The Highlander Hotel is like the old faithful of Mt. Hagen restaurants. When I came to PNG as a volunteer, it was a special treat to go to town for lunch at the Highlander. And it still is. Unfortunately it is quite a mess as the hotel is undergoing a major renovation project. Not to worry, the restaurant is still open for business. They have some of the best chips (french fries) in town. You don't have to make the pizza yourself, so it is well worth the price. There is a nice buffet every Thursday and Saturday evenings, but that requires a stay in town as we try not to drive on public roads after dark. Admission to the pool comes with the purchase of a meal. Missionary kids love swimming there. No thanks! The mountain air is way too chilly for my taste.
The Squash Club is another option and has recently gained in popularity. What they lack in atmosphere, they make up for in good food. Some say it is the best place to eat in town. By the way, "squash" is similar to racket ball. The club has several courts. I have yet to see anyone play.
Rondon Ridge makes for a really nice day trip. There is a beautiful view of Mt. Hagen and a lovely orchid garden. Though it is quite a long bumpy road up the mountain to get there.
Other than a few fast food joints that serve chicken and chips, that is about it (as far as I know). The selection is limited, as you can see. So when a new place comes to town, it causes some excitement!
The Kofi Kave is located just down the street from the airport, about 15 minutes outside of town. It opened up a few months ago, and immediately I began hearing good things. I have been looking for an excuse to try the place. Since I needed to go into town to pick up some new furniture, I asked my friend Gail if she would like to go for lunch. Her girls, Emma and Olivia, also came along for the ride.
The Kofi Kave is work in progress, but already quite impressive. The doors and floor are rich coconut wood. There are plans for an aviary and some sort of fish pond or fountain in front of the cafe. Beans of Banz Kofi are roasted in the back, just behind the dining area. The menu is limited, but what they do--they do very well. Emma and I enjoyed a glass of pineapple cucumber juice. Yes, I know it sounds weird. It was surprisingly refreshing! The girls ordered pancakes that were beautifully presented. Gail and I couldn't resist the steaks, something you don't each much of in PNG. We were not disappointed! The fillets were topped with mashed sweet potatoes and sauteed vegetables. It was an excellent meal.
A few years ago, I traveled to Afghanistan where I volunteered at a hospital. There was an amazing little coffee place in the midst of that crazy place. As you walked through the door, it was almost as if you stepped out of Afghanistan and into America. You could order milk shakes or hamburgers or cheese cake. You could bring your computer and surf on the wireless internet while lounging in an overstuffed chair. It was a wonderful escape, even for a few moments.
The Kofi Kave kind of reminds me of that Kabul coffee house--a little touch of [America, the West, whatever you want to call it] in the bush of PNG. Thanks to the Dooley ladies for sharing it with me! What a sweet day.
P.S. There are rumors that a Chinese restaurant may be coming to Mt. Hagen. The closest one (and perhaps the only one in PNG) is in Goroka, about 3 hours down the Highlands Highway. A bit too far for take-out!