Guam Diner Bytes: Surf Club Saipan

Restaurant Guide

Guam Diner Bytes: Surf Club Saipan

by: Ken Stewart | Guam Food Guy | June 28, 2016
Surf Club Cuisine: International
Price: n/a
Review: n/a
Hours: Monday - Sunday: 11:00-14:00, 17:00-23:59
Address:
San Isidro Ave
S
Northern Mariana Islands
Phone: 670-235-1122
Email:
Menu:

Stepping out onto the sandy white beaches in front of the newly-built Surf Club in Chalan Kanoa, I was utterly spellbound by the slow-motion movement of the waves, lapping up against the shoreline with gentle, persistent caresses. This was a deja vu moment in time for me, since I flash backed to my days here when it was the Beach bar at the Pacific Gardenia - Saipan's Biggest Little hotel! Yet, the time has passed and the Pacific Gardenia is no more but a special happy memory! Today, this property has been prudently developed by professionals who are building a true island resort destination. The soft opening of the Surf Club (which is a restaurant and bar and a beach getaway with ceiling-fanned outdoor cabanas!)...and probably the cleanest restrooms on Saipan - maybe because they're the newest?) Let's just say that there is a determined regimen to maintain the overall aesthetics of the Surf Club - it's called good management.

Since the Surf Club is still in its soft opening phase, there must be allowances made for training the staff and refining the menu - people should be patient and understand the many challenges of operating a restaurant. This is why I usually wait to critique and review restaurants after they've settled.

There was just enough I enjoyed at the Surf Club that I can share now. One of the things you will see if you sit at the ocean-facing bar is the top of the bar that's teeming with sea-life...you move your hands and you appear to be immersed in this underwater illusion, and that's oddly what it is! My first meal experience at the Surf Club was for dinner before I left for the airport to return home to Guam. I had a San Pellegrino and a Sauvignon Blanc, and ordered a Cheesy Quesadilla (Chicken - $7.00). This quesadilla was indeed cheesy with plenty of gooey cheddar cheese filling two warm pan-grilled tortilla shells with sauteed onions, sweet bell peppers and grilled chicken sliced thin. The salsa with a dollop of sour cream was pretty good and I had some lime wedges (making me wish I'd started with a cerveza, por favor)!

There was just enough I enjoyed at the Surf Club that I can share now. One of the things you will see if you sit at the ocean-facing bar is the top of the bar that's teeming with sea-life...you move your hands and you appear to be immersed in this underwater illusion, and that's oddly what it is! My first meal experience at the Surf Club was for dinner before I left for the airport to return home to Guam. I had a San Pellegrino and a Sauvignon Blanc, and ordered a Cheesy Quesadilla (Chicken - $7.00). This quesadilla was indeed cheesy with plenty of gooey cheddar cheese filling two warm pan-grilled tortilla shells with sauteed onions, sweet bell peppers and grilled chicken sliced thin. The salsa with a dollop of sour cream was pretty good and I had some lime wedges (making me wish I'd started with a cerveza, por favor)!

For my entree I wanted something heartier that I could partner with a merlot or cabernet, so I had their Beach Break 1 Lb T-Bone Steak ($29.50), which is grilled to juicy perfection. I had a Small House salad, steamed veggies, and a baked potato...just like in the movies - a perfect steak dinner on the beach! I cleaned my plate, however, instead of any other sauce for my steak, I asked for and used my local favorite, finadene.

I think it may have been around 7 p.m. when live entertainment began a performance (bringing the house ambient music down). It was Larry Lee and his son playing the ukulele - doing Hawaiian and other beach genre favorites (Beach Boys) and singing happily. Saipan is blessed with a natural cheeriness you don't see in too many places! I had finished my dinner and decided to hear a few songs while I enjoyed my house special beverage, a Surf Club Blues ($8).

My next visit to Surf Club was this past week for lunch with Hyatt Regency Saipan Executive Chef, Gabriele Colombo. The vista beyond this air-conditioned, glass-walled sanctuary was breathtakingly spectacular, and if you weren't talking to someone you would be staring off into this blue oblivion! For lunch we started with their Muchacha Tacos, which can be crunchy corn or soft shell flour tortillas. We each had one - I had the Pork ($7.50) and Chef had the Chicken ($7.00). Like some other considerate places, they give you enough meat, shredded lettuce, onions, and tomatoes to make two tacos so they give a 2nd tortilla. The homemade salsa and sour cream kept these tacos in contention...not bad at all!

I had heard from a colleague that the Fresh Spinach Mahi Salad ($13) was pretty good. In fact, it was better than good. It was delicious, with baby spinach, real (and tasty) bacon bits, red onion, red sweet tomato, cucumber slices, and drizzled with a lemony vinaigrette dressing. A plank of Mahi Mahi filet that's been sauteed in white wine sauce is placed atop spinach pile and accentuated by fresh homemade croutons. This was definitely worthy, and we had several free replenishments of that popular China Mist Tea served here. Our servers were attentive and genuinely pleased to serve us.

Chef Colombo tried something "exotic" on the menu, Surf Club's Signature Curry Shrimp Pad Thai ($15.50). The ingredients sounded intriguing (Chow Fei Rice noodles, creamy curry sauce, sliced almonds, grated coconut, diced onions, shrimp, and firm cubed tofu. Topped with fresh green onion, Thai chili, and a dash of fish sauce.) It looked good for sure. However, it is probably a very difficult thing to serve an Executive Chef Pad Thai if you are not Thai. The ingredients were good, just a little more work tweaking how they combine them and the use of the curry powder will eventually perfect this.

Surf Club has a surprisingly robust menu, with BLT's , Burgers, Hot Dogs, Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Fish & Chips, Seas Scallops, BBQ Short Ribs, BBQ Yard Bird (chicken), and desserts. We saw a group of six visiting military service members enjoying their lunch and tell Head Chef Jay how delighted they were with their meals!!

Congratulations to Ryuhei Kono, General Manager of the Surf Club, which is part of what ultimately be the Surfrider Resort Hotel, and to the fine folks at Triple J Saipan, Inc., for investing in another quality establishment that promises to be another landmark destination!