First Rumbles of ‘Thundi’, Sri Lankan Slices Sashimi like a Samurai, ‘Pandantastic’ Handmade Icecream: New Flavours of The Maldives at Loama Resort
Loama Resort is not just the most far-flung resort in the Maldives, located on stunning Maamigili Island in the northernmost Raa Atoll, but it’s also drawing a line in the white powder sand when it comes to setting new standards of creative fine dining.
All right on the night: Loama Resort’s Colombian General Manager and Maldives veteran Andres Rubio is all smiles as the resort’s restaurants begin to purr.
The recently-opened resort now has its full roster of restaurants, bars and cafes humming, and discerning diners are discovering it’s not all just art, culture, heritage and perfect private sandbacks at Loama – it’s also a culinary adventure each day.
Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili General Manager Andres Rubio said he was very happy to have the full complement of food and beverage outlets in the new resort buzzing after its opening.
“I could go on about how wonderful each restaurant is, but ultimately the most important judge is you, our esteemed guests. So I hope to welcome many new friends in the coming months, and perhaps a few old ones, and to introduce you to the seafood from some of the purest, most pristine water anywhere in the world, some Maldivian favourites, and some fine dining creations and sweet treats that will take your breath away for all the right reasons.”
Loama’s signature fine-dining experience, Thundi, takes a distinctly Thai flavour, and a chef who is as authentic as they come. Anan Tumya, or ‘Khun Nan’ as he is known, is Loama Resort’s Thai chef, and has earned his stripes at some of the busiest and best Thai restaurants in Asia, as well as having studied extensively the secrets of Royal Thai Cuisine with some of the tradition’s masters.
The island’s only fine dining restaurant is a delightful open-air affair in an exotic beachfront pavilion with dress circle seats for sunset, and a menu that offers up a true feast for the senses. Whether you choose to dress up to the nines for a romantic interlude or come in your beach resort best, this dinner-only culinary space allows you to indulge in fusion dining that celebrates its Asian roots, with inventive Chef Specialties and thoughtfully crafted Pre Fixe gastronomic experiences focusing on superlative food paired with an outstanding array of wines from its own cellar.
Hailing from Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand’s north-east, Chef Nan is well-versed in the unique flavours of Isaan cuisine, but his first love is Royal Thai Cuisine, and he is also a master of the fruit and vegetable carving decorative arts, which he puts to interesting effect in his Thai fusion dishes. His career has taken him from restaurants at some of Thailand’s leading beach resorts to Dubai, The Datai Langkawi, InterContinental Chengdu, The Acron Place by Centara in Goa, and most recently, The Chedi in Muscat.
“Thundi is a fusion concept – Thai flavours, but using local ingredients where possible,” Chef Nan said. “Actually it’s very good here in the Maldives for Thai ingredients. I’ve been able to find local substitutes for most of the Thai ingredients – they have different eggplants that are just as tasty, and if I don’t have beansprouts, I can use Chinese cabbage. I’ve made some new discoveries with the help of the locals.”
A typical Thundi tasting menu might include Yam Nue Yang (Thai beef salad with grapes, red onion, mint leaves), Yam Ma Muang Goong (Thai green mango salad with prawn, cashew nuts and dried shrimps), Wok fried mud crab in Chinese wine with egg, celery, spring onion, oyster, soy and curry powder and King prawn in red curry paste with lychees, grapes, pineapple, tomato and sweet basil Gaang Khiew Warn Gai (chicken simmered in green curry served with steamed Jasmine rice ), and Pla Nueng Ma Now (Steamed fresh caught local fish with its own jus, spicy coriander, garlic and chili sauce.
For dessert, his creations include Lychee Mousse with Coconut Jelly and Mixed Berry Sauce, or Mango Bail Mousse, with almond sponge, mango glaze, pistachio crust and red current compote.
Sheriff Jallil, Loama Resort’s Japanese chef and the man in charge of Meyzu Japanese restaurant, hails from Kandy in the hills of Sri Lanka. But an early encounter with Japanese cuisine sparked a lifelong love affair, which included six years in Tokyo haggling for fish in the famous market and learning the arts of sushi, teppan yaki and bento box, working with a ramen master in Nagoya and an Alaskan King Crab specialist in Hokkaido, then five years in the US including stints at New York’s Ya Bowl restaurant on West 45th Street in the Theatre District, Matsuya Steak House in Saddle Brook New Jersey, and Kyo Japanese Restaurant in Airmont, New York.
Returning to Asia, he honed his craft at One and Only Reethi Rah and Soneva Gili by Six Senses, that latter his home as head Japanese chef for a further six years.
“I may not be Japanese, but my knowledge of the food and skill in the kitchen is of Japanese standard, and I truly love the cuisine,” Chef Sheriff says. “I’m on a mission to make Meyzu the number one Japanese restaurant in the Maldives.”
He will preside over a teppanyaki restaurant and sushi bar. “The fish is good here, so we are focusing on locally caught fish from some of the world’s most pristine waters around the resort. We do have to bring in some things from Japan, some of the vinegars and special sauces. For salmon, we bring in organic salmon from Norway.”
Diners at Meyzu will be faced with difficult choices like Prawn tempura with kakiage vegetables or reef fish cervice, and Panko crust yellow fin tuna with saikyo miso sauce, Grilled jumbo prawns teriyaki, or Yakiniku Beef with yaki soba noodles.
Dessert might comprise Green tea sponge cake and marscapone cream, or wasabi ice cream with mixed fruits and berries. It will have been whipped up by Chef Loela Florida, a sweet but determined young lady who aspires to be among Asia’s best pastry chefs.
“Ice cream and chocolate are my two biggest passions,” Loela says. “I do a great pandan icecream, seven spice icecream, curry leaf, coconut, wasabi, and balsamic strawberry vinegar are some of my specialties.”
Loama Resort’s other food and beverage offerings comprise:
Fazaa another al fresco beachfront venue for breakfast and all day dining with a lavisyh spread of Western, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Iru Cafe – a poolside restaurant also offering prime sunsets to savour and a menu of homemade pasta cooked al dente and gourmet pizzas.
Maha Bar – ‘Mahabar’ means welcome in Maldivian. A toes in the sand bar serving classic and creative cocktails, beers and fine wines. Afternoon tea treats at Marha Bar include Maldivian short eats; small but filling bites.
Athiri Club – an epic dining experience in barefoot luxury under the stars, on the most beautiful sandbar you could hope to see, serving Indian-Maldivian classics and seafood barbecue.