BY ALYSSA MAHADEO
One of the most exciting things to do while on vacation is to experience new and different cuisines and dishes unique to the native land. The chance to sample new food items, with foreign names you’ve probably never even heard of offers a sort of daring adventure, one that’s sure to satisfy even the hungriest of bellies and leave your taste buds tingling for more!
On our recent trip to the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curaçao we had the chance to try many different types of food, some we were familiar with, while others we experienced for the first time. Our hosts at the EM City Hotel in Curaçao were very accommodating in recommending dishes for us to try, noting the difference in preparation of your typical island food in Curaçao opposed to the other islands.
On our first night on the island we had dinner at the Cafe Americano located conveniently downstairs from the hotel. The evening was warm with a gentle breeze, and the restaurant was playing slow and rhythmic samba music while the gentleman on the track played guitar and sang sweet ballads in papiamentu. It was a very casual and relaxing atmosphere and to eat they offered Caribbean style cuisine that we were familiar with, such as stew goat, and stew oxtail. We learned that many of their dishes are stewed and also we were encouraged to try their Iguana Soup. Iguana’s are very prominent reptiles on the island of Curaçao and the colonise on many of the local sandy beaches, climb on the trees and rest on rocky cliffs, as we learned on our sightseeing tour of the island. Iguana meat and eggs are considered, powerful aphrodisiacs and Iguana Soup is a local delicacy. Although we were a bit apprehensive at first, it turned out to be very delicious and packed with flavor very similar to hearty chicken soup definitely a dish that would warm you up on a cold winter’s night!
Another evening while we took a stroll down to Mambo Beach Boulevard, one of the most happening beaches on the island Mambo Beach offers many bars with live music and restaurants right there on the beach. If you are looking for a bite to eat the boulevard offers many different options depending on what you’re craving. There are chain restaurants as well as different types of cuisine from various places in the world. They offer Chinese, Italian, Indian, American, you name it they have it especially after a night party on the beach.
If you’re used to hitting up a food truck at 3am instead, Curaçao also has that covered. One of the best places to grab a bite to eat whether it’s a night out the town or you’re just looking to grab something and go, Koki Riba Blocki or Chef on Blocks is one of the most sought after food trucks on the island to get a tasty and filling meal. Their famous dishes consist of your choice of meat such as chicken, beef, conch, lamb, or chorizo with fries topped with peanut sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and other tasty and flavorful garnishes that they offer. They are a family operated business, with very high quality food and standards that have been maintained over the years. Owners Talel and Fadia Akkari were born in Venezuela but their family is originally from Lebanon. Talel, an experienced chef worked in many restaurants and hotel before opening his food truck restaurant. He saw that there was a demand for his food, and that it was something not only locals but people from abroad enjoyed. They open their truck nightly from 9pm – 4am and every evening brings line ups of people waiting for their delicious BBQ meals. They encourage people to call ahead to have meal prepared, and they are open rain or shine due to high demand. Located at St. Rosaweg Willemstad they are about a twenty- minute drive from the hotel, but well worth the trip!
About a five-minute walk from the EM City Hotel, across the Queen Emma Bridge better known as the ‘Swinging Old Lady’ pontoon bridge in Punda is a restaurant called Indosur, that offers tasty and flavourful authentic Indonesian and Surinamese influenced cuisine. Owner Richard Lam was born in China, and raised in Surinam where people are prominently Indonesian and Surinamese. The diversity of the country greatly impacted the type of dishes they prepared and so Richard chose to open a restaurant combining the different cultures with the help of his Indonesian chef. People from all over the world have visited his restaurant to sample some of their unique, savory, and delicious dishes commemorated by the many mementos written by people who have visited since they’ve opened. Each dish is a plateful of vibrant combination of meats, rice and noodles prepared with Chinese, Indonesian and Surinamese style influences. In addition to the great food, they offer a colourful drink menu of some of Richard’s personal concoctions including cocktails and alcoholic smoothies, as well as non-alcoholic smoothies. They are open from 8am-9:30pm Monday to Saturday, and their menu always has something new for you to sample!
Whether you’re out for a night on the town or looking for something a bit more low-key Curaçao’s Cuisine is an experience all on its own. Sit back, relax, grab a cerveza and a bite to eat, this is a place where you want to be!