Fellow food-lovers, unite! Let’s get our taste buds ready for St. Maarten Flavors in November. In anticipation of this culinary month, we took the crucial task upon ourselves to go out and about and sample some of the best flavours of St. Maarten. And while we were at it, we thought: Why not try to uncover some of their secret recipes?
Throughout the entire month of November, St. Maarten Flavors will present a fantastic opportunity to indulge in the finest offerings of the island’s top restaurants and bars. During this time, patrons can enjoy specially chosen signature dishes or cocktail combinations at significantly discounted prices. Participating venues will provide a variety of options, including sampler or single-dish meals starting at just US $17.50, and three-course feasts starting at $49.
This week, our quest took us to Aziana, a somewhat-hidden gem in Bobby’s Marina Village in Philipsburg. Nestled conveniently next to the parking lot and the ferries, Aziana is the perfect choice for pre- or post-trip dining and drinks, business lunches and dinners for both locals and tourists alike. Proud to be a part of St. Maarten Flavors for the second year in a row, Aziana’s goal is simple: To show there’s more to this beautiful island than meets the eye, to encourage food enthusiasts to try a restaurant on the other side of the hill, and to invite more people to savour its unique flavours.
Established in 2018, Aziana moved to a new, stunning waterfront location two years ago. Aziana is the brainchild of Chin, whose parents opened the renowned Old Captain restaurant in 1995 – the very first sushi bar on the island – and the popular Chippie Cafe thereafter. This family legacy continues with Aziana, where the dedicated staff followed Chin to the new location, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere reminiscent of those now-closed restaurants.
Though Aziana still offers some of the favourites from Old Captain and Chippie Cafe, such as Babi Pangang and Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chin has modernized the menu with an eclectic range of Asian-inspired recipes and fresh ingredients. The menu has evolved to include a diverse selection, from sushi and poke bowls, to international dishes like burgers, steak and seafood, with Italian specialities coming soon. With two distinct kitchens – one for warm dishes and another for cold delights like sushi and poke bowls – Aziana caters to every palate.
Set in a lovely waterfront location with a breezy, open-air dining area, Aziana boasts captivating views of rolling hills, boats in the marina, and the picturesque Great Bay, particularly enchanting during the sunset hours. Families will appreciate the kid-friendly environment where children can play while parents enjoy a drink. Inside, history fans will enjoy the captivating old photos of St. Maarten from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Parking is a breeze with ample space available at Bobby’s Marina, and it’s free for two hours with your dinner reservation. Aziana also offers a pool table, a spacious and airy setting, and an open kitchen that allows you to witness the culinary magic in action.
Aziana’s bar boasts a full selection of wines, including some quite original choices, a variety of classic cocktails, beers, and frozen drinks – all reasonably priced, making every hour a happy hour aimed at our beloved locals. Chin believes that exceptional dining should be accessible to everyone, and Aziana’s prices reflect that commitment. The restaurant offers daily lunch deals, so anyone can savour the Aziana experience without breaking the bank.
Starting in high season, Aziana will be expanding its menu to include Italian dishes. As Chin explains to us, everyone likes Italian food and there aren’t many options in Philipsburg at the moment. Luckily, Aziana is currently offering Italian lunch specials to introduce their new dishes.
For those on the go, Aziana offers a fully functional online ordering system via their website for takeout, as well as delivery via SXM2Go. The staff is currently still working on the restaurant’s menu for St. Maarten Flavors this coming November. So during our visit, we got to try some of the restaurant’s dishes – some of which are not on the current dining menu yet.
First up was the Seared Tuna – a popular seafood option on Aziana’s lunch and dinner menu. According to Chin, this dish is a perfect fusion of Asian and Western influences, showcasing Aziana’s eclectic concept. Indeed, the dish was clearly an eclectic mix – and one that worked very well. The wasabi, ginger and oyster sauce added Asian flair and flavours that complemented the perfectly seared tuna, while the melt-in-your-mouth home-made garlic mashed potato and crispy fresh coleslaw gave the dish a Western touch.
Next up was the Risotto ai Funghi – a great vegetarian option that is currently one of the Italian lunch specials. This dish is fast-becoming a local favourite – and is now our new favourite risotto on the island too. Why? The risotto was just perfect – creamy, cheesy and comforting. Here, you actually get lots of mushrooms when ordering a Risotto ai Funghi, giving it an almost-meaty texture – not to mention the fresh parsley and the home-made parmesan chips. We usually steer clear of risotto dishes as we have had too many dry and bland risottos in our lives, but this was one we agreed we’d order again and again.
Fortunately, we can! The dish is a rotational lunch special – and a super-reasonably-priced one at $13. And in a few weeks, the Risotto ai Funghi will be a permanent member of Aziana’s new and improved menu. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this one!
Last but not least was the home-made tiramisu – a current lunch-special favourite, but soon to be on the restaurant’s permanent dessert menu. And it’s easy to understand why – the dessert is creamy, not too sweet, with a kick of coffee and balanced by soft and sweet biscuits. With this lovely midday treat, we ended our lunch at Aziana on a sweet note.
(Stay tuned for Aziana’s recipe – to be published next week)
It’s not too late to be part of this year’s line-up and be featured in the Out n About’s “Secrets of St. Maarten Flavors”. Participating restaurants should contact the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) for details about the promotional campaign. Interested restaurants can also still sign up to participate in the month-long St. Maarten Flavors campaign via stmaartenflavors.com.