Eating with Mark Wiens in Fiji

Eating with Mark Wiens in Fiji

There is no other food vlogger in the world that rivals Mark Wiens. This international household name has travelled to many countries across the world, sourcing out, placing on the map and savouring their delicious delicacies and popular foods in restaurants, markets, and food stalls.

As a foodie, I have always been a huge fan of this famous Youtuber. Before my trips to Tokyo, Japan and Honolulu, Hawaii in 2019, I watched his food tour videos of each destination and scribbled his recommendations down to explore while I was there.

In late December last year while I was binge watching his food videos through Asia and the U.S, I decided that I was going to invite him to Fiji.

While Fiji has been hailed far and wide as the ultimate holiday destination, what many tourists do not realize is that our islands, harbour delicious secrets – we have some of the best tasting seafoods, traditional desserts, curries and food stalls that is a food haven for many.

After a few emails and video calls to decide on the perfect date to visit, Mark Wiens and his family arrived in Fiji in May 2023.

Mark had done his research on Fiji and knew about our rich cultures, especially that of our itaukei and Indian culture which allowed us both to plan a food itinerary that showcased some of our country’s popular dishes.

Our food tour began at the highly popular curry restaurant in Suva, Zam Zam. The restaurant is famed for their spicy and tasty curry selections, and we kick started his official tour with over 10 curry selections. From goat, duck, chicken, lamb, fish, freshwater mussels to vegetarian selections, this was the perfect introduction into our Fijian curry scene.

We than explored my hometown of Nausori, arguably Fiji’s food delicacy capital and with the best market in Fiji.

Elvis Kana Place inside the Winina Arcade on the main street serves up delicious ‘rourou (taro leaves) and mutton’ dishes and this was one of the local favourites that I had Mark try. The rourou and mutton is expertly cooked over a primus stove, a technique I believe contributes to this popular dish.

Next, we moved across to Babasiga Halal Bites and just as its name suggests, is the ‘go to’ curry house of the delta town. The cooks really did an impressive task of preparing delicious spicy lamb and chicken curries served with steaming hot rice, rotis and dhal.

Our curry eating assignment ended at the resident of Mrs Nand in Vuci South Road, who according to Mark, prepared the most delicious masala duck he has ever eaten in the World. This dish was served with tasty dhal, puri breads and basmati rice.

The duck dish was firstly prepared by roasting the meat over fire before getting marinated in haldi and cooked using a secret recipe involving home-made ground masala.

We also visited the Nausori market to have freshly baked tea buns at Tea Totoka and try the delicious seafood selections, prepared fresh by Sera Ranadi at her Ready Cooked Seafood Stall inside the marketplace.

From her famous Kovu Kaikoso (a type of sea clam baked in coconut milk) dish, Octopus in Coconut

Milk, Kokoda (Ceviche) to fresh sea grapes (Nama), this was the perfect end to our Nausori experience.

I later took Mark to Suva’s Bar Belle restaurant in Laucala Bay to enjoy their famous seafood meals. From their popular selections of mana (a type of mud crab), pan fried fish, stuffed kai (freshwater mussels), lumi (seaweed cake), wild fern dishes to their traditional ‘vudi lote’ (plantains steamed in coconut milk) dessert, this sweetly ended his mainland experience.

The province of Tailevu is famous for traditional food delicacies namely the bila (a type of fermented bread) and Vakalolo or Qalu (a traditional dessert made from grated cassava and taro, freshly grated coconut, melted sugar syrup and coconut milk).

Mark sampled the Vakalolo in the village of Namuka in the Nakelo district prepared by the skilful talents of the Rainima family. From its preparation stages to cooking, the story was also shared about how this traditional dessert plays an important role along with its links to the chiefly island of Bau.

The dessert tour ended in the village of Mokani and at the residence of Ana Tuisese, who has mastered the preparations of this fermented bread for over 20 plus years.

The bila preparation was showcased in stages so that Mark was able to witness the work and time it took to prepare this delicacy that was loved by Fijians the world over.

Fijians also love their home-made BBQ’s and, on the drive, back to Suva, I introduced Mark to a popular BBQ stall in Nadali, outside Nausori town to sample one of my favourite BBQ stalls.

Tasty BBQ stall certainly lived up to our expectations and with their secret marinade, Mark got to try Fiji’s version of street stall BBQ.

Overall, the food experience on the mainland was a hit. Fijians love their food and with me being a local foodie, I knew the exact hotspots to introduce Mark to and to showcase our gastronomy scene to the World.

In my Part 2 experience, I take Mark on an island tour throughout the Lau province with thanks to Captain Cook Cruises and their Classic Lau 7 night’s tour.

*Mark Wiens visit to Fiji was made possible with the partnerships of Fiji Airways, Tourism Fiji, Mai TV, Captain Cook Cruises Fiji and Tewaka. Big thanks also to Fiji Airports for their facilitations.

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