YAMU was invited to Aqua for a food tasting at their Thai restaurant, Coconut. This was the first time we've accepted a free meal and it's going to be the last - it's hard to get a sense of prices and service if you're a non paying guest.
We really, really like the Chef at Aqua. His name is Nandana and he seems like a sweet guy. And we really wanted to like the food, but we just...didn't. Some of it was okay, but overall it wasn't great. The kitchen seemed to really take its name to heart and the eponymous coconut featured far too heavily in just about everything. This was part of a special coconut promotion, but the ingredient wasn't used with adequate restraint. Our soups (laksa and a tom yum style one) were essentially thick coconut drinks, only slightly flavoured with seafood and chilli. They were nice - there's really nothing wrong with coconut - but I couldn't imagine finishing a whole bowl; it was just too rich and filling.
Aqua is quite pretty in terms of setting, if a little small. What's really lovely is the view you get when you first walk in - you see the ocean, framed by the receding walls of the hotel. It's a good reveal. The sea is sparkly and blue, the furniture's all white and there's a rather inviting turquoise, mosaic infinity edge pool. It all looks stylish and crisp - like a glossy perfume ad.
But back to the food. Dessert, again, was fundamentally okay, but far too coconutty and rich. We were served the coconut ice cream, beautifully presented in the shell of a coconut, but completely melted - so it was sort of like drinking milk. Out of a coconut. That being said, it was tasty, one of the best things on the menu, but it just wasn't ice cream. We were also disappointed with the mixed seafood grill - the fish was served cold and tasted sour, in fact everything on that plate was bad except the jumbo prawn. The same went for the mini steak. I don't know what was wrong with it but it just tasted bad, like it had gone off. And the chicken thighs were full of fat - barely any meat.
The dishes we did like were the gotukola wrap and the papaya salad. These were pretty good, but out of a tasting menu of over fifteen items they were the only things that made us sit up even slightly. The rest, when not noticeably bad, was just so so. From the tapas menu, the mushroom with meat was watery and cold, and the quesadilla, while nice, was nothing exceptional. Overall, a disappointing meal.
I can understand the appeal of Aqua to a certain clientele. It's probably a good place for a party. The beach isn't always swimmable, but there's a nice area where you can drink cocktails, watch the waves or even lounge in the plunge pool without getting your hair wet. And they play some decent music. But it's certainly not worth travelling too far out of your way for in terms of the food.
Note: The above coconut promotion was a test menu which Cantaloupe has now decided to not include in their regular menu
We didn't like the mixed seafood grill. The jumbo prawn was fine, but the rest was pretty poor quality - the fish tasted sour and it was served cold. Don't get this.
You may be able to arrange outdoor dining on request (the person on the phone seems very hospitable)