From a private beach banquet on Thailand's Koh Phi Phi to an iconic Hard Rock Hotel dining experience perched on Maldivian archipelago coast, these waterfront gastronomic experiences will please any palate.
Mr Tomyam at SAii Lagoon Maldives
Why it works?
This bold, breezy eatery effortlessly updates Thai favourites with Mediterranean techniques in the heart of the Maldives. Playful presentation is elevated by the knowingly kitsch decor to create a high-end dining experience that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously.
Bright hues and sea views
Stepping into Mr Tomyam is an attack on the senses — in the best possible way. Exotic aromas waft from the open kitchen, primary colours and quirky curios cover every surface and soothing background tunes set the informal mood. Outside, the beachfront terrace commands postcard-perfect views of the Indian Ocean and intimate dining under the star-studded Maldivian sky when the sun finally plummets.
What’s on the menu
International influences make their way into most dishes, but make no mistake this is an unabashedly Thai menu. From the combination of two world-famous salads — somtam caprese — to subtler marriages such as pad thai penne, Mr Tomyam excels in showcasing creative, considered fusion food without the usual confusion and ill-conceived execution.
Behind the scenes
Chef Prabu Thangavel learnt his trade in his native India, specialising in creating unique dishes from sustainable, local ingredients. Prabu leans on his extensive travels to bring a nuanced approach to the Maldives’ burgeoning cuisines scene and is always seeking fresh inspiration from the region’s diverse food cultures.
The Elephant & The Butterfly at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives
Oceanfront dining dialled up
Hard Rock Hotel’s iconic in-house restaurant chain is taken to the next level on the Maldives archipelago. Pan-American classics are remastered alongside locally-sourced seafood in a festive atmosphere that takes utter advantage of the ocean panoramas.
Elephant in the room
Dining room is a debatable term to describe the free-flow setting at the largely alfresco restaurant. Sea views are maximised wherever possible, with diners opting to soak up the sun and night sky or settle in under the bamboo cabana. Whimsical design touches such as the hand-painted murals, keep things casual, while mood lighting and live music welcome in the evening.
Soft tacos inspired by Central America, locally-caught ceviche and the signature table-side guacamole all signal the restaurant’s Latin leanings. Indeed, platos compartidos — or shared plates — are a must and the menu encourages patrons to discover lesser-known South American dishes with options including un metro de crudos, a metre-long wooden tray featuring six types tiradito, ceviche and tártara, and degustacion de antojitos.
The butterfly effect
The delicate touches of chef Piyush Sharma introduce refinement to the establishment’s bold flavours. With a passion for food only matched by his love of music, the seasoned chef’s culinary symphony comprises tried-and-tested classics, newly-discovered dishes and subtle influences from his native India.
Private dining at SAii Phi Phi Island Village
What’s the appeal
On an island where unique dining experiences are sparse, Phi Phi’s top five-star resort provides a much-needed respite from the typical traveller fare. SAii Phi Phi Island Village, which straddles 800 metres of pristine coastline, is home to four full-service restaurants, but the major drawcard is Chef André Frischmuth’s exclusive beachfront dining spectacles.
Picture it: the sun is easing its way into the Andaman Sea, waves tease the white-powdered shore and a white linen table cloth flutters in the evening breeze. You walk barefoot along the beach, sand slipping between your toes, and take a seat as the stars gradually populate the sky And with that, dinner is served.
Accommodating up to 60 people, SAii Phi Phi Island Village’s private beach dinners are personalised to perfection, meeting the gastronomic needs of every guest. Four menu prix are also available, including fine-dining international dishes, Thai favourites, sustainable seafood and speciality desserts.
Chef André made a name cheffing for exclusive cruises on the high seas, so it’s fitting that he’s again toiling with one foot in the waves. Originally from Germany, André’s storied career has taken him from Bavaria, where he launched a successful Mexican restaurant, to the rivers of Russia and Myanmar’s Inle Lake before finally settling in Thailand, which he’s called home since 2018.
The Beach House & Bar at Santiburi Koh Samui
One of the most popular dining destinations on Koh Samui, The Beach House & Bar is, as the name suggests, poised on the Thai island’s exclusive northern shores. Paradisal surroundings are of course part and parcel of the tropical experience at this sophisticated alfresco eatery, but the menu makes it all the more appealing.
On the menu
Surf and turf is the star of the show, with highlights from the daily catch accompanying prime cuts and fine vintages. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of variety — diners can choose from the fresh market display prepared in myriad ways. Non-carnivores are also more than catered for with an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Beyond the beach
Santiburi Koh Samui is also home to four more restaurants and bars, each with a unique identity. Signature local dishes are given the star treatment at Sala Thai, Vimarnmek deals in high-quality international and the casual Pool House serves up light bites throughout the day. The Lounge, meanwhile, is renowned for its sophisticated take on classic beach cocktails and innovative inventions courtesy of the in-house mixologist.
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