Mary's Vietnamese Restaurant - Where Everything's So Good!
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Consistency! That's what you can expect every time you dine at Mary's Vietnamese Restaurant, located on the 2nd floor of the G.B.Sangalang Building, slightly down from and across Route 16 from Iglesias Ni Cristo. I've eaten at Mary's several times over the past few years and I only have praise for their well-prepared, specially seasoned foods. There's something else to be said about a restaurant that appears to have a certain appeal for ladies...after all, when I was there at 12:45PM for lunch on Wednesday, I counted 25 women (vs. 4 men). The appeal was culturally diverse...there were Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Chamorro, and Japanese among the group....with a few haoles to boot! Closing my eyes and listening to their animated ethnic chatter reminded me of a United Nations social event! Some of the ladies I saw were local "movers and shakers", and people who I know to be fairly selective in their restaurant choices. Their acknowledgement and response to me about Mary's food was unanimous - "because it's soooo good!"
Mary's is known for her Fried and Fresh Lumpia ($7.00 and $6.00 respectively), as well her Sinigang Soup with Shrimp ($9.00), Fried Pork Chop ($7.00) and Crispy Egg Noodle ("Bird's Nest") with a combination of chicken,pork, and shrimp for $9.50. The Fresh Lumpia is made with a large shrimp that's combined with chunks of chicken and rice noodles with lettuce, all in a lumpia wrapper with the chive stalks protruding out one end like a tail. Her hoisin/crushed peanut dipping sauce is a treat and spiced a bit with peppers.
I wanted something different for lunch and opted for the Spicy Lemongrass Chicken ($7.00), which is served with a large scoop of rice, lettuce and a pile of cucumbers. I also had an order of String Beans with Beef ($8.00). The String Beans can be ordered plain (for vegetarians), or with chicken or shrimp, each for $8.00. It is a really tasty dish, and the tender meat is covered in an oyster sauce with fresh garlic bits. Green onion slices are sprinkled on top of this dish that looks as good as it tastes.
The Spicy Lemongrass Chicken surprised me with its volume...it was more than I could eat alone. The intense lemongrass flavors were perfectly blended with red pepper to give it a unique taste that wasn't "hot" but seasoned. Other Spicy Lemongrass entrees are Beef ($8.00) and Shrimp ($12.00).
Kang Kung entrees are popular, too, with Mary's serving several versions - plain, with beef, with chicken, or with Shrimp (all $8.00).
Tilapia's a common fish at local restaurants, however, Mary's preparation makes it uncommonly good. Her Fried Tilapia with Ginger Sauce ($12.00) has a great presentation - Mary cares as much about how the food looks when it's served as she does about how it tastes, which is usually great! Golden fried, a crushed ginger vegetable blend is sprinkled on its top and the fish is surrounded by cucumber slices interspersed with halved cherry tomatoes. The bottom of the plate is immersed in a savory ginger sauce, ideal for dipping the steamy white chunks of fish.
I recalled the time I had Mary's Sinigang Soup with Shrimp. It had large, plump shrimp floating in it with sliced cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, fresh basil and mint leaves. The hot and sour combination of flavors such as lemongrass and tamarind left an indelible impression, so powerful that the mere thought of the dish starts my mouth watering!
Mary's is owned and operated by Mary To and her husband and kids. Her daughter Ann has grown up on Guam and is a new mother herself. She is very helpful in suggesting and recommending items from Mary's large menu. Mary's is open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Take out orders are accepted and can be made by calling 649-5523. Cash is the only payment form accepted.
Just ask anyone you know who's been to Mary's Vietnamese Restaurant why they like to eat there. They'll tell you because it's "soooo good"! Try it and taste for yourself!