Dining at a Chinese Restaurant in Espiritu Santo

The population of Espiritu Santo is between 30-40,000 people.  As such the town of Luganville is fairly small and basically just one main street barely stretching 100mtrs in length.  So finding a myriad of dining options in the town isn’t possible.

Traveling Santo-style

Traveling Santo-style.  Main street of Luganville.

We had heard of the Chinese restaurant and been told it has to be seen to be believed so we put this on our ‘must-do’ list.

Parking isn't an issue in Luganville - and it's always free.

Parking isn’t an issue in Luganville – and it’s always free.

After a very wet and soggy day, there was a pause in the constant rain so we seized that moment to drive into town – local style.  That’s where you don’t bother with seat belts and you put your kids in the back of the Hilux and just tell them to hang on.  And tell them to keep their mouths closed or insects will be their entree.

Santo Chinese

Santo Chinese

The drive into town took around 15 minutes and there was no traffic (there never is) and there are no traffic lights.  With that and no seat belts and kids flying around in the back, it’s like driving in the olden days.

One half of the restaurant

One half of the restaurant

The restaurant is in two halves with a full Berlin wall between the two halves which is very unusual and we chose to sit in the half I’d call the red half as Chinese lanterns lit the room bathing it in a red glow.  If you’re tall, watch your head on those lanterns!

Mind the rick-shaw

Mind the rick-shaw

The restaurant is very much ‘Nick-Nack Central’ and there is much to see and discover on the walls and the floor and at the bar and in every corner of the two halves.  ‘Busy’ is the word I’d use to describe the interior styling.

A bit of Bob

A bit of Bob

We sat at the bar and ordered a round of drinks.  Alfie ordered a chocolate milkshake and the others a Tusker, the local beer.  I asked for a glass of Chardonnay but they were out of Chardonnay.  In fact they were out of all white wine.  They were serving red wine but it was in a cask and that cask brought back some memories from the 1980’s that weren’t positive so I declined.

Sitting up at the bar

Sitting up at the bar

There is a bottle shop a few doors down on the other side of the road so I went in there and bought a bottle of wine that even had a cork.  The restaurant is BYO so all good there.

The Bar

The Bar

After some time at the bar we sat at the table with its red tablecloth and water glasses in a rainbow of colours that were filled with chopsticks and some twisted tea-towels that were used as napkins.

Tea-towel napkins twisted into water glasses

Tea-towel napkins twisted into water glasses

The waitress took our order and there were a few things they didn’t have like pork dumplings but we managed a good assortment of dishes.

Deep-Fried Prawn: 1800 vt or about AUS$20.00

Deep-Fried Prawn: 1800 vt or about AUS$20.00

We started with Deep-Fried Prawns.  These were lightly-battered and the batter had a lovely crunch to it.  It was a very generous serve and a terrific way to start the meal.  I passed on the prawn crackers as they looked a little bilious.

Next we had Beef Dumplings.  There are eight to a serve and these were my favourite dish of the evening.  There was a lovely sauce that had been lightly sprinkled on the dumplings and the dumplings had a very refreshing kick of fresh ginger.

Beef Dumplings:  800 vt (about AUS$10.00)

Beef Dumplings: 800 vt (about AUS$10.00)

We ordered the Beef Spring Rolls and again, there were eight to a serve.  These were very unusual looking and not what we expected as we were looking for that spring roll pastry but these were crispy and tasty and came with two dipping sauces.

Beef Spring Rolls:  1200 vt or about AUS$15.00

Beef Spring Rolls: 1200 vt or about AUS$15.00

The fried rice was a little disappointing and not at all similar to the fried rice I’m used to.  However, there was plenty of it and the rice was cooked well and there were plenty of vegetables in the dish.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice

I do love a bit of theatre so we ordered the Sizzling Beef.  There was plenty of sizzle and again, this was a very generous serving.  The beef was tender and there were lots of crunchy vegetables however I didn’t really enjoy the flavour of the sauces.

Sizzling Beef:  2500 vt or about AUS$28.00

Sizzling Beef: 2500 vt or about AUS$28.00

The next dish to arrive was the Roast Pork.  This was pork belly with a very crunchy crackle however, the pork was very over-cooked and incredibly dry.  There was a lovely char-sui sauce on the pork and despite the dryness, I did enjoy this dish.  The vegetables served with it were fresh, vibrantly green and crunchy.

Roast Pork:  1950 vt or about AUS$25.00

Roast Pork: 1950 vt or about AUS$25.00

Well…when there’s deep-fried ice cream on the menu you can’t not order it and so lastly, it was ordered for dessert.  I was intrigued with the presentation and the unusual serving dishes.  It was a very generous serving with two balls of ice cream and a banana, a little drizzle of strawberry topping and an umbrella!

Deep-Fried Ice Cream

Deep-Fried Ice Cream

I do prefer a staggered dining experience and at this Chinese restaurant the dishes arrive one at a time and without any sense of rush.  You have the opportunity to enjoy each dish before the next one lands on your table.

One half of the restaurant

One half of the restaurant

Dining options in Santo are limited and prices are on scale with Sydney prices yet the quality of the cuisine presented does not match a Sydney dining experience.  This Chinese restaurant is a more moderately-priced dining option and with its prices and generous servings, probably represents better value for money.

Not only does this restaurant give good value for money, it’s visually quirky and will set you in the mood for a great night out.

Verdict:  Lots of fun.

Santo Chinese

FHP Chinese Restaurant

FHP Chinese Restaurant & Takeaway:  Main Street, Town Centre, Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

Ph:  +678 774 1378


  1. So glad you found some wine! Very interesting meal.

  2. Posting that next to last photo onto your Facebook page upside down was a clever way to get traffic, missy. 🙂

    Interesting restaurant. More pics!

  3. I’m usually not too excited with Chinese restaurant food but this place does indeed look like fun. I know you usually cook on some of your vacations, do you have a kitchen in your accommodation? It’s nice that you were able to get the whole family together for this trip.

  4. Love that decor… LOL .. Glad you guys had fun!

  5. This does conjure up images of times past, in more ways than one, but in a good way 🙂 It sounds like a fun night out and I admire their creative presentation of cloth napkins with straws!

  6. I just love it that your older kids are with you on this holiday. Sometimes with young people it is like herding cats, so it is particularly lovely when they all get herded together at once. Very special to be able to travel all together. Looks like a fun dinner.

  7. Everything looks great but the beef rolls immediately caught my eye.

  8. What a cool looking restaurant. Glad the food turned out to be good too. I’ve got my eye on the dumplings!

  9. Now this would be just the type of restaurant I would enjoy because of its quirkiness.

  10. Wow! What an adventure. Enjoy and stay safe xo

  11. Everything looked delicious and how fun to be able to look around at all of their quirky decor. Including….the slightly phallic dessert? LOL Am I the only one that noticed that or maybe my mind is just in the gutter today! 😉

  12. Oops. Now I see it- that dessert is definitely phallic:). I always think of Chinese as takeaway so find it hard to think of eating in but sometimes you have to go with the flow. Hope you are having a fab hol.

  13. Always worth checking out the local!

  14. I haven’t had Ice Cream Balls forever … years ago, when we used to have dinner parties (pre-kids) I used to make them for dessert all the time!

  15. It does sound like a fun dining experience! And many more hits than misses with the food. Even Bill might have found a dish or two to his liking 🙂

  16. This certainly looks like a fun night out, and one you’ll have memories of for a long time- quirky indeed! Very hmm…interesting…dessert presentation Charlie, all part of the quirkiness I pressume 🙂 Have a wonderful time sweetie xox

  17. Wow that’s quite a red tint to the room. Always intriguing to have Chinese around the world and see how locals have adapted it. We found that Chinese in Vienna tasted very different to what we were used to in Sydney!

  18. You are very brave Charlie and funny too just like those tomato flowers someone seated over making. Food id not a very big focus in the south pacific unfortunately. I am sure you guys had a good time together though. It does look like everyone is happy x

  19. I always like quirky places like this. 🙂 The dumplings in particular sound really good.

  20. I love travel.restaurant looks amazing.wish that u all had great time

  21. Glad you found at least one place that you enjoyed! The food does look particularly good at this one.

  22. Some of the dishes sound excellent. A fun night no doubt!

  23. How fun, Charlie Louie, that you can order a chocolate milkshake at a Chinese restaurant! Love the visuals of flying around town, too, in a seatbelt-less truck…These are indeed the family trips that build memories. <3 Oh! And the food…Wish I could have just a bite of that rice and deep fried ice cream – yum!

  24. This place seems like a great choice, I love the fried ice cream especially 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  25. I’d always order deep fried ice cream too. No sweet & sour deep fried chicken though? I love your line about the kids in the back with no seatbelts like the old days.

  26. It looks like a fun place and to have so many good dishes out of what you ordered is better than your average Chinese place. Glad you’re enjoying your holiday so far!

  27. That restaurant looked like an experience to be sure! How fun that you’re able to go on vacations with the whole fam…I miss those.

  28. You’re hilarious Charlie, whenever I read your posts, I say to Pete, “you’re not going to believe what they’ve been up to now..” I’m still smiling at the idea of Drew smacking his head on overhanging lanterns. The divided restaurant bit sounds bizarre! 🙂

  29. Dear Charlie,

    We once ate Chinese at Te Anau while driving the south island of NZ. Against my apprehension, I knew it was going to be a struggle but Mysaucepan was missing Chinese food after 2 weeks. As it turned out, it was pretty disastrous and made me appreciate just how good Chinese food is in Sydney.

  30. What a relief! I was worried that you were in for a bad night from the decor but it sounds like the food was good!

  31. I was so nervous as I started to read. I think living in the city, you have pretty good authentic Chinese food that it’s almost better if you don’t expect to eat Chinese food. xD I guess they tried their best to represent Chinese food and decor. 😉

  32. Everything looked really good! Much better than some of the bigger places. Nice portions too. Looks like you all enjoyed your evening.

  33. Yes, it is visually quirky. I was surprised to see Bob Marley at a Chinese restaurant. You guys do eat well when you travel and I think that every eating experience with your family looks like a party. 🙂

  34. Deep fried ice cream is the best way to end any Chinese restaurant experience…especially if there is an umbrella involved 🙂

  35. Food looks very tasty! Glad the kids obeyed, otherwise they had insects for entree LOL, that was funny!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  36. The dumplings and beef look delicious! What a fun restaurant trip, thanks for taking us along!

  37. Interesting about the price and quality v. Sydney.

  38. For that tiny island, it is amazing to see there are 30-40,000 people that live there. I bet the food was AMAZING, each entree’ looked gorgeous! Hugs, Terra

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