A Food Lover's Guide to Tahiti

10 Aug 2016

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Tahitian dining is a glorious celebration of island food meets European styling. Tropical ingredients prepared with French savoir faire create a true gastronomic adventure that is both flavoursome and deliciously suitable to the South Pacific. Tell the waiter what you fancy and trust them to bring something special, because genuine service is just another endearing aspect of the Tahiti dining experience.  

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Tahitian fish dish poisson cru served with rice
Just one of many variations of poisson cru. Photo: Getty Images

What to Eat

Poisson cru

Meaning literally ‘raw fish’, there are hundreds of recipes and traditional preparations of this dish, the Tahitian take on ceviche. As the local fish generally have a light flavour, variations of the dish are often enhanced with flavoursome additions. Tahitian, Chinese, Javanese and mama’s own are just a few of the options you can expect to choose from.

Ahi Ma’a

This traditional feast is prepared in a ground oven, the French Polynesian version of the New Zealand Maori hangi. Think breadfruit, cassava, octopus, clams, fish and pork, all wrapped in leaves and enhanced with spices, seasonings and sauces.

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Leaf wrapped parcels of food cooked in a Tahitian ground oven
Food is wrapped in leaves and cooked in a ground oven for the ahi ma’a. Photo: Getty Images

Poulet Fafa

Often cooked in the ahi ma’a pit barbecue style, this chicken dish is rich with Tahitian spinach, coconut cream, garlic, onion and spices, and is a local staple. Don’t miss your chance to try this local speciality if the opportunity presents itself.

Po’e

Served to complete the ahi ma’a feasting, po’e is an indulgent pudding made of taro root flavoured with banana, vanilla and papaya and topped with coconut cream. Traditionally wrapped in leaves and baked in the ground, you may also be lucky enough to find an oven-baked version on a restaurant menu.


For after you've eaten: Tahiti's 9 Most Iconic Experiences

Sharing our experience: Consultant Review: Resort Hopping In French Polynesia


Where To Eat

Papeete, Tahiti

Le Coco’s

Run by a brother and sister who have teamed up with a Michelin-star trained chef, this is an extraordinary fine-dining take on French Polynesian cuisine. Enjoy aperitifs on the lawn overlooking the ocean, delight in the degustation dinner offerings and don’t miss the la sphere du choc for dessert.

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Beautiful food dished on white plate from Le Coco's Restaurant in Tahiti
The view is only outdone by the food at Le Coco's. Photo: Le Coco's Restaurant

Les Roulottes

Every evening by the wharf overlooking the sea, trucks and vans come rolling into town bringing a wide range of traditional, Asian and European dining options served up in a genial, casual ambience. Relatively inexpensive and oozing with atmosphere, this is a great end to a day of touring and shopping.

Le Lotus Restaurant, InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa

Le Lotus is a stunning overwater French/Tahitian fusion restaurant which offers views towards Moorea and an excellent French wine list. The menu is creative, the setting is divine, and the service is elegant and intimate. Reservations are recommended. Tres bien!

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Stunning overwater restaurant Le Lotus in Tahiti
Stunning Le Lotus Restaurant, Tahiti. Photo: Le Lotus Restaurant InterContinental

Moorea

K Restaurant, Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort

Boasting a menu full of clever twists on local dishes and produce, K Restaurant invites you to dine under a lofty ceiling on a sandy floor while enjoying a Polynesian dance show. This is barefoot fine dining at its best.

Snack Rotui

Overlooking Oponohu Bay, this little hut knocks out sensational casse-croutes (half baguettes) filled with pretty much whatever you want. Chow mein and ham and cheese are local favourites. A great energy hit before or after the trek to Belvedere lookout.

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Restaurant sits over stunning ocean view at Bora Bora
Dine with a view at LAGOON Restaurant. Photo: St Regis Bora Bora

Bora Bora

Bloody Mary’s

Iconic Bloody Mary’s is popular with the visiting Hollywood set and renowned for its visual menu and signature cocktails. Choose your freshly caught seafood from the ice palette on display and have it cooked to order. Steak, chicken and vegetarian options are also available, but the atmosphere alone is worth a visit.

LAGOON by Jean-Georges, St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

Among a selection of noted eateries at the St Regis, this awarded signature restaurant is run by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and is famous for its tasting menu, seafood and wagyu steak.

Bon appétit!