Underwater restaurants are perhaps the quintessence of the Maldivian dining experience. And now OBLU Lobigili’ s “Only Blu” is the biggest yet so all the more people can enjoy this memorable experience. The Maldives is all about the intimacy with the ocean. The diminutive islands keep guests close to the water’s edge at all time. The intra-atoll peaceful waters keep the aquatic wonderland so accessible whether peering into the crystal waters from a jetty above or swimming among the marine life on a snorkel excursion. But even scuba divers have a one-hour limit to their dives (not to mention all the hassle of donning and managing the scuba gear). But the underwater eateries allow you to sit under the sea for hours on end in the comfort of your resort wear while enjoying fine wining and dining.
Floating breakfasts are becoming a staple of the food-photo-ing Instagrammers at resorts. Kandima was one of the early pioneers of the buoyant buffet and now they have gone a step further in distinction with a special Maldivian fare option:
- “We not only offer the bucket list Floating Breakfast, but we also offer an oh-so-authentic Maldivian Floating Lunch! Savour a truly private floating lunch in your villa pool bursting with exotic Maldivian flavours for an ultimate exclusive experience”
Just right for Lori who Maldivian favourite mashuni. Also, this post has prompted me to add the new tag “Floating Dining” as well as “Maldivian Cuisine” (which I was surprised that I hadn’t done yet).
Baked Alaska is quite simply my favourite dessert. It sits in the pantheon of luxurious sweets. Despite its ice cream so suited for the hot climate and being one of the titans of luxurious sweets, I was surprised to not come across it in the Maldives before. And yet, the humble, value-priced Fihalhohi was the resort to feature it in my visits. I did do a bit of due diligence research and a Google search found a TripAdvisor review in 2017 reporting baked Alaska at Halaveli (it wasn’t there when we visited in 2013) as well as a picture of one at Outrigger Konotta in 2019.
Many people are reducing their consumption of meat for a variety of reasons, but one of the most prominent is their concern over the ethics of the meat production on both the animals and the planet. While some have completely eliminated meat from their diet, for others going completely cold turkey (or cow?) is a bit too challenging. As a part of their ethos to help guests take step to great sustainability, Amilla is offering a range of ethical meats on its menus:
- BEEF – Cape Grim Beef from Tasmania “is proud collective of beef farmers throughout Tasmania, King and Flinders Islands, [who] have a commitment to ethical practices and are audited by a third-party. They nurture the finest quality cattle, without harming the pristine environment.” As an extra bonus to the quality they are only grass fed, and the cows don’t have to walk distances for their grass (because it rains so much) resulting in a distinctive level of fat marbling. Finally, the air in the location is the cleanest in the world.
- PORK – Dingley Dell Bacon from Suffolk, UK whose operation is built around a “philosophy of animal welfare, taste and sustainability.” Also, Dingley Dell have planted 33.2 hectares of their farm in wild flowers so the bees have food.
- POULTRY – I’ve already written about Amilla’s luxury poultry accommodation for its chickens, “Cluckingham Palace”.
- CONDIMENTS – Amilla uses bananas and coconut sugar from the island to make the ketchup as well as a island produced BBQ. The homemade versions not only reduce the food-miles, but also avoid the the caramel colour (gluten) and refined sugar of the commercial versions.
- “Cooked with 1.5kg of the finest Mud crab from Sri Lanka, this is the largest deshelled crab dish on our menu and preserves the ideologies of the traditional biryani with our own take on it. Each clay pot serves 6, includes 12 eggs and is accompanied with a Fresh Mint Sambol, hand ground on our Miris Gala and the Classic Malay pickle.”
One of my favourite tropical island activities with the kids when they were young was setting up treasure hunts around the resort island where the “treasure” was a box of sweeties. Various resorts have introduced their hunts for children, but Amilla has a sort of a treasure hunt with much healthier fare. A virtual walk through their “Foraging Lunch” was shared in their description:
- “This new eco-adventure sees guests led by staff including the Chef, the Landscaping Supervisor, and the Sustainability and Wellness Mentor, Victoria Kruse, through the lush island to gather edible plants including indigenous varieties such as ‘kulha fila’ (Maldivian rocket). This fun and educational interactive tour highlights the island’s indigenous and island-grown herbs, vegetables and fruit. It culminates in a feast using the freshly-plucked ingredients…Starting out on the Sunrise Beach at the southeastern end of the spacious private island resort, the guests were guided to Amilla’s jungle-clad grove known as The Plantation, where local varieties of small, sweet bananas are cultivated, as well as chillies (a Maldivian staple), lemongrass and passionfruit. Then it was on to the resort’s new Hydroponics Garden, where they discovered a wide array of homegrown greens, before moving on to the UN (short for ‘UNdo the Harm’) where the Amilla Islanders make their own cold-pressed coconut oil from the island’s bountiful supply of coconut trees. Amilla’s chicken coop, Cluckingham Palace, was the next port of call, to see if the pampered chickens there had any fresh eggs to offer…The next destination was the vast area of natural jungle that covers over 70 percent of the island. From this area, the group collected dry coconuts for coconut milk and young coconuts to make ‘mudi kashi’ (the flesh of young coconuts), with a little help from Amilla’s skillful tree climbers. They also helped harvest some wild breadfruit from 15 metres up in the jungle canopy…Finally, the group circled back to Amilla’s beautiful Mystique Garden, where the hungry team collected even more salad greens as well as sugarcane and the traditional Maldivian staples of aubergines, okra, and sweet potatoes.”
Also, helpful survival training for if you ever get marooned on a desert island. Bear Gryll’s paradise edition.
- North Indian
Thali is used to refer to an Indian-style meal made up of a selection of various dishes which are served on a platter. Sort of a tapas of the subcontinent. Executive Sous Chef Bir Kumar Yadav (photo below) is always introducing new options for an ever changing palete palatte.
Part of the adventure of an exotic holiday can be the exotic dining that goes with it. First timers to the Maldives will relish the fresh reef fish, local curries and irresistibly fresh tropical fruit. But for longer stays or Maldives aficionado regular visitors, even that can get a bit repetitive. So the top resorts mix it up a bit with some more creative culinary options. When I treat myself to a meal out, I try to choose dishes that I can’t easily make for myself at home (so I avoid the simple dishes and go for the more unusual).
One example of esoteric eatery is LUX North Male Atoll’s Peruvian/Japanese fusion restaurant INTI and their signature dish “ceviche”. Ceviche is a South American dish of marinated seafood (eg. prawn, octopus), but INTI has extended it in fusion style to Wagyu Beef, vegetables and other ingredients. It is served with a range of sauces (eg. chimichu mushroom, rocoto chili spice, corn, beef au jus, huancaina yella chili). And if you have trouble deciding from their extensive selection, you can have a smorgasbord of a tasting platter including such delicacies as:
- Fish – white fish, tiger milk, raspberry, sorbet
- Octopus – Peruvian chili, smoked yellow paper sauce
- Tuna – Nikkei sauce, sesame oil, tuna, cucumber
- Prawns – Passion fruit sorbet, coconut milk infusion, mango, soft shell crab
- Salmon – Avocado, red onion, tiger milk
- Scallop – Orange tiger milk, red onion, yellow chili
Two of the most popular tastes on the High Street – Thai and Italian – combined for a super fusion of flavours. Mr Tom Yam’s at SAii Lagoon blends the exotic with the classic, the tropical with the Mediterranean, the Asian with the European. Some of our favourite dishes are Italian and Thai, so sampling them melded together was a special treat.
Sample dishes include:
- Khaopad Hed Porcini: Italian mushrooms fried risotto, tomato, onion, kale, and cashew nuts with fried egg
- Maplaow Goong Risotto: Spicy coconut risotto with lime shrimp, mushroom, tomato, lime leaves and galangal.
- Baa Mee Noodles Moo Carbonara: Egg noodles stir fried with bacon and deep-fried pork, marinated in a dark sweet soy sauce, egg yolk, coriander leaves and parmesan cheese.
- Piiza Tom Yam Tale: Mozarella, tomato sauce, tom yam stir fried assorted seafood, kaffir lime leaves, chili, cherry tomato and mushroom.
- Pannacotta Kink Somo: Creamy ginger flan with pomelo.