A recent column detailed my food experience at a Charger’s game that included one of the more festive and delicious pre-game tailgating experiences I’ve experienced with the clan who turned out to be from the Guahan Grill. I first noticed the oysters on the grill but soon found out they had a nice variety of grilled and smoked meats and veggies going on as they sent me on my way with a full plate. Besides the food, there was a real family and community vibe among these folks, and it all centered around food. I got to talking with Carlos Quichocho and when I found out he owned a restaurant it was decided a Lick the Plate adventure and column were in order.
Before I get into the food, and there is a lot to cover with regards to that, I’d like to present a brief look at this island nation that I really knew little about prior to this encounter.
Folks from Guam are often referred to as Chamorro, are the indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands, which are politically divided between the United States territory of Guam and the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia. Chamorro populations exist in several U.S. states including Hawaii, California, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, Oregon, and Nevada. Locally, there is a stronghold in the Oceanside area of North County that has a strong contingent of Pacific Islanders that can include those from Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, which includes Guam.
As with most regional food, much of Chamorro cuisine is influenced by various cultures. There are various types of sweet or savory dishes including empanada that is of Spanish influence and pancit, a noodle dish with Filipino roots. Rice is cultivated in Guam and red rice made with achoti is a distinct staple food that strongly identifies Chamorro cuisine among the many dishes of fellow Pacific island cultures. And for your random fact of the day, Guam has the highest per capita consumption of Tabasco sauce in the world, equaling almost two 2-ounce bottles per person per year. Pull that one out at your next foodie cocktail party. Tabasco and Spam united to create Hot & Spicy Spam, which debuted on Guam. Cans of Hot & Spicy Spam sold throughout the world feature a recipe for Spam Fried Rice from Guam-based restaurant Shirley's. As most know, Spam is also very big in the Hawaiian Islands and there are some distinct similarities between Hawaiian plate lunch and many of the dishes from Guam and at Guahan Grill.
The appetizers at Guahan make me very happy. From the Chicken Kelaguen which is chopped barbequed chicken mixed with lemon, green onions, hot pepper and tortillas to my beloved Poke to Lumpia, Empanadas and Spam Rolls I could easily make a dinner from a sampling of apps.
The barbeque section is basically your choice of chicken, pork spare ribs, or beef short ribs paired with items from the appetizer section, rice and sides that include cucumber salad, stir fry vegetables, or green salad.
The local favorites section is where things get more creative and evoke more of the flavors of Guam. Chamorro Fried Rice can be done with Spam, chicken or beef. Guahan Noodles is Udon style noodles with a mix of veggies and choice of protein. The Chamorro style ribs are soaked in their special marinade then deep fried, a unique twist on ribs I’ve not experienced but as you might imagine, it works. And I’m shocked that I missed this one, the Chamorro style fried chicken…marinated deep fried thighs give me another reason to make another trip back to this place. There are also several dishes that utilize coconut milk including the Beef Short Rib Estufao and Shrimp Kadu. Wahoo is available grilled or baked along with a Spam and Portuguese sausage bowl and a crispy sweet and spicy chicken dish.
They have what they refer to as Mainland Grub and some salads but that’s not why I’m going to Guahan Grill. Much to my dismay, they were out of their special dessert, the Banana Doughnuts, yet another reason for a repeat visit. Beer and wine is available and they have lunch specials daily.
This place is worth checking out for sure and be sure to arrive hungry and try as much as you can. It’s good stuff from a great bunch of folks. Check them out at 4259 Oceanside Blvd, Oceanside, 760.806.4826 or www.guahangrill.com