Palau Food and Drink
Palauan food is wonderfully varied and draws heavily on influences from the United States, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. This variety is seen in the range of restaurants on offer which have an eclectic mix of cuisines from Indian curries with a Palauan twist, to fresh sushi and sashimi bars, Italian, American BBQ joints, Chinese, Korean and local eateries. Fresh local seafood is the highlight of many menus and there are many exotic local dishes to try.
Local cuisine is typical of the Pacific islands and root vegetables such as taro, pandan, yams and pumpkin are staples (taro in particular is an important traditional food source of the Palauan people and harvested exclusively by women). Colourful, exotic fruits such as the dragon fruit, mango, passionfruit and breadfruit can be found alongside lesser known varieties such as the rambutan and soursop. Coconut is a widely used ingredient for flavouring everything from fish to soups. Rice is also an important ingredient and eaten with most meals.
American and Japanese influences are evident, with BBQ sauce smothered on grilled pork or chicken gracing many a menu alongside the freshest of sashimi, sushi and tempura. There is a wonderful blend of seafood, rice dishes, spices and root vegetables that combine to create a truly Asian fusion cuisine.
• Taro (ubiquitous plant used to make dishes such as taro soup, taro salads or rosti-style taro cakes).
• Fruit bat soup (whole fruit bat wings and head included cooked in a broth of coconut).
• Broiled fish (a whole fish cooked with garlic, ginger and banana leaf).
• Tinola (soup made with chicken and papaya and ginger).
• Ulkoy (crunchy, deep fried shrimp and squash fritters).
• Pichi-pichi (a traditional dessert made with coconut and cassava).
• Halo-halo (milk with coconut, plantains, jackfruit and yams).
Things to know
Chewing of betel nuts is common in Palau. The nut is chewed along with lime, piper leaf and often with tobacco and the excess saliva is spat out. It turns the mouth red so it is not uncommon to be talking to a local with bright red teeth!
Tipping is optional but appreciated in restaurants.
• Red Rooster (local beer brand).
• Kava juice (soft drink made from the root vegetable of the same name).