Fiji Stories and Tips

Denarau Dining: Hamacho and Ports O' Call

Hamacho: Classic Japanese Photo, Fiji, South Pacific

Reviewing the four restaurants in the Sheraton resort complex on Denarau Isalnd, near Nadi, Fiji ...

Fiji attracts many Japanese visitors, and Hamacho is their kind of place. One can choose between Teppan Yaki --- where 8-10 guests dine communally at large table with a grill in the center --- or Suki Yaki, where individual diners cook their own meals in a pot of boiling water laced with soy sauce: not at all like the pre-cooked meal-in-a-bowl you get in a Japanese restaurant in America.

I was given a huge platter of raw, thinly-sliced beef and a surprisingly sparse platter of lettuce, onion, bean curd and oriental vegetables. (When I asked for more, I was charged, but the headwater reversed the charge.) The Japanese waitress, a bit weak in English but long on charm and enthusiasm, stayed at my side just long enough to be satisfied that I had the hang of it, then retreated to a discreet distance. (On my first experience with this style of dining, in Tokyo, the waiter hovered uncomfortably close to me throughout the meal.)

I felt foreign and uncomfortable that first time; I wanted the server to bring me a perfectly-cooked dinner and then leave me alone to enjoy it. However, after my sukiyaki experience at Hamacho, I’ll do it again. There was an appealing-looking seafood sukiyaki on the menu that I’ll try the next time.

Ports O’ Call
This is Sheraton’s most elegant restaurant; a ‘fine dining’ venue and the only totally indoor, air-conditioned resaurant on the property. Crisp white table linens, with green accents and upholstered chairs and quality silver and glassware add to the general feeling of opulence. Soundproof walls and subdued, recessed lighting made Ports O’ Call a welcome oasis of calm and quiet after a day of overindulging in tropical sun and waterfront activities.

Among the more intriguing menu items I encountered were ...

-‘Queensland Baby Barrmundi on Horseradish Potato Mash & Herbed Tomatoes’;

- Tasmanian Salmon;

- ‘Sauteed Prawns with Jambalaya of Corn, Wild Rice and Asian Vegetables’;

- ‘Moana Pacific Cole over Lemongrass with Tempura Prawns and Corn Polenta ‘;

It being my final night in Fiji, I splurged on a combination of lobster and fillet of beef with mushroom ragout and wild rice. Expensive, yeah. But exquisite! Dinner was preceeded by a complimentary seafood appetizer and followed by an impromptu farewell serenade by the waitstaff --- who turned out to be near-professional quality a capella singers equal to some of the great gospel choirs heard on Chicago’s south side.

Ports O’ Call is pricier than the other restaurants in the Sheraton complex, with a more elaborate menu and more extensive wine list. You might not want to dine here every night, but should do it at least once during your stay.

All four of the Sheraton’s principal restaurants open at 6 p.m. for dinner only. The are open to non-hotel guests, but advance reservations are mandatory.

Both Hamacho and Ports O’ Call are Highly Recommended.

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