Niji Sunday Brunch - A Celebration of Popular Japanese Cuisine
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
There are only two ways to get to Japan on Sundays. One is by going to the airport and buying a ticket for a seat to Japan, and the other is taking the drive down San Vitores to the Hyatt Regency. There you will take a leisurely stroll from the lobby down a long, scenic corridor that brings you to Niji, a splendid Japanese restaurant located on a promontory of peace. Not widely advertised (I can understand the pressure they must get from frequent patrons not to promote this place), the Niji's Sunday Brunch is a buffet experience different from most other Sunday brunch extravaganzas which offer endless Western and international cuisine selections from which to choose; so much so that one can't help but gorge oneself in a dining frenzy. Niji, on the other hand, offers discipline and equanimity, peace and balance, in their tribute to popular Japanese cuisine. You will find sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, yakitori, somen, tempura, shabu shabu and more.
Niji's main dining room has one of the most beautiful and peaceful views of Tumon Bay that I've seen, framed by verdant plants, trees, and flowers surrounding a rock garden with a pond and flowing fountain. It is a traditional Japanese garden laid in a tropical island setting. This room also houses what must be the longest sushi bar on Guam. For the Sunday buffet it is filled with California maki, tekka maki (tuna), unagi (eel), tako (octopus), ikura (salmon roe), kani (crab), ebi (shrimp), hot & spicy tuna and kappa maki (cucumber). Most impressive is an unusually large selection of tsukemono (Japanese pickles) to accompany and garnish your sushi platter. For a taste explosion, try the ume-zuke (pickled plum)! The line also has snow crab, fresh shrimp, marinated mussels, edamame, marinated seafood and cucumber salad, poki, tofu, enoki mushrooms and more. The polished wood floor enhances this room's authentic Japanese appeal. There are also private dining rooms separated by sliding Shoji screens.
Niji's Teppanyaki area is totally separated and located just down the hall near the restaurant's entrance. It is large room, with a hexagonal teppan counter filling the center. The front teppan griddles are used for grilling the various meat selections (beef, chicken, and lamb chops) and seafood (white fish, salmon, lobster, shrimp, and calamari) while the other areas are used to display other food offerings. This is where you can create your own shabu shabu bowl by cooking your fresh selection of vegetable ingredients and beef in the boiling cauldron of seasoned broth. There are soup stations where you make your own bowl of soba or miso soup. One dish you don't want to miss is the chawanmushi (egg custard). It is one of my favorites and is a brilliant rendition of a savory custard.
One side section of the teppan counter has a hibachi used for barbecuing yakitori skewers; you can get beef, chicken, or shrimp yakitori. There are also a few grilled vegetables, including eggplant, bean sprouts, onions, and peppers. And, of course, there is everyone's favorite - a tempura station - with the requisite shrimp, carrot, onion, pepper and eggplant ingredients. Be sure to get a black wooden starter platter to carry all of your food choices when you come to this room - you'll soon find out that your hands are just too small to carry everything separately!
You can enjoy a glass of champagne or the featured Japanese beer with your meal, or a refreshing glass of China Mist tea. There is a dessert station with an assortment of cakes, pies, pastries and fresh fruits. You must try the shaved ice station where you make a Japanese dessert similar to halo-halo with sweet red beans, flavored gelatins, young coconut and fruit.
Sunday Brunch at Niji starts at 11:30am and lasts until 2pm. It is reasonably priced at $27 (plus 10% service charge) per person. Club at the Hyatt Card discounts do apply. Reservations can be made by calling 647-1234. Try Sunday Brunch at Niji for a buffet of Japanese favorites where you can enjoy a peaceful ambiance with a rock garden framed ocean view that inspires!