Travel bites: The best little café on NiueTravel News from Stuff - 18-09-2023 stuff.co.nz
At the best little café on the Pacific's best little self-governing island nation, I should never have ordered the omelette.
Stacked on thick-cut toast and partnered with potato croquettes and bacon, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it – in fact, it's delicious – but apparently I've overlooked the opportunity to enjoy a focaccia sandwich crammed with a wahoo steak from the exact 15kg fish I'd personally spent 20 minutes landing the day before.
Niue's like that, a super-friendly island where fishermen regularly drop off ocean-fresh barracuda, tuna and wahoo to their mates, and visitors arriving on the weekly flight from Auckland soon get used to friendly chats with more than a few of the 1700 locals living on 'The Rock of Polynesia'.
Both the three-egg omelette and the seared wahoo sandwich are menu staples at Niue's Fana Cafe, opened in March 2022 by Chris Skinner and Ros Price after hospo and travel industry adventures in Perth.get quote or book now in New Zealand
Also helping in the kitchen is Chris's Niuean mum Fana, the inspiration for both the café's name and retro Pasifika branding. Back in the day, Fana was a hula dancer in Tokyo – along with a few friends from the Cook Islands – and a stylised representation of her complete with a steaming cup of coffee is now the café's logo.
Tucked into her garter is a pistol, and according to Chris and Ros's son Onra, that's also a reference to 'fana', the Niuean word for 'gun'. Other family and Niuean memorabilia also enlivens the cafe, including colourful skateboard decks from Chris's sporting background, and a traditional wooden vaka (outrigger canoe) suspended high above the kitchen.
There's also plenty of local influence on the broader menu, with Niue's prized bush honey and organic vanilla harnessed for smoothies and iced tea. Come along on 'Fana Mac Friday' for a superior – complete with 'special sauce' – double-patty, triple-bun version of the Golden Arches' most famous offering.
It's a Sunday afternoon when I next catch up with Fana, this time both as guests at Niue's famous Washaway Cafe, a popular destination for both locals and visitors on the island's traditional day of rest.
Over fish burgers, beer and wine, she tells me more about her adventures in Japan, and makes me promise to come back to her family's cafe one more time before flying out the following day.
Returning for a couple of Fana's very cool T-shirts was always on my agenda, so after checking in on Monday morning and then leaving the airport – this is probably only allowed on laidback Niue – I'm back saying hi to Chris, Ros, Fana and the team, and tucking into their 'Umu' focaccia sandwich.
This one's packed with smokey locally-sourced puaka (wild boar), and takihi, thinly-sliced taro and papaya baked in coconut cream. After sharing a week on the island, word's definitely spread of Fana's culinary excellence, and there's no rush from other tourists heading back to Auckland to make the final transition just along the road through airport security.
Fana Cafe is open from Monday to Friday. See:
Air New Zealand flies weekly from Auckland to Niue. From November 2023 to January 2024, flights will be bi-weekly. See:
Accommodation includes the Scenic Matavai Resort Niue, and comfortable self-catering units at Namukulu Cottages. See: ;
Flying generates carbon emissions. To reduce your impact, consider other ways of travelling, amalgamate your trips, and when you need to fly, consider offsetting emissions.
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