Magellan's International Buffet - A Surprising Difference You'll Enjoy
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Something's happened at the north end of Tumon Bay, home to Hotel Nikko Guam, which is where I went recently to try out the lunch buffet at the Magellan Restaurant, located on the ground floor. Magellan boasts a fabulous view of the manicured gardens and the beach beyond. This vantage point provides a view of the ocean beyond Tumon, with the dynamic surf pounding the reef line just yards away from a shoreline made more active on this visit by the lingering effects of Typhoon Tingting.
Aptly named after the Spanish explorer who "discovered" Guam, Magellan has enjoyed an increasing number of repeat customers who are spreading the word about Magellan's impressive culinary offerings at a price you won't believe. A colorful statue representing a white-bearded Magellan stands just outside the entrance to the restaurant, where he can be seen greeting a statue of a comely Chamorrita in a grass skirt and lei. Though this seems a bit corny, you'll appreciate the quality of the artwork (paintings, carvings, and handicrafts) that decorate Magellan's interior.
Each month Magellan changes the theme and menu of its buffet. Although my review took place in June during which I experienced their Paradise Lunch Buffet, I am inclined to believe that their July theme, European Lunch Buffet, will be as impressive. The published charge for this lunch buffet is $15, however, if you have a local ID, you will enjoy a price of $9, plus a 10% service charge. For the quality of the food served, I thought that $15 was quite reasonable having paid more for lower-quality buffet food. I mention the "quality" of the food because that's what I believe makes this buffet better than some others.
Take the bread for example. You remember the French bread and rolls that were baked fresh and sold at the Dai Ichi's Le Creole? Well, there's a baker here (Lito, the Pastry Manager) who does a remarkable job. He bakes all kinds of breads (even cheese bread) and both hard and soft crust rolls with the right texture and yeast-flavor that makes good bread great. He also does cakes and pies (the pecan pie was worth having again) and an ube cake was good.
The buffet features a "live" station near the entrance, and the Paradise theme had a "Pot au Feu" as the centerpiece. This hot pot is full of a flavorful broth you pour over a bowl full of meats and vegetables you select. The meats were a variety of juicy sausages (Bratwurst), savory pork links, Portugese Sausage, as well as a side of tender, delicious Corned Beef. The vegetables were celery, cabbage, carrots, and white squash. This was worth having again and I did go back for more corned beef. Other hot items for the theme included Katsu-don, Szechuan Fish, Fresh Oriental Noodles (udon) with Vegetables, Breaded Fried Salmon, Braised Shortribs, and an outstanding Grilled Lamb Chops with a Green Peppercorn Sauce with Eggplant and Red Peppers. There are salad fixings and soup (today's was an Oriental Pork Meatball with Green Vegetables in a savory broth).
Magellan's ambiance and atmosphere are quite comfortable and many customers stay on well past closing, sometimes until 3 or 3:30pm, as they just enjoy being there. It's spacious, clean and bright with plenty of natural daylight pouring through floor-to-ceiling windows that span the entirety of the dining room. I noticed that there were many ladies here, more than men, and they were of varying ethnicities, chatting in small groups while dining. The service at Magellan is quite good, showing that they've received the benefit of an experienced trainer. As buffet service should be, the dishes you leave behind while making new selections from the buffet are picked up (at the Magellan, this happens quickly), and iced tea and water are replenished often.
The chef responsible (key word is responsible - and he's on top of things here, always on the floor and keeping the buffet line refreshed) is Chef Kozo Usuda, Hotel Nikko Guam's Sous Chef. He is certainly an exception to the rule to "never trust a skinny chef" - he's lean and competent. (Let's be honest - buffet food is buffet food, never as fresh as a la carte). So in so far as buffet food goes, it's an art and skill to keep this food palatable, and it's to the Nikko's credit that Usuda-san does this so well.
For the month of July, guests will be able to enjoy Beef Stew with Noodles at the live station, Creamy Tuna Salad, Mussels with White Wine Sauce, Eggplant Rollati, Herb Salad with Couscous, Bouillabaisse, Pepper Steak, Pork Wrapped in Bacon with a Vermouth Sauce, Braised Ox Tail, Cafe de Paris, Chicken Stuffing, and Marinated Pork Loin with Pineapple. The buffet is served Monday through Saturday from 11:30am until 2:00pm. For reservations, call 649-8815, ext 7504/5.
Try Magellan's Lunch Buffet at the hotel nikko guam and see why "word of mouth" has been spreading. People are talking about the food, the place, and the service, all for a price you can appreciate!