I’ve previously written about the Nauru Street Food scene here, but the blog, in essence, was more about the lack of a street food scene, rather than an all-star guide to what’s available.
Today that was all to change, I might not have hit the mother load, but what I hit was sooooo damned good.
On the road leading to Capella Supermarket, and in the Anetan district of Nauru I saw a sign that simply said coconut fish. My spider senses started to tingle. On the reverse of the sign it said “fresh fish $5”. Further investigation was indeed required!
Two of us walked over to find there was a 4 and 5 dollar option, with “coconut fish” being raw tuna either served in coconut milk (by the glass) or with a plate of rice. I went for the cup, and boy was I in for a treat. No one does raw tuna-like Pacific Islanders (yes japan that does include you), and the way it mixed with the coconut milk, and onions was out of this world. And yes I went and drunk the juice after. I was told that this was the national dish of Nauru, something confirmed to me by my Nauruan friends later. I now regret not at least trying the rice versión, which came with an Oxo cube, or Nauruan salt as the street food vendor informed me.
In some ways, it had some similarities with a Hawaiian or Marshalesse Poke but was still very much it’s own thing.
But we were not to be stopped there, and about 15 minutes after whilst exploring the abandoned phosphate infrastructure of the Aiwo district of Nauru a coconut tree with a laser was discovered. 15 minutes later all 16 of my guests were drinking coconut milk and eating the flesh with a spoon. I’m told coconut flesh with soy sauce and wasabi is like a veggie version sashimi. I can’t as of yet confirm this, but it is now very much up there on my to-do list.
It’s taken three years, but I’ve finally started to crack the Nauru street food scene. Now, if only I can get me some of that Nauruan street BBQ of mythical status…
Update December 30th 2019
With it being a Monday I hadn’t expected to see more coconut fish, but right near the hotel Menén, there it was! It was inevitable that I had to dip my beak in.
This time though, as a new expert I decided to throw caution to the wind by adding half an oxo cube (Nauruan salt). Boom my favourite dish just got better, with the coconut milk taking on an almost gravy-like finesse to it. I now had fresh raw tuna, coconut milk, and gravy. Every day in every way I’m getting more out of the food of Nauru.
Turns out coconut fish has even made it onto the menu of the odd Chinese restaurant in Nauru. I had a great coconut fish at a restaurant at the O-Dn Aiwo Hotel. $6 AUD a pop
To be continued
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.