In Fiji a mere few years ago, the height of sophistication called for importing expensive ingredients. Thankfully, the opposite is now the case, with talented local chefs taking inspiration from the island’s bountiful produce, echoing the international trend for local, sustainable dining. As the dining scene continues to grow, and new properties and chefs are welcomed, we walk you through the island’s best restaurants.
Matangi Private Island Resort
Matangi Island is worth visiting for its delicious fare alone, with fresh, local seafood the star and the weekly barbecue lunch a highlight. The talented team of local chefs and bakers have been with the resort for years, and present a weekly cooking demonstration, creating a delicious coconut prawn curry. Enjoy your meal in the impressive dining pavilion, a private bure, or in your own treehouse.
Qamea Resort & Spa
Another island sanctuary with a luxurious, laid-back feel is Qamea. Its Fijian, Indian, and European menu features as much local produce as possible – including delicious lobster and fish fresh from the surrounding sea. Cocktail hour is when the guests gather, to recount their days and snack on fresh cassava chips, before indulging in the evening meal. Menus are created with help from consulting chef Jeroen Van Bilsen from New Zealand.
Nanuku Auberge Resort
This stunning resort won the Dining Experience Award at this year’s Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards. It’s not hard to see why, when you can opt for a private feast cooked in your villa, or the relaxed experience of Kanavata Restaurant and Lounge by the pool. There are also classes in kokoda making (Fijian ceviche, made from fresh fish and coconut milk), and a Fijian Food Safari, where you can catch your own prawns, visit the local market and indulge in your finds, with a little help from the chefs.
Royal Davui Island
You’ll be treated to a fusion of Pacific Rim flavours at this tiny island hideaway. Menus are designed daily to showcase Fijian ingredients, with specialties including fresh coconut pancakes and seafood seared to perfection. With only 16 villas on the island, private dining is a focus. Dine on your own deck, in one of the many pavilions dotted around the island, or, for the ultimate escape, on a private sandbar reached by speed boat.
Castaway’s award-winning Restaurant 1808 has adopted the superfood trend with a Fijian twist, by seating patrons on the beach. The restaurant’s local, organic menu is divided into four sections, to help the body cleanse, activate, explore and (of course, this is a holiday), indulge. And how could you not, with options like the three-day confit pork belly, infused for three days in sea water and spices.
Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa
While a number of bars and restaurants are scattered around this spacious resort, Golden Cowrie is the refined adults-only option. Here, chef Mohammed Asif and his team focus on local flavours, with specialties including fresh pakapaka and Fijian-Indian curries with all the trimmings. Asif has been with the resort for 18 years and was recently awarded a scholarship to study at Wellington’s Le Cordon Bleu institute.
InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
The InterContinental’s Navo Restaurant boasts an elegant, formal setting – the perfect backdrop for its mouthwatering cuisine. The restaurant, which uses 86 per cent local produce in its dishes, is known for its traditional Vakalolo hotpot – a filo pastry shell filled with fresh mahimahi, sea grapes, Fijian bush chilli, lemon grass and coconut cream. Award-winning executive chef Amitwar Ram has recently joined the team, putting his creative stamp on an already-excellent menu.
Outrigger on the Lagoon
The intimate setting of the adults-only Ivi restaurant is enhanced by gueridon service – with staff preparing divine dishes such as kokoda by your table. There are a number of restaurants around the resort, manned by award-winning teams, and led by executive chef Shailesh Naidu, president of the Fiji Chef’s Association. Naidu has been at the resort for 15 years and trains his chefs from scratch, one of whom, Mohammed Shammer, was awarded Fiji Chef of the Year at last year’s National Salon Culinaire competition.
Namale Resort & Spa
Namale takes the all-inclusive concept to a new level, with three- to five-course customisable meals featuring ingredients sourced from the resort’s farm. These can be enjoyed at various “dine-out” locations – under a private waterfall, in a candlelit cave or on the beach – or at one of the resort’s two restaurants. Chefs showcase Fijian traditions, with an Indian night featuring curry and roti stations and a weekly lovo night seeing premium meats smoked in an underground pit.
The Warwick Fiji
At the Warwick there are five restaurants to explore, with highlights including Italian home-style cooking at Pappagallo, and sustainably sourced seafood at Wicked Walu. Fijian head chef, Joeli Fiu, has 22 years of experience and is passionate about using local ingredients. The Pappagallo chefs recently benefited from a training visit by Australian Italian chef Mario Alfieri, resulting in delicious additions to the menu, such as homemade crab tortellini with lobster bisque and truffle butter.
Sheraton Fiji Resort, and Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki
There are myriad dining options at the Sheraton Fiji Resort, from signature restaurant Flying Fish, to Ports O’Call, a traditional fine dining favourite. Flying Fish was brought from Sydney to Fiji by chef Peter Kuruvita, and features fresh, local seafood. You can also indulge in Kuruvita’s cuisine at the Sheraton’s Tokoriki outpost, although this resort is closed for maintenance until early November.
This luxury private island owned by Red Bull cofounder Dietrich Mateschitz brims with creative cuisine. There are five restaurants, ranging from beachside barbecues to Asian-inspired venues, and a number of private dining options, where you may be seated in the jungle or on a jetty. The splendid colonial-style Plantation House offers a farm-to-table approach, and Fijian cooking classes for those who want to transport the flavours home.
Turtle Island Resort
Turtle Island has forgone a traditional restaurant in favour of festive dinner parties dotted around the island. With tables in various locales, from the beach to the mountain top, you can be as social or as private as you wish. Their latest concept is a 10-seater Teppanyaki-style dine-out, with food grilled while you watch. The resort has received accolades such as ‘best food’ and ‘world’s best service’, in part due to the abundant fresh produce, picked from the island’s enormous gardens.
Radisson Blu Resort
With five restaurants, and a number of innovative dining concepts, Radisson Blu offers an immersive food experience. The fine dining, adults only restaurant, Signature Blu – recently refurbished and rebranded – is open solely for dinner. Here, meals are cooked sous-vide and finished on the charcoal grill. The Signature Table option upgrades you to a private dining venue complete with butler, while Lomani Wai is a unique in-water dining experience, which sees you feasting in one of the resort’s lagoon pools.
Fiji Beach Resort & Spa by Hilton, and DoubleTree by Hilton
The Fiji Beach Resort’s Maravu restaurant brings a Southeast Asian approach to Denarau Island. Executive chef Clinton Webber focusses on balance, aroma and texture, with dishes designed to be shared. Sauces and dressings are made fresh onsite – with no MSG, of course. At the brand new DoubleTree by Hilton, on Sonaisali Island, you can opt for the elegant surrounds of Vulani Restaurant or the relaxed atmosphere of Tavu Bar and Grill, where your meal is barbecued in an open kitchen on the beach. Tokoriki Island Resort Tokoriki has taken fresh and local to a new level. The restaurant has partnered with Eat Fiji, who promote the use of traditional Fijian ingredients in innovative ways. As well as building a brand new kitchen for the chefs to play in, all the menus have been reimagined by the resort. Executive chef Gerard Marr leads the team, fusing traditional methods with contemporary techniques, and featuring Fijian produce as the star.
Yasawa Island Resort
With just 18 bungalows and 10 private beaches, this boutique resort offers an exclusive, indulgent escape. Executive chef Talala Tupou has trained under New Zealand’s Simon Gault, and creates daily changing menus, offering delicacies such as Yasawa sashimi with tuna and pawpaw coulis, and chili crab linguini, with tomato salsa, herbs and parmesan. Vomo Island Resort Vomo focuses on light, flavoursome dishes, with influences from other tropical locales, including the Caribbean, Mexico, Asia and the Mediterranean. Homegrown herbs and vegetables are utilised in the daily changing menus, though
if you’re not up to three courses, you can opt for a gourmet island picnic instead. Chilled soups are one of the resort’s signatures, try the pineapple, mint and yoghurt option or the gazpacho verde.
Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa
This idyllic resort at Denarau combines the best of Fiji with a liberal splash of French flair, everywhere from its excellent family facilities to the spa, accommodation and of course, dining. Head Chef Stuart Blair is at the helm of the dining options. You can dine alfresco at the water’s edge at the beautiful Salt, choose the elegant V Restaurant, the Waitiui Beach Club or the Lagoon Restaurant.
Likuliku Lagoon Resort
Executive chef Shane Watson recently returned to helm the kitchen at Likuliku, Fiji’s only resort with over-water bungalows. Watson created the dining concept when the resort opened in 2007, and now, after working around the world, is back to further evolve it. He relishes the nurturing of relationships with local growers and fishermen, selecting produce personally on a daily basis and growing herbs and vegetables from the resort’s own garden. •
Photography by various establishments.
• Castaway Island: castawayfiji.com
• Doubletree Resort by Hilton Fiji – Sonaisali Island: doubletree.hilton.com
• Fiji Beach Resort & Spa managed by Hilton: hilton.com
• InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa: fiji.intercontinental.com
• Laucala Island: laucala.com
• Likuliku Lagoon Resort: likulikulagoon.com
• Matangi Private Island Resort: matangiisland.com
• Namale Resort & Spa: namalefiji.com
• Nanuku Resort & Spa: nanukufiji.com
• Qamea Resort & Spa: qamea.com
• Outrigger on the Lagoon: outrigger.com
• Radisson Blu Resort: radissonblu.com/resort-fiji
• Royal Davui Island Resort: royaldavuifiji.com
• Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa, Yanuca Island: shangri-la.com
• Sheraton Fiji Resort, Denarau Island: sheratonfiji.com
• Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki: sheraton.com/tokoriki
• Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa: sofitel.com
• Tokoriki Island Resort: tokoriki.com
• Turtle Island Resort: turtlefiji.com
• Vomo Island Resort: vomofiji.com
• The Warwick Fiji: warwickhotels.com/fiji-resort
• Yasawa Island Resort: yasawa.com
• Tourism Fiji: fiji.travel