The most important tip I can give you on Vanuatu local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Vanuatu, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in
There are many restaurants and eateries in Port Vila, ranging from up-market places catering to tourists and expats, to more low-key establishments. The approximate cost of lunch would be around the 1000-1500 vatu range, depending on where and what you eat. Some examples of prices: sandwiches, around 450-600 VT bacon and eggs, 750 VT burger with fries or salad, around 1000 VT main meal, eg steak or seafood, 1200-2000 VT large, fresh-squeezed juice, around 500VT Lap-Lap The traditional dish which you will most likely be offered once during your stay is a root vegetable cake called lap lap.
Essentially this either manioc (kasava), sweet potato, taro or yam shaved into the middle of a banana leaf with island cabbage and sometimes a chicken wing on top. This is all wrapped up into a flat package and then cooked in hot stones underground till it all melts together into a cake. The best place to pick up some of this is at the food market in the town centre and should cost you about 100 vatu. Tuluk This is a variation of lap lap with the the cake rolled into a cylinder with meat in the middle.
It tastes a lot like a sausage roll. You can find these again in the market (usually from mele village people) but they will be served from foam boxes to keep them warm. Steak Vanuatu’s meat is renowned in the region. At the airports you will see signs reminding you to pack the 25kg of meat permitted to other nearby island nations. The reason the meat’s so good is that it’s all naturally grown, with no feedlots or other problems of westernised mass production. The result of this is that the steaks are very good indeed.
What to Drink in Vanuatu
Kava Kava is a local drink, made from the roots of the plant Piper methysticum, a type of pepper. Kava is intoxicating, but not like alcohol. Its effects are sedative. Some travellers have experienced a hangover from its consumption. Kava is consumed in private homes and in local venues called Nakamal. Some of the resorts also offer kava on occasion for travellers to try.
Kava is served in a “shell” or small bowl. Drink the whole shell-ful down steadily, then spit. It’s handy to have a soft drink on hand to rinse with afterwards, as the taste of kava is strong and not very pleasant. Important Advice: Should you wish to try Kava in Vanuatu the Vanuatu Tourist Information Centre advises you to ensure you try Kava from a business opposed to a village due to the fact that water quality and production is higher. Western visitors may receive gastro from dirnking water from villages.
Kava & alcohol don’t mix very well. Alcohol Alcoholic beverages are also widely available. Resorts, bars, and restaurants serving tourists have a wide range of drinks available. The local beers are called “Tusker” and “Vanuatu Bitter”. Let it be noted that from 5pm Friday to Monday morning you can not purchase alcohol from bottle stores, so take this into consideration when planning. You can still purchase alcohol from bars & restaurants though.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.