I hope you have enjoyed my posts about the Conrad Rangali Island Resort in the Maldives so far. I had such an incredible experience and returned with so many wonderful pictures and stories, that I have decided to add one last story from this trip. And it is a story dedicated to the truly amazing food options at the Conrad Maldives. Frankly, I have never eaten so deliciously for so many days in a row, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The service was excellent and I have already gushed about how friendly all the staff members are.
To summarize the entire experience: except for the Rangali bar the restaurants are not cheap, but they are worth every penny. The moment you sit down, a waiter will hand you an iPad and you can flip through the entire menu. I found that very helpful, because sometimes it shows pictures that helped me select a dish that I would probably never have chosen, had I not seen the pictures.
VILU RESTAURANT // DINNER
We got so lucky on our first night, because it was the last night that Michelin-starred Chef Stéphane Gaborieau was residing as a special guest over the kitchen at Vilu Restaurant and we had the opportunity to try his unbelievable 8-course tasting menu. We sat at the ocean’s edge overlooking the water, under a million stars.
From the appetizer until the dessert, of which we had two different kinds that we shared, everything was so deliciously balanced and beautifully presented, that it became an experience I will treasure the rest of my life. It is hard to highlight one course, but if I had to pick one favorite it surely was Gaborieau’s signature dish, a sole with black mushrooms.
VILU RESTAURANT // BREAKFAST
The next day we had breakfast at Vilu again, just because we loved the view so much, but there are many other beautiful locations on both islands to enjoy breakfast. You can go for the buffet option, or order á la carte or even combine the two, which we did every day… I noticed some people enjoy sitting inside for some cooler air, but I loved to sit down outside under an umbrella and enjoy breakfast with a tropical ocean breeze. My only regret is that I only discovered the pancakes the day before we left, because those things are just joy on a plate, covered with bananas and maple syrup.
UFAA // DINNER
The next restaurant we thoroughly enjoyed was Ufaa, which is located on the southern tip of Rangalifinolhu island, the main island, but in a very quiet and secluded spot. Like most restaurants at the Conrad Rangali, it is an open air restaurant that allows for beautiful views across the ocean. Ufaa’s master chef is Jereme Leung, who creates authentic Chinese cuisine in a modern interpretation. The waiter suggested we try the hot pot, something I had never eaten before and it was a treat!
The chef made a stock in the kitchen, that was then brought out to the table in a small contraption that looked like a mini volcano. The waitress created a paste like sauce that consisted of seven different ingredients (like chili, spring onions and coriander) and that’s when the party started: she told us exactly what she was putting in the stock and gave us a heads up when something was ready. We picked it out of the broth and dipped it in the sauce… magic!
As you can tell by the pictures, the ingredients are presented nicely in three layers, with vegetables at the bottom, seafood in the middle and the wagyu beef and lobster on the top shelf. I think that looking at the food that’s slowly being prepared for you, adds so much to the experience. In the end, we couldn’t finish all the vegetables but rest assured that we cleared out the top and middle shelves…
MANDHOO RESTAURANT // LUNCH
At about a 10 minute walk, on the other end of the island on the northern tip across from the Spa Retreat, lies Mandhoo. It is built on stilts over the water, which creates a very exotic and tropical atmosphere. Sitting with the doors open, we could hear the light splashing of the surf below us. There’s a little more splashing every day at 1:30 pm, when the sharks are fed there, which is quite a scene to marvel at.
Mandhoo was created to add to the Spa Retreat experience, so the menu is designed to heal and complement your body using organic produce grown on the island, with additional ingredients imported from around the world. The menu is built around the 5 elements that make up our planet: air, earth, fire, water and plant. That may sound odd, but it is actually a lot of fun to create your own lunch or dinner picking a course from each of the five themes.
MANDHOO RESTAURANT // DINNER
The boyfriend was very skeptical at the idea of a healthy restaurant, but we both liked Mandhoo so much that we went back the same night for dinner. The atmosphere was entirely different than it had been at lunch. Suddenly all the open windows, green plants and beautiful wood created a romantic vibe, with the moonlight over the ocean adding the finishing touch.
KOKO GRILL // DINNER
The next night we headed over to Koko Grill, which is literally sunken into the beach at the smaller Rangali island, next to the Quiet Zone Beach and Pool. It is a Japanese restaurant that offers no less than a 10 course set menu, that included real wagyu beef (not the imitation beef you see being used under that name everywhere), day fresh sashimi caught around the islands and magnificent lobster. But beside the wonderful food, the location makes Koko Grill very special. It is an intimate setting flanked by palmtrees on one side and the ocean on the other, with only a dozen seats available around the chef, who stands in the middle preparing your food.
During our dinner a tall herron (!) casually strolled up the beach and took what turned out to be his usual spot in the corner, where he casually stood the whole night until the chef fed him some left over fish. If you leave everything aside, the villa, the spa and the food, then it is still that type of close proximity to nature that I remember most from my time in the Maldives.
ITHAA // CHAMPAGNE AND CANAPES
The next morning we went over to Ithaa, the world’s first undersea glass restaurant, not to eat there (we were not hungry after the amazing night at the Koko Grill…) but to enjoy some champagne and two canapés. Please make sure to check out this separate posting about Ithaa, because I have never seen anything like it and I probably never will.
Another special underground place is the wine cellar, where we didn’t have a meal but were given a chance to nose around. If you are into wine, this is basically your shrine to worship: over 20,000 bottles of wine of over a thousand labels, with one Cristal Roederer whose twin brother was recently sold for over $50,000. The Conrad offers a special dinner in the wine cellar with, and this comes as no suprise, a special wine pairing for each course. We heard from other people that it makes for a spectacular night and it has made it onto our bucket list!
RANGALI BAR // LUNCH
I could go on and on, but let me close by mentioning the most affordable and casual spot, which is Rangali Bar. We hung out there for drinks every night because of the laid back atmosphere and beautiful scenery. Rangali Bar has no floor, you are actually sitting barefeet on the white sand beach, protected from the sun by tall palmtrees and surrounded by that turquoise ocean you only see in the Maldives. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served here and you can’t go wrong sitting down, kicking back and taking it all in. Which really goes for everything at the Conrad Rangali Island Resort!
Is there no downside to all these gastronomical highlights, one might wonder? Of course there is. I hit the WiThings scale as soon as I walked in the door once we got home. And that awful device knows no mercy: four extra pounds, that’s one gained per day on Rangali. And let me tell you, as much as I will hate getting rid of that extra weight, I would have gladly accepted an extra 10. Take that, WiThings.