A short trek from your luxury villa where you’ve cast away in the Dhaalu Atoll, you emerge in the heart of the jungle. Beneath the ancient branches of the banyan trees, you walk the planks of wooden pathways and wind through the forest trunks. Ascend spiralled stairs and step through the canopy along bridges flanked by bamboo rails. Leaves dance in an ecstatic shimmy. Tropical birds call out with sirens echoing through the treetops. Then a chilled sculpture of sashimi arrives in a globe of ice, a modern vessel for one of many Asian delicacies you will savour in your expedition at one of the Indian Ocean’s leading dining destinations.
Recently unveiled to the world’s connoisseurs, Nest at PER AQUUM Niyama in the Maldives invites the resort’s guests as well as gourmands from further afield to experience one of the wildest culinary journeys to be found in the Maldives. Despite being freshly hatched, Nest is already attracting attention and has been shortlisted for international design awards including ‘Sexiest Design’ at LE Miami.
Design: Exploring the Surreal
Nest twirls and towers in the green heart of its island home. Conceptualised and brought to life by Singapore-based design firm Poole Associates, the multi-level tree house unfurls as a labyrinth of wooden paths, dining pods immersed in jungle greenery and thatched huts. Tables are nestled amongst the dense foliage and serpentine vines on the forest floor or on platforms elevated six metres up in the treetops.
Dining huts, one housing a teppan table, shelter guests beneath cavernous rooftops. From within, guests gaze up at a dramatic vaulted ceiling that soars high above in a steep dome of latticed beams and bamboo. At table level, accents of red lacquer and woven green furnishings merge oriental influences and an island aesthetic.
Cuisine: Asian Avant-garde
To amuse your bouche, Nest begins each party’s meal with welcome nibbles that elevate Southeast Asia’s local-loved snacks. Lift off in the first moments with house-made prawn crackers, spicy sambal dips, and nut savouries kicked up a notch with crispy celery and kaffir lime leaves. Then delve into a selection of Asian regional fare from the groundbreaking menu.
Chef Jayadi Suwito explains, “My goal for this menu was to push and tease. Guests will find dishes from Asia’s most celebrated cuisines like Thai, Cantonese, Japanese – but they will also get a chance to discover lesser known culinary traditions with must-try sensational dishes from places like Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar.”
Guests revel in layers of flavours in salads, soups, curries, modern woks and Nest-only seafood specialties. The raw ingredients comprise freshly caught and flown-in harvests as well as seasonal produce from the Chef’s own island garden. Highlighted just-picked greens and other cultivars include mint, sweet basil, eggplants, cucumber, chilies and morning glory.
For a theatrical meal, the teppanyaki stage is the most desired table in the house. Guests may also go communal in typical Asian style with hot pot dining. Soon-to-launch highlights include the Korean grill and soju experience as well as Black Ivory coffee, the world’s most expensive roast.
The dessert menu indulges patrons with sweet finales fusing European confections and Asia’s lush tropical delights. No visit would be complete without an order of Nest’s signature dessert, Luwak Coffee Brûlée. Chef Jayadi infuses the rich cream custard with a secret recipe featuring Kopi Luwak essence and serves it accompanied by roasted banana ice cream.
The Culinary Team
With such varied cuisines spanning the East, Nest requires a team of specialists to capture and re-imagine the intricacies of each tradition. The restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine, Jayadi, leads the brigade. Born on Indonesia’s exotic island of Lombok, he possesses nearly two decades of expertise gained in Asia’s finest kitchens. A trio of right-hand men lend their own genius and head up the restaurant’s Teppanyaki, Chinese and Thai offerings. To round out the artisanal cadre, a Sake master replaces the expected Sommelier position and curates an inspiring collection of Asian spirits.
Securing a Spot
Nest at PER AQUUM Niyama is open daily from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm and welcomes guests for its savage-chic fine dining experience with a smart-casual dress code. First-priority reservations go to PER AQUUM guests, but outside parties are welcome to contact the resort to secure a table and glimpse life on ‘Nature’s Playground’.
As one of the hottest gourmet destinations in the Maldives, other dining options at PER AQUUM Niyama include Tribal, the innovative African dining experience, fine dining at Edge, which is only accessible by boat, Subsix, the underwater playground and BLU, the laid-back beachfront restaurant where Miami meets the Mediterranean.
For more information on Nest go to: http://niyama.peraquum.com/dining/Nest/