Niue, August 2013 (Part 2) – Fish Anyone?

The majority of our meals were had on the main street of Alofi. I had heard great things about The Crazy Uga having the best fish & chips on the rock so went for dinner. Naturally I went for the aforementioned famous meal which was fantastic, always made more special being able to eat watching the sunset. Poor Mrs. Foodie on the other hand asked if they could do something vegetarian, the lunch menu looked ok but that was not available, “How about a fish burger minus the fish with salad and vege stuff in it”…. after checking with the chef, “That’s not possible”…. “What about a milkshake, that’s on the menu”…. “Sorry we are out of milk, no more coming in till the next cargo boat”…. “Hmm I guess just a bowl of fries then, grrr”. Well I did say my fish was good which almost made up for it.

Why what are you doing here Mr Crabs?
Why what are you doing here Mr Crabs?
Uga or Coconut Crab, local delicacy, very big, very expensive
Uga or Coconut Crab, local delicacy, very big, very expensive

The Washaway bar opens up only Sunday nights on Avetele beach, 5 mins south from our resort. The atmosphere looked great just after sunset, the locals whipping up burgers off a barbecue in a beach shack. As we approached the glow however it came to our realisation that again the only options were fish burger, chicken burger or beef burger. Knowing the lack of flexibility of these operations (and despite Mrs. Foodie offering to be a hunger martyr again) we decided to hastily retreat. In the process of making a quick exit in the dim lighting arrangement I manage to smash my shin on a park bench fixed into the concrete; my excessive manliness prevented me from showing any outward pain although my shin was telling me to arrange swift death.

Avatele beach, easy to get to, lovely place to swim.
Avatele beach, easy to get to, lovely place to swim.
Fish Balls
Fish Balls
Mr Octopus you look so white as if you've seen a ghost... or a giant Liam perhaps?
Mr Octopus you look so white as if you’ve seen a ghost… or a giant Liam perhaps?

We chose instead to go to Kai Ika which is currently rated number 1 of ~8 restaurants on Niue by Trip advisor and for good reason. Although the name of the restaurant suggests traditional fare, what you get is rather an interesting fusion of Italian and Japanese, the host Avi being Italian and having two Japanese chefs. I had an entrée of Moonfish carpaccio done simply with balsamic, olive oil dressing and grated parmesan. Very interesting flavours as I had not had moonfish before, a very dark red flesh looking similar to beef, maybe not quite my cup of tea though. Our host was interested to know what I thought of it and very kindly brought me some tuna sashimi with mustard and ponzu on the house, to compare… what a champion! We decided to have pizza to follow, I had the Niuean (fish, papaya and chilli) which was very good and uniquely flavoured. Mrs. Foodie finally found some decent vegetarian options (hooray!) with a vegetarian pizza. We enjoyed the food and the generosity of Avi as well as the background music of well-known songs sung in Italian, so much so that we came back again another night for a Japanese feast of sushi, sashimi and tempura which was equally as enjoyable. Avi also owned Avi’s Ark which is an ice cream parlour (boat) which is parked out the back of the carpark, unfortunately to Mrs. Foodie’s horror (ice creams’ biggest fan) , they were out of ice cream till the next cargo boat!

Off the beaten Vaiea Sea Track
Off the beaten Vaiea Sea Track
Wild east coast of Anapala
Wild east coast of Anapala

The best bet for vegetarian food is usually Thai or Indian; populations in the world who have to cater for a great number of consumers who choose vegetarianism as a life choice for religious reasons or whatever. Thankful we were (especially Mrs. Foodie) when strolling down main street, we smelt the aromas of rich spices emanating from a corner shop. Gills Indian Restaurant – we also decided to eat here two nights having multiple options that didn’t have to involve fish or other dead animals, though me needing to refuel on animal protein when I can, opted for beef/chicken options. In summary they were cheap and pleasant meals, not the best curries I’ve had but you can’t be too picky when it’s the only Indian food on the island.

Anapala chasm, freshwater source once reserved for royalty
Anapala chasm, freshwater source once reserved for royalty
Togo Chasm, home to beautifully vicious coral pinnacles
Togo Chasm, home to beautifully vicious coral pinnacles

There were a few other eateries we went to – Falala Fa had a bar/bistro feel and I had a great fish dish… so much great fish but hey, “when in Rome”. Mrs Foodie was looking forward to a delicious tropical fruit salad but there was no fruit available (none at the market and no boat!). We had an ice-cream and takeaway shop just down the road from Matavai resort but after visiting a half dozen times throughout the week at different times we never saw it open (sigh) so ended up raiding some convenience stores in Alofi so Mrs. Foodie could get her ice cream fix. There is a larger supermarket open during restricted hours although we did not visit.

The bar's open! So many buildings like this around the island that have been abandoned
The bar’s open! So many buildings like this around the island that have been abandoned
Gecko getting some resort food
Gecko getting some resort food

So in summary, in a week we managed to see some whales and swim with them albeit at a distance (I’m claiming it), we circled the ring road and explored down every possible sea track we could find- We ate at almost all available popular restaurants and visited just as many that could not be bothered opening. Niue has very limited food options, especially if the boat is late and especially if you have dietary restrictions but there are enough gems to find to get you through the week. Great place to go if you like fish, it seemed to be the only ingredient that was on every menu. As Mrs. Foodie and I sat through our last sunset (looking for whales) we realised how we had forgotten the woes of our hectic Auckland life, how we had slowed down to the pace of “The Rock”… I thought we could live there, maybe spend my days snorkelling and fishing, perhaps own a little vegetarian restaurant that would perhaps feature a fish dish if you were lucky… hmm why not.

Waiting for whales at sunset
Waiting for whales at sunset

Last words: Remember you are on island time, just go with the flow and relax if things don’t turn out the way you hope and if you feel like choosing off the menu a vegetarian burger with a milkshake, fruit salad and ice cream – just go for the fish & chips, it’s easier!

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