Best of the Maldives: Largest Restaurant – Olhuveli

Olhuveli - largest restaurant

For the biggest banquet under one roof (and even out from the roof) Olhuveli’s main restaurant seats a glutinous 600 guests. The island only has 164 rooms (so approximately 350 guests at any time), but some staff eat there and the extra capacity gives diners more choices about where they want to eat. For example, they might want to enjoy the extensive outdoor deck seating on a lovely evening or afternoon. But if the squalls are passing through, they might prefer the cover of inside area. Plenty of choice on seating and an equally expansive range of buffet options and stations.

Olhuveli - largest restaurant 2

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Fusion – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - tastmakers

A fusion closer to the Maldivian home is Soneva Fushi’s “Tastemaker” who combines Laccadive flavours with a range of Asian flavours drawn from his travels in the region:

  • “Maldivian born and bred, Chef Sobah is considered one of the pioneers of his islands’ rich culinary heritage. As a child, his family’s main source of income was from fishing, and he would help his parents sun-dry and smoke the daily catch. Today, Chef Sobah draws upon the traditional techniques of Maldivian cooking in his Soneva Fushi restaurant, Sobah’s, the first restaurant in the Maldives to offer authentic Maldivian fare with a contemporary twist.”

I’ve added a tag for “Fusion” with this post as so many of the top properties are distinguishing their fare with the flai of inventive combination.

Best of the Maldives: Peru/Japan Fusion – LUX North Male Atoll

LUX North Male Atoll - peru japan fusion

Fusion is a fun way to blend diverse flavours and culinary traditions for exciting new tastes, but LUX North Male Atoll’s INTI restaurant is probably the most diverse combo we have come across – Japanese and Peruvian.

Before you think someone just threw a couple of darts at a map, it turns out that Japan and Peru have a longstanding cultural connection. Peru was the first Latin American country to have diplomatic relations with Japan in 1873. At the end of Peru’s War of the Pacific in 1884, the Chinese worker population had been greatly reduced and there was big demand for farming labour. Then when the First Sino-Japanese War ended in 1895, the Japanese economy was crippled and young farmers started looking overseas for opportunities. Rumours of gold, mild climate, rich soil and similar seafood cuisine added to the allure and influx.

LUX describes the establishment: “Savour octopus with black olive mayo, Tiradito breads and smoky guacamole – or take in a five-course fresh fish Cerviche tasting. Sip on an iced Peruvian beer, warm sake or Pisco sour as the smells and sounds of Peru and Japan stir the sensory feast.” We enjoyed a sumptuous meal which did meld the delicate traditions of Japanese sushi with bolder flavoured ingredients like the purple maki (see above).

The name “INTI” is the name of the Inca sun god. The décor of the dining area is a collection of suns – fusing the icon of sun god, “Land of the Rising Sun” and, of course, the Maldives’ own sun-infused splendour (where modern day sun worshippers flock).

LUX North Male Atoll - INIT

Best of the Maldives: Kosher Food – Soneva Fushi

KSoneva Fushi - kosher kitchen

The luxury Maldives properties pride themselves on catering to any guest’s whim or need including all sorts of dietary preferences despite being isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Some things can just be flown in, but others require more work on the ground. That is the case with truly kosher foods which are not just about avoiding certain prohibited food, but also about preparing the kosher items in a kosher way ideally removed from the preparation of other food which might taint it. Irufushi is the only resort I have found that offers kosher foods explicitly, but now Soneva Fushi has invested in a dedicated kosher prep kitchen to provide the tightest conformity to kosher requirements. Maldives Insider reports

  • “Soneva Fushi is the first luxury resort in the Maldives to have a dedicated kosher kitchen, which also doubles as an allergy kitchen. The kosher kitchen is a separate air conditioned kitchen where the resort’s specialty chefs will produce kosher meals. All the equipment is brand new, and will only be used for the said purpose. The resort carries kosher chicken, beef and sausages which are shipped directly from Holland by a kosher meat producer.”

Best of the Maldives: Table Grill – Finolhu

Finolhu - table grill

If the walk from the buffet grill to your table is just too many seconds where your food can cool off. Or if you want to take a hands on control of getting your food grilled precisely to your liking (with the opportunity to conveniently pop it back on for a bit if not quite right), then the “table grill” at Finolhu’s Kanusan restaurant is the place for you.

Not the pokey tea lamp warmers, but a proper mini-grill on your table. The charcoal used is made on the island from waste wood and is accented with sprigs of lemon grass for a bit of exotic infusion.

Best of the Maldives: Fish Cooking Class – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa fish cooking class

You don’t get much more fresh or more local than reef fish caught with your own hands a few hours earlier in the ocean just yards away. While many resorts will grill up the catch from your fishing excursion, Park Hyatt Hadahaa lets you take the “by my own hands” vibe a step further with a fish cooking class so you can take it all the way from sea to seasoning yourself…

  • Learn how to create the perfect marinade and discover the secrets behind grinding and mixing traditional Maldivian spices used to prepare local fish. Our chef offers this culinary class amid the Maldivian surroundings of The Island Grill.”

The class is available on request from 3:00 – 4:00 pm at The Island Grill with a $75 USD per person charge.

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Cuisine Night – Makunudu

Makunudu - Maldivian cuising night 5

Over two decades I have been to countless “Maldivian Nights” at resort restaurants, but none so extensive as Makunudu’s lavish and authentic spread. Sometimes “Maldivian Night” is primarily little more than a bunch of reef fish curry. But Makunudu’s included all sort of delicacies and ingredients (the photos here provide a sample of the cuisine on offer). My favourite had to be the Fried Tapioca Chips which I had never sampled in all my years visiting despite being a huge tapioca fan.

Makunudu - Maldivian cuisine night 4

Makunudu - Maldivian cuisine night 3

Makunudu - Maldivian cuisine night 2

Makunudu - maldivian cuisine night

Makunudu - maldivian cuisine night 5

Best of the Maldives: Luxury Dinner Experience – Jumeirah Vittaveli

Jumeirah Vittaveli - luxury dining experience

The ever escalating arms-race for the biggest payload of opulence has tended focus on the venue, namely an underwater room. But Jumeirah Vittaveli’s latest foray onto the battlefield of epicurean extravagance demonstrates that you can have an aircraft carrier scale lavishness of experience even without the subaquatic dining table. This Is Insider reports the details…

  • “Those opting for the experience will be picked up from their home by a butler and whisked off to the closest airport to board a private jet bound for the Maldives. A private catamaran will then take you to the resort. Then, on whatever day you choose, a private seaplane will take you to Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous’ [see photo above] island pop-up HIDE restaurant for an exclusive meal. Afterwards, you get to unwind on a private yacht. The experience includes a five-night stay in one of the resort’s new Private Ocean Retreats, which come equipped with winding slides.”

And with a price tag of $50,000, it might just be the most expensive meal “out” in the world. So if the spouse says they don’t particularly fancy cooking tonight, be careful saying “anything you like, honey”.