Roulotte


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Oceania » French Polynesia
January 3rd 2016
Published: September 30th 2017
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Papeete's Colourful Market ...Papeete's Colourful Market ...Papeete's Colourful Market ...

... Is that winter melon??? Tahiti is known for having a rather substantial Chinese population, and the fact that you can find winter melon at the market certainly supports that.
Geo: -17.52, -149.56

The venerable Roulotte, the iconic food truck of French Polynesia - you don't eat at one of these looking for any gourmet cuisine, but you do come here if you are looking for the quintessential local experience. There's definitely a ton of variety here, especially at Papeete's waterfront, which is known for its especially large collection of Roulottes, the biggest in all of French Polynesia, and its bustling atmosphere.

There isn't a whole lot to do in Papeete, which is used by most travelers as simply a pit stop for a night before or after a flight or cruise, but we were glad that we were able to sample the Roulottes before moving on tomorrow morning. Eating here is a slice of Tahitian life, and a great way to introduce ourselves to the local cuisine and culture, which, shockingly, had a heavy Chinese influence! Who would've expected to see chow mein and fried rice on so many menus?

While definitely tempting to see what the Tahitian version of Chinese food would be like, we eventually settled on some crepes, despite a strong desire to sample the French Polynesian version of ceviche, some sashimi, some delicious smelling grilled meats, or the freshest seafood you could imagine. We rationalized that we could sample any and all of that in our next 13 nights in French Polynesia, but that crepes might be just a little harder to find.

Our dinner may not have been of the best quality, but that's somewhat beside the point - the value is beyond compare in a pricey destination such as French Polynesia, and the atmosphere is second to none. Eating at a collection of Roulottes like this is as Tahitian as it gets, and was by far the most enjoyable experience we had in Papeete, which definitely is not the prettiest of cities, in our quick blitz through here. The rest of French Polynesia will undoubtedly be far nicer to look at, and will offer the vistas we've seen in postcards - but hopefully, we'll still be able to find a Roulotte or two for a meal!


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The Lovely Hotel Sarah Nui ...The Lovely Hotel Sarah Nui ...
The Lovely Hotel Sarah Nui ...

... There is definitely a correlation here when it comes to price and charm!
Things Foreigners Don't Get ...Things Foreigners Don't Get ...
Things Foreigners Don't Get ...

... Powdered milk for sale at Auckland airports duty free shop. Not something we would ever buy, but there must be some kind of explanation for them carrying this, because somebody must be buying it!
Tiniest Wine Cups Ever ...Tiniest Wine Cups Ever ...
Tiniest Wine Cups Ever ...

... All they had in the hotel room were these tiny espresso cups, but we had to make use of them as little wine glasses, and drank them one shot at a time.
Breakfast at Hotel Sarah Nui ...Breakfast at Hotel Sarah Nui ...
Breakfast at Hotel Sarah Nui ...

... Not the best, but this will likely be the first of many mediocre breakfasts in French Polynesia. This is definitely not a budget destination, and stories abound of the poor quality to price ratio of food here. The baguette was quite decent, but the pain au chocolat left a lot to be desired.
Size Does Matter ...Size Does Matter ...
Size Does Matter ...

... The local tiny little bananas might not be the biggest, but they sure do taste sweet!
Crepes at Papeete's Roulottes ...Crepes at Papeete's Roulottes ...
Crepes at Papeete's Roulottes ...

... An Esmeralda, with egg, Swiss cheese, chorizo, and canned mushrooms. The other was an Aremiti, which was like the Esmeralda, but without chorizo and with tomato sauce, onion, minced meat, and bacon. Not the best of crepes, but dinner was definitely quite reasonaby priced in comparison to typical Tahitian restaurant prices.
Last Minute Shopping ...Last Minute Shopping ...
Last Minute Shopping ...

... having heard plenty about the horrific prices in French Polynesia, before leaving NZ, we hit up a grocery store to stock up on snack foods. Granola bars, beef jerky, trail mix, pistachios, rice crackers, and the atrocious Pineapple Lumps, sickly-sweet and artificial-tasting chewy pineapple candies, coated in chocolate. Some allergy medicine, manuka honey lozenges, and quail rillette rounded out our bizarre stash for French Polynesia.


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