Aragu is an incredible fine dining restaurant located on Velaa Private Island in the Maldives. As the signature restaurant of one of the world’s most luxurious resorts, Aragu stands out with a breath-taking overwater location, a superb architectural design and a unique, contemporary Euro-Asian cuisine presented by talented chef Gaushan De Silva.
Concept & Location
The stunning Velaa Private Island is located in Noonu Atoll, an island group in the Northern part of the Maldives. The island is home to one of the most luxurious resorts in the world and attracts an audience of demanding travellers. Indeed, the island and its resort could be considered as the definition of paradise: gently waving palm trees border the pristine, idyllic snow-white beaches, while the interior of the island is covered in green, lush, natural vegetation. Ultra-luxurious villas are dotted around the island and perched on stilts above the surrounding ocean. The activities and experiences on offer is mind-blowing, and the same can be said about the great food & beverage offer.
Within this sphere of excellence, Aragu restaurant is positioned as the resort’s most upscale, fine dining restaurant. It is housed in a huge overwater structure and divided into an indoor and outdoor section. Guests enter the restaurant through the overwater walkway and an impressive entrance with an artistic, coral-like framework.
Once inside, stunning design welcomes the guests. The interior celebrates the ocean, with hundreds of flying fish covering the ceiling, and many coral structures thoughtfully placed in the different dining areas. Spacious tables are covered with white linen and atmospheric, dimmed light give the restaurant a very romantic character. A beautiful bar with an open wine cellar as the backdrop is the ideal spot to start the dinner with a glass of champagne.
The outside dining areas are equally impressive. At one side of the structure, cosy lounge chairs offer, the possibility for an outdoor aperitif with beautiful sunset views. At the other side, boasting frontal ocean views, the outdoor dining tables are the best option for a private and romantic dinner. Several tables are even positioned on separate pavilions surrounded by the ocean, with its soothing sounds and natural rhythm. A truly unique setting for a mesmerising fine dining experience.
The setting is truly magical, and it seems this was indeed the intention of the interior designer:
“If you come to Aragu just before sunset, you can experience another colourful display, when the ocean gradually begins to turn dark. Inside, however, playing the leading role alongside the piano is the backlit onyx bar, which symbolises the sun mirrored in the ocean”
Barbora Škorpilová, Aragu Interior designer
The Chef & the team
Chef Gaushan De Silva is responsible for the kitchen of Aragu. Gaushan brings over 27 years of experience the Maldives and started cooking at a very young age. The chef was born and raised in Sri Lanka and taught himself to cook at the age of ten. By the time he was 16, the remarkable youngster started working as a trainee at Swiss Hotel in Kandy. Passionate by the dynamics of the hospitality sector, Gaushan gained more experience at Rangali Hilton in the Maldives, followed by a chef position at the Jordanian family palace. After this unique opportunity, he returned to the Maldives to become the Head Chef at Huvafen Fushi Resort. It was here that he got to know the Czech entrepreneur Jiří Šmejc, who convinced him to start as the Head Chef at Velaa Private Island later on.
Prior to the opening of Velaa Private Island, Gaushan got the opportunity to travel to Europe to gain experience at some of the world’s finest restaurants, such as Noma in Copenhagen and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in Paris. He learned and absorbed, and after his European training he returned to the Maldives with a deep understanding of classic and modern European cooking techniques.
At Aragu restaurant, Gaushan De Silva uses his thorough knowledge of techniques and ingredients to create a contemporary European menu with an Asian twist. Product traceability and sustainability are important aspects of his cooking philosophy, and each day begins with the arrival of carefully selected ingredients. Executive Chef Gaushan de Silva’s network of suppliers, cultivated over years of working together, ensures only the best products are used in his dishes. In 2021, Gaushan’s remarkable cooking style gained Aragu a spot in the famous “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, becoming the first and only restaurant in the Maldives in this list.
Guests can choose between an à la carte menu and a “Taste of Maldives” tasting menu. On the à la carte, you will find caviar, oysters, bites and a selection of dishes like the “Bluefin tuna and hamichi, combined with avocado, apple salad, and roasted sesame dressing”, or the “Rosé veal, char-grilled tenderloin, with potato gnocchi, green pea, chanterelle, and truffle jus”.
For the full experience, opt for the “Taste of Maldives” tasting menu. Many local ingredients are precisely cooked and delicately combined with only the right flavours. The dishes contain only the necessary flavours and unnecessary details are omitted.
We enjoyed the following menu during our visit:
- Caviar, Fermented sweet potato
- Reef fish, Consommé, drumstick leaves
- Yellowfin tuna, Confit egg yolk
- Crab, Roasted coconut sabayon
- Lobster, Curry, kandukukulhu
- Chicken, Barbecued, braised eggplant
- Coconut, Coconut espuma, creole ice cream, kanamadhu
- Tea or coffee
Service & Wine
Service is exceptional for a resort, and the wine list is even more so. Chief Sommelier Musthafa Mohamed created a wine list with 800 references, including many hard to find gems, to complement the refined cuisine of Aragu. The Aragu wine list even received an “Award of Excellence” by the prestigious Wine Spectator. With his team, Musthafa offers a knowledgeable and tailor-made service for the perfect wine pairing.
Aragu is one of the best restaurants in the Maldives. Executive Chef Gaushan de Silva’s cooking is precise, delicate and delicious, and offers a sublime mix of Maldivian and European flavours. The food is served in a setting that is both lavish and unique, sublimating the surrounding ocean and the lusciousness of its ingredients. And then there’s the wine list, one of the best that can be found in Asia. A must for all foodies.