Open-air dining pods are connected by pathways and bridges in the tree canopy.

By Amy McKeever
June 18, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Per Aquum

The adult play palace that is PER AQUUM Niyama resort in the Maldives is not stopping at an underwater nightclub and a fine dining restaurant that is only accessible by boat, having last month unleashed another unconventional hospitality offering: a treehouse restaurant named Nest, where open-air dining pods connected by pathways and bridges are 20 feet up in the banyan trees.

Shortlisted for the Sexiest Design award from LE Miami—which Nest describes as “an innovative, multi-level, treetop dining experience”—this 98-seat restaurant designed by Singapore design firm Poole Associates is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure tour. While the obvious draw is to climb the double-helix staircase to sit up in the trees, the height-averse can also grab tables in the dining pods on the ground level of the banyan jungle. There’s also a special larger pod featuring teppanyaki, the Japanese style of cuisine where meat, seafood, and vegetables are cooked on a hot iron table in front of diners.

This particular teppanyaki menu has a ton of options, too. Diners can order a la carte from a list that includes Australian wagyu, Hokkaido scallops, and Maldivian coral lobster. But there are also four different set menus that come with sushi or sashimi, herb salad, miso soup, spiced fruits and kaffir lime ice granitas. Just choose your choice of category: seafood, meat, lobster or the special "Niyama" set. (The set menus start at $120 per person and extend up to $185 for the lobster set, so do come prepared to spend if you go the teppanyaki route.)

Helmed by chef Jayadi Suwito, Nest specializes in regional Southeast Asian cuisine in addition to its teppanyaki table. That means you can start out with poached prawn Cambodian rice paper rolls, Thai beef salad, and Balinese satay skewers grilled over coconut husks. Then you can move onto Indonesian braised lamb shank curry, Hong Kong sweet and sour reef fish cooked in a wok, or a two-person barbecue seafood feast.

Open since May 2015, Nest at PER AQUUM Niyama is open for dinner only from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. with a "smart casual" dress code. Entrée prices for one person range from $23 to $95, while the teppanyaki set menu options start at $120 per person.