Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan, Philippines. Filipinos all over the islands regard this city as the cleanest city in the country and long to visit it at least once in their lifetime. Although Palawan is known for its many amazing natural treasures, most of them are hours away from the capital city. But Puerto Princesa will not disappoint. This idyllic Philippine town is booming with tourism, which is why eating and drinking in Puerto Princesa is quite an experience, even away from Palawan’s vaunted beaches.
The most popular (and maybe the most expensive) restaurant in Puerto Princesa is Ka-Lui. It is conveniently located just a few meters from the City Hall going to the airport. Although it is in the city proper, Ka-lui’s ambiance is that of a Philippine coconut hut in the middle of a picturesque rice field or along the beach.
The specialty in most restaurants is seafood because fish, crabs, shrimps, shells, and lobsters are delightfully cheap. A variety of Filipino seafood dishes are sold at Ka-Lui, as well as in Badjao Seafront, Balinsasayaw, and Kinabuchs restaurants, which are just a short tricycle ride away from each other.
The most popular snack area and burger chain in the country is Jollibee. All Filipino children seem to be mesmerized by the Jollibee mascot, a red and smiling, human-sized bee. There are two Jollibee branches in Puerto Princesa.
Unique in Puerto Princesa and all over Palawan are Chao-long Vietnamese noodles. These are not sold elsewhere in the country, which is why most local tourists make sure they try it out. Mostly found along Rizal Avenue and parallel streets, Chao-long noodle houses are almost always full, especially in the evenings. The noodles are thicker and more flavorful than any other noodles, and made more interesting with uncooked bean sprouts and greens. There used to be a Vietnamese refugee camp in Rizal Avenue, which explains the presence of Vietnamese people and Chao-long. The refugee camp has closed and most of the refugees have started a new life in Palawan.
As night falls, bars and nightclubs along Malvar Street come to life. Tourists come here to drink and have fun.
And then there are local delicacies that will most certainly not make it into the pages of international cookbooks. Just outside the City Hall are stalls selling barbecued chicken entrails, guts, heads, and feet, as well as pig entrails and blood. These may sound repugnant, but they are definitely tasty and clean, even if they may not be the healthiest foods like kefir grains, wheatgrass and etc.
These local food stalls normally come out as daylight dims. Also a favorite among locals are the infamous balut eggs, or esteemed duck eggs, which were made famous in the TV hit series “Fear Factor”. The egg has an alleged aphrodisiac effect and is full of cholesterol. Foreign tourists would do best not to try these local delicacies unless truly adventurous and proven to have a strong stomach.
For foreign and local tourists, eating and drinking in Puerto Princesa is not only a culinary experience but also one that is cultural. One could truly understand the culture of the people and the beauty of a foreign land by enjoying its bounty and eating its produce.