time to explore with esplora

A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Southeast Café

A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Southeast Café

Take a journey with Emily Francis (Emily in Malta) and Chef Ariel Guivi,  two foreign tour guides to the island of Malta, who flock from one restaurant to the other in search of an authentic dining experience. The best-kept secrets of eating in Malta are about to be shared here with all of you! 

Chef Ariel Guivi and I took a trip over to Southeast Café, an eatery located in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk.

The reason we chose this place to begin? Because I ate there with my local friend a few weeks ago and fell in love with the calamari.

We met with their head chef, George Farmosa, who has been at Southeast Café for 14 years. 

Since the calamari left their mark, this is the dish we will be focusing on today. Calamari is in season from September to March and they buy it locally from our friends who coincidentally allowed us to carry out the Lampuki interview for Oh My Malta. They also buy from one other local family depending on what is available with each catch.

During the months when squid is not in season, they freeze it and use it throughout the year, rather than buy it from some place not local. Chef Ariel pointed out that you can tell its local from its appearance, as well as being able to “taste the sea” in each bite. He said that if the squid is imported from somewhere further away, it is usually a big white tube that doesn’t carry that local freshly caught hint of flavour behind each bite. 

At Southeast Café, they buy the freshly caught squid, clean it, cut it, and then drench it in eggs before rolling it in the flour mixture to make the batter. This creates a thicker crust around the calamari. Chef Ariel pointed out that this process makes these particular calamari stand and generally most chefs do it the other way around; flour then eggs. 

The spices used in this dish are very simple and flavourful. It is a simple mixture of paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The calamari here is light, flaky, darker in colour (due to the paprika) and delightful to the taste.

Even though it is deep fried after being drenched in the eggs and flour, these calamari are not greasy. Chef Ariel lifted a couple of calamari to show me that there is no grease between the calamari and the leafy greens. This is not always the case elsewhere. There are many fried fish dishes that create a sponge of oil and leak onto the plate or whatever it may be served on. The other thing I love about this dish is that it’s preferred by the locals that live in the area.

 The restaurant is located toward the far end of the main strip.Their menu features an incredible array of different pizzas that locals flock to order. They also have breakfast items including freshly made croissants, eggs to order in a wide variety of sandwiches or as a own meal without bread. The sandwiches of which are meats, vegetarian, breakfast lunch and dinner combinations can all be served as a ftira, baguette or as a wrap.

Their fish and chips are also a heavily ordered item on their menu. 

Southeast Café is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 10:30 pm and it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Go check it out and tell us what you think!