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World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Vanuatu

the fp is food-and-drink

Vanuatu Food and Drink

The multicultural nature of Port Vila is reflected in the cuisine – there's French, Mediterranean, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Asian Fusion, tapas and seafood. There are about 40 cafes and restaurants in and around Port Vila, many of them excellent. Some are located within resorts (it is fine to 'resort-hop'). Local beef is arguably the best in the world and the local fruit is also very good. The chefs in Vanuatu are very good and many are trained at the Hospitality School (Nambanga Restaurant) - it opens to the public for lunch several times a week for top restaurant quality at cafe prices. Phone 24066 for reservations and hop on a local bus.

Imported alcohol (wines, spirits and beer) can be expensive – apart from the transportation costs, there is duty payable. As an example, an Australian or New Zealand wine will be about double the cost in a liquor outlet at home and up to double that price in a restaurant. The local beer, Tusker, is very good and well-priced.

Specialities

Lap Lap (grated yam, banana or manioc smothered in coconut cream and cooked in an earth oven) can be sampled at the markets. • Coconut crab is a Vanuatu specialty but many restaurants have put a moratorium on serving it as the species is becoming endangered.

Tipping

Not expected or encouraged, as it goes against local tradition.

Drinking age

The jury is sort of out on this one. Some people say the legal drinking age is 21, some say it is 18 and some say it is 15 (the age travellers can legally arrive in the country with duty free alcohol). It matters little as age is never asked and ID is never asked for.

Regional drinks

Vanuatu kava is more potent than kava drunk in other South Pacific countries. It's a legal ‘opiate’ that comes from grating, grinding or chewing the root of the plant. There are many varieties, from mild to 'two-dei' kava, so called because it can be strong enough to induce a two-day sleep. It can cause a numbness of the tongue, relaxation and a heightened awareness of sound and light, which is why nakamals (kava huts) are dark inside and people speak in hushed tones.