Madagascar Restaurant Tips by Norali Top 5 Page for this destination
Madagascar Restaurants: 30 reviews and 47 photos
Don't let a look put you off, look at the goudron!
Was there a dish that could be qualified as our "national dish", ravitoto it would be. Still, romazava créole (leaves, zébu meat & ginger stock), voanjobory sy henakisoa (round pea & pork meat) could snatch this title to ravitoto. Malagasy style turkey (turkey & pork meat) also uses to be the classical main dish at a local wedding... but ravitoto is well, ravitoto.
So, what is all about ? Ground manioc (or cassava) leaves cooked with pork meat. The tender leaves are almost micronised, use to be ground in a mortar with a pilar. It is as delicious as... Nothing to compare to it. Especially when the oil in the pan has acquired this dark green colour by the cooking. We do not add oil to the dish, only the fat of the pork meat would cook & dampen it. A cook has succeeded this dish when one can see the "tar" or "goudron" as we use to name it... It is the darkened oil I talked about earlier.
Westerners have to get used to the fact that, when invited to ravitoto diner, they don't have to take all the fat to be polite. Even us who are used to the dish, use to leave the "tar" in the saucepan. The "tar" is a good indicator of a well-balanced ravitoto. Not dry & not too fat. It's too fat when the ravitoto is buried under litres of oil like I saw in Zairean cuisine. Still, it is quite common to "sift" the ravitoto while helping a serving. Don't ask for a sift (of course, not). Use the service spoon, grab a quantity of ravitoto. Incline the spoon against the saucepan to let the oil sink.
Picture #2, not enough goudron in the dish. A meager ravitoto is not a Malagasy dish. Neither is it the African sakasaka that is buried under liters of oil...
Wine ? I know a Gato Negro red suits many Malagasy dishes. Have Cab, not Merlot, in this case. I think it is perfect accompanying ravitoto. Now, would your restaurant suggest Gato Negro ? That's another story.
Favorite Dish: In restaurants in the Highlands (Tana, Antsirabe & very probably Fiannarantsoa), ravitoto is served with dry rice. Could there be a tomato-onion relish to dampen the dry rice as even with the tar, the dish is a bit dry...
In many coastal regions (if not all), they add coconut milk to the dish...
Address: all over the island
Frogs @ Au rendez-vous des pêcheurs in Ambatolampy
Below are some restaurants & other eateries addresses along RN7 or the so-called Le Grand Sud route (the Big South). You may need this list if you travel on your own (or with a driver but on self-imposed schedule) & do not intend to eat at streetstalls with their share of health hazards risks.
1/ Halfway between Tana & Antsirabe, you could make a halt at Ambatolampy to dine on frogs (panés with garlic) & snails à la provençale (butter, parlsey, garlic) at Au rendez-vous des pêcheurs. Dessert, have their cornet crème. Delicious! Just be warned that as it relates more to a autogrill, there wouldn't be that many dishes to choose from. The cold cuts & crudités starter is quite generous. Ambatolampy is also the place where to shop for aluminium items or visit aluminium kettles workshops.
2/ Many times we passed through Ihazoala, some 84km southward Tana, and noticed this sign claiming to serve paella, pizza..etc.. but the first time we only got there was Dec. 2006 (Jan. 2007 for me). Knowing how easy Malagasy could claim to serve something by just cooking something similar (ignoring the authentic cooking technique and/or minus many main ingredients), by adding chemical stock and calling it a “paella” … or whatever freign dish… , we looked over Iskurna. Yet, we’ve never forgotten this world: “paella", we eventually gave it a try. And glad we were to meet up with the Spanish owner and his wife! Very hospitable persons. Iskurna is the first place I personally know to claim (and really serve!) Spanish specialities. Paella was the main reason for our trip. Yet, their river gambas “a la plancha” were simply scrumptious. Decent crème brûlée. The Spanish wine we had that day was correct. I guess there will be many more trips of this type to Ihazoala. It’s just located some 15 min. from Ambatolampy so it could be your lunch spot if you happen to leave Tana or Antsirabe a tad late (10-11am for instance).
Favorite Dish: 3/ In Antsirabe, AROTEL les Agapes restaurant is good (French cuisine). Use to dine there when in town. You could try NY Avo restaurant as well. Serves Malagasy cuisine & is reportedly good.
4/ In Fianarantsoa, in 1995 & around 1981, the usual spot is Chez Papillon. French cuisine at its best. Very good food. Then, reportedly the best table in the whole island for decades. Now, I cannot say that anymore. Need to try it again... albeit, as below Hôtel du capricorne, Chez Papillon uses to be an institution. Check below tips
5/ In Toliary, Hôtel du Capricorne. Good food as well (experience in 1995). Check below tips
6/ In Tana, you could splash out at Chez Mariette (table d'hôtes). Malagasy food at its best ! Mariette would be glad to entertain you & give explanations, historical facts about dishes she serves & dining à la Malagasy in general. Booking necessary at 020 22 216 02
NOW, WHY NOT ? On your return from the long long roadtrip, why not stocking up yummy foie gras in Behenjy (about 40km from Tana)? The one from Coin du foie gras (the one we tried - last exp. 2007) would be the meal of choice for a diner for two in your hotel room for this last night in Madagascar. Well, from the picture, they serve Malagasy dishes as well. Could be interesting for grabbing a bite along the road.
**Since I live in Tana area, I will give you more addresses of Malagasy food restaurants as soon as I can try some out...**
Directions: Check other tips for addresses
A zébu romazava... home
Although I use to consider ravitoto as our national dish, Romazava is largely considered as our national dish. It is served all over the island with small variations... So far, I can only recommend a restaurant that serves it well as my dinings out use(d) to be to taste foreign cuisines.
Romazava is sometimes called "Romazava créole", it is found in the cuisine of créole island of La Réunion, for instance. Still, it hails from Madagascar. "Ro" means "stock" and "Mazava" means "clear" & seems they use is Malagasy name in La Réunion too. Now, the name does not tell much about the richness of this dish.
It is a stock dish obtained from the cooking of 4 zébu meats (knee, the rear back, tail, ribs) with several anana. Anana are leaves that are largely used in our cuisine: are included anamamy (spinach type, also called "brèdes morelles" in French), watercress, different Chinese cabbages, green onions... and not to forget, anamalaho (also called "brèdes mafana" in French).
The cooking technique resembles the pot-au-feu's. First cook the meats (the most hard pieces first) in order to retrieve a zébu stock and evenly cooked meat pieces. Then add the condiments (ginger, onions) to the meats in order to sear them together and mix their tastes. Then, add the anana (the leaves) and the zébu stock. Cook at low heat for 45 minutes. The trick is to leave some room for the anana to deliver their flavour and it will mix with the zébu flavour. Salt.
Served with hot rice...
Favorite Dish: ... To Waistline watchers ! The advantage of cooking the meats the eve is to let the stock pause and to retrieve the fat when the latter has solidified at the surface. The rich taste without the thick grease.
To curious ones ! It is this anamalaho (esp. its flowers) that gives the sought-after "hot" taste. Not the same effect as with chili, rather the one that gives a very light "numb-lips" effect. It is almost indispensable to have it for a good romazava !
**Just be aware that some may confuse "ro mazava" with "romazava". "Ro mazava", also called "ro matsatso" ("insipid stock") is a light stock with only few leaves, without any meat loaf neither meat stock. Commonly used to just dampen the rice whenever the meal is too dry. Now, in restaurants, ro mazava (ro matsatso) uses to accompany rich dish and is not served as a dish per se.**
Twice I had the chance to try romazava outside, the first was at a real tourist trap (not listing its name since even a bad advertizing is an advertizing!!). The second was at a good restaurant although I prefer the zébu romazava we use to have home. Will add names of other (tried) restaurants that serve good romazava, gradually...
- The mix romazava (w/ zébu meat, chicken meat and prawns) is not bad at all at Le Relais de la Haute Ville (in Tana).
It is where building a restaurant tip on a country page requires a bit of ... organization. After a long long reflexion, I decided to only lits here tips about Maalgasy food. Only about what we use to eat, indulge, swallow, dine on, sip, drink - not about addies.
Sooo.. Restaurant Tips in this Madagascar page are only about introducing local fooding customs, ingredients, dishes, snacks, cooking techniques... Addies ? Browse the city pages.
The only addies you'll find in my Madagascar pages are:
- those of restaurants located in cities I haven't built a page of yet.
- those of restaurants, eateries I tried along a roadtrip route. Good example: RN7 Grand Sud restaurants.
Cooking technique... Here are pictures of chillies... very common ingredients in Malagasy cuisine. Or should I say in Malagasy eating habit. We do not cook our dishes with chillies although a chili paste is always on the table. That's a good thing for people, like me, who cannot stand and do not like chili (lately, I discovered I liked samosas with a chili sauce & it's the only thing I could have with chili). In that way, Malagasy are very polite and respectful and would never force you to eat chili as our dishes are not cooked with it. They use to be served with it. Up to you to have it or not.
Here, there is a general conception that the chili paste doesn't mean to give extra taste to the dish, rather its smell is used to sharpen the appetite. Hence the effort of every household lady to have a fragrant chili paste, made of well-chosen ingredients (and whose recipe is well-kept top secret !) but not simply a hot chili sauce nor chili powder.
Pic2- Some of the several ingredients to make a chili paste: chilies, peppers & bays (green, pink, black). Not on the photo: garlic, ginger...
Pic3- Pickled chilies. Big red, yellow, orange chilies are good for pickles.
The best samosas, kebabs at Shalimar snacks
A list of popular snacks (and God knows how much Malagasy love to have snacks!):
- Samosas & quatles & kebabs: the best things the Indo-Paki community ever brought to us... probably the favourite of all snacks. Pic1;
- Mofoanana: a kind of chopped onions & tomato & anana (diverse green leaves that are used in Malagasy cuisine, such as pak choi & other cabbages, watercress...). Pic3;
- Masikita: tiny garlic marinated meat dices kebabs. Avoid the ones on streetstalls, however & whatever tempting they look & smell. Thinking of where tourists can have some of it... dunno! Pic2;
- Nems: Vietnamese rolls (chopped pork meat, Chinese mushroom, chopped prawns, condimennts...), a big fave too! The best are still in Vietnamese restaurants, not the Chinese nor the Malagasy ones ! I know that in 80s Duan Van Bien (Restaurant in Behoririka) used to be a great place to have nems, stuffed crabs... Need to check there again, one day.
- Other mofo: mofogasy (sweet fried rice flour cake), menakely (lit. tiny red, a dough), ramanonaka or mofosira (salted fried rice flour cake)... I don't know any best place to have those except home since our gardenkeeper has the ustensiles & moulds to make mofogasy & mofosira. Still, those are commodities sold on marketplaces. Even there, there should be several shops and each of them has their loyal clients.
Favorite Dish: Best samosas & quatles & kebabs are, so far, to be found at the two Shalimar snacks (both in Tsaralalana area).
*******work in progress, please, come back later********
Malagasy use red krills 2 add taste 2 dishes
Krills........ Not only for whales.!
Krills are small beasts found in the sea, they look like tiny shrimps. Krills are sold dried. Fried white krills are my favourite.
Malagasy use to add red krills (pic1) to some dishes to add an extra taste to them. In the light leave stock, in the so-called "vary amin'anana"... We also have a specific dish of red krills & potato stock (pic2). It is made of zebu meat dices, potato quarters, red krills & water (it is a stock dish).
White krills (pic3) are esp. used fried. Then, fried white krills are eaten with soft rice. Hmmm... the smell of white krills being fried in a pan is sometimes like that of eggrolls.
Favorite Dish: I use to have krills home, now, in which restaurant to find red krills stock & fried white krills, I cannot tell. :-( I'll ell as soon as I could find a (good) one.
For scrumptious food, we prepare it with love !
"Grillades" usually refer to grilled zébu meat. In major restaurants, you'll find easily grillades as zébu steak or brochettes (zebu meat + veggies kebabs: tomato chunks, onions slices, green & red peppers) or pavé or côte à l'os or entrecôte grillée...
You could order a grilled chicken as well. Be sure to order "Akoho gasy", the tastiest chicken: the one bred in open air, eating corns & rice. It is our traditional chicken, NOT to mix up with the fatty farm-bred "poulet de chair" that has been lately introduced here. This poulet de chair, is just the chicken meat you buy in the Western world supermarkets: fatty, dull, hormones & preservatives-soaked, without any taste but lots of meat (Bio & Natural food aside).
Then, grilled fish & seafood (gambas, prawns, gigantic shrimps, lobsters, calamars), check picture 1 + 2.
How to give them this special taste ? they are traditionally garlic-marinated, except for steak, entrecôte grillée & brochette.
Now, how could I forget to mention "masikita"? You'll find masikita stalls at every corner. At dawn, you'll have this bbq smell spreading out while walking in urban Tana. Here you are, tempted to try. It sure is yummy (garlic-marinated small zébu kebabs & some fat chunks to dampen while grilling) but I would not recommend to eat there. Now where to find hygienic masikita ? Will have to fetch for this place(s). So far, I use to enjoy it at family gatherings when we all bring marinated zébu meat skews & make fires & jump into the convivial grilling. Beer glasses & bottles in the nearby, our tomato-onion-ground peanut relish at reach.
At last... the "new" meats: ostrich, crocodile meats. Available in some major restaurants but not in all of them.
Favorite Dish: Unfortunately, I cannot give you any "tried" restaurant name for I usually enjoying bbqing home. Al fresco lunch, with family & friends, on a homemade bbq, some red vino & laughters. In restaurants, I use to have their specialty, not something that I know we do well (& usualy "better") at home.
I asked my entourage & esp my sis, who works in the city & uses to stay there for lunch & has tried some restaurants, who cited Poivre vert (rather on the generous gastronomique), La Varangue (same comment as for Poivre vert) & Colbert (fine cuisne) as amongst the best grillades spots. Those three have other dishes on their card too. Price range for a dish in those is higher than average but still about within the 4-8 euro range.
Btw, all pictures are taken during our communal lunches at home.
Directions: Sis recommends to check the restaurants such as Poivre vert, La varangue, Colbert, ....
Never turn down any treat w/ Malagasy style crabs
This is one of Malagasy style dishes I used to miss living in Belgium. The ricefields crabs are usually picked up when summer ends, when water withdraws (april-may) & I, unfortunately, used to have most of my holidays home later in winter (July-Sep).
In Malaza, the village where I live, we use to have the crabs fresh (photo 3) as crab pickers use to fetch them in the ricefields plains down my house. Then, it is a whole job to clean the crabs, get rid off many things as you would do while cleaning mussels (grass, mud..). Then, let them stay in the water to "let them rinse". Then, let them dive into boiling water (errr.... to kill them otherwise they would ramp everywhere in the basin & also it's better to kill them all at once & not let them slowly agonize in the freezer while deep-freezing them). Then only, one can let them "chill" and deep freeze or cook them right away.
Crabs use to be cooked with a tomato-based sauce & loaves of pork meat. If my memory serves me well, there should be some garlic paste in it. Pork meat is used as you wouldn't find anything to really eat in crabs. Still, the flavour of the crabs and the tomato-garlic sauce would transfer into the meat. Used to be served with...guess what..... rice. You'll eat the pork and the sauce & can still sip the sauce from the little crabs. Yes, you'll have to suck the little crabs. Just fingerlicking.
Never turn down any invitation to taste the Malagasy style crabs, you wouldn't even know that you would have missed one of most delicious (imho & opinions of many others) Malagasy dishes.
Also, simply because, there is a limited offer since I think that restaurants would only serve that dish only in April-June.
Favorite Dish: Fingerlicking Malagasy style crabs... It is so good because it is a finger food, you'll have to sip the sauce from the crabs.
Garlic marinade before grilling (pic 1)
Mada being an island, aeafood is almost a "must-try" food over here.
Mada is acquiring a good reputation for its marine wealth. The world starts to know about what locals have known for ages. Many companies have been in aqua-farming & processing for a long time. Still, unprocessed seafood ( & river food!) is sold everywhere (considering deepfreezing is not a processing). Now, if you go to the coast, you'd be likely to be treated "fresh from the sea" fish, crabs, lobster, prawns.
In restaurants, your fish, seafood, river fish, crayfish can be grilled, fried, cooked in curry-style, with tomato sauce, with coconut milk, à la Malagasy (fish & crayfish can be cooked with pork meat & garlic; or fish with thin pork speck (?) then tomato & green onion).
Lobster & prawns can be prepared, boiled (not that much though, perfect prawns & shrimps are crunchy) in a court-bouillon (a vegetable & pepper stock) then eaten with mayonnaise sauce (our mayonnaise is usually homemade).
Gambas... for the big river shrimps (like gambas from river) having a softer taste than their cousins from the sea, they used to be prepared with thick tomato sauce & garlic whilst (sea) gambas are scrumptious garlic-marinated & grilled (pictures 1+2)
There are so many ways to enjoy seafood that it's unthinkable to skip it unless you have seafood allergy.
One of my favourite starter (& happens I decide to let it be my main dish ;-)) is avocado-prawn salad with pickled onion slices & vinaigrette (picture 3). Then, another starter is made of cucumber slices, pineapple bits, crunchy prawns, grated coconut in a vinaigrette sauce. Prawns are eaten with a bit of mayonnaise, then. Heaven !
Beside natural fishing, there is more & more specialized aqua-farming.
For instance, a company has acquired its French "Bio" label. The seafood it produces follows strict farming, production, quality rules in order to comply with the "Biologique" label requirements. "Bio" products are "natural foods" in the US.
Don't miss it! Seafood is a Madagascar signature.
Favorite Dish: Many restaurants in Toamasina used to serve scrumptious seafood salads, finger-licking grilled seafood or seafood from the skew. Don't know about the quality nowadays. There were Joffre restaurant, grilled seafood & fish at Darafify... Maybe you shuld check it at those places & report here ? What about that ?
Blood cooked rice, ron'akoho (bowl) & my plate
It is not about a specific restaurant. It 's about a specific dish, ron'akoho... After long journeys, days of hard work, disease, try the local pick-me-up dish: Chicken bouillon (stock) with ginger.
I see you grimacing, thinking of fat chicken meat you have in Europe... No, no, forget about that! .. Meat in general has a great taste as it is not as fat as European meat. In Madagascar, livestock, cattle, fowls live in open air and use to eat grass, corn, "organic" food. This chicken bouillon is a real delight! Although, the trend in intensive farming is big.
In Madagascar, Tana area esp., renowned restaurants don't serve it anymore. It's a pity! You have to go "Resto gasy" to taste it, or have it served by locals at their places. Resto gasy are restaurants of, often, low category. Clean but not exceptional that would serve everyday dishes. The one I know is Fanantenana, on Route circulaire (in Ampandrana area). I know it for being located near my grand-ma place and where I once ate with the school charity team... They are good in Malagasy cuisine.
I warn you about "hotely gasy" and "gargottes" and other streetvendors though. Use common sense. When it's dirty, sticky, no protection, it's no good for you! More than to anyone else, by the way... Don't imitate locals buying kebabs in urban streets.
I would give the recipe later!! or ask me if you want to try it home (you can, you can). You can find all ingredients in usual supermarkets.
Favorite Dish: Great flavour, nice smell though it is a kind of light dish... I do not believe in ginger to be an aphrodisiac but one thing I know is that ginger helps a lot here in perking somebody up :-)
Yep, after long trips, this is your best bet.
It used to be common to have ron'akoho with its blood cooked rice (see picture). One uses to collect the blood of the slaughted chicken in a plate to mix it with rice grains. Then, warm the mix to have the blood coagulating then place the whole paste in the stock being cooked. Yummy!
Directions: Fanantenana restaurant, Rte circulaire 53.
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