Tuvalu is one of the most welcoming and beautiful countries on earth bar none. It is also the third least visited, which leads one to ask what is the street food Tuvalu scene like? In short not exactly eclectic, but a tad more interesting than street food Nauru.
But, with this being said we are primarily talking about the street food in Funafuti and a few nearby islands, rather than the food in the whole of Tuvalu.
What the Funafuti?
Funafuti is the capital island, islet, or atoll of Tuvalu a constitutional monarchy under King Charles that welcomes but 500 tourists per year. We had brought 25 of them, or yes 1/5th as part of our Least Visited Countries Tour.
I had been to Tuvalu before and I had loved the food, I was interested to see what the bar, restaurant and street food scene in Tuvalu would be like circa 2023-24.
Restaurants in Tuvalu
There really are not many restaurants in Tuvalu as of now, or at least in Funafuti. At the festive time and indeed in normal times Tuvaluans cook their own food, which you see a lot of the functions held at the Funafuti Lagoon Hotel.
Said hotel is also “the restaurant” on the island boasting a solid western menu, although few local delights, such as sashimi. They also have a great breakfast and serve local food at birthdays and Christmas parties and the like. I will go into Tuvaluan cuisine later. Said hotel can also be considered part of the Tuvaluan bar scene.
After this the most famous restaurants are the Chinese ones, which include Nang restaurant and Blue Ocean Restaurant, nominally the most famous. I personally found these guys a little rude.
The Chinese restaurants though also serve other things aside from bad Chinese food, with the chicken and chips at Nang’s being particularly good and extremely big.
TikTok link here.
As for the quality of the Chinese food? “Not good” according to the Taiwanese embassy, who regularly cook their own, which can be considered the best on the island. An invite though is required…
The best local restaurant is still Wavestone Cafe, still owned by the legendary Marriane, alongside her bakery and coffee shop. She shall get her own article later, but I had some of the best tuna sashimi I have ever tasted her.
Street Food Tuvalu
So while restaurants and street food Tuvalu are often one and the same, there are also a lot of impromptu street food Tuvalu elements related to the culture and fishing of the area.
There are restaurants that do Tuvaluan BBQ, hotels that will do impromptu cook ups, as well as vegetables and fruits brought in from other islands to be cooked up.
In this case the hough perhaps the best Tuvaluan street food comes from the sea. We had at least one feast on one of the islands off of Funafuti, which largelly involved hugover fisherman catching what they could, which included a lot of mussels, shrimp and white fish, from where we would all eat it off of banana leafs – sans cutlery. The promised meat never came, but we washed it down with rum and fresh coconut water which made the world OK.
The street food Tuvalu highlight though was when I was asked if I wanted sashimi on the beach, of course I said yes. What I got was a fish skinned in front of my eyes that I ate raw and like a savage.
I took care of it like the savage that I indeed was and am, fully in the knowledge that Tuvalu has enough street food and strange food for me to live here, one day at least……..