Guam Diner Bytes: Johnny's Ocean View & Grill
“Great Times are Waiting!” That’s the tagline on one of the red banners hanging outside of Johnny’s 2nd floor location over Guam Lock and Key and It’s Your Hair Salon. I can honestly say that was an expectation that was met and in some ways exceeded! I’d been meaning to stop by Johnny’s Ocean View & Grill for some time now, however I had been unable to until recently. It was actually a picture perfect beautiful Guam day and probably about 1:20 p.m. or so. One of the first people I saw when I walked in was Chef James San Nicolas, whom I’ve known from several places, most recently Joinus. That was a good sign seeing him in his chef’s coat! I was led into the main dining room from the bar/lounge and was impressed by the look and feel of the room, which had tan/beige walls with wood-framed photos of old Hagatna and Guam hanging on the walls. Someone had arranged this dining room for both comfort and relaxing, especially when gazing out the windows to that glorious ocean view.
I had missed the lunch rush and was the only one in the dining room when I sat facing windows looking outside...that’s certainly worth the price of admission!!! I was greeted and given the menu by Ann Marie Ayuyu and later served by her daughter, Monique. These folks sure know how to make one feel welcome. I needed to order a few items for this review and Monique started talking about her favorites. I took her advice and had an appetizer (Chicken Wings - $7.95, with a choice between a sweet chili sauce or spicy buffalo). I had the buffalo and ranch sauces. I also ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger ($11.95), as well as the Fish Tacos ($9.95). Please understand that I order more than one item so I can write more about the menu selections. The prices add up and here you need to know that they do charge a 10% service charge! The menu options are limited, however for a bar and grill, they work just fine (could use a few vegetarian dishes). Chili Cheese Fries, Potato Skins, Burgers, Fish Sandwich, Pasta, Steaks, and Fried Chicken just about sums it up!
When the wings were delivered (I ordered them “naked” with the sauces on the side), I was happy with my first bite! Crispy and tasty. Chef James brought out a plate which had a Smothered Steak on it. He told me he’d been adding this particular one on the menu. It looked like a Rib Eye and was covered in cheese and onions.
When the Bacon Cheeseburger came, I was impressed by its presence and burger beauty (how you can judge a burger just by appearance). It was at least an 8 oz. beef patty with bacon, melted Jack Cheese, lettuce, tomato and white onion slices. The soft sesame bun was grilled on the bottom and inside. The bacon looked meaty, and the tomato was red. I’d asked for the meat to be medium and it came out juicy enough to enjoy. I added mayo, catsup, and mustard and went to town! First bite was an “atta boy”!! This burger could place in a competition! I kept thinking it was getting bigger the more I ate! There was more meat than meets the eye!
I had a few bites when my Fish Tacos were delivered. These looked interesting as they had panko crusted basa strips with lettuce and corn kernels with an aioli sauce. The tacos are accompanied by red tortilla chips and salsa. The salsa was actually an unusually and surprisingly decent salsa! The tacos used soft flour shells and when I had my first bite I thought these were pretty alright...not lots of flavor but with the right substance and mouth feel. Keep in mind that I still was working on a rather huge and delicious burger (delicious on so many levels...I took a photo of the cross-section to give a perspective on how this sandwich was built). I finished one taco and then Monique brought out the House Salad ($3.95) for me to sample. It had a lovely Japanese dressing that James had concocted. The tomato was tasty and the cucumbers crunchy. A good salad was an unexpected surprise and added to the space in my belly that was rapidly filling. The French Fries were good, but all things being equal, they were the items most sacrificed. I killed the tacos and the burger, and took the tortilla chips and salsa to Zee. This salsa was made by Shamaine Solorzano, Johnn’s Human Resources Manager and partner to Johnny’s proprietor, John Lujan. Shamaine has Mexican roots and makes a mean salsa!!! I met her and later John, who is also the owner of Lujan Tire Shop just across the street.
All things considered, I had a great time eating and enjoying the folks who worked there as well as the breath-taking view. I will definitely return to try chicken and steak, as well as to have a beer and some wine (they do have Mondavi’s Woodbridge and Private Selection, as well as Caliterra.). The bar looks like an inviting hang out for after work. They also are looking to have karaoke later at night. Johnny’s Ocean View and Grill is true to its motto that “great times are waiting”. Yes, great times and great food!!
Ken the Guam Food Guy