Last week my friends in Oceanside joined me for a first visit for all of us to the original location of Guahan Grill. They marveled that this friendly, family-operated eatery in their own town had escaped their notice. There is a branch of this Chamorro cuisine restaurant in San Diego as well.
Wanting to catch all the uniquely Guamanian dishes on the menu, we kind of over-ordered, but prices are low here and I'm sure those leftover made good lunches in the following days. My friends are on a low-carb diet these days, and we were able to make some good choices for them here.
First up, an order of ground beef lumpia. The filling had some cabbage and carrots too. Greaseless and crispy, but not much flavor on their own and definitely needed a dunk in the sweet chili sauce. The low-carbers hollowed out the filling from the crunchy shells and skipped the condiment.
Three different preps of poke here, and we went with the poke salad, $12.99, as having the least carbs and most veggies. Big cubes of tender ahi tuna topped Arcadian mix, shredded carrots, fried tortilla strips, cucumbers, tomatoes, black sesame seeds and a creamy Asian inspired dressing.
With three of us at the table, we could spring for the huge platter, Maga Lahi featuring BBQ boneless skinless chicken thighs, fried pork ribs, grilled beef short ribs, Chicken kelaguen and one empanada plus two scoops of achiote-stained red rice and green salad, $28.99. While the beef short ribs were oversalted, the other meats were quite delectable and juicy. This was my first exposure to chicken kelaguen, a sort of ceviche-like, cold chicken salad with a lift of vinegary acidity and piquant black pepper spicing, and I loved it. The fried chicken empanada was encased in corn masa that seemed like a thick corn tortilla doubled over to me.
We also got a side of fried Spam, not on the menu, instead of spam musubi (that would have rice). While not browned, the rectangular slices had a faint crisp edge and stayed moist.
And finally, Kadun Pika, a lovely bowl of stewed dark meat chicken simmered with onions, garlic, hot pepper, coconut milk, vinegar, and soy sauce, $11.99. This came with a side of steamed short-grain rice. I adored this dish too.
Lots of chicken on the table this meal, but each preparation tasted so unique, it did not feel repetitious. The restaurant's decor show more uniqueness than expected at strip mall spots at this price point. I wish I'd taken some photos of the extensive Chamorro tattoos on the family member's appendages. Plenty of lusty flavors, value pricing, and friendly service . . . so much to love here. I'd be back regularly if I lived closer.
4259 Oceanside Blvd Suite 104
Oceanside, CA 92056
December 2011 discussion https://www.chowhound.com/post/guahan...