Nana's Cafe - Where Simple Foods Become Great Pleasures
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Nana's Cafe in Tumon is full of nice surprises. Upon entering this beachside restaurant that had previously been Sails Restaurant, your eyes will start noticing wood carvings, statues, plants, and vintage travel posters, which are apt since a visit to Nana's Cafe is to be in a setting where you know you are on a tropical island surrounded by a beautiful ocean - unlike many places on Guam which could be anywhere. Hand-woven place mats on the tables match the rich natural texture of thatched walls, with dark brown wood tones throughout creating an environment that puts you in touch with nature. The ocean is but a stones throw away and is completely visible through the large glass windows along the entire beachside. It is noticeably peaceful in Nana's, and movements are unhurried and relaxed - a pleasant break from the hustling activity of San Vitores.
Our lunch at Nana's was our first visit to dine since it's opening last year. We were aware that Nana's was the new home of legendary Chef and 15-year Guam resident, Takuhiko Kishimoto, who tantalized local palates with his Cajun-spiced dishes and mushroom sauces at the former Seahorse Kurumaya Restaurant. He has created a simple menu of weekly & daily lunch specials that were nothing short of wonderful, and reasonably priced.
Lunch includes a salad bar buffet which has all the basics for a refreshing, nutritious vegetable appetizer that can be drizzled with your choice of dressings (even olive oil and balsamic vinegar!) including an excellent Japanese dressing. We ordered Nana's Hamburger Steak Japonaise Style, the Assorted Grilled Lunch ($8.95), the Bento Box ($9.95), and the Fried Seafood Combination ($8.95). Excluding the Bento Box, all were unusual culinary creations that inspired our taste buds and aroused our curiosity about the various ingredients Chef Kishimoto used for flavoring.
Nana's Hamburger Steak Japonaise Style was a visual tour de force. It is a homemade flame-broiled thick beef patty that is topped with thin-sliced red onion, grated radish, parillo leaves, and a sunny-side up egg, all surrounded by a deep brown sauce. This was yet another great sauce creation by Chef Kishimoto, in which he used teriyaki and miso to make this memorable flavor. The beef was also delicious, with the grated radish and onion imparting taste textures of their own.
The Assorted Grilled Lunch is a combination of Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp "with a gravy sauce" (according to the menu, which in reality puts it 'lightly"!). The meats are grilled then simmered in a thick, savory sauce that covers half the plate. The beef and chicken have been marinated, and the spiced shrimp is on a wooden skewer. A large portion of caramelized onions mixed with mushrooms and eggplant accompany the gravied meats, along with a big pile of steamed rice. The savory sauce tasted like Stroganoff, or something with red wine...but it also had a sweet fruitiness. We later found out that he used Mogen David to prepare his sauce.
The Fried Seafood Combination was just what it said--Mahi Mahi,Shrimp, and Squid with Tartar Sauce. What it didn't say was how deliciously well-prepared and fresh each would be. All were deep fried in panko bread crumbs to a crispy perfection. The Calamari (squid) was tender with its quality registering instantly. The shrimp and the mahi were also good - throughly cooked yet with the juices still intact. A shredded cabbage slaw was on the plate along with a curried angel-hair pasta salad which was pleasing.
The Bento Box is offered as a more conventional entree, though it did have the curried pasta and some special fish cake and pickled vegetables, along with steamed radish and licorice-like seaweed chunks. Interesting. We frankly recommend that you try something that is not 'Japanese' and go with one of the other lunch specials.
Other lunch specials are Grilled Chicken with Cajun Mushrooms ($8.75), Grilled Mahi Mahi with Cajun Mushrooms ($8.75), Ribeye Steak with Onion Sauce ($9.95) and a Shrimp Caesar Salad ($8.95). Everything is under $10.00.
Nana's Cafe is open from 11am -2pm for lunch and from 6pm - 10pm daily. The dinner menu is more elaborate, with seafood and steak specialties as well as other dishes. You can call 646-7803 for dinner reservations and watch a glorious sunset and enjoy some of Nana's tropical drinks. The best part of going to Nana's Cafe is to be treated to the culinary magic of one of Guam's "sauce-masters", Executive Chef Kishimoto! Eat well!