Guam Diner Bytes: Napu Restaurant
Napu Restaurant has carved out a niche as a dining destination for the whole family. This family-owned and operated eatery has something for everyone - after all, who on Guam has not grown up cherishing a bowl of rice with meat and veggies? The original Island Napu was among the first few to localize the donburi concept (rice bowl with meat).
Another was the House of Brutus. Whatever the origins, Napu Restaurant has refined the product with a central core of Donburi dishes featuring Seafood Bowls, Vegetable Bowls, Piggy Bowls, Chicken Bowls, and Beef Bowls.
My very first meal at Napu was back in March during a lunch meeting where I ordered a Spicy Gyudon Beef Bowl ($9.75), medium heat. These bowls come with sauteed vegetables (beans sprouts, carrots, cabbage) with thinly sliced beef over a bed of white rice. I liked it at the time, finding it satisfying and flavorful. It wasn’t until much later (last month) that I was able to return for dinner.
I wanted to try a few appetizers so I ordered from the Pupus menu the Garlicky Chicken Wings (6 pieces for $6.95) and Danyell’s Coconut Crusted Shrimp ($7.95 for 5 pieces), which came with a pineapple chili sauce. These crunchy shrimp were definitely coconut crusted and I really liked the sweet spicy bites I was getting from them.
The Chicken wings were loaded with garlic, so the description “Garlicky” was right on the mark! Of course, this is a dish I would avoid eating now (fried chicken), it was certainly a tasty way to enjoy on of my favorite meats!
The fine people at Napu made Zee some type of Vegetarian Stir fry with tofu, carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, bell pepper,and onions. I ordered the Huli Huli Chicken Plate ($13.75) after seeing it posted on friend Ruben Oliva’s Facebook Page (power of suggestion!).
In fact, I was influenced to make the decision to eat this a half an hour before dining. More garlic on top of this chicken (nice large pieces - thighs and drumstick quarters) which has been marinated Hawaiian style. I ordered this with Napu’s special Brown Fried Rice. The portion was so huge I could only eat half of one of the leg quarters, with the bulk of the meal going home as balutan.
On another evening we returned for another go at the menu and I asked owner Christine Mortera what she recommended and she and hubbie Ruben agreed on Nena’s Special Meat Loaf ($12.50), which had two large chunks of tasty meat smothered in a savory brown gravy with mushrooms and sliced green onions. This was pure comfort food! Yum and I could eat it again! I did have a little leftover (I ate all the sauteed vegetables and skipped the rice). I can see how this is a local favorite. My next one to try is daughter Dakota’s Loco Moco ($9.75).
Zee ordered a meatless Yakisoba ($9.95) and got her noodle thing on...it was alright (she’s harder to impress than I am – I would have had meat with mine for more flavor and protein!!). One thing she did have was the salad bar add-on (add $5.95 to any entree). It’s a modest salad bar, but boasts a mean kimchi that’s made with a little donne salii. Wow!
Napu has Desserts (Napus’s fried tempura ice cream, haupia cheese cake, and deep fried oreo) and beverages (wine, beer, and a tasty China Mist Tea that Ruben’s upgraded by adding fresh basil leaves (smart guy!). Napu’s a charming restaurant with friendly, welcoming staff. It’s easy to appreciate the pride and love the Mortera family hold for their “baby”.
Once you’ve visited Napu, you’ll more than likely want to return again to try something different; that’s the adventure when dining at Napu, whether you try the Okinawan style braised pork belly or Ebi Katsudon, or the Island Style Chili and Rice - you will be comfortably satisfied!
Ken “The Guam Food Guy” Stewart