Last March 2016 in El Nido, Palawan I was doing what most solo travelers do when they get bored, wandered around aimlessly looking for something interesting. Since I have been to El Nido countless times, I was looking for something new, specifically something that would get my attention gastronomically. That was when I saw this new brightly lit restaurant in town, Odessa Mama Street Cafe.
Their sign says “Cooked with love. Ukrainian Kitchen.” I have lived more than two decades in Manila and traveled around the country but it was my first time seeing a Ukrainian Restaurant. Where was Ukraine in the map? What do they eat? I decided to head back to my accommodation and do some research on Ukraine and what they eat but then it hit me. I have to set my priorities – eat now, research later. And like a little boy on his first day at school, I went inside knowing nothing.
I saw foreigners in the kitchen that were talking to each other and I have no idea what they were talking about (Language barrier). That’s a good sign that this is an authentic Ukrainian Restaurant. Then I looked at their menu, and guess what? I have no idea what the names of their food were, another good sign that this is an authentic Ukrainian Restaurant.
I looked at their menu and tried to understand everything that I could. I do not know what to order! There’s nothing with rice except for that small sentence below their menu.
I asked the help of their Filipino staff to help me choose, they recommended Cheburek Beef & Cheese. It was good but I shall go into their food deeper somewhere below this line. I was thinking of getting some rice but then I decided that if I’m going Ukrainian, I’m going 100% Ukrainian. No rice. (But with coke, since I love its fizzling sugary goodness.)
As of writing, I have been to their restaurant countless times for the past 3 months, met a lot of people there and got to talk with the staff and the owners. They take pride that they make their own sauces and bread, which is a big plus for me since I know that I am eating authentic foreign food without it being Filipinonized.
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So far here are the food that I got to order when I was there.
I’m putting some of the photos beside my Asus Zenfone so that you would know how big their servings are.
Cheburek – Beef & Cheese (120 Pesos)
It may look like a Filipino’s simple empanada but it’s not. Cheburek was the first meal I ordered in this restaurant and I loved it. As of writing I have ordered it around 3 times and I do see that number to be that way long.
The staff would recommend to order the Beef & Cheese Cheburek and I agree that it does really taste good, but personally I would recommend the Beef Cheburek.
When they give you the Cheburek, kindly ask for their sauces specifically their homemade mayo and tomato sauce. It’s a really addition when I ate the Cheburek.
To be more specific, I loved eating the Cheburek Beef with mayo.
Patty-Pocket – Kebab (200 Pesos)
This one is their best seller and I could understand why. The combination of beef kebab, onion, tomato and cucumber with a glazing of homemade tomato sauce and mayonnaise squeezed into a homemade pita bread. Writing that sentence made me hungry.
Be careful though as eating it is a bit messy so ready the tissue.
If you’re looking for a strong taste I would highly recommend the Patty-Pocket Kebab. But if you’re looking for a lighter taste, especially for breakfast, I would recommend the Grilled Bacon & Egg.
Nalysnyky with Meat (150 Pesos)
This one is fried crepe rolls with meat inside, then with sour cream
Next time I’ll try the Nalysnyky with Cottage Cheese and Honey.
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Varenyky – Mashed Potato & Mushrooms (120 Pesos)
The Varenyky is boiled dumpling. I’ve seen it being ordered a lot of times by different customers but I only ordered it recently after 6 visits to Odessa Mama Street Cafe.
I asked the staff on which Varenyky was the best, they said that when it comes to Varenyky they and customers would recommend the Mashed Potato with Mushroom.
This is one sophisticated dish for me. I ordered the Varenyky after I ordered Cheburek Beef & Cheese (I was really hungry that night), I ate first the Cheburek and it somehow left a taste that affected my taste buds from appreciating the Varenyky. Since I was enjoying my Cheburek, I decided to finish it before starting again on the Varenyky.
Finishing the Cheburek, I did not appreciate the Varenyky at first but the owner (I was not able to ask the name) saw my need for a drink and asked if I want one. I ordered for a bottle of water and that did the trick!
After the drink I was able to appreciate the subtle taste of the Vernyky with Mashed Potato and Mushroom. I was able to taste the boiled unleavend bread, mashed potato with a hint of mushroom and the sprinkle of fried onion. The sour cream was a good addition to the taste.
Once in a while they also serve their Ukrainian dishes that are not on the menu. I’ve tried their Borsht and I’m seriously on the lookout for their Svekolnik.
The best thing about dining here is that you could see your order being prepared in front of you. You know
In terms of size, their servings is just the right amount for a light meal. I would recommend your group to head over here after your island hopping tour or to if you’re looking for a place to do that after inuman session.
What I love about their staff is that they are really friendly. When I go in I say hi and they say hi back. When I go out I say bye and they say bye back.
Most of the time I am clueless on what to order, so I ask the staff on what they would recommend. Sometimes they answer vaguely but most of the time they would suggest something specific. It helps me with making quick decisions on what to order and concentrating on that moment that I am there.
I always go here solo but I never felt alone because of the bar setup which is really helpful for solo travelers to get to know other travelers. One just have to be open, friendly, respectful and have an arsenal of interesting conversation skills.
Plus I get to talk with the staff while they prepare their food, but I try to be considerate with how much conversations I give them since they have to focus also on preparing food.
If want some alone time or you’re with a group that you want to talk to face to face you may go to the self service area where they have chairs and tables.
As for me, I prefer sitting at the bar and talking with strangers.
They have a freedom wall so if you appreciate the food, the place and their staff you could tell them by writing on the wall.
Odessa Mama Street Cafe is located right smack at the center of El Nido Town Proper. You could walk going here after the Island Hopping Tour.
Click on the map below to see the location of Odessa Mama Street Cafe in Google Maps.
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Just a little warning when it rains the front of Odessa Mama Street Cafe usually gets flooded.
If this happens there iss another way to get inside Odessa Mama Street Cafe by the beach. Look for Marbers Restobar along the beach. Go through the restobar, there’s a pathway that would lead to Odessa Mama Street Cafe.
Would I recommend dining here?
If you are like me who has totally no idea on what Ukrainian food is and has a serious interest on foods unknown then I would recommend dining here. But even if you’re just a simple traveler and looking for good food then this is one of the place you should try.
To answer the question directly. Yes, I would recommend dining here when you are in El Nido. The food is great and it gets better by the friendly vibe of the place.
Odessa Mama Street Cafe Details
Operating Hours: 8AM to 11PM daily. (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Mobile Number: +63-927-655-0360
Facebook: Odessa Mama Street Cafe
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