09 September 2019

Port Vila Market ~ Vanuatu

The one where we find ourselves in Port Vila, Vanuatu, just a handful of hours away from Sydney.

We're never shy to explore somewhere new, but for some reason we've not ventured east off the coast of Australia except for a couple of spurts in New Zealand and New Caledonia. When we mentioned our destination, most people assumed we were headed off on a cruise, the most common way to visit Vanuatu for most Australians. Instead, we decided to get rooms with a kitchen and hang out in the capital for a week and instead of cooking we ate at the Port Vila market whenever we could.

After Tropical Cyclone Pam ripped through the capital in 2015, there's been considerable reconstruction of the port walkways and some nearby buildings. There's plenty still to be done, with new roads helped along by Chinese funding and a possible new cruise terminal in the north of Efate.

The markets along the waterfront are open nearly every day, only closing for Christmas and a few other holidays.

It's a typical cavernous market, enclosed in a cathedral like hangar that allows the waterfront breeze to flow through. The produce here was tropical fruit nirvana - sweet pineapples, the best papaya we've ever tasted, netted bags of passionfruit and limes to squeeze over the cut fruit pieces. Some stall holders have fruit already cut and sliced, other just write on the skin in texta and it's easy to pick out what you want. Plastic bags are banned in Vanuatu, so much of the loose produce is bundled in plastic netting or you bring your own bag.

At the back of the produce section is the eating area, stalls set up by individual cooks. Some have pre written menus, some have just whatever is in their big pots and you pick and choose. The stalls are all fairly similar in price, with variations in salads and sides.

Boiled chicken legs with sides of salad greens, tomato and papaya. Meals range between 350 and 450 VT (between four or five AUS).

Dry fried Mackerel with the same papaya sides.

Pickles on the table for extra spice oomph. These are a vinegar, vegetable, chilli and garlic mix similar to the achard we've found in New Caledonia.

Minute steak with gravy, rice and salad side. A super thin steak flash cooked and ladled over with sauce. Vanuatu beef is excellent and is one of the main meats we found on menus.

Next to the market was the local hamburger bar with tables looking out across to the fancy pants resort across the harbour.

The burgers didn't really show off that fab beef, we thinks there was a bit of meat extender involved. Good for the price and the view.

Port Vila, where all your retro entertainment needs can be met.

We love Vanuatu!

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Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).