Culinary Delights at PER AQUUM Niyama
Niyama by PER AQUUM, is the second resort to be opened in the Maldives by the PER AQUUM brand. The resort, situated in Dhaalu atoll, is made up of two islands – Play and Chill. Villas, suites and studio rooms are tucked away within the lush vegetation that covers a vast portion of the island. Niyama offers some of the most unique, and consequently awardwinning, food and beverage outlets that the Maldivian tourism industry has to offer. The PER AQUUM philosophy of ‘daring to be different’ is visible in every service the resort provides for their guests.
My travel companion and I arrive at Niyama early morning after a short, scenic seaplane ride. There is no waiting around to check-in at the reception. We are ushered to Epicure, the allday dining restaurant, for breakfast. Everything from different breads, pancakes and heart-shaped waffles to eggs, cereals, meat and fruits were laid out in a massive spread. There’s ven sushi and huevos rancheros for the more adventurous guest. We have our leisurely breakfast out by the pool, sitting under one of the bright yellow beach umbrellas.
After breakfast, we are driven to our accommodation for two nights, a beach suite with a pool. The suite is the epitome of luxury. King sized bed, a living space with a couch that doubles as a day bed, an outdoor plunge pool, a swing, a beach bed, all facing the shimmery turquoise waters. The spacious bathroom has both an indoor and an outdoor shower and a bathtub. This room is a hideaway in itself, a secluded, private space. The modern decor, along with the complimentary services such as the Wi-Fi, coffee, tea and other beverages, proves Niyama spares no detail when it comes to making a guest feel like they are in paradise.
During our two day stay at the beautiful resort, we are lucky enough to experience all the unique culinary indulgences the resort offers. From Blu to Subsix, to Nest and Tribal, the selection for dining at Niyama are endless.At Blu, I order a confit chicken – a slow cooked leg in olive oil, ratatouille, mashed potato and chicken jus – a luscious affair, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The dessert menu is very tempting, with a variety of options to choose from. After much thought, I opt for the soft layer orange chocolate cake with spearmint ice cream, decorated with fresh garden berries, and crispy tulip. I devour every small bite of the rich dark chocolate – it tastes absolutely heavenly.
Located a few minutes away from the resort, we are whisked away on a speedboat to Subsix. Everything about Subsix is unique and special. The doors open up to a blue tinted room – elegant with a panoramic view of the underwater. I am in absolute awe as I stand by one of the windows, looking at the brightly coloured fish on the other side. The restaurant is decorated with Italian abstract chandeliers and capiz shells hung from the high ceiling. The chair covers are designed as anemones.
I enjoy a very elegant three course meal which is simply divine. Starting off with the swimmer crab & fennel coral garden, cous cous pomelo, ocean foam (which I thought was a fun, creative idea) to the main course, a mouthwatering sea and sand sea bass fillet, Jaffna prawn, squash, peas – created to perfection.
After lunch, we sit down with the executive chef of the island, Geoffrey Clark to have a quick chat about how he runs the restaurants at the resort. Hearing that our dinner was set at Tribal for the night, chef explained: “Tribal’s theme is that of an African bon-fire setting.”
“We do a Boma (gathering place in S. Africa) – a more authentic, interactive style of dining at Tribal.” He goes on to say that Tribal’s menu was inspired by the exotic dishes originating from Central and South America, along with the African food.
That night, walking into Tribal is like walking into another world. At the entrance, we are greeted by a Masai warrior who welcomes us with a Dawa, (originally used for medicinal purpose in Africa with a shot of honey and lime as the main ingredients). Staying in his character, he explains the setting of the restaurant, and directs us to a tent (each tent named after different African tribes – ours was called Zulu).One of the most special dishes served at Tribal is the warm ostrich bobotie with sweet peri peri sauce, tomatillo confit, and peach chutney, a dish I would describe as completely and utterly luscious.
We dine at the ever famous Nest on our last night at Niyama. Nest is the most recently opened restaurant at the resort. This restaurant offers simple but original dishes, including a live Tepanyaki menu.
Joining us for dinner is the Director of Food and Beverage Priya Ranjan Singh. Priya escorts us up the spiral of wooden stairs. Little tea-light candles burn at every other step, paving the way to the tables. Our table sits over-looking the garden below. Granted, it is night, but you can hear the occasional bird chirping and singing.
Priya proudly states that the success of Nest comes down to the ambiance and unique menu offered there, along with the services provided by the staff. Here, I choose the cumi-cumi Sambal Kemangi Indonesian barbecue squid with a coconut and basil paste, which we happily oblige to. And truth be told, I have never tasted anything as succulent and full of flavor as this barbecued squid.
After dinner, a waiter comes over to serve us coffee – some very elegant Black Ivory coffee. These coffee beans, which are processed in the stomach of elephants, are the most expensive type of coffee in the world. The restaurant serves this coffee in a gadget straight out from the 1800’s, where brewing and serving is a special event in itself.
Once again, I am reminded of the island’s philosophy of daring to be different. Everything from the way the coffee is served to the way the staff greet the guests makes the whole island stand out. It’s no surprise then that the Niyama was recently awarded MATATO World Travel Awards’s Best F&B resort – a highly deserving one. “We have a very diverse team here who makes Niyama’s culinary experience special,” chef explains. The resort has also received high accolades from many international press rooms such as the BBC.