4 (Fri) July 2014
Mahi Mahi with Snake Beans in Lolo Sauce
at Flying Fish
(Sheraton Fiji Resort)
-Denarau Island, Viti Levu, Fiji-
Mission to Fiji + Personal Deviation (Day 6 of 8)
In Denarau Island. Having participated in a workshop on strengthening laws to address noncommunicable diseases on Wednesday and Thursday, I’m staying in Fiji an extra day on my own dime to go diving off the west coast. I’ll be heading home tomorrow.
Over the course of 16 days, through a combination of personal and professional travels, I will be in 12 localities across 7 countries, eating and documenting at least 1 meal in each of them.
Today is Day 14 / Locality 10 / Country 6.
The Republic of Fiji consists of over 800 islands. The largest is Viti Levu. The two major cities, both located on Viti Levu, are Suva and Nadi. While Suva is the country capital, where most major business and political activities are conducted, the international airport is a 3-hr drive or 1-hr flight away in Nadi, where most of the main tourist areas are located. Denarau Island, about 5 km outside of central Nadi, contains a cluster of the country’s most exclusive hotel beach resorts (playground primarily for rich Australian vacationers).
(For additional posts, see 16/12/7.)
Ending up at The Westin was another example of läporengar (see generally 5.147 Yakisoba…). After dinner with TL in Suva last night, I took a car service to Nadi, arriving near midnight. To save money, I’d booked a room via travel website Agora at Beachside Resort, a cheap motel-like establishment. When we got there, the place appeared deserted, lights completely out, none of the rooms occupied. Stranger still, there didn’t seem to be a reception desk or office; a “private residence” stood adjacent to the property, and I could hear NZ voices from within – Beachside Resort self-proclaims NZ ownership – but nobody would open the door or even acknowledge my presence when I knocked on the door. Earlier, the thought had occurred to call management in advance and inform them of my late arrival, but it slipped my mind; while I do concede some responsibility here, I plan on registering a complaint with Agora about the establishment’s lack of professionalism in failing to provide for such contingencies (e.g., leaving some goddamn lights on, providing a phone number to call). Aside from the overall crappiness of the facilities, from what I could make out in the dark, as fully anticipated from the price of USD 36 per night, I was getting a nasty vibe, so fuck it. As I’d scheduled a dive for the next morning, departing from Denarau Island, I requested the driver to take me there in search of alternative accommodation near the dive shop. Incidentally, though Beachside Resort may lie close to Denarau Island as the crow flies, the windy dirt road actually places it more than 15 km and a good 30-min drive away. Anyway, we drove around to 3 other hotels on the island, all fully booked, before The Westin finally took me in. Last-minute 2AM desperation booking, USD 200 per night for a 2nd floor room in the back of the resort, but I was grateful for it, would’ve slept in the proverbial barn by that point. An additional USD 25 to the driver for his troubles. Learning money.
Turned out for the best, luxurious digs to round out this long and weary road trip. It’s been fun and stimulating, yes, of course, but exhausting nonetheless.
Impossibly blue skies, azure waters, off the coast of Malolo Island, where we hit the dive sites Plantation Pinnacle and Fish Market.
Fiji is now the 2nd country where I’ve had the pleasure to dive.
Flying Fish is a Pan-Asian-style seafood restaurant. Located in the Sheraton Fiji Resort, next door to the Westin, on Denarau Island. Founded in 2008 by Sri Lankan-Australian celebrity chef Peter Kuruvita. The menu offers various types of seafood, prepared in styles ranging from South Asian (e.g., curry), to East Asian (e.g., soy), and South Pacific (e.g., coconut).
Peter Kuruvita is the author of the Sri Lankan cookbook that I got in Colombo a couple years back (see generally 3.299 Tuna & Potato Croquette Balls).
The food was respectable enough. The mahi mahi was fresh, perfectly cooked, juicy and chunky, paired nicely with the lolo (coconut) sauce – a good example of a supposed Fijian dish, designed to entice tourists, though locals would not consider it even vaguely Fijian. Anyway, what a great feeling to eat foods that (conceivably) could’ve been caught/harvested within walking distance.
Then again, I fell ill the following day, likely mild food poisoning, either from one of the raw appetizers or the bugs, which seemed a bit undercooked.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN FIJI)