Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Nibbles – Sun Siyam Iru Veli

Iru Veli - Guhli

One of our little acid tests for a property’s true luxury is what sort of nibbles they serve with the cocktails.

  • 3-star properties don’t serve anything.
  • 4-star properties serve crisps and/or peanuts.
  • 5-star properties serve specially prepared snacky treats

Not only are Sun Siyam Iru Veli’s treats ample and distinctive, but they are especially Maldivian. They are tuna in crunchy bread balls with chilli which is a Maldivian recipe called “Guhli”.


Best of the Maldives: Ayurvedic Dining – Sun Siyam Vilu Reef

Vilu Reef - aruveydic dining

You can eat well at nearly all the resorts in the Maldives, but at Sun Siyam Vilu Reef you can GET well by eating. India National Day today is an opportunity to celebrate the culture of this Laccadive neighbour whose culture is found across the islands. Ayurvedic treatments can be found in many spas, but Chef Nitin has introduced ayurvedic dining at their “The Spice” restaurant. Healing cuisine is part of the Jain tradition and uses a range of ingredients to aid with certain conditions.

Chef Nitin (honored as the 2nd Best Chef in the India Chapter at the Bocuse d’Or 2012 World Chef’s Championship) pioneered his Spice Health Concept that emphasizes the overall health benefits of each component.  He described his approach, “Our special thali dinner is more than a meal; it’s a journey for your healthy intestine. We believe in using a combination of Indian and unique herb spices to boost immunity, promote gut health, and enhance overall well-being.”

Table Amenities: Journey for Your Healthy Intestine

  • Pineapple Relish: Rich in antioxidants and Bromelain enzyme, aiding in heart health and reducing inflammation.
  • Beetroot, Clove Fruit Vinegar Chutney: High in fiber, promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut, and containing good sugars for internal healing.
  • Black Garlic Yoghurt: With prebiotic properties, stimulating appetite and contributing to gut health.

Amuse Bouche: Regenerate Your Body

  • Gluten-Free Pani Puri with 03 Different Shots
  • Tangy Green Apple and Mint Water: Rich in Vitamins A & C, acting as antioxidants to prevent cancer cell formation.
  • Beetroot and Basil Water: Anti-inflammatory properties for rejuvenation.
  • Young Turmeric Water: Antioxidant-rich, aiding the body in combating inflammation.

I enjoyed a dish made with hing asafoetida that aids digestion. Which after feasting on such much delicious food I definitely benefitted from.

Vilu Reef - ayurvedic dining 3

Best of the Maldives: Garden Islands – Sun Siyam Iru Veli / Vilu Reef

Sun Siyam Iru Veli - garden islands 3

Chef’s gardens have become fairly commonplace at Maldives resorts, but how many properties have “garden islands” of their very own? Not just one but two islands. Serving the chefs at the two nearby (within in sight) sister resort islands Sun Siyam Iru Veli and Sun Siyam Vilu Reef. The expansive scale means that Sun Siyam not only can reduce the carbon footprint of even more of their ingredients, but they can cultivate a wider range and larger quantity of food for the kitchens than the typical herb collection in chef’s gardens.

Sun Siyam Iru Veli - garden islands 2

Sun Siyam Iru Veli - garden islands 1

Best of the Maldives: Italian-Maldivian Fusion – Sun Siyam Iru Veli

Sun Siyam Iru Veli - italian maldivian fusion

Probably the two most popular cuisines in the Maldives – Italian and Maldivian – have been fused by head chef Victor Zanitto of Sun Siyam Iru Veli. Victor has spent 6 years in the Maldives and has explored the local cooking extensively. He says that the fusion is a natural marriage of tastes and flavours. He says that Maldivians love thin pizza with tandoori chicken, and Italians are crazy about raw fish. He has worked how to make the most of limited ingredients, ie reef fish and coconut, and he noted that even ingredients like Sri Lankan tomatoes better than those from Italy.  We enjoyed the Piedmont delicacy of panna cotta made with tropical mango.

Best of the Maldives: Kids Restaurant – Ailafushi

Ailafushi - kids restaurant

Plenty of reasons to treat your children to a break from Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad can benefit too with some time together. One of those times is a romantic meal together, but how do the children get fed. Well, Ailafushi’s kids club features its own kids restaurant serving up pizza and pasta as well as sweets like cakes and cookies.

Best of the Maldives: Dried Fruit – Sun Siyam Vilu Reef

Sun Siyam Vilu Reef - dried fruit

A major acid test for me indicating the luxury level of a resort are the nibbles they serve with drinks. A little bit of savory snacks make the cocktails all the most delectable and allow us to linger longer without getting too pecking for dinner. The most basic resorts don’t offer anything, the 4-stars offer the staples of crisps and peanuts, but a luxury 5-star really needs a distinctive goodies. And Sun Siyam Vilu Reef offered us one of our favourite snacks – dried fruits. We have received various dried fruits at other resorts, but Vilu Reef and an unprecedented assortment. It turns out that they have their own food drier on premises (see photo below) so that can create dried versions of just about anything. We enjoyed the dried apples, oranges, pears, coconut with out very welcome ‘welcome drink’.

Sun Siyam Iru Veli - dried fruit

Best of the Maldives: Sand Bank Breakfast – Sun Siyam Iru Veli

World Food Day today. And the best place in in the world to eat any food was an experience we finally enjoyed at Sun Siyam Iru Veli this summer. We’ve fantasized about dining on a plot of sand ever since we first started visiting the Maldives two and a half decades ago. It epitomised the “plot of sand with a palm tree” isolation caricature. We’ve seen many of (exorbitant) dinners and even lunches such remote venues, but never a breakfast.

A breakfast is actually a great way to enjoy this sandbank location. Unlike a dinner which tends to have courses, the breakfast is more casual with more finger food (eg. pastries, fruit, pots of yogurt) that you can take in hand for a stroll around or wade into the sea to enjoy the sea-life nearby or the dappled azure vista beyond. And the morning has a particularly peaceful vibe to it which suits this indolent sliver of interruption to the gently surrounding waters.

Best of the Maldives: Garudhiya – Milaidhoo

Miladhoo - Garudhiva

One of the local Maldivian delicacies which delighted Tom Chesshyre in his book Tom Chesshyre “Misadventures in the Real Maldives” was “garudhiva”. It turns out that Milaidhoo features the dish in its “five must-try dishes at ‘Ba’theli by the Reef’ Restaurant” on Milaidhoo island

  • “Garudhiya is a famous soup of the Maldives. It is a clear broth of poached fresh skipjack tuna, perfumed with pandanus (screwpine) heart and curry leaves. For a memorable blend of tropical island flavours, Kiru Garudhiya is one of the best foods in the Maldives. It consists of fresh island coconut milk, poached fish and shellfish in a soup flavoured with island spices and curry leaves.”

Best of the Maldives: Largest Underwater Restaurant – Ailafushi/Lobigili

While I’ve already highlighted Aiafushi/Lobigili’s underwater treasure hunt at their underwater restaurant, Only Blu, our recent visit allowed us to see all of its spaciousness which also makes it the largest underwater restaurant in the Maldives. And with lots of restaurant real estate come lots of windows to see the vibrant aquatic life. Especially with every panoramic portal packed with fish frolicking corals. The most vibrant fish life of any underwater restaurant we have been to. Probably because (a) there is limited coral elsewhere in the area, and (b) they were drawn by the light of the diners.