14.061 Garudhiya Meal

Cycle 14 – Item 61

7 (Tue) March 2023

Garudhiya Meal


The Chef Mode Badhige

-Hulhumalé, Maldives-

w friends

Living Aboard the MV Adora (Day +1/13)

In transit – Malé to Abu Dhabi.  Just finished my 2nd liveaboard.  For 10 days, I was on the MV Adora – same boat as my 1st experience (see previously 9.191 Grilled Beef Tenderloin) – sailing through the Deep South Atolls, diving from the boat, while I ate, drank (lots of drink), slept, i.e., “lived aboard” the boat.  Now flying back home, with a long layover in Abu Dhabi.

After getting off the boat in the morning, we flew back north to Malé, where each would fly on to their final destination.  With a 20:35 departure to Abu Dhabi, I had a couple final hours on the ground – specifically in Hulhumalê, a reclaimed island hosting Velana International Airport, just across a bridge from the main island of Malé.  2 objectives, both gastronomic: i) eat at a local Maldivian restaurant, ii) eat at a Korean restaurant.


The Chef Mode Badhige

The Chef Mode Badhige is a Maldivian restaurant.

That’s about all I can say about the place.  It was recommended by one of the dive masters on the boat, even though he’d never been there.

Located about a 10-minute taxi ride from the airport.

The general vibe, including the island grunge chic decor, suggests that the restaurant is designed for tourists to feel like they’re having an authentic Maldivian experience, but no locals would actually go there, like that breakfast place on Fuvahmulah (see 14.059 Ceviche Wahoo!).

Joined by 7 friends – I will always be grateful for Filipino comaraderie.

When I asked the manager to suggest the best dish, he insisted that I try the Garudhiya Meal.

The Garudhiya Meal was not on the actual menu, only on the street-side chalk board menu.

Garudhiya is a Maldivian dish.  A simple soup made from fish stock, most commonly tuna, but whatever fish may be on hand (e.g., wahoo), seasoned with salt, sometimes additional ingredients (e.g., chilies).

So intense that the camera couldn’t keep the image in focus.

The garudhiya was unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced.  Upon first sip, I couldn’t help but exclaim “Whoah!”  Extremely salty and smoky and fishy.  Not bad exactly, just overly intense for my palate.  I tried a second sip for confirmation, but that was enough.  Everyone else had a taste, same reaction, though they suggested that it might not be so bad with rice (they’re Filipinos, so their ultimate solution to most food dilemmas tends to involve rice).

Reminded me of thali (see for example 3.284 Thali).

The rest of the meal, comprising a platter of steamed rice + shredded lettuce + grilled tuna + carrot chutney + pickled chilies + seasoned seaweed – wasn’t too bad.  Felt authentic, despite the surrounding shtick.

Hoping that someday soon I’ll have another opportunity to eat locally in the Maldives.


Korean Food Zone

Korean Food Zone is a Korean restaurant.  At present, the only Korean restaurant in the Maldives.

A few minutes walk from The Chef Mode Badhige.

And so, the Maldives becomes the 19th country and Malé (Hulhumalé) becomes 39th city outside of Korea where I’ve experienced Korean food.

Joined by 11 friends – I will always be grateful for Filipino camaraderie.

With less than an hour before having to head back to the airport, I ordered ramyeon (“Korean ramen”) and gimbap “(kimbap”).

A respectful representation of Korean cuisine.

Later, I did a currency conversion to realize that the ramyeon cost MVR 150 = KRW 13,400 = USD 9.74.  Considering that a package of Korean instant noodles costs MVR 25 = KRW 2,200 = USD 1.65 at retail (see 14.060 Fruit Sundae), that is a huge markup.

By stark contrast, I could get ramyeon in a restaurant in Korea for about KRW 4,000 = USD 2.90 = MVR 45.

Korean Ramen (2.5)

The food was okay.

Kimbap (2.0): on the bright side, the roll didn’t include fake ham.

Presumably to save on the cost of ingredients, the restaurant did not serve any complimentary banchan.  Kimchi could be ordered, for a price.  Although I’ve encountered Korean restaurants that charged for refills on banchan, I’ve never experienced a place where banchan weren’t served as a basic service.

Technically, this was contraband in the Maldives.

From my final bottle of vodka on the boat, which I was unable to finish, I’d transferred a portion of the leftovers into a plastic water bottle, hoping to drink it at dinner (gave away the rest to the crew).  But none of my companions were interested, so I took a single shot and traded the rest for kimchi.

The Korean owner was way too quick to accept the trade – again, alcohol is very strictly regulated in the Maldives, so 500-ml of vodka would be quite valuable – making me think that I should’ve negotiated for something better.


Leeli Lounge

(Velana International Airport)

Actually, maybe for the 1st in my life, I declined to partake of the food offerings in a business class airport lounge – too full from the recent back-to-back meals.  Also, no booze, so I just had a Coke Zero.

No thanks – I’ve eaten enough tuna to last me until the next trip to the Maldives.

As always, I am grateful for and respectful of the opportunity to travel internationally, whether for fun or for work, whether on economy or business class, especially business class, including airport lounge access.


Flight EY 279


Still not very hungry.

Arabic Mezze (2.5): I wonder if passengers who fly regularly in business class around the region order the mezze as a matter of course, like how Koreans expect banchan to be served at every meal.
Chicken Shisk Tawook (2.0): don’t like grilled tomatoes or grilled bell peppers.

Also anticipating a long night in the lounge upon my arrival in Abu Dhabi.


Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge

(Abu Dhabi International Airport)

Arriving at 23:30 tonight, flying out tomorrow night at 22:15, my flight back home includes 23 hours in Abu Dhabi.  I look at the layover as kind of a bonus, a free day in a great city – why not?

Stood there for about 10 minutes trying to get a shot with the doors closed, but people kept passing through (an entirely trivial detail that I write here just to remind myself of the silly things that go on behind the scenes of producing GMTD).

The plan is to stay overnight in the lounge, head out to the city for lunch, do some sightseeing/shopping in the afternoon, eat dinner, then return for my flight to Incheon.

Although this was my 6th experience in the Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge, this crappy photo is the 1st image showing the place.

The Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge is impressive.  Quite expansive in size (the photo above shows maybe 10% of the seating capacity), with various types of sofas and chairs, as well as broad tables for food and beverages (not just dinky side tables between seats).  The bar – an actual bar with bartenders (perhaps to control the consumption of booze) – offers a wide selection of top end wines and liquors, including single malt Scotches.  The food, served across 3 separate stations, is very generous in quality and variety, ranging from fresh salads and baked goods to warm curries and meats, mostly Indian/Arabic-ish in character.  The restrooms, – staffed with valets to give out towels, like in swanky nightclubs in the US (though no tipping here) – have showers.

Deanston High Single Malt Scotch Whisky (10 years old): never heard of it.

Open 24 hours (flights run through the night), better than a hotel room (because of the free food and booze).  The sofa was extremely comfortable; in fact, I was offered a blanket by the concierge – a concierge in an airport lounge!

Didn’t end up eating very much, sampled bits of everything, except for the Chinese-ish items (e.g., stir-fried noodles, top left below).  After couple glasses of whisky, I was out for the count.

Previously ranked #7 in GMTD’s list of Business Class Lounge experiences, the superb experience this trip boosts its position up to #4.



(See also BOOZE)

(See also MDV)

(See also IN FLIGHT)



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