Vivian's Coffee Shop - New Home of Sichuan Hot Pot and a Whole Lot More!
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
I'd been planning to stop by Vivian's Coffee Shop, previously located on Rt. 16 in the
Manhattan Building, and since moved to Tumon View Plaza in Upper Tumon, ever since
my friend Hank Rice told me about this place. When I saw the advert promoting
their Hot Pot this past week, my urge to visit was raised significantly. I did
stop by before noon to verify that they had the same hot pot that had spoiled us
before at Sichuan Kitchen, with that famous "ma la" tongue-numbing spicy heat
dipping broth. I met the owner, Vivian Xia, who had been a
professional nurse in
her native Beijing, and was amazed to find out that she made this career change
with no previous restaurant experience. No worries, her chef James does the
cooking and she handles the front of the house in this quaint little eatery that
seats 44. Her husband is also a chef employed at another restaurant on island.
For this review I was joined by Zee, who is as much a lover of Hot Pot as I am,
although she does mainly veggies and vermicelli noodles. She was impressed with
how clean and charming the restaurant's dining room is.
The Chinese Hot Pot menu is based on 2, 3, 4 and 5-person meals. The basic
2-person meal is $25, and includes Shanghai Baby Bok Choy, Tofu, Vermicelli Crab
Meat, Lettuce, and one choice of Chicken, Beef or Shrimp. The 3-person meal is
$35 and adds Mushrooms and two choices of Chicken, Beef or Shrimp. Side orders
such as Spinach, Potato, SPAM, Winter Melon and Black Fungus are $3 each,
whereas side orders of Salmon, Squid, Mahi, Lamb, Shrimp or Fish Balls, Mussels,
and Beef Tripe are $5 each. There's a lot of variety here so you can pick and
choose all your ingredients to customize your dining experience.
The Hot Pot kettle is split into two sections, one for the spicy red broth and
the other for the mild broth. A single butane burner stove is put in front of
you along with the kettles of the two broths (you can get two mild or two hot if
you like). All of your dishes are laid out on display and once you get the
kettles boiling, you can dip your different ingredients in which ever broth you
prefer. With the thin-sliced beef, you want to put it in for a very short time
as it cooks quickly. The cooking aspect is just like Shabu Shabu, the Japanese
version of hot pot, although the Japanese version is much more subtly flavored
and you dip your cooked items into an egg yolk bath rather than a sesame sauce
The shrimp and fish balls are frozen and need to thaw a bit but you can toss
them in pre-thawing and they will float to the surface when they are done. The
shrimp and mussels work well with hot pot, as do the vegetables and mushrooms.
Zee noted that the tofu was fresh, unlike others she's had where the tofu was a
trifle old and souring. Vivian also pointed out that no MSG is used in her
One of the other dishes Vivian wanted us to try was her Honey Walnut Shrimp
($10) served with rice, cole slaw, and peanut brittle (there must be a shortage
of walnuts). The thick honey glaze sauce is not too sweet and actually works
well with the breaded shrimp. Another of Vivian's must-try items was her
highly-touted Sesame Ball (3 pcs/$3.95). These were awesome, and probably among
the best we've had on island.
A friendly couple who regularly dine at Vivian's let me take a photo of their
dessert(Crepes Kings - $6.50) - a beautiful crepe with ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, and
chocolate syrup! They even had me try a portion - it was fabulous!
Vivian's Coffee Shop is one of those rare places that you can quickly get
attached to for a number of reasons. One, the food is good and reasonably priced
with specials for breakfast, lunch and dinner; two, the relaxing air-conditioned
atmosphere and comfortable seating is welcoming; and last, but not least, is
Vivian's ever-smiling face and enchanting personality. All in all, a winning
combination for a place that's only been opened for about four months.
Vivian's opens for breakfast at 6:30am daily, and she closes at 10:30pm
Monday-Thursday and on Sunday. On Friday and Saturday nights she stays open
until 3am - I can see where a nice big bowl of Hot Pot would be a welcome dish
after late night revelry. Her breakfast menu is huge, with egg entrees featuring
Chamoru sausage, SPAM, Portuguese sausage, Longaniza, corned beef, along with
omelets, pancakes, and fried rice dishes. She has more than 60 lunch and dinner
entrees and 16 different ramen, yakisoba and soup items. It's a lot more food
than anyone would think possible for a place this size, but they do it! The phone number is 989-5888.
I recommend Vivian's Coffee Shop, Guam's new home for Sichuan Hot Pot and a
whole lot more!