The dozen or so little teashops beckon you when you step into the south-west harbour area of Male.
Located within easy walking distance of Villingilli ferry terminal, the teashops are squeezed together one alongside another, each painted in a vibrant colour with unique names like Fahari café (sister-in-law café), Lhiyanu Café (brother-in-law café) and Meal Deal.
Most of these cafés are famous for specific dishes. We head over to one gaining a reputation as serving one of the best local breakfasts in town.
X-Fresh 1 would be hard to find if you didn’t know its location – a canopy of leaves hides the name on the exterior. However it has the distinction of being one of the few cafes to have an outdoor area, complete with palm trees and coarse white sand.
Inside the café, the red colored walls give off a cheery feel. Even the table clothes are red and the fans follow the same theme with every other blade painted the same colour.
At nine in the morning the place is already starting to fill up. Half a dozen tables are occupied, including office workers in ties, people who’ve just stepped off the boats nearby and those who’ve wandered in off the street for chatter over coffee, tea and the variety of breakfasts on offer.
A Classic Breakfast
We choose a table outside. The shade from the palm trees and white coarse sand under foot gives the place an island feel. This reverie is broken every now and again by a passing pick up truck laden with goods being carried to a nearby dhoni (local boat).
Within the space of seconds a waiter appears by our table, his manner brisk.
We order the classic combination of Huni roshi (flat bread with grated coconut, shaped like a disk) and Mashuni (a mixture of tuna and grated coconut).
With an efficiency that would be the envy of top class restaurants, a small bottle of mineral water is served immediately and the food arrives fast on its heels, piping hot.
The disk lives up to its name – it is perfectly round. Legend has it that in the 90s a hota (local teashop) by the name of ‘Disk’ started serving Huni roshi, rounded to perfection. The hota named the dish as a kind of thumbs down to the concept of only the rich owning vinyl disk. A successful case of branding, à la Maldivienne.
The fresh pan-baked disk is baked to perfection with just the right hint of crispness and slightly sweet coconuty flavor.
The accompanying Mashuni is the perfect blend of tropical flavours that comprise the essence of Maldivian food: onion, chilli, lime juice, smoked tuna and freshly grated coconut.
The dish is unpretentious, flavoursome and testimony to the fact that the chef obviously knows his ropes.
The accompanying kurumba (young coconut) drink brings just the right touch to complete the meal.
Well chilled, the balanced combination of fresh coconut juice and soft flesh is a good balance of textures and is a delight to the taste buds on a hot morning.
While we are eating a constant stream of people come and go; a couple ventures in with a baby, as well as numerous well- dressed men. Four waiters in white shirts and black pants do a good job of attending to the customers.
No menus are on display in the café, but it’s generally understood that cafes in harbour area are light on the wallet. Our breakfast is Rf 15, the same price as the kurumba.
Some customers opt to try out the hedhika (short eats) piled on a tray, which the waiter brings to the table. Laden to the brim with savories and few sweet items, a person points at the item he wants, and the waiter serves it with a pair of tongs.
For those looking for more subtle flavors in the morning, toast and eggs are also on offer.
The aroma of coffee proves too tempting, and we order the Italian Lavazza coffee. To our pleasant surprise, coffee was well frothed and though a bit hot and lacking in body, it proved to be one of the best coffees in town.
One breakfast there and it’s easy to understand why people stream there in the morning, with the tables filled even on Friday mornings. In fact, if you turn up for breakfast on a Friday you’ll will be in the company of well-known personalities and MPs.
The usual little tray of betel nuts and betel leaves arrive, and a hastily scribbled bill brings an end to our morning escapade. At Rf 80 for two people it’s a bargain.
X-fresh 1 is a bit out of the way, for a delicious local breakfast at great price in a place reminiscent of islands in Maldives, right here in the capital, X-fresh 1 is hard to beat.
- Food 7/10
- Atmosphere 6/10
- Service 6/10
- Price 10/10
- Overall 7/10
X-Fresh 1 is the nearest café to Villingili ferry terminal, located at the south west harbor. Breakfast is served until 11am. Its open from 6am to 12pm and serves a variety of local and international dishes.