We’ve lived in Fiji for about six weeks now. Admittedly, even an adventurous person such as myself misses the things we take for granted back home. One of the things I really miss is the variety of food back in North America. I also miss the hipster foodie places that are popping up all around there.
In Suva, the eateries offer primarily the Western basics of burgers and pizza, and there is a lot of Indian food and some Chinese.
When we were in Nadi, a big tourist town on the western coast of Fiji, we frequented Denarau Island, a short cab ride away. Denarau is where all the five-star hotels are located, plus upscale apartments and houses on the water. The island is a cross between sprawling hotel properties in Hawaii and gated communities in Florida. There are usually plenty of tourists mingling in the port terminal, where the bars/restaurants and retail shops are located.
My favorite eatery in Denarau is The Rhum-Ba. It’s in the local yacht club and a lovely place to have drinks and/or dinner. There is a live band, as there is in the other big eateries in Denarau, and there is a brief floor show featuring native drumming and dancing. (Warning: The floor show is loud, so you might want to ask what time it will be in the evening if you don’t want to be surprised by the noise while dining.) I recommend a table on the water’s edge; I liked looking out into the water and seeing the fish swim by.
The Rhum-Ba reminds me of upscale waterfront restaurants in Cayman. It’s got a laid-back vibe with modern design and classy dishes on the menu.
We started off with Australian beer and Fijian rum cocktails. My cocktail was mixed with honey and a local chili; sweet and spicy. We ordered a bucket of prawns for our appetizer (which they call an entree in Fiji). The prawns were served on ice, with a sauce that tasted like mayo mixed with mustard.
For our mains, we ordered salmon and seared tuna. I loved both of them. The execution was perfect for each. The salmon was cooked through but tender, and the skin was crispy. The tuna was cooked on the outside and raw in the middle; even when the fish had cooled, it retained a tender texture.
While the food is upscale, it’s also accessible to home cooks. For the fish, you really have to have your timing down, but the simpler dishes are more forgiving. We ordered a side of local green beans, and they tasted just like we make them at home: sauteed with butter.
Executive Chef Darren Braddock, who we saw working quietly in the open kitchen, is doing a good job at The Rhum-Ba.