Guam Diner Bytes: Kanda's Corner at Tentekomai
It had been some time since we last visited Kanda's Corner and it was fortuitous for us to do so on New Year's Day! Tumon was packed with tourists and this restaurant on the 2nd Floor of the Plaza was jam-packed! We were blessed to find two seats at the counter and were greeted by our old friend, Chef Toshiaki Kanda, who was deftly preparing dishes for the many waiting customers dining that day! I have been a fan of Kanda-san since when he worked at Utage Japanese Restaurant in the Palace Hotel (now Sheraton). He later worked at Aji Hey (now Ebisu) and then at Kai (in Blue Lagoon) before settling down at his special "corner" in the Plaza!
I started out by ordering a few appetizers off the Chef's recommended list (these were some of his specialties). This included the Meibutu Papaya Kinpira ($4.50), which is fried and sweetened strips of papaya), Nanban-Zuke (Deep fried fish seasoned with vinegar and Shoyu ($5.25), and Cha-shyu Pork (simmered sliced pork) $4.50. I also placed the order for one of Kanda's most acclaimed dishes, his Tezukuri-Tofu (house made tofu), which takes about 20 minutes to prepare. Zee ordered a Shoyu Ramen bowl ($8.75), which is one of the adjoining restaurant Tentekomai's specialties. I also placed an order for the Tempura Moriawase ($18.00), which is the assorted tempura plate. Kanda is renown for his tempura expertise, and he has a variety of flavored salts to accompany the tempura he serves. The Nanban-zuke used salmon cubes that had been fried and then drenched in a pickle sauce with cooked onions, then served chilled. These are great with beer.
While we were waiting, Chef Kanda honored us with a beautiful gift of osechi-ryori (traditional Japanese New Year's food) that he had prepared on a small platter. This had kuromame (simmered black soy beans), kurikinton (mashed sweet potato with sweet chestnuts), candied shrimp, Gobo (burdock), and pink and white kamagoko (fish cake) which represent celebration colors. Each dish and ingredient has special meaning and represent such things a good harvest, good health, long life, prosperity, and happiness. Chef Kanda made us happy!!!
The Tempura Moriawase is elaborately served with wheat pasta deep fried into a floral fan shape . This is accompanied by 3 salts for dipping (curry salt, green pepper salt, and a special white salt). Eating his tempura is dreamy, and it's something I need to do more often because it is that good!
The Tofu Pot was brought out steaming hot. I ladled some out for Zee and some for myself, adding a little of the green sansho pepper and shoyu. This is one very delightful tasting experience, as the warm tofu is creamy, rich, and seasoned with the sweet, citrusy pepper and soy sauce. Kanda's been doing this tofu for years and it is one of his other trademarks or claims to fame! He is a true master and he's been an iconic part of Guam's culinary community.