In celebration of Chamorro Month in March, we’ll be reviewing Guam’s top local restaurants and our favorite dishes. Stay tuned for more…
When hit with a craving for fiesta food in the middle of March, even locals are tempted to settle for fast food red rice or hotel kelaguen, because the real thing takes too long to make. While every menu in Guam boasts some kind of BBQ, real Chamorro food can be as elusive as the ko’ko bird or wild fanihi. But now Yigo’s best kept secret, Terry’s Local Comfort Food has relocated to Tumon, just north of Holiday Resort.
Named after Tessie Bordallo’s mom, who runs her own place in Chamorro Village, Terry’s Local Comfort Food serves the traditional cuisine she grew up enjoying. Made without fusion or flare, this nostalgic nourishment is craved by many who call Guam home. Here are my favorite dishes…
Chesa Hagun Suni and Leche Balanitis
Also recommended: Kelaguen Platter includes three bowls of kelaguen – marinated steak, classic chicken, and shrimp with coconut – served with corn tatiyas.
This is how you get a picky eater to like spinach: soak the greens in sweet coconut milk with a squeeze of lemon juice. The bitterness of the dark leafy vegetable is safely combated by the nuttiness of the coconut and a just a twist of lemon. A rich and creamy side dish, hagun suni is a great addition to any entrée.
Because eggplant is seasonal, leche balanitis is not a regular menu item, so if you see it on the specials, you better order a bowl. Cooked in coconut milk, fresh cubes of eggplant take on a smoky flavor and break down into a soft, creamy texture similar to baba ghanoush.
Hagun suni and leche balanitis are both served with homemade, traditional corn titiyas, adding a crisp crunch to the creamy vegetables.
Comfort Food: Chicken Chalakilis
Also recommended: BBQ Combo Plate with classic chicken, ribs, red rice, shrimp patty, and pancit, made fresh to order.
Although Guam is world-famous for its BBQ platters, real Chamorro food tends to be quite plain, with only four or five raw ingredients used to highlight the centerpiece protein. It is the process, not the contents that require a complicated labor of love. Slowcooked in chicken broth, authentic Chicken Chalakilis is made from toasted rice ground with achiote – the spice that gives red rice its color.
Strengthening the flavor and staying true to “home style,” Terry’s leaves the meat on the bone. The result is a mild soup with softened chunks of rice and a full chicken flavor. This dish has very little spice and since the flavor of seasoned red rice would compete with the subtle flavors of the soup, order this with white rice.
No matter how cold the air-con gets, this meal is sure to warm body and soul.
A classic afterschool snack, champulado is a favorite for kids ages 1 to 91. What is it? Chocolate rice! No one flavor overpowers the other in champulado, it is neither too sweet nor does the cocoa take over the rice. Served warm from the stove, this simple pudding of chocolate and rice is a perfect way to end – or begin! – a meal.
With portions big enough to balutan, or take home, Terry’s invites its patrons to eat, drink, and be well – chocho, gimen yan gosa i minagof.