(Cape Verde is blessed with abundance of sea food especially tuna for lunch which we can get in a bigger chunks here compared to in Malaysia. The vegetables however is nothing to shout about – we can get better vegetables here in Malaysia)
One of the key SOP when we are working at customer’s site is that firstly we minimize time taken for lunch and secondly we break into 2 teams so that there is always someone around during lunch time.
To ensure we go for lunch fast and back, we decided that it needs to be somewhere nearby (which meant within walking distance), clean (no point having team members on sick leave), a good selection of food (it should not be boring) and if possible, the restaurant staff need to know some level of English.
For lunch, after surveying around & talking to the locals, we basically short listed 3 options (actually there were 4 but last one was not viable as we need transportation to the restaurant and need to be there early, otherwise the food would be sold out).
We had 3 options for lunch which was:-
1. Italian Restaurant which was actually a high class restaurant and it was the nearest to our working place. They however had menu in English but the cheapest meal on the meal starts at about CVE800 and it can go all the way to CVE3000 depending on the dish you picked from the menu.
(Cheapest of all but very tasty – unfortunately the portions are not enough to sustain us until end of the day. The tuna pieces however makes a difference)
2. Bakery / Fast Food Restaurant with a difference. The place is called Pao Quente and they have several outlets in Praia. The best part of this place (which made us to set as our main place to go for lunch till we went back to Malaysia) is that they have both fantastic pastries and also set lunch & meals.
(Hard bread with butter for starters – each of us will get 2 small pieces to munch whilst waiting for our main meal)
(The main dish for the day – we usually ask what is on the menu before we confirm the orders as we have our own set of “halal” food to eat. Another huge tuna chunk with rice (kind of sticky) with boiled tasteless vegetables and no spicy sauces!!)
Our obvious choice would be the daily lunch set which comprised of a glass of juice of the day. Often they have white baobab fruit juice or hibiscus juice – both of which no sugar is added but definitely is healthier. On lucky days, you can get fresh pineapple juice – freshly blended. The set meal starts off with hard bread with butter and then the main dish (tuna, chicken, pork or beef, rotated on daily basis & availability) and finally finishing off with freshly brewed coffee with a pastry.
(Another main dish on different day – grilled pork with beet root, rice and fries – heavy but they don’t have the right sauce to go with this excellent dish – after a long string of complaints, they provided with some chilly sauce)
(Another main dish that we often had – cod fish with chickpeas with rice and fresh vegetables – probably one of the healthiest meal on the menu)
It is worth for money as it is cheaper than the Italian restaurant and there are more options & choices for the whole meal. Further they provide a coupon where for every 12th meal; you get a free meal from them. There are also other food to order option here which is more expensive but is very good (I always opt for omelette with ham, bread and freshly squeezed orange juice).
(I had always loved coffee and coffees in Cape Verde are one of the best I have tasted – it is fresh, strong and has a nice aroma to it. It is the best drink to end lunch before we head back to work)
3. The Government Building – this is the furthest away from the working place but still within a walking distance. The Prime Minister of Cape Verde’s office is in this building so the security is tight. At every entrance, there is a soldier with an AK 47 assault rifle, keeping a close on all visitors coming in and out of the building.
There is a small mess here for the Government staff but surprisingly it is open for visitors as well. The standard meal set goes for less than CVE500 but there is no drinks offered here. And since it is only open for the Government staff in particular, there is only limited food available so you need to come as early as possible. However if you come too early, the food is not ready (apparently they cook outside and bring it here).
However after 2-3 visits here, I decided that it is not fair for the hungry Government servants who may join-in later but the food is finished by outsiders. Further CVE300 is just for food without drinks which makes it less attractive compared to CVE500 at Pao Quente which includes drink, coffee and pastries.
P.s. remember the part where we said we wanted to minimise our lunch hours so we opt for having lunch somewhere near? Unfortunately we under-estimated the speed of the food preparation in Cape Verde – they can never match the pace that our Mamak restaurants serves their customers – you can get your food & drink within 10 minutes from time you ordered. In Cape Verde, there are times when we had waited for 30 – 45 minutes for the food to be served.
And we noticed another thing – maybe it is a local culture in Cape Verde – the staffs only serve the food once it is ready for everyone in the group. Unlike in Malaysia where it is a first order, first to get your meal basis, one needs to wait for a long time before you get your meal. The bigger the group, the longer you have to wait.
To be continued…