Guam Diner Bytes: Himawari Deli and Bakery
I finally was able to make the stop inside Himawari for lunch during a recent Saipan visit. I had seen the bakery and store during a previous trip but had only heard the rave reviews about how wonderful the Japanese food was. Now I could find out for myself. I sat at the large sushi counter where several chefs were busy rolling sushi.
I then noticed a smiling face looking at me from across the counter. It was Lito Petonio, who used to work for Hyatt Regency Saipan’s Miyako Japanese Restaurant. He smiled and asked if I’d remembered him. It had been a few years, but yes, I knew Lito, but didn’t know he was at Himawari.
I quickly scanned the large menu (they seemed to have everything, with color pictures of each menu selection). I settled on the Sushi and Tempura Set ($10), which came with Miso soup and “oshinko” (pickles). The price seemed curiously inexpensive. The entire menu was priced the same way, like it may have been in the 80’s.
When my sushi was delivered I was in awe of the fantastic assortment of artfully created pieces that had minimal rice and maximum seafood. There was a salmon aburi (roasted) salmon with aioli drizzle, shrimp, maguro (tuna), yellowtail, octopus, squid, and red snapper. It was all so fresh!
My tempura came next and I was also impressed with the quality and preparation. For the money, this was unbelievable and totally validated all of the positive comments I’d heard about this place. They must sell a lot of bread.
I had noticed katsudon (pork cutlet with rice set) on the menu ($7). When it came, it looked like something I’d enjoy, the simmered egg, onion, and sauce smothering pork cutlets topped by shredded red ginger. However, when I tasted it, I realized that this was just alright. That’s because I have been spoiled by the katsudon made by Kaori Sablan at Chopstix, which is simply the best. Still, for $7, one can’t complain, and my colleagues Ben & Mark each had their own bowl of katsudon.
Himawari is an amazing center of commerce (the top has apartments and hotel rooms) and a great deal of the store outside of the restaurant has shelves filled with imported Japanese products, mainly food stuffs, and some alcoholic beverages (sakes and shochus). They even have commercial rice cookers!
The bakery has the popular Japanese Pullman bread sold as sliced or whole loaf. Breads are baked fresh daily and there’s even a posted schedule of times when breads are ready from the oven. There are rolls, pastries, baguettes, take-out sushi packs, sashimi, and even hot take-out bento. It is something you’d have to see to believe.
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