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Back to Stories

Blue hues, blue menus

At Six Senses Laamu, there’s a knack to crossing the quirky drawbridge to Leaf, the resort’s signature restaurant. Walk with intention. The same philosophy applies to Chef Raphi’s menus. In line with our Eat With Six Senses ethos, everything is intentionally as nutritious as it is delicious. That’s why, when she invites you to try her Blue Zone Menu, any fear of what you might forgo (steak, cheese, or alcohol) melts as fast as an ice cube in the tropics.

Born in the Philippines, Chef Raphi trained at the Miele Guide awarded Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie in Manila and studied under Michelin-starred chef Mansour Memarian in Abu Dhabi before coming to Six Senses Laamu. If the reviews are anything to go by, she’s winning over fine diners one course at a time.

Your genes are not your destiny

Choose a table on the beach and the powdery Indian Ocean sand beneath your toes is an instant appetizer. Here, you are permanently connected to nature, a trait shared by the world’s blue zones, from Sardinia to Costa Rica, where people live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else on Earth.

When it comes to aging, your DNA is only part of your story. Nutrigenomics is a developing science studying the relationship between what’s in the food we eat and the genes in our bodies. We’re starting to understand that the right food combinations ­– more fresh, leafy greens and whole grains, and less processed foods – provide us with the energy to live stronger for longer!

How does Chef Raphi lure die-hard epicureans across the organic herb garden to Leaf? “I was inspired to create the Blue Zone Menu because food and nutrition play a key role in keeping Blue Zone communities healthy and well, yet meals are still celebrated and enjoyed,” she explains. “Happiness is found in staying true to our core value of pioneering wellness, where healthy ingredients work in harmony with taste and texture. I believe you can enjoy a blowout meal to celebrate a birthday or anniversary with no sacrifice to flavor or to your well-being. The proof is in our diners’ response to our new dishes, which we can happily say has been very positive.”

Tasting the rainbow

As the sun begins to set over this atoll utopia, one of Leaf’s hosts, Jumaan, presents the beautifully prepared rose apple and pear starter, served on a bell pepper and walnut purée, and accompanied by anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich butterfly pea flower tea. He shares a childhood story about dislodging rose apples from a neighbor’s tree using a catapult made of a bicycle inner tube and pebble. His advice raises a smile (in fact, all hosts at Six Senses Laamu do) and accentuates the sweet and tangy flavors, remembered each time a cyclist passes by.

Earlier in the day, a wander around the herb garden with Sagar, Laamu’s probiotic mixologist, led to a discussion about the perfect mocktail pairing for Leaf’s five-course dinner. There’s something wonderful about knowing the scoby (live mother) in the kombucha is treated like a queen, and the added rosemary and Italian basil are from the sprigs you pick yourself. The probiotic effect reduces cholesterol and improves immunity, making it a sundowner with a health kick in each sip.

Next up is a caramelized cauliflower with a vegan butter of macadamia, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and garlic, balanced with Chef Raphi’s spin on Argentinian chimichurri and Maldivian spice mix, havaadhu. The magic is in the microgreens, grown in Leaf’s organic herb garden and rich in potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium (great for boosting sleep quality).

Under the watchful eye of Afaaz, the Resort Research and Fisheries Officer, all fish served at Six Senses Laamu meets exemplary fishing codes. Chef Raphi’s fragrant garudhiya (fish soup) is layered with fennel, onion, and lemongrass and served as a prelude to the main event: rainbow runner fish with parsnip purée, beluga lentils, and curry leaf crust.

Blue Zone diets have a dramatically lower carbon footprint than those that rely heavily on meat and dairy because they require less land, water, and other resources. Six Senses Laamu’s emphasis on locally grown, sustainably sourced, and seasonal produce also reduces the impacts of transportation, plastic, and waste. Leftover plant trimmings are composted into soil to return back to the garden for nourishing new herbs, microgreens, and salad leaves. Nurturing your gut health goes hand in hand with protecting local habitats and livelihoods.

Abundant and indulgent

Sweet dreams are answered too, as the island goes big on desserts. The citrusy bilimagu sorbet palate cleanser comes on a bed of coconut crumble and the coconut vegan ice cream is a thing of beauty. If coconut is not your thing, the ice cream and sorbet parlor serves around 48 flavors, all homemade with the Eat With Six Senses mantra Natural Ingredients, Less is More, and Local & Sustainable.

Six Senses Laamu also produces handcrafted chocolate bars made from 100 percent organic Criollo beans and brown sugar from Sri Lanka. Chef Mayuri is the island’s Willy Wonka, producing handcrafted chocolate bars, selection boxes, and truffles. The process takes around a week, with her 78 percent dark chocolate proving a family favorite and more exotic blends of chili, cinnamon, and lemongrass tempting the more adventurous to her chocolate factory.

With Chef Raphi’s meal demolished down to the last leaf, there is no doubt she has found a way to everyone’s hearts. A night away from fatty, additive-heavy, processed means there’s no food coma to deal with – just as well when crossing the drawbridge back to the villa!

“Everyone deserves a seat at the table in the conversation of individual well-being,” says Chef Raphi. We’ve reserved you a spot.

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