Maldives: World-Class Dining In The Middle Of The Indian Ocean

9 June 2016
Read Time: 2.8 mins

Ahmed had asked me how I wanted my rib-eye steak; "Medium-rare" was my answer, of course. This transaction seems pretty normal at first, but I wasn’t dressed to the nines sitting in a fancy dining room, I was barefoot on a beach shared only with tiny white crabs that darted back and forth like they were late for an important meeting.

A waiter lays a table at the outdoors Blue Salt restaurant at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort Everything is cooked fresh to order at Blue Salt, Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort. (Image: Outrigger Hotels and Resorts)

This was only one of the many dining experiences that impressed me during a recent visit to the Maldives, for what I thought would consist of lazy days on the beach, a bit of snorkelling and perhaps a few margaritas by the pool – a pretty standard tropical beach holiday, right? Well, all of the above boxes were ticked, but I was also delighted to discover the Maldives has a thriving culinary scene that would make even the king of foodies, Anthony Bourdain, blush.

The Maldives is obviously blessed with an abundance of seafood, being a country made entirely of islands. Fishermen pull huge yellowfin tuna from the sea like a toddler would pluck dandelions from a field, which end up in front of lucky tourists in the form of sashimi.

The exterior pools leads to the ocean at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort The beachfront swimming pool at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort on Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. (Image: Outrigger Hotels and Resorts)

Japan is just one of the countries Maldivian chefs take inspiration from. Aside from using local ingredients and methods, the Maldives has been hosting foreign traders for thousands of years, who have brought cooking styles from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia to the island chain, just south of India.

This eclectic range became apparent at the first resort I visited, the Outrigger Konotta Maldives, which prides itself on providing only a la carte options. Even breakfast. I was introduced to their Balinese Head Chef, Wayan, who guided me through his menu, which provided regional classics from around the world, plus some of his favourites like the Vietnamese dish, tom chien mam, which I chose and proceeded to shamelessly lick the plate when finished.

A chef holds a dish of prepared sushi at Nala Rah at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort Nala Rah offers elegantly prepared meals from the signature teppan grill and raw bar. (Image: Outrigger Resorts and Hotels)

For dinner, we were treated to expertly prepared teppan cuisine and sushi from Nala Rah – which means ‘beautiful island’ – alongside an extensive drinks menu, showcasing single-malt whiskys from Japan, sake and European wine. I was bowled over by the knowledge that the staff had shown and even more surprised of the choice that such a small island, so far away from civilisation, could provide.


More must-do Maldives experiences:

The Maldives for water babies. Swimming With Whale Sharks In The Maldives

The Maldives for adventurers. A Castaway Experience In The Maldives


An aerial view of the beachside dining at By the Beach at Soneva Fushi By the Beach offers Korean- and Japanese-inspired cuisine at Soneva Fushi. (Image: Richard Waite)

The next stop on our Maldivian food tour was a resort that’s famous for pleasing the fussiest eaters on the planet – celebrities and kids. Soneva Fushi innovates like no other - and this is key when it comes to impressing well-travelled food lovers like myself. Only hours after being ferried from our seaplane to shore, we found ourselves on a deserted sandbar sharing canapés and Champagne with other guests and some of the resort staff, watching the sunset.

Luckily, Soneva Fushi has a tennis court, which provided some much-needed exercise after eating our way through all nine restaurants across four days (somebody had to do it!). Because the Soneva is one of the largest private resort islands in the Maldives, it’s able to grow a lot of the produce that’s served, which is unique. Its flagship venue, Fresh in the Garden, is also quite unique, built above the jungle canopy; complete with rope bridges and uninterrupted views of the Milky Way. When stargazing with the naked eye became redundant, I finished dessert and sauntered past the bar to the observatory. Yep, an actual observatory - the after-dinner entertainment bar just got raised.

A panoramic view of Fresh in the Garden restaurant above the onsite gardens at Soneva Fushi Fresh in the Garden offers a view of the very produce plucked from the onsite vegetable and herb gardens for your meal. (Image: Moritz Krebs)

Midnight snacks are always a tough one at 5-star resorts; nobody wants to tackle that $12 Mars bar in the mini-bar. Soneva innovates again, this time with a 24-hour chocolate room - for free. Lovers of the cocoa bean can rejoice as this wonder of humanity is only a few minutes' bike ride from anywhere on the island - any time of day.

The writer was a guest of Outrigger Konotta Maldives, and Soneva Fushi. Singapore Airlines flies to Malé daily from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Travel agent and writer Matt Castell has been called a 'jack of all trades' many times over the 10 or so years he has spent wandering the globe. Always looking for new skills to learn, whether it be lion taming or flying helicopters, Matt is keen to give it a go! 

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the Maldives.

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