MV: Kurumba Resort (Part III)
Happy 2016! I hope you all had a pleasant and safe festive season and that you are ready as anything, to take on the year ahead.
As corny as this sounds (because everybody and his dog feels this way after New Years Day - as if you need a day to mark when you're going to actually seriously think about what you're going to start doing anything about your life), I'm feeling pretty positive about the year ahead but it's a little hard to believe that we're already into February.
I refuse to let time pass me by though. My one and only goal for this year is to keep pace with time or get ahead of it by living in the moment, and experiencing new things. This means a lot more travel and connecting with people both old and new; and most importantly, connecting with myself.
This also means taking a lot more risks and pushing myself into unknown territories - luckily, I've spent the last five years of my life doing this so I am quite familiar with the process.
I dub this year, the year of Choubo.
Year of the lost, the wandering and the rediscovered Choubo.
Ahem, that's enough of that.
Here is a continuation of my overdue and - what should be - legendary Maldives series. I'm already making plans to go back next year with one of my closest home chicks and partner in crime, LiLi and I really cannot wait to show her around.
DINING IN KURUMBA
What is it like, you ask? Well, considering that I previously mentioned that Kurumba has plenty of dining options - you will find quite the variety. I only experienced half of what Kurumba had to offer, but the establishments I did visit were all exceptional - two of them, seriously superb.
If that isn't a good indicator then I don't know what is, but once again, I'll make this very simple: I doubt you'd have trouble finding something you like.
Kurumba has a total of eight dining facilities, three drinks lounges and the provisions to cater to in villa or sea-side dining and, when I talk about sea-side, I'm talking about a private, uninterrupted, intimate dining experience for two. Dat romance. Most of their facilities are experienced open air, probably because every minute spent on this island should be done breathing in the fresh air and watching the sun wash over everything.
Open air Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Buffets featuring continental and Maldivian offerings
Open air Upscale and intimate Breakfast and Dinner options with an impressive beverage list
Open air Japanese delicacies and inspired dishes for Lunch and Dinner.
Middle Eastern specialties featuring charcoal grilled items and spiced mezzes open for dinner.
A North Indian dinner service showcasing everything from rich curries to sweetened treats.
Flavours from the Eastern side of the globe with dishes inspired from Vietnam, Korea, Thailand and China to start or finish your evening.
Comforting Italian dinner options featured in a well balanced menu.
Relaxed, open air dining open from lunch to the late evening. Everything from burgers to mussels.
An open-air bar with decking extending over the turquoise waters. There are large lounges, day beds and pods to stretch out on where you can enjoy a drink, smoke shisha and have a nibble or two.
Open-air bar perfectly situated on the island's western end. Stay to watch the sunset.
Closed karaoke bar - spirits, vintages, songs and laughter.
Sounds of the Sea
Upon request, enjoy an intimate dinner on the beach, in your own private pagoda. Set menu, fee for service applies.
In Villa Dining
24 hour in room dining service, featuring favourites from the café, Thila, and more.
Seven Days: Breakfast 0700 - 1030 | Lunch 1200 - 1430 | Dinner 1900 - 220
Not your typical buffet style food at all.
I was a little apprehensive about a buffet breakfast everyday - not that we were locked down to just Vihamanaa (there was Thila as well after all) but, since it was included in our accomodation booking, we wanted to test the waters to see what we were in for.
All doubts faded to nothing as i shovelled the first spoonfuls of congee into my mouth on the first day. Followed by the Maldivian tuna snacks. And all the breakfast pastries.
Vihamanaa is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Although there are items that are mainstays like an egg station, pastries, cold meats, fruits and the like, Vihamanaa rotates it's offerings throughout the week featuring dishes and beverages that are inspired from different parts of the globe; this is both great and bad - bad if you were pining for banana fritters or a glass or two of that delicious home made iced tea you'd enjoyed the day before.
It's a large space - very accomodating for a multitude of patrons and you can enjoy your meal sessions in the open air, watching the passersby and possibly even a glimpse of the ocean depending on where you sit. Don't worry about flies or bugs hovering around the buffet spread or at your table, somehow they weren't even an annoyance on this island.
They've literally got something to cater to people with varied tastes in their rather expansive spread of food. Here's a peak of their offerings for breakfast and dinner.
BREAKFAST: 0700 - 1030
Clockwise: Banana doughnut ball, croissant, orange juice with lime wedge, rye bread and swiss cheese, Maldivian tuna snacks, Vietnamese chicken congee with spring onions and green chili
Clockwise: Paratha, Sri Lankan sambol and mild tuna curry, Maldivian Chili tuna steak and Vietnamese chicken congee with spring onions and green chili
Clockwise: Rye cheese toast and tomatoes, black tea, broken rice
Clockwise: Croissant, pancakes with berry compote, assorted fruit and a danish, watermelon juice
Clockwise: Orange cake, banana bread, black tea, berry muffin, danish, pancakes with berry compote
Clockwise: Sri Lankan sambol and mild tuna curry, black tea, hash brown and pork sausages, paratha, prawn puff, orange juice
Clockwise: Assorted fruits, tropical blended juice, danish, doughnut, berry and vanilla mini muffins
Yeah okay, so breakfast wasn't always the healthiest affair - but look at the variety I had! I'm not into 'traditional' breakfasts. Don't get me wrong, I'll have the odd sausages and bacon every now and then but if the opportunity arises to have an asian breakfast: let me at it!
My favourites were the congee, sambol and fish curry, the croissants (not traditional fresh flaky croissants - but buttery and soft none the less), Maldivian tuna snacks and banana doughnut balls. If you're there on one of the days they do iced tea, grab a glass or two - it is delicious and you can mix in your own preferred dosage of sugar syrup. If that isn't available, there are large dispensers of fresh juices, coffee and a large selection of tea leaves.
DINNER: 1900 - 2200
Clockwise: tuna, salmon and hamachi nigiri; chicken curry, prawn puffs, sautéed vegetables, jasmine rice, watermelon juice
Clockwise: Black sesame cake with calamansi cream and citrus reduction, mango mousse, hazelnut slice
Dinner is a decent affair too - we only attended once and must have been there on an asian inspired night. There were noodles, curries and stirred fried rice on offer with a nice spread of sushi and nigiri. Truthfully, I would have been fine with just the nigiri but who doesn't go a bit nuts at a buffet?
The desserts were just as satisfying - I was besotted by the black sesame and calamansi cake. Extremely well balanced and surprisingly light. Fair warning: you're probably going to be waddling home that night.
Seven Days: 1100 - 0100
If you've missed breakfast at both Thila and Vihamanaa for some reason (canoodling with a loved one and forgetting the time as you lay about by the beach is totally, 100% acceptable reasons for missing breakfast), the Café offers a casual, all day dining alternative option from 11am onwards.
Enjoy a light snack for brunch, or satisfying mains in the way of burgers, curries, soups for lunch and dinner, or maybe you've got an inkling for something a little sweeter. Do this in the confines of the café, by the pool or just a little further away on the beach next to Kandu - staff are more than willing to accomodate requests.
The standouts for us had to be their stone oven pizzas which are made to order with both fresh local ingredients and those from around the globe. In fact, that's really all we had whenever we visited apart from the one time where I fell in love with their Maldivian mussels, by the beach, overlooking the cool water.
Formaggi pizza bianca and lightly battered fries with garlic aioli
Formaggi pizza bianca
Fiore di latte, taleggio, gorgonzola, parmigiano
Tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil
Maldivian pizza bianca
Fragrant tuna, spicy sauce, roasted coconut, chili, lime, coriander
From left to right: Iced coffee from Kandu, Maldivian style mussels and Kurumba beef burger
Kurumba beef burger
Beef patty, cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato, mustard, chipotle ketchup, egg, served with crisps
Maldivian style mussels
Cooked in fresh coconut, coriander, local chili, served with chapatti
If you enjoy chili mussels, PLEASE try this. It would almost be a disservice not to. The blend of spices that they use for this dish is the same that they use for most of their other Maldivian dishes - slightly spicy, a lot of coriander, ginger, coconut a hint of citrus... very, very aromatic and fragrant. Such a refreshing take on chili mussels!
Six Days: Dinner 1900 - 2130
East is a little more upscale and is considered to be more formal. It features flavours inspired from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea - it sits away from the main "restaurant hub" (housing Vihamanaa, Thila, the Café and Kandu), sharing a space slightly off the beaten track with Mahal and AlQasr.
It is only open for dinner service and requires a booking in advance to gauge seating availability. You can do this by calling reception or dialling the number found in the information booklet found in your room. If you do visit, you will be impressed by not only the offerings on it's menu, but its beautiful interior and grand entryway too.
I love establishments that transport you away from your immediate vicinity into another world altogether - it was hard to think we were still on an atoll when you were surrounded by asian lion statues, wooden archways and red lanterns.
East presents a decent selection entrées, salads, soups, mains, sides and desserts. The staff are friendly, very knowledgeable and are able to supply you with information about each dish, make suggestions based on dietary preferences. Don't be afraid to ask!
We visited on one occasion and it was difficult to be disappointed with the dinner service.
Here's what we had.
Minced prawns, garlic, coriander, sesame
Delicious - small wontons housing succulent sweet minced prawns accompanied by a beautiful sesame chili sauce. We lapped up every last drop of that sauce, even after we had consumed the parcels. Such gluttons.
Bang bang chicken
White cut chicken, peanut and sesame sauce
Kimchi fried rice
Braised beef short rib, jasmine rice, Korean kimchi, spring onion
Mr Bisperas had the bang bang chicken in the rich peanut sesame sauce and fried rice. The dishes are just as large as they look too so you can imagine how much he struggled. My braised beef short rib was beautifully tender, literally falling away with my fork as I attempted to cut into it. It was accompanied by a thick sticky sauce that had a lot of depth to it and it went superbly well with the kimchi fried rice (you got a small platelet of kimchi which you could mix into your fried rice).
Young coconut jelly
Burnt mango crème, pandan macaron
A gorgeous asian inspired dessert - the burnt mango crème sat under the coconut jelly - it was kind of mousse like but the two flavours blew me away.
Deep fried ice cream
Lychee, raspberry, Thai basil
This is the one thing that wasn't great - the boy decided he would try deep fried ice cream for the first time and maybe it was the crust, but we found this to be quite average.
Seven Days: Breakfast 0800 - 1100 | Dinner 1900 - 2130
On our final evening on the island, we were invited to attend a complementary dinner at Thila as newlyweds. I've already talked about the fact that Thila offers breakfast - pretty amazing breakfast might I add - but they also do dinner very, very well.
The maître d' greeted us by the lavish entryway at 7pm and led to our table which, fortunately for us, was on a deck that extended out over the lapping water. It was such a romantic and peaceful setting and I still think about it to this day.
Expect a more formal and intimate experience - small and visually appealing dishes with focus on each ingredient, amiable ambience and attentive staff. The service on this island is consistently top notch and in no way does it falter here.
The infinitely knowledgeable sommelier was very helpful and assisted us in picking out bottle from their extensive wine list that would be memorable and suited our tastes. He picked out the bottle of Freixenet 'Mia'; a young fruity white from Barcelona made with a blend of Macabeo, Xarello, Parellada grapes. Refreshing, tropical and light with just a hint of honey. It complimented our dinner very nicely.
We were started off with some kind of fish foam mousse - whatever it was (tasted like mackerel), it was gorgeous. The bread was bread - but it was still warm and fluffy.
Entrée foam and housemade bread
Foam olive oil and salt flakes
Butter poached slipper lobster, mussels, spiced tomato
The lobster consommé was nicely balanced. The lobster was so buttery, soft and succulent; that natural sweetness working in with the mussels and lightly spiced tomato soup. A well presented and thoughtful dish.
Angel hair, truffle, bisque
Sashimi tuna, nettle barley risotto, fresh horseradish, shiso
I'd never had barley risotto before - it was extremely filling and I struggled to get through the entire dish. Nevertheless, very interesting set of flavours.
200g Angus fillet served with sautéed baby vegetables with spiced butter and red wine sauce
The fihuni steak was seared beautifully and you didn't even need the steak knife they provided you with to cut through it - it was that tender.
Rich chocolate mousse, caramel, crème fraîche sorbet, gold leaf
Adorably, when Richard asked for "The Bar", the waiter humorously pointed towards Kandu and said, "Sir, it's over there". This little dessert slice may be small, but do not be fooled - it was very rich. An adequate serving for what it delivered.
Panna Cotta, organic mango, blackberry, pink peppercorn, miso
This was featured in the mini publication we found it in our room - a sort of, Whats happening in Kurumba mini magazine. I was attracted to the featured ingredient; being half Filipino and all, there was no way I couldn't be! This was playful and light end to my meal.
By the end of this, we were satisfied, happy and tipsy!
Food at resorts and hotels is expensive. Food at a luxury, isolated, island haven like this undoubtedly falls into that bracket.
One of the things I regret was not opting in for one of the meal plans the resort offered.
What are meal plans? Essentially a peace of mind - it's a way to go about your holiday without the worry of a mounting bill for food and drinks and the dread of paying it in the countdown to your last day. Kurumba have designed a number of plans to suit your budget and ultimately, give you better value.
Choose from half-board (includes dinner at Vihamanaa and a discount towards other restaurants on the island), full-board (includes lunch and dinner at Vihamanaa and discounts towards other restaurants on the island), full-board all inclusive (lunch and dinner at Vihamanaa including beverages, selected beverages in other restuarants, a discount towards other restaurants on the island, one included excursion and better rates on excursions and mini bar items) and dine around all inclusive (lunch and dinner at various restaurants including selected beverages, one excursion, better rates on excursions and mini bar items and complimentary laundry).
Breakfast at Vihamanaa is included in the rate of your room (enquire to be on the safe side).
Meal plans are available when you book directly with Kurumba, upon arrival at the resort or from your preferred travel agent.
That was my dining experience - top notch. Next time, I will go for the dine around all inclusive meal plan, methinks. I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT TIME.