Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Tentekomai Restaurant is considered an "upscale" ramen house in comparison to the other, more popular ramen eateries on Guam. Why? It's in the preparation according to Maria Baretto, Manager. Owned by Fish Eye Marine Park, the preparation and cooking is supervised by Executive Chef Harada. Considerable care and attention are taken in creating each sauce base to give the correct flavor and balance to each ramen entree. Many ramen broths have a noticeable amount of oils (fats) on the surface, appearing "greasy". Not at Tentekomai. I really believe that most Westerners don't really make a big distinction between a "quality" ramen and a "mediocre" ramen. Japanese diners appreciate this difference, and that's why Tentekomai is considered upscale.
Some of the menu selections are:
Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce base, for $7.00); Miso Ramen (soy bean paste flavored sauce, for $7.50); Shio Ramen (salt base, for $7.50); Kyushu Ramen (a regionally popular ramen style, for $7.50); Hot Tantanmen (with spices and chili peppers, for $9.75; and Curry Ramen (mixed with curry, for $9.75). If you'd like extra toppings, you can add "Cha-Shu" (Sliced Pork, for $2.50); corn, for $1.50; "wakame" (sea weed, for $1.50); and "menma" (cooked bamboo shoots, for $1.50).
Three Curries are available: Chicken Curry ($7.00); Beef Curry ($7.50); and Cutlet Curry ($8.00).
Set Menu entrees include Shoyu Ramen & Mini Curry ($10.00); Miso Ramen & Mini Curry ($11.00); Shio Ramen and Mini Curry ($11.00); and Kyushu Ramen & Mini Curry ($11.00).
Udon and Soba dishes can be ordered from a sister restaurant, Ten Ten, located in the adjoining World Food Court, with prices ranging between $6.50 to $7.50.
You can request an illustrated menu for these items.
Tentekomai is a clean, well-lit restaurant, and has six small tables adjacent to the exterior window that almost runs the length of the restaurant, allowing diners to see (and be seen by) those walking in the corridor towards the food court. The long wrap around dining counter has fixed padded stools, and these are convenient for single diners and couples who can usually be seated immediately.
There is a Tepanyaki Room near the entrance, which is available by advance reservation only. This is ideal for a small group's private party.
I ordered the Miso Ramen and Mini Curry Set Menu Entree, along with a tall Kirin Beer. I was fascinated by the popularity of this combination of ramen and curry, which seemed to be ordered by one of every three to four customers. The meal arrived within minutes on a large black lacquer tray. The ramen was steaming in a azure colored ceramic bowl, and the chicken curry had been poured on a small oval plate, shared by a portion of white rice topped with red ginger chunks. It looked and smelled great. I ventured into the Ramen first, using my chopsticks to stir the ingredients. The miso (soy bean paste) gave the soup broth a rich consistency, and it had a full, fresh flavor. The ramen noodles were of a high quality (there are different grades of ramen noodles). Crisp cabbage, green onions, cooked bamboo shoots and pork were combined to make this a balanced meal. The chicken curry was tasty, and it's golden gravy had little slices of cooked red boonie peppers in it, giving it a nice "zing". (Not too hot). For a side accompaniment to a ramen dish, there were plenty of tender chicken pieces and just enough rice. I did notice the regular curry orders filled large plates.
I heard a soft, slow chime pinging in the background that was interrupted by an occasional deep tone (almost gong-like), creating a temple-like ambiance with it's entrancing sound. The music seemed appropriate, as I began to observe how some of the diners were eating their ramen as if performing a ritual. A family of five (two parents and their grown daughters (in their early to mid-20's) were sitting at the counter and all of them were following a nearly choreographed pattern with their ramen. They'd lift a bunch of noodles with their chopsticks and blow to reduce the heat, then slurp the noodles into their chewing mouths. I did my best not to stare, and made quick, sweeping glances to view the group's action. I marveled at the peaceful enjoyment these people were experiencing. I don't know of any single dish Westerners consume with the same composed relish. Ramen is a universal tradition in Japan, and there's a definite code of protocol and uniformity involved in its preparation and consumption. I noticed that one of the girls was spooning in some white material from a small jar into her soup. I was told by a waitress that it was minced fresh garlic. I'll have to try that next time--I like garlic as a condiment!
There are many places on Guam to eat ramen, and most of them are highly visible and serve decent food at good prices. I was surprised to discover not only a "new place" to eat, but a bona fide authentic Japanese ramen house, where custom and tradition are honored, and where you are not just served another bowl of noodles. Try Tentekomai Restaurant, you'll appreciate the difference.