Aragu Restaurant Location and Setting
Aragu Signature Restaurant is located on the south side of Velaa, east of the Arrival Pavilion South and of the all day dining restaurant Athiri and the Avi Pool Bar. Whereas Athiri, Avi and Tavaru are all set on the island, Athiri is on its own pier on the water, which makes for a more dramatic setting.
While you could ride one of the bikes provided with your villa to it, chances are that your butler will pick you up and drive you there in a buggy. You can see our arrival and dinner experience at 13:20 in the following Velaa video:
Aragu Tasting Menu and Food
After being shown our table at the far end, which the restaurant had graciously given us as we were celebrating my husband's birthday, we were offered an oshibori (moist towel) for our hands. Even though Aragu isn't a Japanese or Asian restaurant, I do really appreciate this tradition of a hand towel before your meal.
Aragu offers a 3-course or 5-course tasting menu, where one of the courses is dessert. Since my husband was hungry we chose the 5-course menu, although it ended up being a bit too much for me, so we took some of my last course and a bit of my husband's last course back to the villa for our son, who happily devoured it.
The menu is arranged such that the courses near the top of the page are smaller and lighter, so if choosing the 3 course meal (2 savory courses plus dessert) I'd recommend selecting your two courses from the choices lower down the page, at least if you're hungry.
We started off with bread rolls, which were similar to some that are served at the all day dining restaurant Athiri, served with regular and sundried tomato butter, as well as olive oil:
There was a refreshing although not terribly memorable salmon amuse bouche:
My husband chose the Tasmanian Trout for his first course, which he loved. I'd thought pink grapefruit would be too acidic to complement the trout well, but it worked.
For my first course I chose the Duck Consomme with Foie Gras and Scallop. While it didn't have the visual appeal of my husband's dish, the duck consomme (broth) was rich in flavor, and of course the foie gras and scallop really elevated the dish.
My husband's next course were the Queensland Spanner Crab Ravioli, which was the most disappointing of our dishes. It's not that it was inedible or anything like that, it just wasn't at the level of the other dishes. The ravioli skins were too thick, and the sauce detracted from the crab flavor.
My husband was happier when I shared some bites from my dish, the Yellowfin Tuna with Truffled Teriyaki Sauce. You don't normally see truffles combined with teriyaki, but it was delicious in this incarnation, and the tuna paired well with the sauce.
Next was my husband's favorite course, Anjou Pigeon with Blackberry Reduction–so much so, that I didn't even manage a bite before he finished it. I'll just have to take his word that it was excellent.
My course of Iberico pork with celeriac was also excellent, although my favorite preparation so far of Iberico pork were the Cheung Fun with Iberico Pork at Tin Lung Heen in Hong Kong.
My husband's last savory course was the New Zealand Lamb, which had great flavor but was a little tough (although there were no complaints from our son when we took him some of the leftovers).
My last savory course was Chicken from Bresse, which was somewhat unusually presented as a cylinder, with a green pea puree, that, had it included mint, would in my view have been a better pairing with my husband's lamb. This course was fine, although not as good as my first three courses, except for the morel mushrooms, which are some of my favorite mushrooms.
My husband chose the winning dessert. Not only was it artistically clever, shaped as a cherry, its simple pairing of cherry with chilled, lightly sweetened Greek yogurt and tarragon was superb. It's just what you'd want to finish a quite filling and elaborate meal with.
I can't say no to a good dark chocolate, so I chose the Peruvian Chocolate dessert. It was a solid dessert, and the best chocolate I had while at Velaa, although in this case I preferred my husband's cherry dessert.
A nice surprise was this chocolate cake for my husband. We were of course too full to have any there, but our butler kindly brought it back to the villa for us, and we had some the next day. It wasn't anywhere close to the quality of the Aragu desserts taste-wise, but it's the thought that counts.
We really enjoyed our tasting dinner at Aragu, particularly the Tasmanian Ocean Trout, Consomme with Foie Gras and Scallop, Anjou Pigeon, Iberico Pork and the cherry dessert. Service was friendly and professional, and the outdoor setting above the water was beautiful, especially with a view of the sunset. I recommend requesting the table that we had, at the far end of the deck, closest to the sunset.
That said, the food, while very good and possibly 1 Michelin star level, wasn't comparable to Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc Randheli, which at least when we dined was 3 Michelin star level. This isn't to dissuade anyone from dining at Aragu, which was still a great experience, but it's good to set expectations appropriately. In my view, Velaa's culinary strengths lie in the variety of authentic cuisines on offer, such as Malaysian laksa, Chinese dim sum, Thai curries, Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and of course Maldivian favorites.
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