Le Premier's Steak & Seafood Dinner Buffet
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
A remarkable metamorphosis has occurred at the Onward Beach Resort's main restaurant, Le Premier, which re-opened recently after a complete renovation. In fact, you would be hard pressed to recognize this new restaurant - it now has an airy, modern, stream-lined elegance with an emphasis on aesthetically-pleasing accoutrements. The new design allows diners to enjoy a fabulous ocean view and Agana Bay sunset from just about anywhere in the restaurant and bar (seating has expanded to seat 204). Just inside the entrance your eyes will be drawn to a wall showcasing beautiful hand-made vases inset in cut-outs that are back-lit by soft, pastel-filtered lights, appearing like fixed surreal TV monitors in a modern art museum's still life display.
I didn't realize that Le Premier featured an All-You-Can-Eat Steak & Seafood Dinner Buffet three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday & Friday). It's something the hotel has decided not to advertise too heavily until they have completed the construction of their new tower. Word of mouth and internal promotion is the way they are informing customers that they are offering this special meal, priced at $20.00/adult (inclusive of service charge), and $10.00/child (ages 5 to 12). Dinner hours are 5:30 to 9:30 pm, with happy hour from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. The cocktail lounge is positioned adjacent to the large bay windows, with several barstools lined up against the well-stocked bar.
Although hotel buffets generally seem to offer many similar entrees, salads, and dishes, this one has some notable touches that I found to be interesting and tasty. Credit for this buffet must be accorded to the Onward's Executive Chef, Takashi Takaya, who has devoted a great deal of time and energy perfecting the food selection and assuring its quality. Since I arrived early, I was able to see the presentation of each entree in the buffet line...they were culinary art pieces. I was impressed by a cheese and cracker selection, and aside from sashimi and sushi in the cold salad bar (replete with an assortment of fresh vegetables), they had good smoked salmon with capers as well as crab claws. I really liked their cocktail sauce with this sweet, meaty crab claw...it was kind of "pika" and had a rich taste.
A different type of steak is grilled each night as well as several different seafood entree preparations. Tonight they had a battered catfish in a tomato sauce with mushrooms and steamed mussels; a mixed seafood kebab (squid, baby octopus, shrimp, scallops, and fish, with a nice teriyaki dipping sauce; and a baked salmon in a curry cream sauce that was simply "out of this world!" This salmon curry dish had chutney piled in two sections of the pan. The salmon was moist, and the curry had an irresistible taste (I had to get seconds on this one!).
Also on the buffet line was a Top Round of Beef a La Mode. Talk about tender! The beef had been marinated in a wine and seasoning blend. There was also marinated chicken topped by a vegetable ratatouille (yellow, orange, and green squash with mushrooms); a pancit dish that had "humongus" shrimp (you know most pancits use the baby shrimp); a pan of steamed, but crisp and fresh vegetables that included cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, and onion along with roast russet potatoes (very nice); and two cauldron's of hot soup. I had the Clam Chowder, I had. This chowder was excellent, and was filled with meaty clams.
Tonight's beef was Rib-eye steak along with prime rib. The steak is grilled on a griddle and a mushroom sauce can be ladled on top if you desire. The prime rib is boneless and had been cooked more done than rare (classic prime is cooked to rare). Horseradish and finadene are available to enhance this beef.
A separate dessert bar contained about 8 or 9 different cakes, with pastries and an assortment of fresh fruit slices. I was too full to partake, though they did look good - some of these pastry chefs bake and decorate as though they were competing!
With the closure of the Caravel Italian Restaurant due to the construction, Le Premier has an a la carte Italian menu, featuring Antipasti, Deep Fried Mozzarella and Zucchini, a selection of meats (prawns, chicken, tuna, and lamb chops), and several pasta entrees, with their trademark Gnocchi a la Parmentier (Potato Pasta in Onward's special Marinara Sauce). This Italian menu is only available during dinner time.
Aside from the Italian menu, Le Premier exclusively serves buffets now, with a Breakfast Buffet from 7:00 to 9:30 am ($15.00 inclusive); an Lunch Buffet, from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm ($9.95 inclusive), featuring their extremely popular tempura station); and on Sundays, Brunch is $21.95, plus 10%.
Although Le Premier was a nice dining experience prior to the renovation, the difference is so dramatic you'd have to see it to believe it. If you can arrive before 6:00 pm, you'll be able to enjoy and appreciate an inspiring sunset. Try the new Le Premier at the Onward Beach Resort...and bring your cameras!