BY AMANDA PAMPURO
For the Journal
Guam loves its classic BBQ, and two new restaurants introduced their own twists on the menu last week. On July 7, Café Singh rolled up its gate in Micronesia Mall, and on July 11, Eat Street Grill fired up in Tumon.
“The important component to everything we do is to only use fresh, premium ingredients and execute the food consistently at a high level,” said Darren Talai, a partner in Eat Street Inc.
The parent company of Eat Street Grill is a partnership between Darren Talai, Gregg Kosanke, Jerry Pastones, Gregory Hartkopf and company controller Imelda Cortes.
The breakfast menu, Talai said, includes five kinds of eggs benedict, banana- and blueberry-stuffed French toast, island-style fried rice, pancakes and waffles served with fresh seasonal berries and bacon-cured pork belly, which Talai crowns “the highest quality bacon available in the country.”
“Trust me,” he said. “Everyone will fall in love with this bacon.”
Besides gourmet burgers topped with Gruyere, the lunch and dinner menu includes smoked salmon rolls, coconut shrimp, handcrafted Northern Thai spicy sausage and a variety of rice bowls.
“Our philosophy is to identify and then create independent concepts that are unique, specialized and are compatible for the Guam market,” Talai said. “In the case of Eat Street Grill, we will feature casual American dining while integrating various local and regional dishes.”
Talai, who co-owns other Tumon restaurants — California Pizza Kitchen, Beachin’ Shrimp and Hot Diggety Dog, which closed May 31 for remodeling but was set to reopen by press time — always looks to fill a different niche with each restaurant he opens.
For this one, he said, “My inspiration came from visiting and studying various ‘hot’ concepts in the states and other large cities in Asia. Small independent restaurants with a specific focus have been booming over the past few years.”
Two trends Talai wanted to capitalize on were burgers and brew, so to wash it all down, Eat Street is introducing a 6-keg rotating tap, starting off with Minagof Pale Ale, Minagof Green Tea IPA, Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Redd’s Apple Ale and Asahi Super Dry.
“Craft beer continues to increase in popularity and is the perfect match for our food menu,” he said.
Chef Kotwal Singh knows that good beer can contribute to a restaurant’s success. His previous eatery, the Grand Taj Curry and Grill in Tumon, featured a weekly all-you-can-eat buffet and bottomless beer. Since the Grand Taj closed two years ago, Singh returned to his residency at the Hard Rock Café.
On Café Singh in Micronesia Mall, the chef said, “I just leant the name to my son and helped them establish themselves. I opened the restaurant to support my family and guide my son.”
Singh’s son, Sisank Kotwal, graduated from the University of Guam in May with a bachelor’s in business administration and a concentration in marketing. “This is a way for me to pay my family back,” he said.
Singh said he believes his son will succeed because in this business, “you have to know the people, and my son has good people skills.
“The hardest part is finding the right people who understand the quality,” Singh said, so in addition to hiring his wife as manager, Singh brought back his chef from Grand Taj to cook in the new restaurant.
“People walking by will see an Indian café with curries and kabobs — something outside Chinese and Japanese food,” Sisank Kotwal said. “We are also trying to provide the best quality service because the food court is usually just about getting in and out.”
The unique and flavorful menu includes a few old family recipes and spans across Thailand, India, Japan and Malaysia, serving satay, kabobs and shawarma.
Eat Street Grill, a new venture by the owners of California Pizza Kitchen, Beachin’ Shrimp and Hot Diggety Dog, opened on July 11 on the street level of The Plaza in Tumon.
Photo by Jackie Hanson