Expecting Fijian Food was something I had practically given up. Three trips
there and so far nothing. I expected people to have Lovos (underground ovens) roasting taro, and chicken, pork and all sorts of things all over the place at all times of the day, alas it was a dream.
In fact I think I had more Lovo food in Australia then in Fiji. Well I still did not get anything from the Lovo this time around but while getting ingredients to cook dinner for Angela, she nonchalantly walks to this little place which I would have not even noticed and says, “You want Fijian food, here it is”…
So we enter this little shack like eating place, you know something you would find in a lot of places in Malaysia, where believe it or not it would be so crowded and even sometime cause traffic with the cars who park around wanting to get a bite. Well this was not far off, minus the cars and the havoc and the fact that this was not near some factory area.
Bale Bistro it is called. And so we entered in, and again me expecting to see
someone inside this big area which would be a Lovo, alas it was not to be. But having said that, I chanced upon real Fijian Tucker, some of which I had not eaten for years and years. And while some people may look funny at the food as appearance wise it is not as appealing and more rustic, the tastes of it was just divine. The portions, well let’s just say that if Angela fed me that kind of food for the duration I was in Fiji, I’d need an extra ticket for an extra seat on the plane to get back to Australia.
So we entered in this no frills and thrills place, and was greeted in true Fijian
style, something that is quite lacking in this part of the world. A big loud Bula and that big welcoming smile always makes a difference no matter if you are a local or a tourist.
So now the food. The sizes of the fish and meat that you see serve PER PERSON.
Now the first is Fish Lo Lo. Fish in coconut milk. The size of the fish gave me a shock because it was enough for two people or more. And this was fir a single serve. Being a non fish eater (You know the drill, anything that looks like fish, tastes like fish, smells like fish, has skin and bones) I do not really like, so I steered away. So much for craving and ranting and raving about Fijian Food.
The fish used is usually mackerel cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, the slightest hint of seasoning and of course coconut cream. There are several versions that have an Indian touch to it , where curry powder and curry leaves are added and several other spices. This one was good ole Fijian style. Now surprisingly the taste was not as fishy as I thought it would be. I took some of Angelas, and we do not eat it with rice, we eat it with boiled Dalo or Cassava. The fish flaked properly and did not break into pieces. This was probably because of the size of the fish. A small piece was enough of course.
The next was I believed boiled fish in lightly salted water. That I stayed away from of course, because I just could not fathom eating something like that simply because I am just hopeless with fish in that style. Fish like that is usually flaked with your fingers and salt is added along with chilly and whatever condiments that may be offered. I am sure it would taste nice but it was not me. So I shan’t say more.
Next dish looked a bit more promising. Half a Roast Chook with a nice gravy. Once again you had the option of having one for yourself or sharing. We
decided not to have chicken as we had roast chicken the last few days and tonight would be chicken curry so we went for lamb stew. Now the size of the lamb and the portion with regards for the price was quite strange.
Even as a caterer I think I would have not charged so cheap for it. They were
huge meaty pieces, with silky like gravy. The meat was cooked to perfection and fell off the bone. No pulling and tugging at the bone. Ahhh just a dash of red wine would have added such divinity to it, alas, I’m in Fiji and we’re eating Fijian Food.
The next dish was a big confusing, because I could not make it out at first glance, and then when I looked closer I saw teeth and thought surely it can’t be fish head. Well it was, and once again, each person takes one head to eat because as we were sitting and eating, I saw many men carrying a whole fish head with Dalo and eating it just like that. The fish was cooked Miti style once again with thick coconut milk. Angela took a small head. I just shook mine!
Chicken curry, now Fijian Chicken Curry is not like what we eat, it is cooked
very differently and the degree of spice and spiciness is really really different. To most Malaysians, I believe we would find it almost like a stew. But if eaten with Fijian Roti, it is something else, much like a meaty aloo gobi minus the cauliflower.
Rou Rou (Pronounced Row Row) is cassava leaves boiled and mashed to a
pulp and cooked with pork. I loved the Rou Rou. I wish it was cooked with ham hock or corned beef, because the saltiness of the meat would have complemented this dish, but I have no complaints. I could have eaten it like it was bowls of hot green stew. It was in my own words Luscious! I don’t know why that word came to my head when I ate it. I didn’t eat the meat but the flavor was really rich and I knew I had my fill of fibre for the day.
I left the place feeling like a fat cow. It was a pity I had a pie earlier in the morning and slices of freshly baked Fijian white bread with Rewa Butter.
I’ll go back to Bale Bistro next year for sure and this time I will go hungry.