Through their guide Sunshine, the team delved into the colourful world of Korean cuisine, exploring traditional barbeque restaurants and the intricacies of kimchi. The kimchi museum provided a deep dive into this staple of Korean cuisine, offering insights that would shape Ocean’s menu in the days to come.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Vasco Celio;

In Japan, Hans uncovered the intriguing history of Portuguese influences on Japanese cuisine, particularly the introduction of Tempura by Portuguese sailors. The exchange of culinary techniques and ingredients between the two cultures over centuries left a lasting impact on both sides. The discipline and tradition observed by Japanese chefs, even in a modern city like Tokyo, were awe-inspiring and served as a testament to the enduring legacy of culinary traditions.

As Hans and his team returned from their journey, they were tasked with incorporating their diverse experiences into Ocean’s menu for the year. The challenge lay in capturing the essence of the blending of Portuguese and Asian cultures, showcasing how they influenced each other’s food and history. The journey was not just about trading products and ideas, but about showcasing how the convergence of different cultures transformed food on a global scale.

The final year of their mission to know more about the roots and relevant influences that are a crucial part of the Portuguese gastronomy turned out to be an exciting time for Ocean, as they looked forward to sharing their experiences in Asia with the rest of the world. The journey had been a rich tapestry of flavours, traditions, and culinary exchanges, culminating in a menu that would pay homage to the intricate relationship between Portuguese and Asian cuisines. As Hans Neuner reflected on their journey, it was evident that the impact of their time in Asia would reverberate through Ocean’s offerings, enriching the dining experience for guests and showcasing the power of culinary exploration. Above all, showcasing the richness and cultural diversity the Portuguese cuisine is filled with.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: VASCO CÉLIO/STILLS;

The result is the 'Asian Expedition ', a 14-course menu that debuted in March at the Algarve restaurant, Ocean. The menu includes moments such as 'Streets of Macau' (with anchovies, ginger and peanuts), 'Peixinhos da Horta' (with kingfish, green beans, tempura and morchella), 'Tokyo Drift' (with sea bass, lobster gyoza, kombu and broccoli) and 'One Night in Bangkok' (with sole, kohlrabi and Kampot chilli). The menu runs until the end of November and is a journey to Asia in search of the Portuguese gastronomic roots.

Menu €275 per person I Wine recommendation €175 per person I Premium wine recommendation €360 per person

Ocean serves dinner only, from Wednesday to Sunday, between 7 pm and 10 pm. Reservations can be made via the website or by calling (+351) 282 310 184.

Ocean Restaurant ** at Vila Vita Parc

Rua Anneliese Pohl, Alporchinhos, 8400-450 Porches, Portugal

(+351) 282 310 100