Panamanians eat as much rice as many Asian cultures, which means, nearly every meal. They have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every type of restaurant that serves Panamanian dished serves rice with them.
Usually Panamanians make rice with shredded chicken or guangou, a type of bean.
The Panamanians also love sancocho, which is a chicken soup that is made with chicken stock broth and vegtables, usually; carrot, ñamé, celery, and cilantro, with a chicken leg thrown in. One gets a side dish of rice with it (of course). To eat it traditionally, one takes a spoonful of rice and carefully lets the broth flow onto the spoon, soaking the rice. One picks up the chicken drumstick and uses the hands.
Panama has many types of exotic fruits and vegtables. Veggies include, ñamé and yucca, which are used like potatoes. Usually ñamé is used in soups, especially sancocho, and made into dumplings. Yucca is usually fried like french fries or chips, and is also used as a batter coating for some types of empanadas. When I first came here, I thought fried yucca were cottage fried potatoes! There is also otoé, which is also a root vegtable used like potatoes, and the above mentioned guangou, which is a bean that looks somewhat like a large, green lentil, usually cooked with rice.
Among the fruits are; maracuya, a fruit that makes a whitish, tart juice. guanabana, which is green and tart, and what inspired the quayaberra shirt for men, that has four pockets so one can pick guanabana and put them in the pockets. It´s juice is orange-coloured, it looks like orange juice, but definitely doesn´t taste like it!
Panamanians also loved grilled meat, there are parrilladas everywhere. There are street vendors who sell beef brochets for a quarter. It is considered a snack here. They finish them off with some picanté sauce over an open flame before they give them to you, to give them a spicy, smoky flavour.
There are also street vendors that sell barbequed chicken, from 1/4 to a whole chicken, it is very good, and very inexpensive.
Of course Panamanians love fish dishes. The most popular are corvina (choker), tuna, shrimp, langosto (like prawns), and lobster. One can also find dorado, grouper, snapper, wahoo and rooster fish on menus in some places or up-scale restaurants in Panama City.
There are some tips on car rental on this site that state that the charge per day is 25USD. I could not find this deal. "National" and the competitors offer smallest cars for around 50USD including all possible insurance coverage. For the brave and reckless, I might add that insurance is a must in Panama where drivers are playing macho or chicken depending on the view point. As a result there are many cars with smashed sides.
Car is indispensable for flexibility and freedom. In Panama the added feature is the option of visiting the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts in one morning! Hence I am not able to tell you where I made the most of my tan.
Palacio Lung Fung is on the Ave. Simon Bolivar sort of between El Cangrejo and El Dorado districts on the north side of Panama City.
The restaurant is an institution in Panama City, their specialty is dim sum. Many Panamanians go there for the dim sum breakfast on the weekends. Go to the third floor and be seated; when the carts come by just tell them what you want, if you know what it is you want, or point and tell them how much you want. They check off a card how many dim sum steamers you order and when you are finished, you have a server total it up and you pay them. Everything is ala carte, except for the hot tea, every table is given a generous pot of hot tea when they are seated. They do accept credit cards.
It’s not the best dim sum I’ve ever had, but it is edible and it’s cheap! (About $2 a steamer – each steamer has four pieces.) There were six of us at breakfast and we put away a dozen steamers, with drinks, I didn’t pay $30 for the lot, so it is pretty economical. Be advised, they add a 10% gratuity to the bill! In Panama, that is de riguer for tipping, actually, a little high, so don’t add to that unless you had really outstanding service, which we didn’t, so I just took my change. The best dim sum was the shrimp. Every shrimp dish I’ve had in Panama has been great. Maybe because it is so fresh, it is just so much better than shrimp I’ve had anywhere else, no matter how I’ve had it served. And it’s cheaper, too!!!
I would rate this place higher, but the service, although it was not bad, was not impressive; we asked for a desert cart, but it was never sent over, and the food was not terrific, pretty ordinary, but the price was very agreeable. If you want to pig on dim sum in Panama, this is the place to go! Dim sum, dim sum, dim sum!
Puente de las Americas
This marvel of engineering spans over the Panama canal allowing ground traffic to cross from North America into South America and vice versa. The causeway provides a nice angle, especially from the gazebo jutting a bit into the waters of the Pacific. Some ships might pass by as an added bonus and distraction from people and bird watching. Crossing it is a must!
Nice to do: People Watching in Avenida Central
The pedestrian part of Avenida Central, between Plaza Cinco de Mayo e Parque Santa Ana, (as a tourist if you just mention Avenida Central to every taxi driver he will get you there) provides and excellent and safe chance for some local people watching.
Avenida Cental is a shopping street with low-scale shops, department stores and restaurant and the foreign visitors will unlikely find anything of interest to buy. It's nice though for the street scenes and a taste of local life. Of the two ends, Parque Santa Ana is the prettier, with a lively little square and a busy, noicy intersection with taxis and diablos rojos coming and going. The photos I am attaching show some example of what you will find in a routine late afternoon in the Street: Kuna Women walking by, street "beauty salons", lottery ticket stalls, shoeshiners, food hawkers and locals in the routine of their daily life.
Avenida Central is generally considered a safe place to walk, though you should always keep your guard on for pickpocketing. Indeed I did not feel unsafe when visiting.