The changing food and restaurant scenery

By Kambes Kesolei —-

Nothing much has been written about Palau’s restaurant culture and popular food scene.

However, if one is to make a close observation, a proliferation of coffeehouses – gourmet coffee are sprouting all over. Food stand and burger joints dotted the both sides of Ernguul Road, Koror’s main street.

A new coffee house is soon to open where the former Umi 2 restaurant was located. It is reportedly will premier 21 gourmet coffee choices for the coffee lovers.

But that is to cite one example of the changing landscape when it comes to dining options and food varieties.

And it is one more blessing that we can count as a nation of 20,000 people.

As a tiny speck in the vast Pacific, we receive more than five times the number of tourist arrivals as our population. Comparatively, we have more regular air links than nation our size to the big Asian market.

Palau has more radio stations, cable television channels, enjoys mobile telephone services, and perhaps a fairly large internet penetrations to the wider populations.

Include the abundance of restaurants and food stalls along the Ernguul Road as another evolution of Palau’s popular culture.

If one is to begin to assess the food scene, a distance of 1.8 miles (3km) or a 30 minute walk from start to finish is all that is required to see all the food establishments that been set up along the main street.

From Koror topside area, is where you begin your journey at the Japanese restaurant Dragon Tei, than a quick stop and go at Blue Bay Topside for basics and short distance is BM Store for a taste of the local food.

At the entrance to Osakahang, is an Island Yakiniku at Ubetaor Building. A mere short distance across from Etpison Museum is a R.C Burger House. Aound the bend is Chinese Restaurant at the NECO building in Tmasech.

One of the biggest restaurants is Mings Restaurant at Palasia, frequently used to house big meetings and workshops. Across from Palasia is Abai Coffeehouse – a favorite of the former President Toribiong. And a few feet away is Little Italy, which is another recently opened restaurant for those who want a bit of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

For fast food joints, there’s MJ Burger Hut. In front of Tropicana at the George Ngirarsaol building, one can find a table and two chairs for the customers of the Fried Dough Wagon and Ramen House.

Across from Tropicana is I Heart Noodles, which is next to rhe newly opened Leelah’s Café, then Refreshment Island at the main entrance of Surangel’s Department Stores. Mingles So Thai and the Dumpling King are latest addition to the food scene at the heart of downtown Koror.

For taste of Palauan food, the biggest with more variety is an iconic Yano’s Market. Separated by few steps is the huge WCTC Shopping Center where at the back aisles, is the popular West Deli – for anyone who loves meat.

Across from WCTC is the small joint Burger House. And at the back of Palau Hotel is Uab’s Restaurant of the The Penthouse Hotel – a popular in local social scene.

Parallel to but running lower to the main highway is Lebuu Street. A short distance from entering the Meketii side, one of the oldest restaurant and part of the local restaurant scene is Yokohama Restaurant. However, going straight past the turn to Lebuu Street in Meketii, is the Coffee Shop at Sure Save Mart – before the recent proliferation of coffeehouses, this was right up there in social scene.

Less than hundred meters away is Best Coffee and Donut House. It used to be Winchell’s and besides their catering business, as the name implies, is still popular for coffee and donuts. Joe’s Bar is right next door, where Yobech is the food magician.

Perhaps, it can lay claim as the most popular restaurant in Palau is Emaimelei I & II, both are situated in the same building and sharing the same kitchen but with two separate eating areas. Further up behind Hanpa mart is Ben’s Kabayan Filipino Restaurant.

And right at downtown area where it is a popular for tourists is Mog Mog, a Japanese Restaurant at Hanpa Building. Across the street is Fuji Restaurant, another Japanese themed restaurant.

Popular food joint for young people is the Chian Chian Snak Bar located next to the Post Office. Long time Korean restaurant in Palau is the Arirang at VIP Hotel. Not only do we have Korean cuisine, but straight across the street is the Suryothai Restaurant serving Thai food, sharing the same building is the King’s Palace Restaurant.

And for those who want authentic Indian food, there is the The Taj restaurant, which also serves internation cuisine. Right underneath The Taj is Sushi Bar Mito, one of the best Japanese restaurant on the island.

In Palau’s social scene, the heavyweight of coffeehouses is Did-ra-Ngmatel Blue Bay. It attracts all kinds of people from the community to be in on the discussion of the day.

Behind Did-ra-Ngmatl by Asahi Ballfield is Bem Ermii, the biggest of the burger joints – even tourists buses make it a point to stop for the taste. Tight on your wallet, Pinoy Restaurant at Minami Ueki’s building offers a buffet for the budget conscious.

Rivaling Did-ra-Ngmatl, however for the star-studded list of members, is the smaller and cozy fast food joint NECO Plaza convenience store.

What’s a night scene without a steakhouse? At the second floor of the NECO Plaza Building is Palau U.S Choice Angus Steakhouse, where top choice Black Angus steaks are served. The eatery on the scene is the Island Restaurant at the former PRA Building next to Bank of Hawaii.

Making a detour from the main street in front of the Supreme Court Building is the M-Dock road, which 400 meters to the end of the dock is the Barracuda Restaurant at Fish N’ Fins dive and Tour Company and Landmark Marina Hotel Restaurant.

And several meters from the Supreme Court Building is the champion of deli sandwiches, that is Coconut Hut Deli, which shares the same walls with Rock Island Café, one of the most popular restaurants on the island. About two hundred meters from Rock Island Café is Jyu Jyu Restaurant, which is located at the ground floor of Kebtot Building, the same building which houses the operations of Tia Belau Newspaper.

But what has been mentioned so far doesn’t even begin to gauge what is out there, it is only to cite some that are found only in the long stretch from Topside to Madalaii. Fine restaurants and fast food joints can be found across the cause in Malakal, and Meyuns to Ngerkebesang.

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One Comment to “The changing food and restaurant scenery”

  1. Thank you, Kambes. It is a matter of pride that Palau does have a varied and quite up-to-par dining scene. Some friends throughout the region and the US mainland have from time to time given much homage to this fact.

    Just a quick note: Emaimelei does have two separate kitchens, one each for Emaimelei I and Emaimelei II, which accounts for the speedy service at all times regardless of which restaurant you are seated in.

    An FAA official from the Pacific region I talked to on a flight to the FSM told me how overwhelmingly different the choices are throughout the islands, basically that in Palau we are spoiled for choice while most of our neighbors don’t have nearly as much.

    Even for some Guam residents, they say the best Indian food and freshest sushi is in Palau. To the brave restauranteurs of Palau, keep on cooking!

    Kambes, why don’t you be the Andrew Zimmern of Palau?… sampling and letting the public know where to go… it could only spice up competition and inevitably kick the kitchen caliber up a notch or two.

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