Nauru cuisine, or Nauruan cuisine, is the food of the Republic of Nauru, one of the smallest countries in the world, the most remote and, as we often like to remind people, the least visited. Nauru is predominantly a Micronesian country (with some Polynesian thrown in for good measure) and therefore the cuisine of Nauru fits somewhat into the wider Micronesian genre.
Here’s the guide to eating in Nauru!
Historical cuisine of Nauru
Historically Nauru as an island has had a heavy seafood influence and in times past almost everyone was a farmer. There is also a huge lagoon in the middle of Nauru that was a rich bastion for fish too.
Coconuts grow extensively in the country and coconut milk is a staple ingredient for a lot of Nauruan dishes.
Chinese food on Nauru
It is impossible to talk about food in Nauru without delving into the extremely heavy Chinese influence. About 10% of the population of Nauru are from China, particularly Guangdong province, and despite there being only 10,000 people in the country there are an estimated 140 or so Chinese restaurants.
This does not necessarily mean that you can expect good Chinese food though! Dishes are Guangdong influenced and consist of noodles, fried rice and the like. The one local influence you will see is that most restaurants serve up a local form of tuna sashimi, often with Chinese hot sauce instead of wasabi. At a push, I would say that Anabare Restaurant, or the restaurant at Od’n Aiwo hotel serve the best Chinese fare.
It is basically impossible to travel to Nauru for more than a few days without eating Chinese food.
Western food in Nauru
Western food, whilst not exactly plentiful, is pretty good in Nauru. The best restaurant by far is Bayview and in essence, this is the only true resto-bar in the country. They serve everything from decent curries to a good burger and there really is no better place for a gin and tonic with a view in Nauru. Sadly they rarely seem to have tuna sashimi here, which is funny as it makes them the only place that doesn’t.
The restaurant at the Nauru hotel also serves decent western food and on our visits, they have arranged buffet breakfasts, although this is not exactly on the menu and does need to be arranged.
Spam and corned beef in Nauru
Nauru is the most obese nations on earth, statistically at least, and part of this is the legacy of World War 2. During the war long-lasting goods such as spam and corned beef became big parts of the local diet.
When you visit the main supermarket in Nauru, Cappelle, you will be absolutely blown away by the massive aisle devoted simply to spam. Spam in itself probably deserves its own blog. You might look at it like cheap and easy food, but you’d be amazed at the multitude of varieties available. I have even managed to find kimchi spam! Although unless you plan to cook in your hotel (this is possible at Hotel Menem) then you will be saved the spam ordeal.
It legitimately took me 4 times going to Nauru before I got anywhere near something like a Nauru street food scene! At weekends you will see signs up in a few places around Nauru saying “coconut fish”. This is basically raw tuna in coconut milk with the option of “Nauru salt”. Nauru salt is a ground-up oxo cube that you throw into the mix. This was legitimately good.
You can read about the Nauru street food scene here.
The only other local thing I tried was when we hosted our own BBQ at the Hotel Menem. The Noddy Bird is a native bird of Nauru and a bit of a delicacy. We barbecued up the bird and it was pretty tasty, although it tasted heavily of liver.
Refugees and the Cuisine of Nauru
Previously when there were many more refugees in the country there was briefly a bit of a culinary earthquake in Nauru. Contrary to what many people think, the refugees lived freely in Nauru, rather than in camps (for the most part) and were also free to start businesses. For a long period, there were pop-up restaurants servicing Iranian, Pakistani and Indian cuisine, although these are no longer there.
And that is our guide to the cuisine of Nauru, not exactly eclectic and not necessarily the kind of place worth buying a ticket just to eat the food, but you will certainly not go hungry in Nauru.