Saturday, November 22, 2014

Restaurant Review: Ufaa at Cocoa Island, Maldives

As promised, here is a separate post dedicated to the only restaurant on Cocoa Island by COMO: Ufaa. I was extremely impressed with the food at this restaurant. Nearly everything we tried was well-executed, interesting, and tasty. A little on the expensive side, but portions were quite large. Cory and I ended up sharing 1 appetizer, 1 entree, and 1 dessert and always felt really full afterwards. Lunch usually ran us about $90 after tip, and dinner $110 after tip (sometimes with 1-2 beers, but no wine).

Ufaa Restaurant

Here is the blurb directly from the official website:
Unique among restaurants in the Maldives, our talented, New Zealand-born Executive Chef Shane Avant draws inspiration from the Malabar Coast’s rich gourmet heritage and local seafood. He also creates modern interpretations of Southeast Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. The kitchen’s tandoor oven allows for fat-free, flavour-rich grilling of meats, vegetables and fish.

Outside the restaurant, next to the infinity pool

Interior of the restaurant


Breakfast is included in your room rate, and is exceptional. They have a buffet spread of fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt, juices, and cereals. Then they have a menu for eggs and hot breakfasts. We were told you can order 3 for 2 people... but we usually only ordered 1 to share. They also have coffee and a variety of teas.

Our first day, we didn't realize they had hot items available. We were already so impressed with the buffet!

Main breakfast display

Day 1 Breakfast selections

Day 2 Breakfast selections

Day 3 Breakfast selections

Day 4 Breakfast selections

Here are the menu items we tried

Waffles with passion fruit syrup and creme fraiche (if I recall correctly!)

2 egg omelet and half a roasted tomato. They have a variety of fillings to choose from.


Decadent pancakes with coconut, pineapple, and blueberries

Avocado, tomato, arugula, and hummus on seed flatbread, from their "healthy" menu.

Very nice congee (enormous bowl) with lots of goodies. The menu doesn't call it congee, though. I had this on our last day to ensure my tummy was in good shape to travel home.

Lunch and Dinner

They have a fairly extensive lunch and dinner menu, which changes daily. However, they are very flexible, so if you want to eat something from another day's menu, you can request it ahead of time. They are also able to serve most lunch options that evening for dinner.

Three times a week, they have special dinners (Thai, Indian, and Seafood BBQ), but they are a little more expensive than our 1 app, 1 entree, 1 dessert approach, so we skipped them.

Most of these pictures are from lunches, with just 2 of 5 dinners photographed (extremely low lighting at dinner). As a policy, I will not use flash in restaurants, because I think it is extremely rude.

Always provided with 4 pieces of bread or naan and olive oil. We only ate 2 pieces, lest we overeat.

Fish curry - really nice and spicy. Has quite a few bones (says so on the menu), but still great.

Chicken tikka masala - Also excellent. We had it 2 more times. Definitely has cashew in it (same as at the Curry Culture in Singapore).

As a sidebar, the naans are adequate here, but not the best. The CTM was really good though; we had it three times. The third time it was a little watery tasting (not sure what happened there), but still yummy. One of the waitstaff told us that whenever guests order this multiple times during their stay, he's reminded of a certain guest that had it for lunch and dinner for an entire week. I can see why - it's really, really good.

Local lagoon lobster, mango, avocado salad - nice dressing, but local lagoon lobster is not as good as Maine lobster at all. Now you know!

Chorizo eggplant pizza - great toppings and flavour combination, but the crust was very lacking, in our opinion. This is one of the few meals I would not recommend.

Ceviche salad - nice and citrusy, but felt the portion size was a little excessive. Some sinewy bits of fish as well. I don't think I'd recommend this either, unless you love ceviche. I didn't feel it was outstanding.

Seared reef fish - absolutely gorgeous.

Chicken biryani - I was so happy it was served with the traditional naan top! This was quite excellent biryani, which lots of flavourful chicken.

Samosas - quite large, and we got 2 more than expected. Adequate samosas... but the frozen ones from Trader Joes are better! (they are so good, though, they are hard to beat)

Tandoor veggies - Only $10 or $12, since I thought we'd still be hungry from the biryani and samosas (again, taken aback by the portion sizes!! we could have done without these or without the samosas). Bell peppers and broccoli rabe.

Grilled reef fish steaks - This was absolutely delicious! Highly recommended.

Arugula salad - Very simple, but perfectly executed.

Seared scallops with roasted cauliflower puree - This tasted exactly like the version I had at Redd last year. Maybe not as good, but still delicious.

Coconut prawn - I love coconut prawn (even from Red Lobster and frozen versions), but these were really great. The spicy aioli was awesome too.

Red snapper and sweet potato "fish and chips" - a nice surprise, and a reasonable portion! I really enjoyed this.


The first couple days, we shared an appetizer and each ordered an entree, rendering us so stuffed, we were unable to eat dessert. That's when we decided to switch over to the 1 app, 1 entree route so we could try dessert. So glad we did, because their desserts are really excellent. I wish we had realized this sooner, so we could have tried more desserts! It must be said that it takes a LOT for dessert to impress me, as I'm an avid home-baker and a serious dessert enthusiast.

Not pictured is a chocolate mousse dessert, which we had twice at dinner (both nights I didn't take photographs because of poor lighting) -- but definitely our favourite dessert.

Panna cotta with sorbet (can't recall the flavour) - very nice. The pomelo and grapefruit bits were wonderfully refreshing as well.

ICE CREAM. Vanilla bean, roasted banana, coconut sorbet. We had this twice, though the selection changes around. The flower decoration is dried pineapple, and there is mango lining the plate.

Chocolate souffle and espresso ice cream - Fabulous. After Cory's bad experience with the disastrous souffle at Volando Urai in Wulai, I insisted we get one here because I was sure they'd do it right. Cory was not disappointed, as is now a souffle convert!

The service was also quite good, though at times a little slow paced for us in the evenings when it was busy. We like to eat quickly though, so I'm sure it's a non-issue for normal people.

My only other gripe would have to be regarding the still water. They charged $3 USD for the same bottle of water that is stocked in your room (there's at least 3 or 4 bottles in your room at any given time) at lunch and dinner. Maybe this irritation is carrying over from Tiger Air, but I think it's inappropriate. I know they have to filter their own water on the island, but it still sticks out in my mind as a faux-pas.

At least it's chilled, right? Maybe that's what the $3 is for.

Bottom Line: Ufaa is an excellent restaurant in its own right, and I'm really happy that they obviously care about the quality of the food at Cocoa Island. Such a pleasant surprise! Hope you enjoyed this food p0rn! :)

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