Chef Oliver Scarf of Nanuku Auberge Resort, in Fiji's Pacific Harbour, shares his inside take on where to eat in Suva.
As a chef and someone who enjoys the adventure and excitement of travelling, I am always on the lookout for new things to try. When planning a trip somewhere, my accommodation and location choices are not based around attractions and tourist spots, but entirely around where the best local areas are to eat.
Once you move to a new country, you get the bonus of having so much more time to really find out what the local cuisine is all about. Over time, you are sure to find favourites you will keep coming back to.
Fiji has three main ethnicities and with them come three different types of cuisine: Indian, Fijian and Chinese. That makes for a good selection of cuisine locally, and then, of course, there are the resorts where you can experience international flavours and dining styles.
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Roti wrap stalls can be found all around Fiji and are perfect for a cheap bite to eat. One of the best roti wraps I've had was from a stall at the Total Service Station in Lami, on Queens Rd just before you get into Suva. Double wrapped to stop leakage and nicely seasoned, they have three options: chicken, lamb or vegetarian. Take at least three otherwise you'll end up coming back for more! If you get lucky with your timing, they will also have butter chicken pies.
Suva Municipal Market is the biggest fresh market around. One of the best things about the market is the sticky rice parcels; these are sticky rice mixed with fatty pork, egg and beans, wrapped up in a banana leaf and steamed. They're perfect for a quick breakfast or snack while exploring the market. Get to the market early on a Saturday morning for the best selection of produce, with everything from fresh seafood to an amazing range of local fruits and vegetables.
These are one of the first items I tasted in Fiji and are definitely a must-try. There are a few locations around Suva where you can find them including Bhikhabhai (Shop 20, Damodar City Centre), which makes a nice chai tea that is the perfect addition to the sweets. Along with serving sweets, Govinda Restaurant (97 Marks St) is a vegetarian restaurant, so while there I'd recommend also enjoying some samosa with tamarind chutney or a vegetarian curry with freshly made roti.
In most countries, home-cooked food will always taste best, and this goes for Fiji as well. If you are lucky enough to have a local friend or are invited to someone's home, you will not be disappointed. There will be lots of vegetarian dishes, a couple of curries with rice, roti, fresh chillies and usually a few chutneys; tamarind or coconut are the most popular. You will end up eating more than you should! For a meal that tastes as close to home-cooked as possible, try Singh's Curry House (Corner of Gordon St and Victoria Parade) and enjoy a decent selection of flavoursome meat and vegetarian curries. Great for a quick lunch, with mains starting at only around F$12 (NZ$8).