Guam Diner Bytes: Fiesta Filipiniana Restaurant
Some foods have to be eaten to be truly appreciated. That’s how I feel about Filipino cuisine, which has some of the best home-cooked meals served in public! There are so many stews and soups that are wonderful comfort foods. That’s why it’s great to have choice and variety, such as the menu items you’ll find at Fiesta Filipiniana Restaurant in Harmon.
This quaint and busy eatery is owned and operated by a hard-working local family. I first met one of the daughters, Alovedena Santos, when she was buying a chef coat at our uniform shop. She was a GCC Culinary Grad and had been in California. While I was lamenting the late and long hours I have to work, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, she told me she could relate since her days typically begin between 1:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. when they prep food for the restaurant, which starts serving breakfast at 5am!
When I showed up at the restaurant unannounced for lunch, I ordered two soups, chicken tinola and pork rib sinigang, plus an order of the chicken adobo and a local favorite, tortang talong, an eggplant fritter or omelet. This is a fast-food hot-line operation, selling one dish for $4.75, two for $6.25 and three for $7.50; I was already at $12.25. The calamansi juice took me up another $1.50 or $2. This is more than most would eat, but I wanted a good variety.
The hot wells had so many other items: kaldereta, krispy pata, menudo, pinakbet, pancit guisado, beef steak, lechon kawali, lumpia, fried tilapia, fried chicken and sweet and sour fish Filet. Other prepared specials are palabok ($3.50), an orange-hued delicacy made from rice flour noodles topped with sliced boiled egg, crab sauce, shrimp, garlic and squid.
The dining room is fairly spacious and there is a TV tuned to a Filipino channel. Alovedena was out when I first arrived and when she came she was a bit surprised but happy I’d kept my word about coming. She introduced me to her mother Elsa.
I got some banana ketchup for my tortang talong and set to work on my soups. I had a little white rice and pancit, which was more flavorful than what I am accustomed to having.
I then met Alovedena’s sister, Lahlah Santos, who is the proprietor. She told me to save some room for dessert. They have quite a selection of sweets including sago’gutaman, buko pandan, banana con yelo, and melon drink.
The house specialty is halo halo ($4.50), and that’s what I ordered. halo halo translates as “mix mix” and is a traditional shaved ice dessert made with ice cream and varied ingredients, including macapuno (silky coconut), kaong (sweet palm fruit), langka (jackfruit), munggo (mungo beans), sweet ube (purple yam), mais (corn), nata de coco (coconut gelatin), sago (pearls), evaporated cream (soy milk as an optional substitute).
What really surprised me when my halo halo was brought out to me was a critical ingredient that I’d not seen locally, only in the Philippines, and that was pinipig, which is toasted immature glutinous rice. Toasting gives it that pinipig crunch and adds a wonderful texture to this dessert! It was a work of art and I wanted to take a photo that would really showcase this refreshing delicacy.
These are served in take-out containers, which was convenient since I couldn’t eat it all there anyway. I was so impressed that I immediately started to promote it as the best, and I’ve heard that folks have been dropping to try it as a result.
Fiesta Filipiniana Restaurant offers party trays for many Filipino and local foods. They need at least two days advance notice. Give them a call. You can stop by for an early morning Filipino breakfast if you are up there at 5 a.m.
Don’t forget to get the halo halo dessert sensation. They do it right!
Fiesta Filipiniana Restaurant, Rt. 16 Harmon (across from Sunny Wholesale); Open 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Tel: 633-1975