Guam Diner Bytes: Nami Restaurant
Thanks to social media, namely Facebook, I was able to find out that Nami Restaurant had re-opened and changed its menu to specialize in making outstanding “donburi” (rice bowl) selections. I had not been to the original or previous Nami, but I saw a post by the owner of Casa Urashima, Osamu Taniguchi inviting his friends to come and try the new Nami Restaurant’s menu which is available for lunch and dinner. I replied to Osamu that I would make it a point to stop by on my next visit to Saipan, and that’s what I did – Twice!
On my first dinner visit, I sat down at a table and was surprised by the simple menu choices (there are six) and the reasonable prices, ranging from $10 - $12. I ordered an Asahi beer, then I ordered the salmon bowl ($12). I also had heard some positive things about the beef curry ($10), which is also the chef’s specialty, so I ordered one of these.
Nami is a simple place, clean and brightly colored. Diners feel welcome here, like they are stopping by a friends’s house. There is a counter facing the kitchen and a few tables.
The curry plate came first - it was so very aromatic and filled the plate completely with a thick brown curry with big chunks of beef and a mound of steamed white rice. A generous pile of pickled red ginger was in a small side dish and bowl of “suimono,” Japanese clear broth soup, was provided. All items were served on a wooden plank.
Next to arrive was my salmon bowl, which was certainly a feast for weary eyes! The fresh made wasabi was joined by fresh made ginger paste, along with garlic slices and onion. The salmon was so very fresh and I even tried a little of the “finadene,” which was similar in taste to a ponzu sauce. They really are proud of their finadene, which they promote with little educational signs. They are equally proud of their Tinian donne salii. They even have a basket with local raw eggs ($1), which is very reasonable.
The beef curry was quite good, and I did leave enough to take back to my hotel room. It was a fair-sized portion that was shareable. It was great re-heated later! On this first visit I was happy to have met Gina Ignacio, who was busy cooking and Ayaka Akimaru , who was taking care of the front of the house. They were kind to agree to have their picture taken. I was so happy with my overall dining experience that I had to come back.
On this dinner visit I wanted to try the local fish bowl ($12), which featured yellowfin tuna, rainbow runner, and bonito. The presentation was marvelous and I could see how fresh the fish was. I liked the sesame seeds that were sprinkled atop the sashimi. I ate all of my fish and very little rice – I had another dish coming – the beef bowl ($10) with 100% U.S.-certified Angus beef, thinly-sliced. This beef was delicious and I ate all of it with just a little bit of rice.
On this dinner visit, the staff was different. I asked to take their photo as well. The young girl’s name was Ayana and the chef’s name was Suzuki-san. I will definitely return to Nami Restaurant when I get back to Saipan. I will bring the perfect companion – my new wife!
Ita dake masu!!
Ken “The Guam Food Guy” Stewart