A Gastronomic Adventure Like No Other at Gili Lankanfushi Maldives
WRITER: Elwin Chan PHOTOS BY: John Heng, Sakis Papadopoulos
A Gastronomic Adventure Like No Other at Gili Lankanfushi Maldives 05. March 2020, by Elwin Chan, Photos by John Heng, Sakis Papadopoulos
Food is life. How well we feed, is how well we lead our lives—which is why at Gili Lankanfushi, no expense is spared in making sure guests are taken on a multi-sensory adventure at every opportunity.

Food is also love. And in the inspired hands of new Executive Chef Harinath Govindaraj and his team, fresh and sustainably sourced ingredients including organic vegetables, free-range meat, and fish that are caught using handlines are masterfully prepared with ingenuity and passion.

Chef Hari leads a culinary team of 54 people, including 26 chefs from 10 different countries. With everyone bringing their own diverse culinary culture and background, it is little wonder that the Gili Lankanfushi kitchen is always brimming with exciting and imaginative gastronomic ideas.

Chef Hari himself has an affable and effervescent personality. His zest and curiosity for life come through in the food he prepares. He describes his style of food as “simple, local, and creative”. Some of his signature creations are pan-seared ‘scallops’ made out of daikon and barbecued striploin made from eggplant. “You can’t put a real chef in a box,” he quips.

Outside of the kitchen, Chef Hari also watches over Gili Lankanfushi’s very own organic garden. With more than 20 different types of crops including spinach, radish, and eight different kinds of lettuces, as well as 14 different herbs like Thai basil, lemongrass and rosemary, the lush garden is one of the largest in the Maldives. It supplies most of the salad leaves and herbs to the kitchen, serving up true farm-to-table freshness. Since taking over the reins, Chef Hari has also initiated a natural composting project using worms to turn food wastes into organic fertiliser. As the saying by L.M. Wilde goes, when we honour the earth, we honour ourselves. Whatever we nourish will in turn nourish us.

Besides the food, the setting also plays an important part in Gili Lankanfushi’s unique gastronomic experiences. The resort’s main restaurant, Kashiveli (meaning ‘coral sands’ in the local Dhivehi language), has recently been refurbished and overlooks the magnificent expanse of the Indian Ocean. Breakfast at Gili Lankanfushi is reason enough to wake up— this priceless view makes it all the more compelling.

Four evenings a week, the beach and overwater bar are also transformed into an enchanting dinner setting with much pizazz and magic. Be transported to the colourful streets of Asia, or even an exotic Mediterranean spice souk, and savour delectable, exquisite cuisine from around the world. The resort’s laudable efforts are rooted in the belief that culinary experiences can often make the difference between a good vacation and an exceptional one.

Rodrigo Buanafina, who manages Gili Lankanfushi’s Food & Beverage team, explains, “Our focus has always been to offer a highly personalised experience for our guests. Because of our host to guest ratio, we are able to provide attentive yet unobtrusive service. Whether you are looking for a romantic dinner experience on a private beach under the starry Maldivian skies, a private sunset cruise with champagne on board, or an intimate degustation dinner in the Underground Wine Cellar, we promise you an unforgettable culinary adventure every time.”

Such is the dedication of the Gili Team. From the gardeners to the chefs to the sommeliers and the hosts, everyone plays a part in delivering an exceptional gastronomic adventure bar none. When food is this good, life is certainly good.

Experience Gili Culinary Journey at its best as the team of chefs take you on a gastronomic adventure through the gourmet options.


From Kashiveli, the main restaurant, follow a flight of glass staircase down into a secret little cosy space and you will find yourself in Gili Lankanfushi’s very charming and atmospheric Underground Wine Cellar. Besides boasting an enviable collection of over 400 varieties of some of the best wines in the world, the Underground Wine Cellar is also a lovely and intimate venue where guests can gather around an elegantly upcycled driftwood table to enjoy fine cuisine and conversation.


One of the resort’s newest food and beverage concepts, Destination Drinking is in equal parts fun, entertaining and engaging, with more than a shot of laughter to make sure that everyone has a good time. The programme is centred around the theme of Battle of the Bartenders, where some of the island’s best mixologists will compete in creating bespoke cocktails to win over the hearts of the guests. The relaxed and light-hearted session gives guests a chance to interact with the witty barmen, who go to all lengths to amuse and delight. All in the spirit of fun, of course.


Always thinking of ways to exceed expectations, the culinary team at Gili Lankanfushi has recently introduced a tantalising Lava Grill menu, with starters including a mouthwatering seafood bisque made of seared local seafood, celery and saffron rouille—a combo that is simply bursting with umami. The star of the meal though, is a selection of choice meats cooked to perfection on a lava grill. This method of cooking spreads heat more evenly, resulting in a deeper, more rustic flavour. Gili garden chimichurri is served on the side, as a brilliant, zesty counterpoint.

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