Review: Mumu Restaurant, Port Moresby


To Papua New Guineans, the mumu is defined as ‘pit cooking’; to Hilton Port Moresby Executive Chef Neil Abrahams, the social aspect of it is a key part of this style of eating and the inspiration behind the hotel’s Mumu Restaurant.

Mumu’ grill. Credit: Florida Gulaseni (Hilton)

Part of the Mumu Restaurant experience at the Hilton is the interaction with the chefs and being able to see the food being cooked from the open kitchen, whether you’re outside in the relaxed rainforest setting or inside at the kitchen counter.

The social aspect of the restaurant has also been emphasised, with group-sized servings that can be shared among many – bringing forth the essence of the mumu in PNG culture.

Chef Neil says: ‘This concept is not new; the Chinese have been doing it forever – the main experience when you go to a Chinese restaurant is the food comes to the middle of the table and everyone’s sharing. It’s the same social interaction here, but different food.’

The food

The Mumu kitchen is providing imaginative and inventive dishes with Papua New Guinean favourites such as lamb flap skewers, skordalia and pickled pitpit getting a modern and international twist.

Chef Neil says it is all about understanding an ingredient and its properties, and then Experimenting with cooking methods and flavours.

‘Mumu is showcasing what PNG’s local cuisine can be at an elite level.’

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Young local Mumu chefs Richard Rupa and Yohun Magni say they never imagined that everyday local ingredients could be presented in such interesting ways.

Chef Yohun says: ‘I never knew that you could pickle pitpit; we’ve only known the taste of pitpit in coconut creamed soup, so the first people that tried the recipe were surprised at the tanginess of it and how it was prepared with watercress salad and roasted tomatoes – you don’t really expect that.

‘Chef has given us this amazing recipe which I am proud to make and I reckon, “why not try something new”?’

Chef Neil says it’s all about coming back to the raw ingredients. ‘If you really want to break pitpit down, it’s just a grass. You’re eating the heart of the grass so what I’m reminded of when I see the heart of a plant is bamboo shoots, heart of palm and all these wonderful flavours that I’ve cooked with in other countries and then I think of how we can create that locally as well and have people walk away amazed with the experience’.

Chef Neil says there is a lot of potential for PNG ingredients. ‘If you start creating recipes with flavours that are conducive to other cultures, but include something they have never experienced, you’ll have people getting excited and asking how we can export your ingredients.

‘But then for me it’s more a question of, “why would you want to export food when you can import tourism”?’

The chefs

Chef Neil Abrahams [centre] and PNG raising stars Richard Rupa and Yohun Magni. Credit: Florida Gulaseni (Hilton)

Chef Neil is the Continental Director for Worldchefs in the Pacific Rim. Worldchefs is the world’s largest network of chefs, with members in 110 countries, including PNG.

With his Worldchefs hat on, Chef Neil is passionate about training and upskilling. A key focus of the organisation is to develop chefs throughout the world and establish a global standard.

‘If you’re a certified commis chef (novice chef), that certificate is recognised all over the world – we’re striving to get to that here at the Hilton. The aim for me while I’m here is to make sure that everyone in my kitchen has a trade qualification,’ he tells PNG Now.

Both Richard and Yohun are in the program as part of six apprentices who are studying for a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery. Once they achieve the certificate, they will be deemed trade competent and will then be able to apply for the commis chef certificate.

Chief Neil says it is imperative to build up a skilled population through vocational training to lift the standard of the tourism and hospitality industry.

‘Mumu is showcasing what PNG’s local cuisine can be at an elite level, so there are a lot of requirements with food safety, sourcing ingredients and standards.

‘It’s one thing to teach a dish, it’s another to create a menu and then another to turn that menu into something profitable and sustainable for the future of any establishment; that’s where we need to be.’

The chefs have now developed new eyes for the local produce they grew up with. ‘I think every chef’s goal is to become boss, but now that I’m doing this course I’m actually hoping to write a recipe book,’ Chef Yohun says.

‘I’m looking forward to the practical side to be able to understand the structure of food and cooking using local PNG produce, like what Chef Neil has done with the Mumu menu,’ she says.

Chef Richard hopes to eventually travel the country and discover local ingredients and methods of cooking to add to his knowledge and capacity to create new dishes.


The Mumu Restaurant at the Hilton opens Wednesday to Saturday, from 6–10pm.

For bookings, Tel. 7501 8000 or 7501 8015

This story was first published in the April 2021 issue PNG Now, Papua New Guinea’s leading lifestyle magazine.

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