Diners can watch fish swim overhead while eating seafood in the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant – which was built in Taranaki.
But eating in the exotic venue in the Maldives comes at a cost – a six-course ‘sprinkled with romance’ dinner in the sunken eatery is around NZ$382, while stopping in for lunch would be about NZ$205.
Fitzroy Engineering built the restaurant in New Plymouth and shipped it to be installed on the island of Hurawalhi in early March 2016.
The restaurant, called 5.8, is part of the romantic adults-only Hurawalhi Island Resort, a five-star, eco-friendly resort.
The restaurant has a curved glass roof, glass sides and a mostly glass floor, so diners are surrounded by the sea.
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Billed as the Maldives’ trendiest restaurant – and the world’s largest underwater dining venue – the space inside 5.8 has been designed for intimate conversations, accommodating no more than 10 couples for lunch or dinner, according to the resort’s website.
A restaurant reviewer on her honeymoon, featured on the resort’s Facebook page, was effusive about the whole resort experience but admitted it felt strange to watch fish swimming overhead while eating fish.
The 415-tonne structure – the biggest of its type in the world – took just 19 days to arrive at its new home, in the Indian Ocean, where it was sunk on top of piles eight metres below the surface.
The work had to be carried out with extreme care because the island is surrounded by coral reefs and the engineers did not want to damage them.
To get in for a look, you have to make a booking – and even the Kiwi team that built 5.8 have yet to give it a try.
“The resort and 5.8 Undersea Restaurant opened on December 1 last year and we’re really pleased that the reports we’ve received since then have been extremely positive,” Mark Arnold, Fitzroy Engineering’s New Zealand Business Development & Marketing Manager, said.
“Dining in 5.8 is an intimate experience with only 10 two person tables and unfortunately none of us at Fitzroy have had the pleasure so far.”
The success of the restaurant had resulted in a number of enquiries from interested developers, Arnold said.
“While we’re talking with a couple, none have been confirmed at this stage.
“For prospective developers, having the appropriate site is critical for projects such as this – water depth and clarity, sea floor conditions, tides, average wave heights, frequency and severity of storms and the ability for crane ships and construction equipment to be able to access it.”
In the meantime, diners who visit 5.8 can enjoy six courses in the ‘sprinkled with romance’ dinner. The menu includes Yellowfin tuna with cucumber, wasabi, sesame ponzu, red mullet with cauliflower, pine nuts and raisins, and a blueberry cheesecake or black forest macaroon for dessert.
A vegetarian dinner at the same price includes artichokes with goat’s cheese and morel mushrooms, zucchini flowers with roasted eggplant and tomato jam and the same dessert options.
The lunch menu includes shrimp cerviche and Angus beef with a truffle puree or sea bass, with a pina colada or carrot cake for dessert.
The dress code is smart casual, and you’ll have to leave your footwear (if you are wearing any) at the door.