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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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