California Pizza Kitchen, Shrimp for that taste of home

by Anne King Ping Wen
Stripes Guam

Sometimes, a little taste of home can go a long way.

When stationed in a foreign country, thousands of miles from family, little things like food can make a big difference.

Guam fare may not be drastically different from that of the U.S., but having a familiar face like California Pizza Kitchen adds to the comfort of staying on this tropical island.

CPK, which, go figure, began in California, quickly earned national acclaim with its original barbeque chicken pizza. Located in Tumon’s Holiday Resort and Spa Hotel, CPK’s original pizza is a prized dish on the island, but the restaurant has more to offer than just pizza. With entrees that include the avocado club egg roll and dynamite shrimp, CPK switches up the menu every six months or so, according to general manager Debbie Eding.

“We recently added the CPK Classic Cheeseburger, which we never had,” Eding said. “We created and baked the buns ourselves; we customized the patty, and we changed the cheese.”

The restaurant also serves the popular Spicy Seafood and Kung Pao Spaghetti, as well as the new Carne Asada pizza with marinated steak on top.

To merge local ingredients and typical CPK dishes, Guam chefs also offer chicken kelaguen made from local coconut and Chamorro sausage pizza.

“On Guam, we’re limited by resources, and they’re not fresh,” Marketing manager Jennifer McFerran said. “It’s kind of testing things out on our end in terms of what ideas we have and sometimes it marries something that’s already here locally.”

After the immense popularity with CPK, owner Darren Talai decided to open Beachin’ Shrimp.

“When you have some success, some unexpected opportunities keep coming your way,” Talai said. “Sometimes, they’re too good to be turned down.”

“I’d always had on the back of my mind to open a shrimp or seafood themed small restaurant.”

The result was an original seafood-themed concept offering dishes like marinated shrimp and garlic cream fettuccine. Upon my entrance into the restaurant, I immediately noticed the friendly smiles on the servers’ faces.

“A really big part of our restaurant is the hospitality,” McFerran said. “We emphasize with the team that it’s not just about the food. It’s always about the experience of how you feel when you walk into a place.”

The warm hospitality has helped produced regular guests, often from the U.S. military.

“We had one set of guests here in the military, who came nearly every day for a month,” McFerran said.

The affordable and fun atmosphere also allows for birthday celebrations in a new party room or a quick detour to the beach — a less than five-minute walk away.

You’ll find Beachin' Shrimp in The Plaza and a second location across from the Pacific Islands Club, in the same building as Hafaloha.

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