This Review of Saoke Restaurant at Joali Resort, Maldives is from our 2019 visit. Saoke is the Japanese restaurant at Joali, which also offers Italian cuisine at Bellini and international (Southeast Asian, Chinese and Mediterranean) favorites at Vandhoo Restaurant.
Saoke Location and Setting
Saoke is located a short walk from Vandhoo and Bellini Restaurants, with its name carved in stone.
Saoke is exclusively open for dinner, and as night falls, its dramatic setting on a pier over the water becomes even more apparent. Illuminated sake bottles decoratively flank the entrance, as seen in the first photo of the post. Gaze up as you pass underneath the wooden ceiling–the architecture is by Japanese architect Noriyoshi Muramatsu, who also designed Zuma at the new Four Seasons One Dalton Street Boston, and other Zuma restaurants worldwide.
We were led to a table outside, right by the water, which we enjoyed. While there were a few other tables seated nearby, two couples and a family, we could barely hear their murmuring, and it was a very peaceful setting.
Saoke Menu and Food
Saoke's menu pays homage to traditional Japanese sushi, while also providing “new style” sushi and even some ceviche options, reminiscent of what you might find in Japanese restaurants in Peru.
We're trying to limit the amount of red meat we consume, so we didn't order any Wagyu beef, but when the amuse bouche turned out to be a seared Wagyu steak nigiri, we weren't complaining–it was so tender and full of flavor.
As an appetizer we ordered hamachi sashimi with jalapeno, which came with a very light ponzu sauce and was excellent.
We'd heard that grilled octopus was especially good at Saoke, and sure enough, it was our absolute favorite dish of our dinner. The octopus was brushed with an addictive sweet soy marinade before being grilled, and were perfectly tender, with a hint of char from the grill. A bit of creamy aioli gilded the lily.
Our son ordered a California Roll with fresh crab and avocado and salmon nigiri, which he enjoyed.
Also on the plate was one of two octopus temaki (hand rolls) that we ordered: highly recommended for everyone who likes octopus, whether you order the grilled octopus on its own or not.
My husband ordered his usual Spicy Tuna Roll, which came dusted with togarashi, that ubiquitous Japanese chili, orange peel, sesame seed spice mixture that's great on a surprising number of foods.
My favorite of the rolls was the one I ordered, the Spicy and Crunchy Roll, with Hamachi, shrimp and avocado, with a tempura-like topping. If you only order one makimono roll, this is the one I'd suggest.
Saoke was our favorite Japanese, and for that matter, East Asian meal that we've had over the course of visiting 8 different luxury resorts in the Maldives. We enjoyed everything we ordered, but particularly the grilled octopus and octopus hand rolls, and the hamachi sashimi with jalapeno. We had a great overall stay at Joali, and for anyone who enjoys sushi or Japanese cuisine, being able to dine at Saoke is an additional perk of choosing Joali.
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