The usual niche about the island of Palawan is not just about the pristine waters and white sand beaches. Most people would also imagine the fresh seafood that the island has to offer. I have been to Palawan several years back and I remember having seafood for lunch and dinner throughout our stay. During my recent travel to Palawan, I searched for the best places to eat. I asked around from locals and fellow travelers and they all landed with the same reply, Ka Lui.
Ambiance and Exteriors
What made Ka Lui different from other Seafood Restaurants is that it is by reservation. You have to reserve in advance to be able to dine in this place. I wondered, what makes it so special that even on a weeknight, it is fully-booked. I was definitely curious.
It was a quaint place in the middle of the city. Everyone in Puerto Princesa knows about Ka Lui. It must be that famous, and I continued to wonder why.
As I made my way in, this was what welcomed me. Bamboo fixtures, potteries, and green plants stood as backdrop to the entrance. It made me feel like I was in Bangkok, with mini fountains and clay figurines surrounding the area. There were coconut husks and round fruits gracefully adorned inside the restaurant.
NOTE: As part of their concept, you have to remove your footwear when entering the restaurant. So I went in, barefoot.
Menu at Ka Lui
Ka Lui is not your ordinary seafood grill restaurant. You will find single orders of seafood on the menu (fresh catch of the day), Palawan Craft Bewery, and fresh fruit shakes. But, that’s not the highlight of the menu. They have what they call Ka Lui Special of the Day Set which actually is served degustation style, with 4 sets of courses, rice, starters, and dessert. For that night, I ordered for the special set and an additional order of “Sea Catch Tempura”.
I had seaweed salad as an appetizer with a little bit of onions and tomatoes. I was then served with Tuna Steak. It was by far the best tuna steak I have ever tasted in ages. It was simply cooked to perfection in butter, salt, and pepper. They sure know how to grill their tuna, as it was flawlessly tender and moist.
Butter Shrimps were then served together with a bowl of soup and a cup of rice. I know, more than anyone, whether shrimps are well-done as I am allergic to shrimps. I tend to get an itch on the tongue every time I try to eat poorly cooked shrimps, and to my amazement, I WAS ABLE TO EAT KA LUI’S SHRIMPS BIG TIME! They were beautifully de-veined and cooked in rich butter garlic sauce.
Their seafood tempura or what they call “Sea Catch Tempura” was another delight. It was served with sweet and savory barbecue sauce. It consists of fish, squid, and shrimps, which were equally tender in the inside and crunchy on the outside which made everything very much enjoyable.
Another highlight was this marvelous fish rolls which were cooked with squash and crispy watercress in fresh coconut milk. It was beyond the ordinary. I never thought that Ka Lui would take me into another culinary experience.
I tried Calamansi-Ginger Blend Shake, even the shakes were superb.
I was served with complimentary dessert. A mixture of fresh slices of fruits, chocolate cereals, topped with cocoa powder were placed in a husk of a young coconut “buko”. Though the dessert was plain and simple, the flavors were as good as the main courses.
After dinner, I decided to roam around the area. I noticed that the restaurant were jam-packed with travelers from all parts of the globe, not just Palawan locals and fellow Filipinos. As I looked around, I see smiling faces. Probably, a mere indication of satisfaction from the restaurant ambiance, down to the dessert on the menu.
The paintings and artworks on the walls of Ka Lui made the restaurant extra special. It served as a mini-museum, even on the doors of the wash room.
Even the restrooms have homey interiors. It was like entering a bed room. The wooden door is actually a door to the toilet, and you would not even think that it was a toilet. The lights, fixtures, and living room chairs made the restroom look so comfortable to stay at (I won’t mind staying at an air-conditioned bedroom-like restroom like this one).
BUDGET GUIDE: More than just the Menu
Ka Lui Menu Prices:
- Ka Lui Special of the Day Set – P585
- Sea Tempura – P245
- Calamansi-Ginger Blend – P95
Over-all, it was a great experience. It was more than just the perfectly cooked seafood. It was actually more like an encounter to Palawan’s well-kept culture which were depicted in Ka Lui’s arts and cuisine. Foreigners and Filipinos alike who have been to this place would definitely agree that it is the best seafood restaurant in Puerto Princesa. Not just because they serve greatly cooked seafood, but because simply dining there is an experience itself.