Saturday, October 13, 2018

Fijian Tales - Traditional Dining at the Tropic's Bamboo Kitchen (Nadi)

It was early morning Sunday when my plane landed in Viti Levu, Fiji's main island. The airport town of Nadi (the newly minted 3rd city of the country) slumbers on a Sunday. In fact, nothing stirs all over the islands. They take their Sabbath day seriously as a great number of its population are Christians, then Hindu and Muslims. Most shops are closed. Even public transportation isn't running, except the taxis. Tropic of Capricorn sent someone to pick me up at the airport. He was waving a bond paper with my name written on it. Before 7 AM, I was already in front of the Tropic of Capricorn Beach Resort at the edge of Wailoaloa Bay.

 I was in a daze, partly due to the 13-hour plane ride, the change of time zone and because I was coming up with the flu. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't be accommodated until about 11 AM, when a room became available. I wouldn't have minded otherwise if Nadi was "open for business". But there was nothing to do. I couldn't even go to town and check out the shops. 

Nothing Urgent

To make the best of the situation, I took a stroll along Wailoaloa Beach, with its placid waters and the gentlest of ripples. When the resort's Bamboo Kitchen (Tropic Cafe) opened, I ordered breakfast. This took awhile. Everything in Fiji takes awhile. Nothing is urgent here. If you are in a hurry, I would be sorry for you. In southeast Asia, Laos has its "Please Don't Rush" demeanor? Try Fiji. 

Breakfast was 4 pieces of bread dipped in rich egg butter served with lightly cooked bacon strips.

Everyone at the Bamboo Kitchen introduced themselves. Nanni, Maria. I met Teddy and Marlon by the pool. Everyone was warm and accommodating, wearing their radiant smiles with an ebullient "Bula!" It's their "Mabuhay" - their welcome salutations; their hello, their good morning, etc. 

Later that night, I chose a customary Fijian dish so I ordered "Coconut Crumb Chicken" at F$15 (P385). What went to my table was a delectable work of art that looked more like a dessert than a meal. It was chicken crumbed (breaded chicken) in coconut flesh served with pineapple and tomato salsa with a side of spinach, cassava and lemon butter sauce. Fijian meals usually contain coconut, taro, yam or sweet potato. This one had baked taro leaves that tasted good. Cassava slice was chewy and tasty.  Sprinkled with bits of pineapple and tomato, the whole concoction beautifully came together with slices of chicken. I felt smug.

The restaurant itself was open spaced, facing a grassy lawn with cots and benches. A few steps away, the South Pacific beckoned. It was the perfect meal to end an exhausting first day in Melanesia.

As a child, I used to watch that Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. I could hear Bloody Mary sing "Bali Hai". 

I was standing on its set.

My first meal and breakfast in Fiji. Nothing fancy but the price.

Bamboo Kitchen

Tropic of Capricorn Beach Resort faces Wailoaloa Bay. My room was at the 3rd floor, left side of the photo.
Nadi is located west of Viti Levu. This photo only from Dolphin Island's website.

No comments: