Fijian cuisine turns 50

KANU Fiji’s gastropub experience. Picture: Supplied/Photography 2020 Kama Catch Me

Fiji Day has special meaning to local celebrity Chef Lance Seeto.

Not only because the country is celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence, but because 2020 has become a major turning point in the evolution of food in Fiji.

“Food historians and aficionados will look back on this time as the single biggest catalyst for Fiji’s cuisine to come of age. From food trucks, flea markets, artisan providores, homebaked goods, new cafes and restaurants, we are witnessing an innovation in local cuisine unlike any other time in our food history.”

And his team at KANU in Martintar, Nadi have planned a weekend full of gourmet food experiences to celebrate this special milestone.

Since its opening just a few months ago, KANU has quickly become the premiere dining experience in Nadi with its trendsetting vibe and curated playlist that sets the tone each meal service.

More than just a cafe or restaurant, Chef Seeto’s latest eatery has evolved into Fiji’s first Asian fusion gastropub.

According to one dictionary, a gastro-pub is a friendly, public gathering venue that specializes in serving high-quality food with a wide range of alcoholic beverages, and perfect for regular meetups with friends.

But according to Chef  Seeto, he believes a true gastropub also changes its menu daily, uses fresh locally grown ingredients and is casual, yet refined in atmosphere.

KANU Restauranteur Lance Seeto. Picture: Supplied/Photography 2020 Kama Catch Me

It’s also not overly priced but offers high-quality food and drink selections that should please foodies, beer drinkers and families alike.

“Many of our customers have commented how surprised they were to find it is so affordable, a place they can eat at a few times a week rather than just occasionally. Their assumption was that a fancy place must be an expensive place,” Chef Seeto said.

“I think KANU has definitively changed that perception.”

From Friday, KANU will introduce a special three-day, 50th Anniversary Weekend Wunderlust menu that showcases the finest seafood and meats, with seasonal fruits and vegetables.

This menu has been a collaboration with his head chef Kris Chand, one of Chef Seeto’s young proteges who trained under the masterchef at the prestigious Castaway Island during a period when the resort won back-to-back tourism awards for Best Fine Dining Restaurant for his “1808” visionary dining experience on the sand.

Chef Chand has delved deep into his Indian heritage to create a menu with Seeto that is Fijian in soul yet also pays respect to his ancestors’ contribution to Fijian cuisine over the past 50 years.

His use of native spices and ancestral cooking techniques, learned from his entire household in Lautoka including his grandparents, parents and siblings, will be evident in some of KANU’s Fiji Day menu this weekend.

The specials menu is available across the three days and offers the chance for a wider audience to experience.

“We didn’t want customers dining on a Saturday to miss out on the treasures we created for Friday or Sunday, so no matter which day you can squeeze into your activities, the same specials will be available,” Chef Seeto said.

He goes on to explain that they have flown down exotic pearl mussel from the J. Hunter Pearl farm in Savusavu, edible flowers and herbs from Elevate Organics in Taveuni and the freshest seafood out the tropical Yasawa waters including pakapaka, octopus, lobster and walu.

Vegans have also found a new home in KANU, with a substantial pure vegetarian selection of dumplings, spring rolls, rice, noodle and specials every day.

Tuesday is “Plant Power” specials at KANU, with the chefs giving those on religious or non-animal diets something more exotic and different to enjoy on this day.

“I know many who eat pure vegan foods on Tuesday, whether for their religious, spiritual or dietary beliefs. Whereas Tuesday used to be a dhal day, you can now enjoy seasonal, organic vegetables cooked in stir fry, pasta and appetisers at KANU.”

“ KANU is continually tapping into a growing organic farmers market chain of like-minded growers, who have adopted a non-chemical, herbal pesticide and natural fertilizer program that is producing incredible tasting produce.

“KANU is one of the few eateries in Fiji that is sacrificing price for organic quality.

“They have weekly standing orders with growers of local mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, watercress, coriander, coconuts, vanilla pods, Asian herbs and fruits, edible flowers and a plethora of produce not normally seen in most cafes and restaurants. “Our four core values are sustainability, seasonality, exploration and preservation.

“These are values that define the KANU experience,” Chef Seeto adds.

The pub side of KANU’s experience will also pay special homage to the 50th birthday celebrations with a curated Fiji Day cocktail that showcases one of our newest craft gins from The Distillery Co Fiji.

“This new gin is world class and takes in floral notes of layalaya, yagona, dhaniya and secret tropical botanicals.

“KANU is a proud early supporter of this new craft gin, vodka and rum being developed.

KANU Passionfruit Sangria with house-made lobster dumplings. Picture: Supplied/Photography 2020 Kama
Catch Me

“We love it so much that we created a special 50th birthday cocktail we’ve named in honor of its Blue Turtle gin – we call it the Blue Vonu.”

This weekend also sees the introduction of draught beer on tap at the popular gastropub.

With the price of local beer bottles plummeting, crisp draught beer has become king and the perfect pairing with KANU’s spiced chasers. And if you’re entertaining at home this weekend, you can still enjoy chef Seeto’s cuisine with family and friends, by ordering home delivery throughout Nadi.

If you are travelling into Nadi from afar or one of the many locals who have fallen in love with KANU, it is highly recommended to book early.

Call us or message on Facebook or Instagram, or send a pigeon with a note strapped to its leg – just book early for this 50th birthday celebration of great food and drinks at KANU.

KANU Head Chef Kris Chand. Picture: Supplied/Photography 2020 Kama Catch Me

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