Italian Cuisine World Summit in Dubai this November

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Mauritius - Tried and Tested Restaurants & The Island's Must Eats

Chez Tino Restaurant - Trou D'eau Douce, Mauritius
is my personal favourite

Going to Mauritius and not sure where or what to eat? Don't know what to expect? Worried you might not like the food? Don't search for McDonald's yet! Read this before you go so you don't miss out on the island's best food experiences. 



Varieties of Traditional Mauritius Cuisine.
Top Left: Crab Croquettes, Right: Octopus Vindaye
Bottom Left: Octopus Salad, Right: Aubergine & Chicken Curry

The Mauritius Food Scene
Cuisine
Mauritius cooks creole cuisine, which is essentially a cuisine that combines European and Asian cuisines (mainly French, Chinese and Indian). The outcome of which is a variety of curries, coated and fried vegetables and seafood, roasted/grilled meats served sauce, as well as a variety of dumplings, noodles, biryanis... However, whichever cuisine they cook, will have a twist to the classical non-creole version, making it in a way unique to the cuisine of Mauritius

A restaurant that states Traditional Mauritius food/ Cuisine is one where you are most likely to be offered a selection of Indian and Chinese foods. Some might even have some French selections. There are however, restaurants that specialise in one variety of the cuisine. Like 'First Chinese Restaurant' in Port Louis China Town is one that is focused on only the Chinese foods.

Street vendors are everywhere in Mauritius and you must try their foods.
Always fresh, delicious and very very pleasant people.

Must Eats in Mauritius - Island's Specialties
If you head to a traditional cuisine restaurants you must try the dishes below. These are the ultimate best, which you should not miss out on. I have tried these in a variety of restaurants, and most were so gorgeous I was almost never disappointed. Remember you are in Mauritius, so make sure to try their food instead of the intercontinental foods of most hotels. Go out of your resort and make sure to explore the local food scene, I assure you it tastes way better than hotel food.

Most Popular Starters

  • Samosas. Usually with Indian influence, but mostly with unique Mauritius flavours. The tuna, crab and fish samosas where always delicious and served with a sweet chili sauce were fresh, spicy and addictive. The potato and curry samosas served with the fiery green chili paste where also excellent. You must try the different varieties, you will be happy you did. Samosas are not only to be had in restaurants, although are fabulous there too. Street vendors are scattered all around Mauritius, selling these along other selections of fritters all of which are really delectable. I ate from almost every vendor I encountered, and never once was unhappy with the food or ill afterwards.
  • Beignets & Fritters. These are usually vegetables, seafood or fish dipped in a batter then fried. The batter can vary from very thin to thick depending on the restaurants. Both options are delicious, but I prefer the thick batter better; especially when dipped in those chili sauces! Heavenly! Recipe is coming up on my recipes blog
  • Octopus Salad. Almost on every restaurant's menu. Just because the name is the same everywhere, does not necessarily mean it will be the same everywhere! Each restaurant prepares this salad differently. Some will serve it with a vinaigrette, others with a cream dressing. At times it can be spicy, in other places it will be sweet. Some even add vanilla seeds to the dressing! It can be served with hearts of palm, green papaya or garden vegetables. Don't hesitate to order this salad, because it is truly delicious.
  • Salade de Millionnaire. Which is a salad of fresh palm hearts mixed with assorted vegetables and dressed lightly with a vinaigrette. The same applies to this salad as above, it will be made differently everywhere. However, the one thing you should be aware of is to only consume the hearts of palm that come from sustainable farms, otherwise whole trees are cut for obtaining the heart, which ends their lives and threatens their existence. Click this link for Salad de Millionnaire Recipe
  • Cold Cuts. Smoked Mackerel, smoked Marlin, Octopus Carpaccio are specialties of the island, and you are probably never to have them taste better than when in Mauritius. These can be had with bread and chili paste or can be had in salads, usually consisting of green papaya, sliced red onions, deseeded sliced tomatoes and red capsicums.

Le Capitaine Restaurant - Grand Baie, Mauritius
Must try their Assorted grilled Seafood Platter (optional with cream sauce or only olive oil)

Entrees
  • The island's specialty Octopus Vindaye, which is a mustard curry that can also be made with fish, salted fish, other varieties of seafood. I have tried all versions and loved them, however - and I rarely say this - but I did not like the salted fish version, and don't recommend it! Click here for Mauritius Vindaye Recipe
  • If you find concentrated mustard to be too sharp for your taste, then try the milder version of Vindaye, called Vindaloo (another specialty dish of the island). It is essentially the same curry as Vindaye, but cooked with the addition of coconut milk, which makes the mustard flavour much lighter. 
  • Aubergine & Chicken Curry, is absolutely delicious. It is a must try specialty curry in Mauritius, usually served with steamed rice and a side selection of chutneys and/or green chili paste.
  • All fresh seafood are a must try in Mauritius, as they are from sea to plate and don't get any fresher. Grilled, roasted, curried, stewed, or cooked with ginger sauce... all are really good. The black Lobsters and King Prawns are especially tasty as well as the fabulous Mauritius Marlin, Tuna & Mackerel.
  • If you are into rice dishes, you will enjoy the varieties of Biryanis (very similar to Indian Biryanis, slightly different due to spices), you will also enjoy the Paella! Yes! The creole Paella might look like the Spanish Paella, but it tastes nothing like it! It is a delight however. Mixed fried rice is also abundantly offered and is at times even had alongside a curry!
  • Mauritius traditional Sauce. On the menus you will see all types of meats and seafood, as well as vegetarian dishes, cooked in Mauritius sauce. Mauritius sauce is basically a tomato based sauce that is fragranced by curry spices and other island specialty spice mixes. It is delicious, however, nothing like the fabulous curries.
  • Yellow curry. Is another curry sauce in which they will cook all types of meats and vegetables. This is one of my favourite curries there. Always aromatic and complex in flavour.
Sauteed Pineapples
All Sauteed, flambeed fruit desserts are a must have in Mauritius.
Delicious, caramelised, warm and cooled by the home-made vanilla ice cream! The very food of vacations..

Desserts
  • Any time you read home-made vanilla or coconut ice cream on a menu, go for it! I cannot begin to tell you how good these ice creams are! The vanilla is exquisite in Mauritius and fresh coconuts are every where, which makes the flavours of these ice creams very decadent. You will see the vanilla seeds on the vanilla ice cream, and the flakes in the coconut ice cream. They even go all the way and add a drop of coconut jam on top of the coconut ice cream, which is just heavenly!
  • Sauteed / Flambeed fruit desserts are another specialty and a complete must. Delicious does not begin to describe these desserts, especially with the caramel sauce and when paired with their home-made ice creams... Perfection on a plate!
  • Creme Brulee is another great dessert to have in Mauritius, especially using those bourbon vanilla beans and unrefined cane sugar, the dessert is just succulent and a must have. Click here for creme brulee recipe

Chez Marco Restaurant - Grand Baie, Mauritius
Focaccia, Pizzas, Breads, Cold Cut Platter... it was all great, and really really delicious.
 Tried & Tested Restaurants that I strongly recommend you try when in Mauritius.
(These are all casual, true island spirit restaurants)

  • Chez Tino Restaurant. My absolute favourite restaurant and the only place I went to twice in the same trip! (I even preferred it over Chez Rosy, see below) Whatever we ordered was always succulent and the staff are very friendly and accommodating especially with the kids. The restaurant offers good varieties of food for children too and mine were more than happy with what they had. The terrace has a gorgeous view of the sea. The restaurant is calm, not overly full, but never empty either. Chef Sophie is such a lovely lady and her food is just Divine. I recommend everything on that menu. Honestly the food is gorgeous, all of it was fabulous. Chez Tino is located in Trou D'eau Douce on the Route Royale, East Coast Mauritius. +2304802769
  • Le Saint Geran One & Only Hotel. We had gone to dine in Le Saint Geran, purely because it was right next to the Villa where we were staying. They offer a Buffet followed by a local talent band show at the bar. While the buffet was quite limited  it included some of the best Smoked Marlin and Octopus Carpaccio that I had tasted in Mauritius. The oysters and sea urchins were also fresh and excellent, so was the seared tuna, and the octopus salad. The selection of desserts though is what blew me away. From classic French desserts, to island fusions and pure creole desserts, all was there to sample. And it all did not disappoint. We had a great time watching the show after dinner, and met the lovely rum connsoisseur Valeytan. A very good experience and an excellent show. Make sure to be there before sunset, because the sunset there is just breath taking. Le Saint Geran One & Only is located in Belle Mare on the East Coast of the Island.  +230 401 1888
Le Saint Geran One & Only, Belle Mare Mauritius
Getting Ready for Dinner & Show

  • Le Capitaine Restaurant. We went there in the evening and the place was buzzing. They had a band of two playing classic rock and all time favourites on the guitar, which was very good and created a fabulous ambiance for the evening. The seating is on a terrace, with a reception area, where you can have some drinks before being seated. You can also go there for just drinks and music without the dinner. There is a dedicated seating area for that. You must try their assorted grilled seafood platter which can either be served with a cream sauce or simply a drizzling of olive oil if you like. Their Octopus Salad was one of the best I had in Mauritius. Le Capitaine is located west of Town Centre on the Royal Road, Grand Baie, North of the island. +2302636867
  • Chez Marco Pizzeria. If you get tired of Creole Cuisine then Chez Marco is a very welcome break. The owner is Italian, and he makes the Pizzas and breads. You Will see him rolling and flipping the dough disks in the air, then topping them with all the toppings ready for the oven. The staff are very friendly and the place is just superb. The food is so good that for a moment you will check around to make sure you are not in Italy! Across the road from Grand Baie's most amazing "Trou Aux Biches" beach, so step there after a fabulous day in the sun. Chez Marco is located in Trou Aux Biches, Royal Road, Grand Baie, North of the island. +230 (0) 2657091

The Beach House Restaurant & Bar, Grand Baie, Mauritius

  • The Beach House Restaurant & Bar. The most fun place to be in the whole of Mauritius! It is outdoors on a terrace straight by the sea, you can eat, drink, leave your stuff there go for a dip in the sea and come back and enjoy! The kids spent the whole day swimming and munching and we had an excellent time. Very busy place, vibrant with nice music in the background. The owner is South African and had brought with him the very fun and outdoorsy South African spirit, good fun. The menu is very varied  from local cuisine, to Portuguese, Mexican, Italian, French, Asian and even intercontinental! It is all there for you to choose. This is one spot you must go to and never miss out on! The Beach House restaurant and bar is located in Grand Baie on the Royal Road, in the North of the Island. +230 263 2599
  • Chez Beni Restaurant. Also known as 'Pavillion D'or' is an excellent restaurant to savour super fresh seafood. It is owned by a family, where the father and one of the children are fishermen, they fish everyday and bring their catch to the restaurant, where it is cooked by the mother and served by another of the sons. Their specialty is Lobster and King Prawns. The Lobster was totally alive when we picked it and so where the prawns. Their King Prawn curry was OK, but the grilled Lobsters and King Prawns were so much better. The samosas too were very good. Their house rum is probably the best on the island. Beni the younger son who serves in the restaurant is a fully young man, very friendly and will make sure you get impeccable service. Highly recommended restaurant. Chez Beni is located in Pomplemousses just about 500 m away from L'aventure du Sucre, in the North West of the Island.
Chez Beni Restaurant, Pomplemousses, Mauritius
The Freshest Seafood and the nicest family run restaurant ever

  • Chez Rosy Restaurant. I had gone there because of the so many reviews, recommends and raves on #Tripadvisor. The restaurant lives up to its reputation the food there is delicious. The Octopus Salad is delicious and the king Prawn Beignets were devoured in seconds. Both Octopus & Fish Vindayes are highly recommended. Aubergine & Chicken Curry is another excellent choice there. The Flambeed Bananas were also Amazing. Chez Rosy is located in Le Gris Gris, Savanne Souillac, South of the island. +230 625 4179
  • Le Chamarel Restaurant. Probably has the most amazing view of all restaurants, what a fabulous setting! The food is very good, and the service was impeccable. If that is not enough, then there is also a fabulous tasting of various rums. Le Chamarel restaurant is located in Le Crete, Chamarel, South of the island.+230483 5449

Chez Rosy Restaurant - Le Gris Gris, Mauritius


Finally,


Left: Fresh Mauritius Raspberries, Right: Fresh Chinese Guava
Street Foods
Street foods are the most fun foods in any trip. This the munching and crunching on the go, to add flavour to the scenery and aroma for the memory. I don't know if there will ever be street food as vibrant and delicious as that in the Mauritius. These are my top picks:

  • Fresh Chinese Guava is the strangest and tiniest surprise in the form of a fruit. It looks like tiny pomegranates that tastes of Guava. Really delicious. Buy a pack of these vitamin rich fruits and much as you walk. Street vendors everywhere sell these delicious treats. Especially found near the crater.
  • Fresh Mauritus Raspberries look slightly different from the regular raspberries and taste more tangy, which is why they are usually served with a sprinkling of sugar. Still, they are really tasty and very fresh on the palate. Also sold by many street vendors.
  • Samosas & Fritters are sold everywhere. Almost every street vendor sells these with a choice of dip (sweet chilli, green chilli or chutney). Many varieties to choose from all of which are really good.
  • Dholl Puri is like Mauritius National Food. It is bread-like roll filled with a spicy lentil paste and served with a green chilli dip for even more fire. Ask anyone in Mauritius and they will tell you Dewa & Sons is the best Dholl Puri on the island. It is located in Roseville near Port Louis. However, there are many other vendors that sell Dholl Puri.
  • Phoenix, Mauritius Local Beer is fantastic and a must try.

Dholl Puri

  • Banana / Bread Fruits Crisps are a different and very interesting take on crisps. Especially good as nibbles with drinks.
  • The best of all are the Red Chili Powder Sprinkled Fresh Pineapples. These are just succulent, juicy, sweet and spicy all at once. A real pleasure that you can find at almost every turn, so make sure to try them.

Fresh Pineapple with Sea salt & Red Chili Powder

Mauritius is an island full of good eats and fabulous produce. You really have got to try their fabulous foods, it is an integral part of the whole experience. Don't stick to the intercontinental food served in hotels and resorts, you will be missing out on a lot. I have wholeheartedly enjoyed their food, restaurants and all eating experiences and food related activities. What pleasure, and what variations, utterly interesting and really fun! 

Assorted Spices Giveaway
I hope that with this run down, I was able to give you an idea of what to expect food-wise. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and are becoming more eager to visit Mauritius and adventure a little more with food. To make sure you do, I have brought back small tasters of Mauritius as giveaways for you to try before you head out to Mauritius. The Pack of Assorted Spices (right) is one of these giveaways, which will allow you to carry out the Mauritius creole recipes I am posting on my recipes blog. Click this link for instructions on how to enter the draw and hopefully win this giveaway. 

Do let me know what kind of restaurants you look for when travelling, and what types of food you are more likely to eat? Do you like to try the destination's authentic cuisine or are you more into playing it safe and eating the foods you are more accustomed to? Do you like to try street foods? I love nothing more than hearing from you, so don't shy away, and leave me a comment before you go :)


Relative Links





Come back again soon for more .... 
Till then, sprinkle chili powder mixed with fleur de seul on fresh pineapples and enjoy!




Disclaimer:
I go on my Culinary Trips on my own behalf, self-funded and do not earn any income for recommending any accommodation, restaurant, service, activity...etc. I share my experience with you to hopefully inspire you to try the locations, services and activities which I have personally found outstanding. The views expressed in this blog are my own. 

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