Hafa Adai Cafe - Another Nice Place to Eat!
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
You've heard the saying, "Only your hairdresser knows for sure!" I'll be darned if that isn't the truth, because today when I was telling my hair stylist, Carina Fejerang, owner of Salon Paradis, about the review I was writing, she told me she loves this place, and that she often starts her mornings here! Now that's an endorsement if there ever was one since Carina is not only one of the island's rising business stars, she's also a "foodie" and knows the meaning and taste of good food.
Hafa Adai Cafe is located in Upper Tumon, in the Pacific Plaza, which is across from GTA, and home to Sakura's Kitchen, Zozo's, and Tumon 7 Mart. The front window of the cafe is nearly obscured by a glass and metal shaft, though the orange Hafa Adai Cafe sign manages to shine through and shine on. You'll find it if you're looking. They are on the northernmost end of the complex, and serve breakfast and lunch Mon-Sat 7am-2pm. You have your choice of parking if you come early. You can order take-out by calling 649-8178 or 649-8180.
This place reminds me of how Shirley's used to be when Shirley first started. She made food that people loved to eat, that was really good and wasn't over priced. There was also passion in the kitchen, with someone cooking who really cared about whether you would like the food. How many cooks do you know at any popular breakfast and lunch joints who take a personal interest in how customers feel about their food? You'll find that concern, passion and pride in Bill Hon, who along with his wife, Joey, has done a remarkable job of building a solid following of customers from all walks of life, who just like simple, home-style meals with flavors from a variety of cuisines.
The menu is nicely organized and even has a few food photos. I ordered a breakfast item, Mix Sausage with Two Eggs ($3.95), which includes your choice of Hot Cakes, Hashbrowns, Toast or Two Scoops of Steamed Rice. I opted for the hot cakes. I also ordered the $5.95 Daily Lunch Special, which was a Combo Grilled Pork Chop with Mahi Mahi. And, to give equal billing to beef, I ordered the Beef Teppanyaki ($7.95), which comes with two scoops of steamed rice and grilled vegetables.
While I was waiting for my food, I sipped a soda and observed others eating their meals in this quaint, somewhat unusually laid out space which used to be a restaurant by day and a night club in the evening. Night club touches linger in the mirrored walls and the TV over the bar counter (no alcohol is served now). It's not fancy, just comfortable.
The Mix Sausage offered longaniza, chorizo and portuguese sausage, a combination I've not seen anywhere else locally. The Longaniza is sweet, the Chorizo is spicy, and the Portuguese sausage is a bit salty, so you have an interesting flavor range. I really liked the pancakes! You get three tasty pancakes, all perfectly cooked and served hot. One thing I really like about this spot is that breakfast is served all day long so you can have spam, corned beef, teriyaki chicken, chicken tocino, bangus, or beef tapa with two eggs any time - not just any style!
A bowl of egg drop and corn soup was placed before me. This is a common lunch starter and it tasted just like anyone elses. I don't particularly care for this as it's usually too starchy for my liking. The next dish to arrive was the Beef Teppanyaki, which was a very sizeable serving of marinated, grilled beef chunks. It was good, flavorful beef, though not tender. It was certainly tasty and worth the chew since each bite gave up a lot of flavor. I liked the two slices of grilled tomato that were laid atop a bed of grilled bean sprouts mixed with sliced bell peppers and onions. This reminded me of what you typically get at the teppan counters...beef and veggies, and reasonably good for the price. It's not tenderloin or sirloin, but still a lot of seasoned beef. It came with finedene and I would occasionally dip beef in this to get a different taste. It didn't need the finedene. There may be a little MSG used in some of the Chinese stir fry dishes; if you don't want any, request that Billy use chicken base for flavoring, or nothing at all.
The third, and final, item I ordered was the Lunch Special. It had a Pork Chop and a nice filet of Mahi Mahi, along with steamed rice, homemade tartar sauce, a lemon wedge, mixed vegetables, and finedene. The pork chop tasted good, but was a bit on the thin side. The mahi was better, and when I put the homemade tartar sauce on, it was great. I dipped the chop in finedene, eating all of it and the mahi mahi.
Hafa Adai Cafe's menu is divided by headings, and includes, breakfast style choices like meats with two eggs and three egg omelettes (13 ingredients to chose from!), noodle soups, sandwiches, and a variety of beef, pork, chicken and fish dishes. You will also find a section devoted to tofu and vegetable dishes and hot pot rice dishes. The most expensive menu item is New York Steak for $7.95.
Hafa Adai Cafe is like the classic diner, and some would say "greasy spoon', but that's a bit harsh. The blend of Asian and American is representative of Guam's resident cultures. That's why so many people like this place...they get the foods they're used to buying at the store and cooking for themselves, only Billy cooks more and perhaps better. Billy and Joey, who handles the floor, along with a couple of servers, work hard and fast. They are examples of successful entrepreneurship. I'm just glad they serve good pancakes, eggs, and Chamorro sausage!