The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi – a foodie island

12 mins read

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is a striking island with a luxurious stretch of white sand encircling it. Its lagoon is clear as Listerine, a captivating sight as the seaplane descends. The plane docks by the jetty and I disembark, tired from the hour-long trip, but filled with a nervous sense of excitement. The resort’s cuisine has generated a slew of positive feedback and I am itching to try it out.

Hotel Insider visits Sun Siyam Irufushi – a foodie island

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is a striking island with a luxurious stretch of white sand encircling it. Its lagoon is clear as Listerine, a captivating sight as the seaplane descends. The plane docks by the jetty and I disembark, tired from the hour-long trip, but filled with a nervous sense of excitement. The resort’s cuisine has generated a slew of positive feedback and I am itching to try it out.

On arrival I meet Adheeb, my butler, who takes me down the walkway into the island’s interior. We pass by some Chinese guests, dressed in red, frolicking on the beach. “They’re a group that flew in recently,” says Adheeb. “Our occupancy has picked up because of them, but will drop again once they’re off.”

Just beyond the beach is the retail area and the Water’s Edge, a swanky bar with an extended wooden deck. It’s where guests are checked in mostly, Adheeb tells me, because it’s informal and much more spacious than the reception. By the bar is the resort’s Teppanyaki restaurant; something I make a note of to try out. From my initial impressions, it’s clear that the resort is not your run-of- the-mill locally owned property.

Arriving at the reception, I discover a quiet space boasting conical roofs inlaid with wood, supported by black wooden beams. Over the front desk hangs a beautiful, layered cylindrical chandelier. Together with its family of cylindrical lamps, they lighten up an already bright interior. Lights aside, there’s an almost palpable Maldivian feel to the place.

With check-in behind me, I’m back on the buggy with Adheeb who takes me to my water villa. It faces the lagoon, has a Jacuzzi out on the deck and is screened off from the neighbours. The only intrusive elements come from the lagoon, where the vessels are docked in the distance and water-sports enthusiasts indulge in their activities. A paddle boarder passes by and waves at me. I wave back.

The room exemplifies a continuation of the Maldivian theme evident at the resort. And it lives up to its five-star billing, with its lavish bed, flat-screen TV, and Bose sound system, which I will put to good use. The décor is minimal, rattan chairs and sofa, a couple of sea-inspired paintings adorning the cream walls, a glass overlaid dark wood coffee table. There is plenty of natural light flooding in from the windows and from the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck. A small stretch of glass panelling on the floor lets you have a peek at the water below.

Amenities include the usual plus a fairly decent selection of teas. A Nespresso machine is provided, but it must be noted that coffee capsules come with a hefty charge: four dollars each.

The bathroom, while not too spacious, has room enough for a Jacuzzi bathtub, which makes one wonder why there’s another out on the deck, but one cannot complain. Bath products are courtesy of Thalgo, a premier French brand founded in 1964, which is also featured at Iru Fushi’s spa.

As it’s Ramadan, there’s no way I can try each of its eight dedicated dining outlets during my brief stay. While going through the options, the resort’s award winning French restaurant, Flavours, piques my curiosity. To say that French cuisine is hard to come by in the Maldives would be a massive understatement. It must be tried at all costs. I inform Adheeb who makes a reservation.

I take a moment to draw a bath in preparation for dinner. Putting on a lively waltz, I slip into the tub, turn on the bubbles, and let them do their thing on my body. It’s a lush experience, and when I turn my head, I have a lovely view of the lagoon. The music, the scenery, the water; I immerse myself the harmony of these wondrous elements and become oblivious to the passage of time.

Adheeb comes to pick me up for dinner at precisely ten to six.

“How’s everything?” he asks.

“Very good,” I say. The restaurant is on the opposite side of the island, and we pass through its meandering paths, manicured to great effect, not only offering glimpses of green but the rich browns and reds of tropical flora, punctuated here and there by bright blossoms, blue, pink, yellow, violet. It’s a beautiful island and the beauty is only heightened in this golden hour before sunset.

On the way to the restaurant we pass by the Chinese group again, seated on the walkway, still dressed in red, clearly enjoying themselves.

The restaurant is over water, offering sweeping views of the sea. There are tables inside and out, and the interior houses a temperature-controlled wine cellar with an extensive continental wine list. I take a seat on the deck outside. I’m given an iPad containing the menu, and the waiter takes my order. The sun is now setting, the sky is rendered purple and crimson.

First are the scallops. They arrive on a bed of risotto. Their flesh is buttery, the texture almost like a piece of fat, but with that beautiful seafood flavour. The cheesy risotto lends a welcome savoury taste and adds a slightly tart edge.

Mains, the duck. It’s accompanied by a parsnip mash and caramelised kumquats. The meat is tender and juicy, and is delightfully matched by a sweet and sour Peking duck sauce. The kumquats intensify the sweetness, their skin adding a new, complementary melody of bitter notes.

Dessert, chocolate soufflé. It’s crispy at the top, gooey in the middle. Its entourage of blueberry ice cream, compote and crumble make for ideal companions. Dinner done, it’s time to catch a buggy back to the room. There, I relax watching a high definition film from the resort’s collection and fall asleep.

The next day, I take a tour of Iru Fushi’s spa, which has received several nods from judges and reviewers. It’s a magnificent place, with a pebbled pathway, flanked by rosette lettuce floating on water-filled channels. It leads to a stunning foyer flaunting impressive stonework. An alluring herbal scent entwines with soft South East Asian music, imbuing the place with a sense of serenity. The compound houses a salon, a mani-pedi lounge, an Ayurvedic clinic, a spa boutique.

Farther in, there’s a pebbled walkway connecting a circular arrangement of ‘therapy cottages’, set in a splendid tropical landscape. It feels like an extension of the resort, but there’s a degree of removal from the ‘Maldivian-ness’ embodied by the rest of the island. It’s worth mentioning that Iru Fushi’s spa is the only one in the country to employ fish in therapy. Also, guests can avail themselves of the hydrotherapy area, use the sauna and steam bath, gratis. One only needs to book in advance. The accolades are well deserved.

That evening, I head to the Teppanyaki restaurant for dinner. It’s actually a small hut, sans walls, with stools around a counter. There’s a French family of four at the restaurant. The Filipino chef, Marlon, is getting started, writing a welcome message on the griddle with mayonnaise. I order my food and watch as Marlon entertains us with his spatula skills. Teppanyaki chefs have long ceased to have the seriousness of their Japanese forebears. Now they’re required to put on a show and banter with guests as part of the dining experience.

Next up is the spicy tuna maki. The rice is wrapped in seaweed, piquant with vinegar and sweet, and the Japanese chili sauce gives the maki a spicy edge. The tuna is bright red, a sign that it’s fresh from the sea, and delicious, with a gentle, fishy taste.

The chef shows me my mains: tiger prawns and vegetables, still raw. Then he beheads and de-tails the prawns rapidly, in smooth precise movements, his spatulas clicking and scraping rhythmically. There’s a music to his movements and it’s easy to lose yourself to the spectacle. He starts cooking and it’s all done in a matter of minutes.

The vegetables have a bit of crunch to them. And the prawns are perfectly cooked, firm, with a bold sweetness. I make liberal use of the homemade wafu sauce. Before I know it, my meal is over and it’s time to return to my room. An early morning flight awaits me the next day. The tiny restaurant makes the last impression of the resort and I’m certain that it’s one that will last.