Once again great things come in small packages.

Sushi is kind of a mixed blessing for Japanese people. On one hand, they are proud of its standing as a world-class food emulated all around the globe, but on the other they often feel let down when trying other nations’ takes on it.

Our reporters, in their travels around the world, are always sure to sample both the sushi and McDonald’s – and the occasional Denny’s – in order to compare and contrast with the fare in Japan. This time our writer PK Sanjun headed down to the small island Republic of Palau to see how they do things down there.

Landing in Palau, PK was surprised to find that there were no McDonald’s, no Starbucks, and even no traffic lights. However, there were several Japanese restaurants to choose from in this country of only 20,000 people.

PK was glad to see they had their priorities straight, but had to check around to know which restaurant to sample from. He learned that the most highly regarded restaurant for sushi was Mito Sushi, which was even said to be visited by the President of Palau.

PK figured if it was good enough for the president, then it was too good for him…but he went anyway. The atmosphere of the place was more like a standard Japanese restaurant or izakaya rather than an establishment that specializes in sushi, but their menu is no joke and covers a decent range of toppings.

They also have other nice dishes like katsudon and a rice bowl with a heap of chicken and thick sauce. Some other fine dishes include their Seafood Salad, Palau Rolls, and Barracuda Ankake (barracuda smothered in a thick sauce) which is better than any you’d find in Japan.

▼ Seafood Salad

▼ Palau Rolls

▼ Barracuda Ankake

What really impressed PK about the sushi was the texture of the vinegared rice. Generally, overseas sushi is either too hard or too mushy, but this stuff had just the right balance. It went into the mouth firm but broke apart in the mouth, moist with freshness.

Not to oversell it though, this isn’t the caliber of sushi you would find in the most luxurious restaurant in Ginza. But only the snobbiest of Japanese people would turn their nose up at Mito Sushi’s work; it was some solid sushi.

Now you might be wondering why Palau makes such great sushi. PK uncovered two major factors in this. Firstly, the island has a deep love of seafood and is located in colder waters, which is good for catching fish that taste good raw, more so than other similar island nations like Guam or Saipan.

▼ Sashimi is also a common food in Palau, but there it’s enjoyed with a twist of citrus fruit

Palau had picked up the way of sushi when under the rule of Japan between the end of World War I and the end of World War II. During that time there was a large influx of Japanese immigrants to the island, bringing with them Japanese-style businesses such as sushi restaurants.

Similar to other foreign sushi restaurants, this one was rather pricey. PK’s array, pictured above, cost him US$25, which wasn’t obscenely expensive but more than he would pay for similar fare back home.

But while Palau has been dubbed “the second best country in the world” there are also sushi delights to be found all over, as PK and our other Japanese writers have also found. You just have to know where to look.

Photos: SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]