Guam Diner Bytes: Palm Cafe

by Ken Stewart
The Guam Food Guy

I had been awaiting the perfect opportunity to revisit Palm Cafe’s Saturday Night Prime Rib & Crab Buffet since I reviewed it in September 2005. I actually had eaten there on several occasions but didn’t write about it. It was an impressive fantastic food festival then and it has since progressed into a whole new dimension under the guidance of Executive Chef Simplicio “JR” Taga and his dynamic kitchen team.

Some members of his team are well known in their own right and the line-up includes Sandy Santiago, Executive Sous Chef, Jhamnong Kraitong, Asian Cuisine, Gene Soledad, and Charley Venezuela (Japanese cuisine). It’s great to have all this talent under one roof that really gives Outrigger a competitive edge with these “specialists” on their team. Just compare Palm Cafe’s Japanese lunch buffet to other properties.

We were actually staying at the Outrigger when we booked our dinner reservation, so it was really convenient and gave us time to listen musicians Jesse and Ruby afterwards over a bottle of wine. I should also mention that I was given a “nudge” by Keith Toy of Triple J Five Star to give this prime rib a try since it was certified Angus beef!

I didn’t need any convincing once I’d heard that. You definitely get the idea that this is one “UBER BUFFET” and that there’s so much food cooking and being prepared and served that one really doesn’t know where to begin. I did watch some regular repeat customers stand up to the prime rib carving station.

I saw Chef Sandy slice open a huge rib roast. He carved some beautifully rare meat and laid it on the customer’s plate. Later when I got mine, I couldn’t wait for that first bite! It is definitely quality dining. Yes, we had to get a plate of the crab legs too...with hot melted butter and lemon it just seemed to get better and better!

There’s a rather substantial “shabu shabu” station with shrimp, mussels, veggies (cabbage, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, eggplant) and udon noodles, along with sauces and flavorings.

There’s a whole section devoted to sushi, sashimi, and the side dishes and pickled veggies like “oshinko.” It is a bounty of seafood – literally all you can eat! The salmon is so fresh that we just kept eating it – so good! You can scoop out as much wasabi as you need. There are cheese plates (edam, maginaggio, aged cheddar and more).

One of the hot lines had live cooking stations for tempura, grilled meats (beef, chicken, pork, sardines, mackerel) and grilled vegetables (onions, bittermellon with egg), and condiment sauces galore! I think that if anyone had a craving, they have a little jar or dish that’ll have the right ingredient to get the right taste!

I don’t know if they rotate their hot line dishes, however they had some delicious roast pork loin with red peppercorns and I found some “kare kare” stew (they even had the fermented seafood Filipino condiment, “bagoong!”).

Of course, I could only watch the desserts – cakes and pies (apple, chocolate and bread pudding. I didn’t save any room but I know its there if I want it! The dining room is really nice here with a sweeping ocean view from the glass windows facing the beach. The servers are friendly and are always monitoring your table. They really know how to handle customer needs. They anticipate the beverage pours and refills, whether you have iced tea, beer or water.

For the money (adults, $38 for; kids, $23; +10 percent services charge), you are getting incredible value – just in seafood alone! Then there’s that prime rib and those crab legs! I saw one customer get a bone-in slice. It looked like something out of “The Flintstones”! The slice had to be about 3-1/2” thick. I don’t think it’s possible to eat all of the selections available, which is why some of us have to make second visits. Be sure to book your reservation in advance as there will surely be a hungry crowd swarming to get there.

Bon appetit!

Ken “The Guam Food Guy” Stewart

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