Eating in Vanuatu – 5 Amazing Foods you Need to Try
You’ve decided to visit Vanuatu – the island of smiles in the South Pacific. It’s given that you will love the gorgeous beaches, underwater marine life and balmy weather – but I think you’re going to love the food too! Eating in Vanuatu can also be something to look forward to. This helpful blog will get you started with some must-eat foods and dishes.
What should you be eating in Vanuatu? Here are 5 foods to try
1) Coconut fish curry
The Central markets in Port Vila are a great place to buy your fresh produce, however, don’t forget about the range of small market stalls in the rear of the markets to eat some of the best home-cooked food on the island.
I chose a stall and sat down to enjoy a coconut fish (wahoo) curry with steamed rice and a tropical salad – and it was one of my favourite food experiences from my time spent in Vanuatu.
The price was 500vt, roughly USD $4.30 and the portion size was very generous. Who knew that eating in Vanuatu could taste this good?
Where to find it: At the rear of the Central Market in Port Vila
The national dish of Vanuatu and eating it is a must for any foodie. Laplap is prepared by pounding yams, breadfruit, bananas and taro into a paste. Then coconut cream is added and commonly a piece of meat such as chicken, beef or pork.
It’s then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven. It makes for perfect takeaway food. So if you prefer to be eating your meal back at your accommodation in Vanuatu, you can.
Where to find it – Head to the Central Market in Port Vila and buy some freshly cooked laplap from the ‘mamas’ here for about 200vt.
This is another traditional food consisting of tapioca (also called manioc or cassava) dough with shredded pork filling inside. It is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Eating tuluk in Vanuatu reminded us of tamales in Mexico. Similiar concept and both are very delicious.
Where to find it – The local village of Mele is where you’ll find the best tuluk. Lucky for you, the ladies bring tuluk to the Central markets in Port Vila to sell. Try to get there before midday to buy some, as it sells out quickly. Ask around the markets as to where you can buy it.
4) Beef fillet
Vanuatu is a former French colony, so you can find some really good French cuisine here, especially in Port Vila. We were told that the beef is very good in Vanuatu and one of the best restaurants to eat it is L’Houstelet.
This is a French restaurant that has been open for over 45 years! We ate the beef fillet with pepper sauce and potatoes gratin, and it was delicious. We didn’t really think that our eating in Vanuatu would include steak, but it was a nice change.
Where to find it:We enjoyed beef fillet at L’Houstelet restaurant in Port Vila.
5) Poulet fish
A variety of local snapper that is celebrated for its unique flavour, said to taste like chicken. They say this is why this fish was given the name ‘poulet fish’, which translates to chicken fish in French.
You can find this poulet fish served in a few different ways and eating it in Vanuatu is a must-do. We enjoyed it most poached in white wine, capers and onions, served on a bed of steamed greens.
Where to find it:Head to Cafe Vila, only a short local taxi ride (100vt per person) from the centre of Port Vila. This restaurant & bar is part of the beautiful Nasama Resort – an ideal place to spend your Vanuatu vacation.
Best Food Tours and Activities in Vanuatu
And that’s our quick guide to eating in Vanuatu. Have we missed a dish? Let us know in the comments.
Don’t miss our Vanuatu Travel Guide to find out everything you need to know about this island paradise.
Need car hire in Vanuatu? CLICK HERE to check availability and best rates.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 186+ countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.