What is the street food in Tonga scene in 2024? Overall pretty good, at least when compared with my last sojourn in 2020, some four years ago. And as for the country in general? Once again, same, same, but a wee bit different.
And why did it take me four years to get back to the country? Well a small thing like Covid and a bigger thing – being paid to go there. Thankfully the former was fixed by God, Allah, or Joseph Smith, while the later was fixed be me and Young Pioneer Tours, via our Least Visited Countries Tour.
What the Tonga?
You might know Tonga from Rugby League, or Union (unlikely for soccer), with me having purchased a league shirt whenever I go. What you might not know as our Pyongyang like guide put it “Tonga is not a country, it is a Kingdom”.
Tonga is truly a sporting nation, unlike say Nauru, which currently is not, although I am working on in.
I for one still count it as a country, much as does YPT. And next you might be asking if this is some happy go lucky Kingdom like Bhutan? Alas it is not so much so, with it being listed as a “constitutional monarchy” – one in which the King and nobles still have immense power.
I’ll stay clear of the politics, with which you can read about here.
As for things to see and do, there is actually plenty and at some point I will do a Tonga guide, but for now I will summarize as lots of old stuff, as well as a Tongan blow hole. Not to be confused with a Tongan glory hole, the later of which I did not get to see.
Eating out in Tonga
Tonga, or at least the capital of Nukuʿalofa has a decent restaurant, cafe and snack scene, while the street food scene is largely better, or at least more unique than in much of the Pacific.
Restaurant wise the most popular and widely known in the capital is Friends Cafe, which is located on the main street and main drag within the city. I shall give Friends Cafe Nukuʿalofa its own article at some point, but for now I recommend the craft beer, the raw tuna and sitting outside.
Of course there are also a plethora of Chinese restaurants, but none that worthy of writing home about.
Drinks wise again I will give Tonga its own submission at some point, but they have craft beer, Maka local lager, and of course anything they can fit on a boat from Australia. And yes they have bars, with the local wild house of Reload Bar being just opposite friends cafe.
Street Food Tonga
So, the crux of the mater, Street Food Tonga, or at least street food Nukuʿalofa! Now this is something I remember from my last trip in 2020. Unlike other Pacific nations such as Nauru people have realized that if you set up stalls to sell food people will buy it.
This means that the roads of Nukuʿalofa are full of people selling Tongan street food, which for the most part consists of bbq, with the neat usually being pork, or checked served with potato, or root vegetables, with salad not being a real thing here.
The cost is marginal with a big plate which can be taken away setting you back around 9-15 Tongan, or $4-8, with the more expensive one getting you the big meat mix.
Tongan BBQ is actually quite a thing, with it also being the main part of the Tongan traditional feast that we went to. Here a whole pig was BBQ’d, while root vegetables, curry and some great raw tuna also made up the feast. We also got to see some hot chicas dancing, so not a bad day overall.
And of course the other main street food in Tonga is pies, with the Aussie influence very heavy. These can be gotten in stores, small shops, and even at the airport – as you will see in the following video. This year we were less impressed with the pies, despite our memory stating they used to be great. A street food Tonga Mandela Effect? Quite possibly..
So, overall with the bars, snacks pies and street food, you will not too hungry when visiting Tonga.