Dining at Moyyan, House By the Sea, Espiritu Santo

When we arrived in Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu we were aware there are limited dining options but were repeatedly told that if we had an occasion we wanted to celebrate or if we just wanted a really lovely night out, the restaurant at Moyyan, House by the Sea was the place to be.

Entrance from the road

Entrance from the road

Well…we did have an occasion we wanted to celebrate and we did want a really lovely night out and so we made a booking at Moyyan.  And you do have to book as this is a small restaurant that can often be booked out by Moyyan’s guests from its six fares alone.

The tables haven't yet been set for dinner but the position is amazing

The restaurant before being set up for dinner

The occasion was our wedding anniversary.  We left our three children to fend for themselves at the guesthouse we were staying in.  We did do our best to dress-up for the occasion but when you’re in the South-Pacific and when you have to traverse across sand to get to the restaurant, it’s okay to arrive in thongs.

So pretty

So pretty

The restaurant is situated at the very front of the Moyyan property so it is pretty much on the sand with large trees bending down towards the ocean providing shelter and privacy as you look out at an impressive view of the South-Pacific ocean.  The seating is under a covered verandah on tables set with starched linen tablecloths, linen napkins, candles and even fresh flowers.  Everyone working in restaurants in Santo seems to know how to fold napkins into pretty shapes.

We were shown to a table that couldn’t have been closer to the sea and had the sky not been fully blanketed with clouds, we would have seen the full moon rise up over the ocean.  Another time!

The setting

So close to the water

Warning:  The images are all rather dodgy.  There is no daylight-saving in Santo and so it becomes dark by 6pm.  And…there was no moonlight!

We started our evening by ordering a bottle of red wine.  Due to the heat, in Vanuatu often the red wine is stored in the fridge.  Moyyan has the best wine list of all the places we visited on Santo.  The wines predominantly come from Australia and New Zealand with some French wines added to the range of choices.

Some Aussie red

Some Aussie red

Complimentary bread arrived and this was probably the best bread we found in Santo.  It was lovely to see some butter as because there’s no dairy industry, all butter is imported to Santo.

Warm bread rolls with butter

Warm bread rolls with butter

The menu at Moyyan changes daily however, you can always rely on there being a few Santo favourites on the menu including the organic Santo beef and the Poulet fish.

I ordered the Crispy Chicken Rolls.  These were clearly brought to me straight from the deep-fryer with no dawdling ‘on the pass’ as they were extremely hot.  They were also crunchy which was very nice and tasted a lot like Thai Spring Rolls with a slight variation in traditional ingredients; (which you expect when not all ingredients are readily available in Santo).

Crunchy Chicken Rolls

Crispy Chicken Rolls:  1500 vt or $18.00

Drew ordered the Cajun Prawn and Calamari Salad.  While he couldn’t find any prawns, (relax, it’s the South-Pacific), there were some beautifully tender calamari that he enjoyed with the dressing.

Calarmari and Prawn Salad

Cajun Prawn and Calamari Salad:  1600 vt or $19.00

I was desperate for some eye-fillet steak with bearnaise sauce however, I couldn’t find it on any menu in Santo.  At Moyyan I could either have the scotch fillet with a green peppercorn sauce or Fillet Mignon.  I chose the Fillet Mignon that came with a port wine jus.

Fillet Mignon with Port Wine Jus:  3100 vt or $36.00

Fillet Mignon with Port Wine Jus: 3100 vt or $36.00

All main courses come with a choice of either French fries and garden salad or “Moyyan” mash with seasoned vegetables.  I chose the French fries with salad and then regretted it as the salad was the same as the salad I was served with my entree.  I also think the port wine jus would have been excellent with the mash – next time!

I was disappointed with the Fillet Mignon in that the bacon was very under-cooked and I would have liked it to have been crispy.  The steak was very tender and lived up to the reputation I’d heard so much about however I did find the port wine jus quite heavy and strong and would have preferred a more subtle sauce option (like Bearnaise!).

A table by the sea

A table by the sea

Drew ordered the Santo Crumbed Poulet Fish with a Citrus Aioli.  Well, in true Drew-style, this was excellent and couldn’t be faulted.  He especially loved the crunchy crispiness of the crumb that was a great contrast to the softness of the fish.

Crumbed Poulet Fish with Citrus Aioli

Crumbed Poulet Fish with Citrus Aioli:  3000 vt or $35.00

We didn’t need dessert but there was no need to rush back to the kids so we went ahead and ordered.  I had the coconut ice cream with a berry coulis.  The ice cream was a little frosty in parts but mostly very creamy with a great flavour of coconut.  It was a very refreshing dessert and despite the amount I had already eaten, I managed to finish all of this dessert.

Coconut Ice Cream with Berry Coulis

Coconut Ice Cream with Berry Coulis

Drew had the caramelised bananas with chocolate sauce and ice cream.  Another winning dish for Drew who kept saying how full he was as he managed another mouthful.

Caramelised Bananas with Chocolate Sauce

Caramelised Bananas with Chocolate Sauce

Our experience with dining in Santo is that you need to set your clock on ‘Island Time’ and not become anxious if your food doesn’t arrive in 15-minutes, half an hour, or even 45-minutes.  But we found the service at Moyyan to be almost on-par with the Australian pace which allowed us a very relaxed and non-rushed dining experience.  Prices are not in-expensive but dining out in Vanuatu tends to be on the high-side.

For the tropics, we're all dressed-up.

For the tropics, we’re all dressed-up.

Verdict:  I’ll be there again when the skies are clear and I can see the moon.

Moyyan, House by the Sea:  Lot 10, Barrier Beach, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
+678 36160

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  1. Charlie, how romantic, and you both look fabulous. Nice to be catching up as my holiday was mostly off-line as far as broadband is concerned. Did I tell you that my family LOVED your life-changing bread recipe. My son is now making it and passing it on to his friends. For a gluten-free person travelling, it’s a compact and filling food to carry. So you have been in my grateful thoughts. So good to have a recipe that’s not based on flour or sugar! Enjoy your holiday. I’m back at work now.

  2. This looks like a wonderful evening. What a fabulous place to spend your anniversary. I don’t seem to be getting your new post alerts, not sure why. I’ll keep checking back to make sure I dont miss any more. GG x

  3. Even without the moonlight, it still looks like a pretty nice evening was had. Happy anniversary!

  4. Happy Anniversary … I would have enjoyed either of your meals but definitely your dessert.

  5. Happy Anniversary – good timing to be on holiday. Sounds like good food, shame about the prawns but hey as you say its the tropics, everything is casual. I am waiting to see what the kids ate.

  6. Happy Anniversary my friend. It sounds like the location was idyllic and the food good. Drew always seems to order spot on, but then perhaps he is not as discerning? The moon would have looked awesome reflecting in the ocean for sure, but I bet the two of you only had eyes for eachother so it would have been moot!

  7. How strange, the comment box cut off my last sentence!

  8. Wonderful! Happy, happy anniversary! What a lovely way to celebrate xo

  9. Very romantic, Charlie – and a very happy anniversary.

  10. Happy Anniversary! I don’t think a better location would have been possible! 🙂

  11. Happy Anniversary! What a wonderful setting to celebrate! 🙂 Liz xxx

  12. Happy Anniversary Charlie! Looks like a magical place.

  13. Happy Anniversary to you both. It certainly looks like a romantic spot to celebrate.

  14. You are so dang glamorous lady. How do you do that? I step out into humidity, and within minutes look like a wet cat. Bleh!!! Bummer ya missed the moon, but it sure still looks like a a beautiful spot to anniversary dine. Speaking of…. Happy anniversary! xoxo

  15. It sounds like you had a wonderful time for your anniversary, Charlie. I’m sure the kids did find fending for themselves, lol…Isn’t it funny how the other person’s meal are usually closer to what they were yearning for but not always the case for what you oder, lol…A lovely meal making more memories, how can you go wrong?

    Thank you so much for sharing, Charlie…Now I’m off to find that life altering bread recipe Juliet is talking about…

  16. Congratulations to the two of you on another year of marriage. Very happy occasion to celebrate, Charlie. Although the meal seems to have had its ups and downs, it had to be a ver special time in such a lovely place. I would love that coconut ice cream with berry coulis! 🙂

  17. What a beautiful setting for any meal, but especially on your anniversary. Happy anniversary and many more!

  18. Nothing is as awesome as a dining by the sea. With that cajun prawn and calamari salad? Ahhhh, tastyyy!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  19. I love the atmosphere, the sea breeze and the aromas of good food! Definitely want to eat in the balmy air!

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. Happy Anniversary! I can’t think of a nicer way to dine than outside by the sea. Lovely!

  21. Gorgeously, deliciously, sweetly ROMANTIC)))!! WOWWWWWWW. xx

  22. Happy, happy anniversary! Ocean view dining—now that’s the way to celebrate 🙂

  23. Happy Anniversary! And what a romantic spot, basically right on the beach. Just lovely. Glad you enjoyed most of each of your meal choices. 🙂

  24. Next time he should hold your hand and look romantic for the anniversary shot. Weren’t you on a cruise for your last anniversary? I think you two are spoiled. 🙂

    That place reminds me of our favorite place in Jamaica – so close to the beach you nearly get your feet wet during dinner.

  25. Happy anniversary sweetie! I hope it was romantic even without the moon 🙂 I’m glad there was somewhere special to celebrate, and someone even more special to celebrate with xox

  26. Beautiful photo at the end Charlie. I am so jealous of Drew’s poulet fish. I had it in Vanuatu about 15 years ago and have never seen it again. It was the best fish I’ve ever had in my life!

  27. Happy Anniversary!!! That fish does look good. What a great place to celebrate your anniversary.

  28. With that view, I could forgive a lot! What a wonderful anniversary dinner…

  29. This looks SO romantic! Great photos, it looks like you guys are having a magical time 🙂

  30. I am always surprised at all that you seem to be able to fit into your tiny body. Happy anniversary. It looks very romantic even if there was no moon.

  31. Belated congrats on the wedding anniversary, yip have just spent the last couple of hours catching up on your blog… still a few more days to go then I have caught up lol 🙂


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