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“Very simple, outdoor "beach" restaurant...one of my favorite places in Douala!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Le Paquebot

Le Paquebot
Ranked #17 of 79 Restaurants in Douala
Cuisines: Seafood, Barbecue
Dining options: Lunch
Restaurant details
Dining options: Lunch
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Level Contributor
167 reviews
104 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
“Very simple, outdoor "beach" restaurant...one of my favorite places in Douala!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 November 2012

Le Paquebot ("the Riverboat") is one of my favorite restaurants in Douala! It has among the best grilled fish I've ever tasted! We go here about twice a month, sometimes more--it makes a great Sunday afternoon excursion.

Full disclosure: this is a simple restaurant with a somewhat limited menu. The outdoor area is a sand floor with outdoor/beach furniture but under wonderful shade trees and the best breeze/cool air in Douala. It overlooks the Wouri river bank, which at this point is quite wide (3-5 kms) at the mouth of the bay. There is a more elaborate "indoor" section with restaurant chairs and tables--very nice and clean--but we only use this when its raining.

This is a popular place with both ex-pats and locals. By 2pm on Sunday, most outdoor tables are taken (as mentioned before, you can still eat inside), so get here before 1pm if you want to sit outside next to the water.

Not that it much matters, since the food is great, but at low tide the outdoor view is transformed into a river of mud that extends out about 300-400 meters. This is because the Wouri River is quite shallow. If this is an issue, check the tide tables for Douala on the internet before you go. We've found that within 2 - 3 hours of low tide, you'll see a fair amount of mud; it's not a terrible view and it doesn't really smell, but it's not water. At all other times, the small waves lap against the side of the restaurant wall and the fishermen are literally 50m away in their pirogues!

Now for the food: the printed menu shows all sorts of items including grilled meat, chicken, etc. Consider this as an alternative only if you don't like fish--it's certainly good, but not the specialty of the house. What you want is the grilled fish! You have the choice of whatever is on the market but you can almost always get bar (bass), barracuda, and capitaine (local gulf of guinea fish--quite oily). In season, they have sole (if they have it, consider getting at least one--it is a delicacy here). The fish is very fresh--we've seen fisherman come off their pirogues with their catch and bargain with the cook.

You pick out the fish you want at the grill and then go to your table and enjoy some refreshments while the fish cooks. You also have the choice of french fries and fried plantains. Note: if you order "fries" or "frites", you'll get plantains--you MUST add "frites des pommes de terre" in order to get potato fries. You should get both, however, for reasons soon to be apparent.

If you are a regular customer, you can also call ahead and order your fish from Fleury, the manager. This will save about 45 minutes of time as the fish are slow-cooked over the coal-fired grill. Of course, some of our friends claim that half the fun is sitting for an hour or so with their beers and solving the problems of the world while waiting for the fish to grill. You'll have to decide. We enjoy it either way! Just know that it is well worth the wait, but that wait is at least 30 - 45 minutes because of the way the fish is grilled.

When the fish arrives at your table, they are quite large and complete (with head and tail). You will need to prepare the fish yourself with the utensils provided. They are grilled in a special, very lightly spiced green pepper sauce--which is not hot and absolutely delicious. The fish are covered in onions and green peppers as well. We have found that one big fish (either bar or barracuda) feeds two people with normal appetites. The sole will feed one (or maybe two with small appetites).

Don't forget to put a little bit of the hot red pepper sauce on the side of your plate--not too much though--to dip your fish into as you eat. Note--this sauce is REALLY hot, but perfectly matches the taste of these fish. You will want the fried plantains on the side to eat afterwards as their slightly sweet taste just cools the palate.

Costs: If you split one large fish between two people, have an order of french fries and plantains, plus two large beers, expect to pay between $10 - 12 per person (5000-6000CFA). Tipping is optional but it pays to be generous if you are a regular.

Since there are no street signs in Douala, you may want to use a GPS or google maps to find Le Paquebot. Here's the geocoord: 4.023361,9.668899. Just load it into google maps and click "find" or "get directions to". Basically, you head through the port area to the naval base and where the road makes a 90 degree bend, you are there. Note: there are several restaurants close-by--make sure you go to the Paquebot as it is the best in the immediate area.

  • Visited October 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first

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