Restaurant Review: Guahan Grill in Point Loma

by on August 28, 2017 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Guahan Grill
3373 Rosecrans
San Diego, CA 92110
619-693-5766
Closed Monday

In all my years of reviewing restaurants, I have never come across a true Guamanian restaurant, food from the island of Guam, an island that’s been in the news of late.

Guahan Grill is a family run, Chamorro restaurant.  In fact, one of our servers – Wilma – was born on the island of Taipei , just off the coast of Guam.  Christine, our other server, has never been to Guam.

Their menu states:

“…the Island of Guam is one with a proud culture and amazing beauty.  The name ‘Guam’ derives from the ancient Chamorro word Guahan (Gwa-han), meaning ‘we have.’  Part of the Mariana Islands and located in the western Pacific Ocean, Guam is where America’s day begins. 

Visitors are greeted with the heart of “hafa adai, ensuring genuine hospitality and a unique cuisine.  Here at Guahan Grill, we strive to provide that same essence. We hope you enjoy!  Hafa Adai!”

The restaurant is housed in the former Antique Thai restaurant in the Loma Square Shopping Center.  It is in the back side of the mall, and easily missed if you do not know it is there.  It has changed greatly from the homey atmosphere of the Antique Thai to this new place. It has wide open spaces, with 5 televisions, all muted, and music being piped in. There are tables, a counter, and a drink bar, where beer, wine and Saki are served.

The menu, while not particularly large, has many items to choose from. For example, there are seven starters, with a spam roll at $4.99, Lumpia at $5.99 going up to Poke for $10.99.

The Grill offered choices of boneless skinless chicken thighs, pork spare ribs as the regular features, and  beef short ribs or salmon for $3.99 extra.  You can have any of these with their Locals Deluxe – $11.99, their Guahan Special – $13.99; Maga Lahi for $26.99 – BBQ chicken, pork ribs, beef short ribs, Chicken Kalaguen and one empanada paired with rice and green salad.

There is also an offering of “The Bowl” for $7.99; a children’s special for $6.99 and a side option of cucumber salad.  Under “local favorites” there are ten offerings, beginning at $9.99 and going to $12.99 with most items at $10.99.  Spam is a big thing on this menu and is available in many different dishes.  There are two salads – a chicken salad for $10.99 or a Poke salad for $12.99.

Since Marie and I were there at lunch time, we were also offered their lunch menu, which is good Tuesday through Friday from 11:00am to 3:00pm.  There are three menu items offered at $9.95 – Poke Bowl, Chamorro Fried Chicken, and Poke Salad.  For $8.85 there is a BBQ Plate, which I had and will discuss it shortly.

I ordered a raspberry ice tea and Marie had water.  If there are desserts offered they are not on the two menu’s we were given.

Chamorro Fried Rice

After talking to our two servers, Marie decided to have the “Chamorro Fried Rice” – $9.99 + $2.00 for shrimp.  This was a white rice, soy sauce, garlic, onions and one choice of protein.  Although she chose shrimp, the other choices were chicken, or span.  Beef was $2.00 extra if that is what she wanted.  She was asked how she wanted her egg cooked, and after talking to Wilma decided to have it scrambled.

To my eye – and taste – this just made it a “regular” fried rice. She also suggested that it be served with span, rather than the shrimp, because that was her preference.  Marie decided to stay with her original choice.

lunch special of BBQ chicken

Although it was an interesting blend of spices, Marie felt that it was nondescript.  She also felt that the shrimp pieces were somewhat salty.  When I tasted it I did not taste the salt, but definitely could not eat the sauce that was served to place on the rice because it was too salty for me.  I thought it tasted very much like fried rice, but was not very “pretty.”  Maybe a  few green onions sprinkled on it would have made it look better.  But it was good.

I ordered the lunch special of BBQ chicken, red rice, cucumber salad and Lumpia because I felt that I could get a nice sampling of different items on the menu.  The cost was $8.95.

The Lumpia was served with a sweet sauce; just the way I serve Lumpia when I make it.  It was hot and crispy, and I would probably order a complete order of Lumpia if I were to go back.  Although the chicken looked like it was dried out, it was not.  In fact, it was very flavorful and had a decided BBQ taste.

red rice. All photos by Judi Curry

The cucumber salad was not a cold salad, per se, but it appeared that the cucumbers had been steamed for a short period of time.  It was served with onions and tomatoes and a vinegar dressing. It, too, was tasty, and different.  The red rice was flavored with “achiote” – a spice I am not familiar with but it was a nice addition to the rice.

There were a steady stream of customers the entire time we were there. In a way, this was unfortunate because the din was overwhelming at times.  As it cleared out it was better and we did not have to speak loudly to be heard.  All of the drapes and  sound proofing that was at the Antique Thai are gone, and it’s just a open, exposed room.

Our total bill was $26.86, not including the tip.  And would I go again. Yes, and I would enjoy trying something else on the menu.

 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar tennyson August 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Thanks, I have been wondering what this place would serve . Now with your review, when I have energy to negotiate that parking lot I will check it out.

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Avatar Dave August 28, 2017 at 3:47 pm

This place is a new family favorite! The lumpia, chicken, and red rice are all good, but so are the empanadas (sometimes a little dry), the pork ribs (fall-off-the-bone but sometimes a little fatty, as to be expected) and the chicken kelaguen.

There was an old hotel restaurant across the road that survived a few years’ rebranding from Tio Carlos to Tio Chino’s before it shut down – I’d go in there sometime just for the kelaguen. They had both a chicken and shrimp version – the chicken was good, but the shrimp was outstanding. I’d put the Guahan chicken version on par with the old place’s shrimp.

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Judi Curry judi August 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

I’m looking forward to returning. I will have to try the kelaguen next time. Thanks for the tip.

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Avatar Harry August 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Good god! Does the Rag have any editors? I can’t get past the second paragraph to the substance of the article. First, Taipai is not an island, it is the capital of Taiwan. Second, Guam is about 1,750 miles from Taiwan. It’s in the middle of the Pacific; Taiwan (Taipai) is off the coast of China. Saying Guam is “off the coast” of Taipai is like saying San Diego is off the coast of Chicago, since they are about the same distance apart.

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Judi Curry judi August 28, 2017 at 7:51 pm

I am sorry Harry. I wrote what the waitress told me. This review was not about Guam; it was about the restaurant.

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Avatar Harry August 29, 2017 at 9:13 am

Hi Judy, Not your fault. Fact checking and editing is the job of the Editor Dude. That’s why he’s called Editor Dude.

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Judi Curry judi August 29, 2017 at 9:32 am

You are right – but I should have checked what she told me, also. Sorry. But….go try the restaurant. I think you’ll like it. And…ask her where she is from!

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie August 29, 2017 at 9:34 am

Gee, thanks Harry for informing me of what my “job” is. Perhaps you’d like to donate so we can give our non-existent but volunteer proof reader a raise.

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Avatar Harry August 29, 2017 at 10:56 am

Frank, if you’ve got time to be snarky, you’ve got time to edit.

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Avatar Colin Purdy August 29, 2017 at 11:28 am

Harry, some editorial comments. Your “Taipai” is really spelled “Taipei”. And your simile, that Gaum/Taipai [sic] is like San Diego/Chicago, isn’t really the best since the first pair are separated by ocean, and the latter by land.

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Avatar Chris August 29, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I’ll have to give this place a try. There used to be a Guamanian BBQ place by me in Hillcrest called either The Islander or Island Boy. I really cant’ remember as it’s been closed for awhile. Good to know there’s other Guamanian places in town.

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Avatar Debbie August 29, 2017 at 1:31 pm

For those that like the place or want to try it…. here is a coupon deal

http://deals.get1free.com/deal/san-diego-coastal/15-for-30-guahan-grill

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Judi Curry Judi August 29, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Thank you!

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Avatar ZZ January 17, 2019 at 11:59 am

Went here this week. I have tried multiple menu items over about 5 visits, all have been excellent.

Unfortunately they don’t have lunch specials anymore. I came for lunch, ordered from the regular menu, ate plenty, and still had leftovers. (which were gone by 3:30, it was that good). Portion sizes on the regular menu are excellent, especially given the high quality of the meat. “Chamorro Fried Chicken” is not life KFC with tons of breading by the way, it was in fact lean and flavorful.

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Avatar CC February 24, 2019 at 11:21 pm

Islander Grill used to be located at the Embassy Hotel on Park in Hillcrest years ago (closed in the late 00’s. There is Chamorro Grill off Mission Gorge Road which has been there since 2011. Matua’s used to be in CV but has since relocated to Barrio Logan (next to Virtuoso). Owners of Matua’s used to own Yokozuna’s in Chula Vista (which morphed into Yokoz and closed in 2012). Matua’s also has a food truck out in Eastlake (East Chula Vista). Tio Chino’s didn’t last too long either (I went back in 2014); it closed in 2016 and was more of a fusion restaurant.

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