Best of the Maldives: Dining Choices – Kurumba

Kurumba pool side dining

The Lynn family enjoying one of Kurumba’s many dining delights.

Perhaps this post could also be called ‘Best for Americans’. Americans love choice and Americans love food. Living the UK for two decades, people ask what I miss from the States. There is not much at this point, both because I have grown fond of the UK’s own offerings and because the UK has more and more stuff from America. The one answer I always respond with is ‘choice’. USA is the land where places like Starbucks pioneered the triple-shot, skinny, extra-hot latte with a hazelnut and cinnamon as a form of a ‘cup of coffee’. In our local Waitrose store, they offer 3 types of cake mix…in America, there is a cake mix aisle. As it happens, this week I in the apotheosis of dining choice…Las Vegas. I woke up the other night from jet lag at 3:00 am and felt a bit peckish and I had 3 restaurants that were open to choose from…without leaving my hotel.

If you want that kind of decadent dining variety, then the unsurprising winner is the resort I found to have the ‘Most Choices’ overall – Kurumba. When it comes to dining, they have 10 options

which is the most culinary variety you will find in the Maldives…

  1. Al Qasr – Arabic/Lebanese
  2. La Cucina– Italian
  3. Hamakaze – Japanese
  4. Kurumba Mahal – Indian
  5. Ming Court – Chinese
  6. Ocean Grill – seafood
  7. Kurumba Cafe – variety
  8. Pizza Piazza – poolside pizza (brick oven baked)
  9. Vihamana – buffet restaurant for breakfast and meal plan meals
  10. Beach Bar – lunches served a la carte and buffet

Also, the resort offers room service which offers an impressive selection of dishes from each of the restaurants. See my blog post on ‘Meal Plan’.

Kuramathi also has 10 restaurants, but they don’t have the diversity of styles and menus as a couple of the restaurants are just different areas serving the same fare.

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Best of the Maldives: Sweet Tooth – Six Senses Laamu

Six Senses Laamu Ice

 

Anantara Kihava’s crown as the new kid on the block didn’t last long as Six Senses Laamu opened last weekend. SSLL has a lounge called ‘Ice’ which specialises in the sins of the sweet tooth.

“Ice is for all those with a sweet tooth. From the crepe bar and cocoa kitchen to the 40 flavored ice creams, the choices are endless. With daily cooking clinics, just leave room for the tasting.”

Even the ice cream icon Baskin and Robbins only had 31 flavours. And a ‘Cocoa Kitchen’. Yum.

Best of the Maldives: Mocktails – Traders Hotel

Traders Hotel Male Azure mocktail

 

How was that New Years party last night? A bit too much to drink and ferreting around for the headache tablets. For those who do not prescribe to the ‘hair of the dog’ treatment, then perhaps a more gentle ‘mocktail’ is in order for rehydration. And there are no better Mocktails in the Maldives than the Traders Hotel in Male

While all of the resort islands have special licenses to serve alcohol to guests, Traders being smack in the middle of the major population centre has not been granted this privilege. So instead what Traders have done at their rooftop Azur bistro is crafted an imposing menu of ‘Mocktails’ (alcohol free cocktails) that provide as delectable and stimulating refreshment as anything a resort barman will serve up.

I had the ‘Innocent Mojito’ which is “muddled lime, brown sugar, green tea, mint, soda water”. According to Ria (see photo below). The server (see picture above) who has been there since opening and actually served us on our first visit, told me the most popular seller is the ‘Maldivian Sun’. Others on offer include Lil Rita, Kumiko Sparkle, Byzantine, Lychee and Lime, Chili Pineapple Frappe, Melontini, Cosmo.

Speaking of cocktails, Azur also serves the best shrimp cocktail I have ever had with monster prawns (oxymoron I guess).

 

Traders Hotel Male Innocent Mojito

Best of the Maldives: Panoramic Dining – Baros

Baros Lighthouse

 

“Waiter…the best seat in the house please with a view. Make that the best seat in the world.”

The Maldives has a lot of stunning beauty and the resorts there put a lot of thought into how to experience that beauty most completely. The heart of the beauty is the distinctive ocean waters dappled with a crowded palette of blue hues. The best resort restaurants get the guests as close to the waters edge as possible with waterside beach dining a crowd favourite. Others have pushed out even further onto the water (with the dramatic instance of Congrad Rangali pushing ‘into’ the water) with pavilions. I have visited the water pavilion restaurants at Kuramathi, Rangali and Reeth Beach, and they are quite prevalent across the Maldives.

Other resorts are now moving to ‘altitude’ to enhance the vista for its diners even higher. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s Moroccan restaurant ‘Al Barakat’, Adaaran Vadoo’s main bar, Anantara Kihava’s upcoming Sky-Fire-Salt-Sea restaurant concept all elevate the dining to a second story for a broader perspective on the surrounding maritime spectacle. But Sakis makes a dazzling case (and photos as expected) for Baros’ Lighthouse restaurant calling out the distinguished architecture and menu in the increasingly competitive category of panoramic pavilions.

“Its singular architecture can not be forgotten. And if by chance, you have already spent your holidays in North Male Atoll, you might have seen it at the horizon, brightly shining under the Sun, reminding you a lighthouse in the far end… Signature, highlight and landmark of the Luxury Hotel Baros Maldives, the Lighthouse was built on the lagoon and stands as a culinary reference by proposing an elaborated, innovative and fine A La Carte dining menu. Flavours are mainly based on Mediterranean and Asiatic Food, turning into a surprisingly taste experience when it also comes to the Fusion of both of them.”

 

Baros Lighthouse 2

Best of the Maldives: Pavilion – Taj Exotica

Taj Exotica Ocean Pavillion Sakis

(Photo included with permission from Sakis)

Dreaming of Maldives, another of Sakis creations both inspired another ‘Best of’ selection as well as a bit of a treasure hunt to figure out exactly where it was (see the comments section on his site).

Many resorts offer some exclusive pavilion for a special or romantic meal. Of course, for that ultimate in secluded romance there is the off shore, on a sand-spit BBQ that some resorts can arrange for you as a special excursion. But if you want that off shore remoteness with the comfort and solidity of your own little pavilion, then you need to go to Taj Exotica.

Sally Rushbrooke reviews

“If you want your Maldives holiday to be particularly romantic, you can arrange a meal for two at the Ocean Pavilion. The Pavilion is a stand alone wooden deck in the middle of the Indian Ocean and located a mile off shore. The deck is only reachable by boat and if you decide that you want to treat a loved one to this experience, then staff will sail you to the venue by boat and leave you with a mobile phone, so that you can call them when you wish to be collected. Due to the location, all the food served is chilled lobster, caviar and chilled champagne all feature on the set menu. The Pavilion is decorated with comfortable cushions, candles, lanterns and flowers which all serve to make the venue that little more romantic.”

 

If you can believe it, you can go to the Google Map on the Taj Exotica profile and see it for yourself.

Best of the Maldives: Beach Dinner – Landaa Giraavaru

Landa Giraavaru Beach Dinner

One of our family’s favourite things to do at the Maldives is to eat on the beach. More and more, resorts are offering beach dining as a special event. I hanker for the good ole days of a simpler Maldives when you could simply ask the waiter to move your table from the beach-side restaurant onto the warm white sand with the water gently lapping inches away and a canopy of stars for your ceiling.

But if you want to wiggle more than just your toes in the sand, if you want to nestle your whole self onto the beach, then Landaa Giraavaru’s beach dinners at Blu Beach are made for you. No plastic beach chairs or even conventional wooden ones, but a couple of comfy cushions to help you get settled into a truly romantic meal.

Best of the Maldives: View – Holiday Inn Male

Holiday Inn Male - View

 

 

At 13 floors up, the Azure restaurant (and pool) of the Holiday Inn Male is the best hotel view in the Maldives. I counted 17 islands visible from this elevated perch not to mention the many toings and froing of boats in the harbour and the surrounding environs.

Normally, I would hesitate to include Male hotels as ‘resorts’. It has no beach, no alcohol (Male is ‘dry’ while the resort islands are granted special licenses). However, I do have the Nasandhura in Male as well as the Hulhule resort on Hulhule island which is more like Male in characteristics than a dedicated resort island. Also, I suspect that a number of Holiday Inn ‘Priority Club’ member maybe interested in exploiting their points as a vehicle for getting to the Maldives.

The Azure restaurant shown here just opened the 15 October and features absolutely delicious fusion (French/Japanese) dishes.

If you are looking for a ‘room with a view’ in the Maldives, Holiday Inn Male is the highest and furthest.

Best of the Maldives: Choice – Kurumba

Kurumba snorkel

Given my experience and investigation into Maldives resorts, people often ask me ‘which one is my favourite?’ It is a bit like asking which of your children are your favourites. They are all great in their own distinct way. But it is their ‘own distinct ways’, many of which are highlighted by MaldiveComplete’s ‘Best Of’ posts, that either turn on or turn off people. Some people like a big island, other like small. Some like lots of activities, others like peaceful tranquillity. Some like family catering, others like to avoid children for the stay. That is why it is important to know what is important to you and then select for those key features. This is why two off the key features of MaldivesComplete is a (a) database filter/search facility (‘Resort Search’), and (b) this very own ‘Best Of’ highlights.

But sometimes decisions are a tough thing. Especially if you your preferences vary or if you are in a diverse group. In that case, what you might want it lots of choices. Kind of like an American cake mix aisle. After having stayed there last week and cross referenced a few data points, I am convinced that if ‘choice’ is what you want, then Kurumba offers the widest, deepest set of resort ‘choice’ in the Maldives.

Two upcoming ‘Best Of’ awards for Kurumba are ‘Most Room Types’ (7…and that’s without having any water bungalows), and ‘Most Dining Choices’ (10…seafood, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Arab/Lebanese, Indian, buffet, coffee hours and two bars). And if 10 isn’t enough for you, then you have easy access to Male where a whole host of further offering await you (I especially recommend the Holiday Inn Male rooftop Azure restaurant, but there are a range of ethnic eateries as well as a range of very good Maldivian restaraunts featuring local fare). Kurumba also has 3 pools, 3 tennis courts, 2 gyms when most resorts will typically have one. Finally, the water sports centre features everything imaginable (including ‘pedal surf’ and soon a ‘sup’).

As I said in my ‘Kurumba Wrap Up’ post, I think groups (extended families, corporate team/groups) would work well at Kurumba because there is such a range of offerings and choices that there is something satisfying for everyone. Some of the more boutique resorts in the Maldives are amazing in certain special ways, but sometimes those ‘ways’ are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Maldives Kurumba Visit – Day 6: Meal Plan

Kurumba beach dinner

Not only did we do our whole trip DIY (buying resort, air travel, connections all separately), but we also opted for the a la carte meal plan (versus full or half board). This decision of which meal plan is one of the most prominent in deciding a Maldives visit.

We are happy with the a la carte for the following reasons. First, Kurumba has lots of restaurants (10) to choose from. Perhaps a smaller island would have less choice and restaurant options and this advantage would be less strong. Secondly, we prized flexibility whether we even ate. We had planned on going to Male for a day where we had lots of options to dine quite inexpensively so not having to pay for this day is an advantage. Also, 3 of our 4 strong party are watching their diet (and the 4th is not a big eater) and so several times we either skipped lunch after a big breakfast or felt like a small snack for dinner after a big lunch.

So far this week, our decision has been by and large a good one. Kurumba offers a $50 (+10% service) half board supplement and a $80 (+10% service) full board supplement. If we had taken either of those, we probably would have saved some money on our total meal bill. But, our meals would have been confined wholly to the Vihamana restaurant with its themed buffet style eating. I checked out the buffet and the food looks diverse and delicious. But you are still stuck with the selection on offer that night rather than the whole range of the other 9 restaurants.

Perhaps more of an issue is the dining location. This issue was particularly acute because all of the restaurants have tiled floors. We much prefer the sand floors so many resorts offer. Though natural floors are not everyone’s cup of tea, most people I speak to about the Maldives do prefer them and in fact find it one of the ‘wow’ factors. Also, all but one of the restaurants are quite removed from the water’s edge (and lovely ocean with its gently lapping water is a defining characteristic of the islands obviously). Going a la carte, we had more options to eat ‘where’ we wanted to. Some of our best meals were in special locations. The first was the beach side eating area by the pool. This spot is the best dining area on the island and yet they close it for dinner. Go figure. Probably my biggest beef with the resort is this issue.

One way we managed a ‘beach dinner’ was to order room service. The room service menu is a rich selection of offerings from the various restaurants which when it arrived we simply took it outside to our beach chairs and tables to eat by the ocean and under the palm trees. It was the kind of exotic setting that we savour in the Maldives. We since found out that the resort rules say “Glass containers or any other breakable substances that shatter, are prohibited on the beach.” We didn’t bring any glass, but I guess the plates would officially be ‘breakable…that shatter’ (though hard to do on soft sand). I guess if you want to follow our lead for romantic beach side room service, you might want to bring some plastic or paper plates to move your meal to in order to abide by the rules strictly.

Also, the food came in very generous portions. Halfway through the week we figured this out and made it a family rule that we could only order one portion (side or main) because that was almost always enough. If we have stuck to that approach, we would have saved more money early on and probably would have gotten our food bill down to the supplement costs for the standard service. Still, we would have preferred our approach because our dining was more distinctive with more special settings. Some honeymoon friends adopted the strategy of sharing portions which also worked well to halve their food bill.

Overall, the food was uniformly without fault and on many occasions truly distinctive. Of particular note were the soups (especially the gazpacho), sushi platter, and Black Bean Beef (Chinese). Food quality is a real plus at Kurumba and I hope they make some changes to make the eating locations just as special.

PS. Love the tables at the Ocean Reef restaurant. We are thinking of making similar ones for our own dining room table we liked them so much.

Kurumba table

Best of the Maldives: Food Safety – Kanuhuraa

Food Safety Asia

Despite being an exotic locale, the Maldives food is as high, as clean, and as safe a standard as you will find anywhere. The only food problem I have encountered in our many trips was friend who suffered an allergic reaction to the fresh pineapple.

But if you are particularly fussy about such considerations, then according to the Food Safety Asia organisation, Kanuhuraa is the resort for you.

“Kanuhura, Madives was awarded as ‘Full FSA recommendation’ by the Food Safety Asia Ltd, officials from the resort have said. According to a press release issued by the resort ‘Kanuhura is the first resort in Maldives among 22 resorts audited by the FSA, testing and rating all 5 Star resorts on Food Safety and Food Quality throughout the year on a monthly basis.’ “