Flamingo Restaurant - Tasty Japanese Served With a Generation of Experience
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Flamingo Restaurant, located in Anigua next to the vacant Community First Building, is a popular restaurant that has been satisfying local customers for more than a generation. This is one of those long-overdue reviews, since it involves a restaurant I've driven by over a hundred times. Before I became the food guy, I frequented Flamingo Restaurant for lunch when they were located on Harmon Loop Road. I guess the timing was right for this review, since I have since developed a more experienced palate and appreciation for quality. If I told you that the majority of the food on Flamingo Restaurant's menu is fried, chances are you'd have a negative or, at best, neutral reaction. On the other hand, if I qualified this and told you that they use 100% soybean oil for frying, would that change your impression?
Flamingo Restaurant is owned by the Chang family (they also own Uri Jip Korean Restaurant) and is managed by Dongman "Dong" Chang, who keeps a watchful eye on his business while treating customers as though they were family and close friends. Dong has set quality standards and maintained them for several years now. The food, labeled "Contemporary Japanese" by Dong, is inexpensive and consistently good, with nearly every entree selling in the $8-$10 range. Menu items include Chopsteak, Chicken Tatsuta, Beef Tatsuta, Fried Shrimp, Tempura Shrimp, Chicken Cutlet, Yakitori, Fish Cutlet, Yakisoba, Chopsuey, and Onion Rings made with Panko. These are great onion rings that don't require napkins to absorb the oil and grease from frying. They are crunchy, crispy, greaseless, and delicious.
Flamingo has been in business for over two decades and it is a family-style casual eatery that doesn't try to impress you with appearances. At Flamingo, it's all about substance. It's about walking out of this place with a satisfied smile, knowing that you and your family got your money's worth and that you didn't leave hungry. With all the menu combinations that are possible at Flamingo, it is easy for everyone in a family to get their favorite items. Like it's namesake, Flamingo is decorated with statues and paintings of flamingos. While there are many interior enhancements that could be made, Flamingo's homey atmosphere appeals to people, disarming them so that they can relax, play, and eat.
One of the first things you get after being seated is a bowl of miso soup. We ordered two combination plates ($10 each), the #14 with Yakitori, Shrimps, Beef Tatsuta and Chop Steak, and the # 9 with Yakitori, Shishkabob, Chicken Cutlet, and Onion Rings. We also selected a Yakisoba Plate ($7.50) and an order of Shanghai Lumpia ($5.50). Flamingo's dinner menu is a joy to read, since it's all done with color photos that perfectly portray the food you order. The best thing about their combinations is that they assure even a single diner a variety of choices.
Our salad arrived next. Flamingo's salads are made with shredded cabbage and carrots topped by a very thick, creamy garlic Italian dressing. Our first plate, the Yakisoba, was delivered and it was a nicely seasoned mix of beef, onions, carrots, and cabbage. The Onion Rings from the #9 and the Shanghai Lumpia were up next. I cannot say enough good things about these perfect onion rings, thick sliced, crispy, and nearly greaseless. Dong whips up fresh tartar sauce daily to go with the onion rings. The small, crunchy, and surprisingly meaty lumpia are served with a sweet sauce.
All of it was good thus far but it was the #14 Combo that really grabbed my attention, since it was loaded with a tempting variety of goodies - Chop Steak, Beef Tatsuta, Yakitori, and Fried Shrimp. The Chop Steak was awesome, with really tender, flavorful chunks of beef (naturally tender, according to Dong). This same high-quality beef was used for the Beef Tatsuta. The Beef Tatsuta is coated with potato starch before deep-frying making it tolerate a higher cooking temperature which helps to retain the juiciness of the meat while the exterior is crisp. The Yakitori was another treat. I'd been without good yakitori for months ever since the Yakitori Grill closed down. This was a close substitute.
The #9 combination with Shishkabob and BBQ sauce, more Yakitori and the Chicken Cutlet, which are two thigh pieces heavily coated in panko prior to frying, was the final dish and we enjoyed it as well. Dong also brought over some kimchi which he said was made by his mom at Uri Jip. There is even a Kalbi BBQ Set on the Korean Menu (not always available) that's provided by Uri Jip, too. This sells for $18.
One very surprising thing is that Flamingo's prices have not gone up in twelve years! For $1.50, you get a bottomless Iced Tea and soda of your choice. There is a Kid's menu, featuring such meals as Chop Steak, Yakitori, Shrimp & Fish, Shrimp & Onion Rings, Beef Tatsuta, and Chicken Cutlet, all $5.50. There are Lunch Specials at Flamingo, too. You can get BBQ Short Ribs ($10), Spicy Chicken ($8) and Pork Chops ($8). Flamingo's hours are from 10am-9:30pm Monday through Saturday. It's easy to see why so many people have good things to say about Flamingo's food - it's because they have perfected the taste for each product and work to maintain that standard. Whenever there's been a shortage from a supplier for a certain cut of meat or size of shrimp (they do all of their own battering - they don't buy pre-battered frozen shrimp), they have customers who notice the difference.
Flamingo Restaurant can be reached by calling 472-3777/8 for take-out orders. At present, Flamingo is accepting Cash and Checks (their is a line problem affecting their credit card facility). It is remarkable how well Flamingo has managed to retain its customer base through thick and thin. As stated before, it's the diligent efforts and leadership of Dong Chang that has kept this restaurant's food quality and service consistently good. In one of our chats with Dong, he promised he'd make us some fried Ice cream. Of course, when he makes it, you'll be the first to know how good it was after we've done our test run. I promise! In the meantime, get on down to Flamingo Restaurant for some awesome contemporary Japanese cuisine. You can't go wrong with so many right choices.