By Hermoine Macura-Noble
Special to The Times Kuwait
Whether you are looking for a unique dining experience or a fancy place to propose, these five incredible underwater restaurants offer the unreal experience of dining underwater sans diving gear.
1) SEA – ANANTARA MALDIVES
At the top of the list is SEA restaurant located at Anantara Kihavah Maldives – a brand that has perfected luxury service and fine dining across most of their properties. SEA underwater restaurant is part of a stunning underwater gastronomic concept highlighting Anantara Kihavah’s idyllic location in the dazzling Baa Atoll, North Maldives. The entire restaurant was constructed on a nearby island and wielded to a barge before being moved to its permanent location. In 2010, the barge was sunk to the ocean floor by slowly filling it with sand, replacing the volume of air used to float it. It was then aligned over pre-constructed piles anchored into the reef. Featuring only 8 tables, guests can choose from either a lunch or dinner set menu featuring the resort Executive Chef’s classic seasonal creations. The lunch set menu offers a delectable selection of lobster dishes, and the five-course dinner menu provides choices for each course. The restaurant’s octagonal design and mirrored interior optimize the aquatic view making diners feel like part of the house reef. Since 2014, the restaurant and cellar have annually been recognized with coveted awards worldwide for its varied, global list and off-the-beaten-track wine regions with 450 labels from 15 countries. During the day, SEA showcases turtles, butterflyfish, unicorn fish and jackfish in their natural habitat whilst dinner time attracts nocturnal predators, including lionfish, reef sharks, moray eels and stingrays.
2) OSSIANO ATLANTIS, DUBAI, UAE.
Number two on the list is, of course, located in Dubai – a city that never fails to set new standards for the most amazing and unique things to do and see. Located within the prestigious Atlantis Hotel, Ossiano is an opulent restaurant with views of the Ambassador Lagoon, which features over 65,000 fish swimming in a tank that gives the feeling that you’re dining on the seabed. Known as one of the best seafood restaurants in the UAE, Ossiano offers an epicurean experience like no other – every detail of their fine dining experience is planned to perfection from the moment you enter the property. Expect to be greeted with lemongrass-scented towels, 5-star service and attention to detail like no other. Guests have the option to either try one of Ossiano’s set menus or dine à la carte. The set menu features mouth-watering Canadian lobster, wagyu beef tartar, Hokkaido scallops, sea bream and Britany Sea bass, among other delicacies. Their list of dishes is divided into several appetizers, mains, and desserts. Expect bites such as sardine and confit lemon truffle, Cancale oysters with seafoam, Spanish mussels with chorizo, and churros with chocolate, among unique creations. All the dishes look like pieces of art. The restaurant also features celebrity chefs throughout the year, so guests can expect a new and unique menu from time to time. Ossiano Atlantis also serves an alternative menu of beef and veal dishes as well. Overall, it is one of the most romantic places in Dubai and ideal for a marriage proposal or special occasion.
3) KORAL RESTAURANT, KEMPINSKI BALI, INDONESIA
Dive into an underwater world of epicurean surprises at Koral Restaurant, the aquarium dining experience at The Apurva Kempinski Bali in Nusa Dua. The first-of-its-kind restaurant to hit the Indonesian island, this restraunt offers a unique menu set within an otherworldly, glass-roofed tunnel surrounded by tropical fish and other marine life that call the island home. The bespoke venue combines a laid-back feel with fine dining in an underwater aquarium setting reminiscent of life below the deep blue. Named the world’s most picture-perfect eatery in TripAdvisor’s 2021 Travelers’ Choice Awards, guests can expect to enjoy plenty of fish on the menu as well as foie gras, wagyu and truffles – all of which are plated like edible works of art. The menu features a variety of elegant dishes inspired by Indonesian coastal flavors crafted from local ingredients. Stand-out plates include ‘Tomatoes Bedugul’, a bright and colorful medley of ripe tomatoes and red tomato consommé, with fresh baby vegetables, creamy mozzarella cheese, and tomato oil sorbet; ‘Lump Blue Crab’ salad with zingy Granny Smithy apples, crisp jicama, and aromatic lemon, basil, and ginger; and the locally inspired ‘Prawn & Lime’, which combines stuffed jumbo prawns with spicy dabu-dabu salsa, silky potato gnocchi and spicy tomato and chilli sauce. In addition to the decadent à la carte menu, Koral offers a four-course degustation menu featuring the finest seasonal ingredients with sommelier-selected wine pairings for the ultimate underwater experience. Featuring a dining experience served with a sea view on both sides, this is one restaurant you must add to your culinary bucket list.
4) UNDER RESTAURANT, NORWAY
Located five meters under the sea at Norway’s southern tip, Under in Lindesnes is Europe’s first underwater restaurant. The restaurant name, which also means “wonder” in Norwegian,
seats up to 100 guests and continues to attract visitors from across the world. Built like a rock formation rising from the sea, Under Restaurant measures 34 meters in length and is designed to blend into the marine environment over time. Its rough concrete shell will act as an artificial reef for limpets and kelp. The restaurant has a large window so diners can see the sea-life as they enjoy their meals. Artificial lights guide the fish and their prey near the viewing window, so there is never a dull moment. Diners can expect to watch all sorts of fish species swim by, depending on the time of year. This area’s common fish species are pollack and cod, colorful wrasses, urchins, crabs, lobsters in gladiator battles, spiny dogfish, and distinctive seaweed and kelp in the changing seasons. Seals have also been observed outside the window, but marine researcher Trond Rafoss hope it will not visit very often, as it scares the other fishes away. Its culinary aim is to create a fine dining experience based on high quality, locally sourced produce, with a particular emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture. The menu features lots of seafood dishes, seabirds, and wild sheep that have grazed the archipelago nearby. Under has also received one Michelin star in 2020 and 2021, confirming it is well worth the visit.
5) L’OCEANOGRAFIC SUBMARINO RESTAURANT, VALENCIA, SPAIN.
Located in the center of Valencia’s Oceanography Centre, “Submarino” also known as Submarine restaurant, is located in the city’s most iconic building thanks to its Félix Candela-designed roof. The restaurant is located on the lower level and boasts a large aquarium running the length of its perimeter, allowing diners to enjoy the contrast between the intense blue of the water and a plethora of fish. Featuring a predominantly Mediterranean and seafood cuisine and Spanish delicacies – the restaurant also stands out for its superb pastries, carefully curated wine list, French champagnes, and a selection of tempting dessert liqueurs to sweeten the palate. These delicious offerings are served in a stunning set of tables that are being illuminated by jellyfish-themed lighting. Diners can enjoy the unique experience of eating underwater surrounded by floor-to-ceiling views of a variety of fish, rays, and sharks while they eat.
By Hermoine Macura-Noble
The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.