Shima at the Island House: Chef David Rodger’s Culinary Masterpiece

When you only have three nights in the Bahamas, it’s unusual to make reservations at the same restaurant twice. However, during a last-minute trip to visit my friend April Hubal (who I interviewed here about guest-starring on House Hunter’s International), that’s precisely what we did. 

Since April and I have so much in common—from our undying love of the Bahamas to our gluten and dairy-free diets—I knew we’d have a blast catching up over Pad Thai and rosé at The Island House’s southeast Asian restaurant, Shima, in western New Providence. Though we’d both had great experiences at the restaurant before, we didn’t expect the Executive Chef, David Rodgers, to take such tremendous care of us. 

On our first night, we ordered vegetarian pad thai, steamed barramundi fish with a coconut and turmeric curry sauce, and spicy green curry with chicken. The barramundi was light and delicate, and the curry sauce created a mesmerizing balance of coconuty-sweetness and tang from its kaffir lime leaves. The pad thai set my new standard with a flavor profile that relies much less on sugar and more on saucy aromatics, bok choy, and blistered tomatoes. 

And the green curry is what I’ve always known it to be—intensely spiced heaven.

When Chef David stopped by our table, April asked for any advice he could offer on achieving even a remnant of the steam barramundi curry dish back home. And, much to our surprise, he was happy to share his kitchen’s secrets. A few minutes later, David re-appeared with a printed ingredients list for the turmeric curry paste—the dish’s most fundamental element. If we agreed to come back the next night, he promised to give us the recipe’s second half.  

From the moment we sat down the following evening, an endless array of incredible dishes began appearing from the kitchen’s back door. Every few minutes, our party of four got to enjoy a new gluten-free creation, from spicy tuna and crispy rice and Thai beef jerky to braised baby ribs and rice-flour battered salt and pepper squid—many of which were served by Chef David, himself. 

When you’re plagued by dietary restrictions, an unsolicited parade of delectable and safe dishes on a sun-kissed balcony overlooking Bahamian palms becomes a truly extraordinary experience. 

A couple of lychee-infused cocktails doesn’t hurt either. 

For the main courses, we enjoyed the steamed barramundi once more, alongside two orders of buttery char-grilled salmon, egg fried rice, and baby bok choy. It was the family-style meal on a breezy bar-top table that would make even the most experienced epicurean jealous. 

And, of course, Chef David kept his promise. With a second print-out of instructions in hand, he explained every detail of creating the perfect curry sauce. He recommended freezing the curry paste in ice-cube trays for quick and portioned dinner prep, described how to deepen the sauce’s flavor with a second layer of fresh aromatics, and shared tips on scaling back the recipe for in-home dining. 

To top off an already unforgettable and generous culinary adventure, David brought us passion fruit, toasted coconut, and chocolate mochis. At the same time, our friends enjoyed a very glutenous peanut butter chocolate fondant with brown bread ice cream.

We all wandered back out of the restaurant in dismay. Maybe next time we’re in Nassau, we’ll stop by Shima three times.

(Special thanks to the Nottage’s for making our second outing even sweeter!)

lacey

Lacey is an avid traveler, graphic design, marketer, photographer, foodie and beach connoisseur. She lives in the great state of Texas with her husband, Alex, and their big, goofy golden retriever, Henry.

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