- Chloe Hay
When thinking of Maldivian restaurants, there’s normally one in particular that pops to mind ─ the extravagant Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. But the idyllic Maldives islands actually boast many ground-level exquisite eateries worthy of praise too, many of them using freshly caught fish and seafood to make truly divine dishes. Here is our pick of the most stunning restaurants in the Maldives, an update of our previous profile.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
To dine below sea level, there’s nowhere quite like the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. Part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, this is a simply exquisite venue specialising in contemporary European dishes of the finest quality. Guests can enjoy a luxurious six-course dinner whilst revelling in the unique opportunity to watch reef sharks and manta rays sail on past them, without the need to don a snorkel. Dishes on offer include delectable malossol imperial caviar, and yellowtail kingfish with saffron champagne risotto. Ithaa certainly is a pricey restaurant, so for those with a tight budget, enjoy a mid-morning cocktail or a four-course lunch instead of the extravagant dinner option.
The place to go to escape the tourists and dine with locals, the Iberry Café is the most popular restaurant in Hulhumale. A small, boutique-style eatery in a residential part of town, the service is swift and friendly, and the atmosphere is always alive with patrons’ chatter. Serving a huge variety of dishes typical of the area, both the fish curry and the shrimp fried rice are great choices. A range of freshly made juices are also on the menu and are an absolute must to cool down on hot, muggy days.
Serving a mix of Maldivian and international dishes in a trendy, low-key setting, the Jazz Café is hugely popular with young and old, tourists and locals. The cafe often hosts live music gigs with talented local musicians entertaining diners with their renditions of great jazz, rock and soul numbers, making this a great choice of restaurant for an enjoyable and relaxing dinner. Dishes on offer include yellow chicken curry, roshi, beef and onion stir fry, and roast chicken with barbecue sauce. The menu varies slightly each day, encouraging diners to return the following day to try something new.
Jazz Café, Haveeree Hingun, Male, Maldives, +960 332 5299
Reinventing the modern bistro, KITCHEN is W Retreat & Spa ─ Maldives’ answer to round-the-clock dining. Open for a semi-buffet breakfast, an exquisite lunch throughout the day, and a highly reputed à la carte dinner menu, KITCHEN is a great place to dine at any time of the day. Serving eclectic cuisine, the restaurant’s top chefs take much-loved simple dishes and give them unique twists to make them extra special. Open cooking stations enable guests to watch the chefs prepare the beautiful dishes, and the restaurant’s setting makes for the best sunset views imaginable. The perfect spot for romantic dinners and brunches.
A stunning alternative to the undersea restaurant, Muraka sits atop the sea at the end of a jetty. An open-floor section provides a window into the sea world below, as waves lap around the rustic, wooden restaurant, creating the most relaxing and luxurious setting. The dishes at Muraka are each presented like works of art, as pleasing to the eyes as to the palate. Specialising in local seafood complemented by exotic flavours, guests should opt for the Whole Fish Delight for an extra-indulgent dining experience. With this option the chef prepares a whole fish, selected by the table, right in front of them. Another great dining option is to order the Maldivian experience menu, comprising four decadent courses of authentic local cuisine.
Muraka, Mirihi Island Resort, South Ari Atoll, Maldives, +960 668 0500
Providing the Maldives with high-quality Cantonese cuisine, Palace Sichuan is made up of a main communal dining room and several smaller private rooms named after various Chinese cities, which are available to hire for celebratory group dinners and private lunches. The menu is packed full of flavoursome rice- and noodle-based dishes, with a great choice of jumbo prawns, beef and whole fish entreés from the Sichuan province of Western China to choose from, too. Many of the ingredients used in the dishes are imported directly from China, ensuring that the resulting flavours are true to traditional Sichuan cooking styles.
Palace Sichuan, H. Almaas Villa, Nooraanee Goalhi, Malé, Maldives, +960 300 3009
Offering delectable dishes in stunning surroundings, One & Only’s Reethi Restaurant boasts views over the ocean and an open-concept kitchen with floor to ceiling glass screens, enabling guests to watch the renowned chefs at work. The cuisine is a fusion of Asia-Pacific and Mediterranean flavours, with dedicated theme nights to show off the restaurant’s most popular dishes. Every Monday Reethi Restaurant becomes Italian, as the chefs put on an elaborate spread of fine charcuterie, homemade pasta, gnocchi, risotto and grilled treats. Fridays are Indian-themed, with several live cooking stations, tandoors and curries stealing the show. Throughout the rest of the week, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served à la carte, and wine connoisseurs can enjoy browsing the walk-in wine room to choose their favourite bottle.
Believing in the saying ‘you are what you eat’, the chefs at Sala Thai go to great effort to ensure that they only use fresh, healthy ingredients in their dishes. Every week a new batch of ingredients is flown in fresh from Asia, enabling the chefs to continue serving up generous portions of delicious authentic Siamese dishes. Situated within the small Sala Boutique Hotel, this restaurant makes for the perfect escape away from the bustling streets of Male, for a calm and relaxing lunch or dinner. The traditional Panang curry and the shrimp marinated in a spicy fish sauce are both tasty menu options to be enjoyed in the picturesque outdoor courtyard dining area.
Sala Thai, Sala Boutique Hotel, Buruneege, Male, Maldives, +960 334 5959
Seagull Café House
A charming split-level, sandy floored eatery, the Seagull Café House is the ideal spot for people- watching, while tucking into a delicious lunch or refreshing ice cream. Offering an eclectic menu of Western, Indian and Maldivian cuisine, guests can enjoy the Seagull’s take on the British classic of fish and chips, Tuscan shrimp with garden vegetables and potato wedges, snapper in a coconut curry sauce, or a dhal and spinach curry, with an ice cold glass of papaya juice. No meal is complete without sampling at least one of the thirty ice cream flavours on offer, from pineapple to coconut, blackberry to bubble-gum.
Seagull Café House, Faradhee Magu, Male, Maldives, +960 332 3332
Operated by the oldest restaurant brand in the capital, Symphony Lagoon consistently excels in offering family-appropriate bistro-style dining. Guests can choose to dine in the tropical-themed casual restaurant or in the pretty outdoor garden area. It is even possible to enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach, complete with soft background music, for those extra special evenings with loved ones. Favourite dishes include the vegetable curry, fried noodles, grilled cuttlefish, and Lebanese chicken with garlic rice. Be sure to leave room for dessert too, as there are always a couple of great choices on the menu.
By Chloe Hay
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