Monday, November 24, 2014

Venturo Restaurant - Dining Inexpensively in Maafushi (Maldives Diaries)

One night in Maafushi, after visiting one of the resort islands in South Male Atoll, I decided to take a stroll around the town proper, away from the beach strip where most tourists stay. When sundown comes, there isn't much to see in this island. The streets are (mostly) dark. They've actually placed a lot of street lights along the boardwalk, the beach strip, where most hotels and guest houses are located. But this isn't where locals move around or stay.

The main road in the center of town has white sandy road that when it rains, puddles look milky than murky. Where in the world have you seen milky puddles? The side streets are lined by cots made of ropes and bars typical of Maldives.

Midway along the main road is Kilometer Zero, with chipped blue paint. A block away is an arch decked with two manta rays at the top. This, along with the "World in Our Hands", (found near the jetty, see below), is the iconic symbol of the island. But I am rambling on, am I not?

My roaming was mostly uneventful. Dark corners and darker sidestreets scatter through the island so I was on my toes. For an immersive picture of a place, you have to witness it, not just at day time, but when darkness has cloaked the place.

I passed by a well lit corner that read "Venturo Maldives", but the surroundings looked deserted. A guest house? A restaurant? What could it be? Then I noticed a white door with a sign above it. "Restaurant." No one was coming out - or in. Then a minute later, a man with curly hair came out and started chatting me up. Yes, it was indeed a "buffet restaurant" charging $6 ($7 if with drinks) per person.  

There must have been more than half a dozen choices, but they were almost empty. Consumed probably, and no one had intentions of re-filling them up. Vegetable dishes, tuna and fruits characterize the selection. You could sit on the first floor or go up the stairs where there's balcony.

I considered my options. Should I dine again at that unnamed restaurant where I could order a single dish for $6? Or choose one of the overpriced restaurants that would set me back $15-25 for a meal? Or try this supposed "buffet restaurant" with almost-consumed food? Yeah, why not? I don't eat a lot anyway so why not try this one. If I don't like it, I won't be back. Makes sense, right?

Less than two hours later, I was walking back to my hotel. It was an interesting experience. Food, or what's left of it, was too limited to truly enjoy - because I felt like I was "scraping the bottom". I checked out comments from tripadvisor and found out that other travelers' experiences were similar. It seemed like they don't actually serve a lot - and they don't replenish as well! You take what's left on the bowl. Oh well. Check out my plate (first photo) and you decide if it's worth $7.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Second floor

Venturo has its own website:

One of the two iconic symbols of Maafushi.
"World in Our Hands", the other symbol of Maafushi.

Maafushi Mosque

These cots are typical of Maafushi. They're found outside houses and by the road side.

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