** Islander Grill has closed
So there I was, minding my own business, waiting for my Kelaguen bowl to arrive, when I decided to take some photos. I don't know why, but I had been under the impression that I'd already posted on Islander Grill. WRONG! I did a search, I found that to my surprise.......no post on Islander Grill. Now how did that happen? After digging a bit deeper, I found a few older photos....and here we go....
To say that Islander Grill is in an "interesting" location would be an understatement. The little restaurant is located in the Embassy Hotel on Park Boulevard.
I wonder how many people have done double takes, walking down this street lined with apartments, and St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, home of the Greek Festival, when they run into this:
Yes, that is a large barrel grill right on Park Boulevard........
The interior of Islander Grill is full of Guamanian knick-knacks, and presents itself as sort of a tropical-kitsch.
On this day, the restaurant was pretty well organized, with everything, including the Guamanian magazines and pamplets were in place. The service at Islander Grill has always been nice and friendly, and though things move at a careful cadence, I've always felt very relaxed here.
I'll usually just order one item at Islander Grill, the Kelaguen Bowl with White Rice($6.95):
Don't let the picture fool you, this is a lot of food. The Styrofoam bowl is stuffed to the gills with Kelaguen Mannok, packed on top of a generous portion of rice. I was first introduced to this dish featuring chopped grilled chicken, green onions, lemon juice, and red pepper by a Guamanian co-worker back home. During one of our "cook-outs", his visiting Mom brought over a tray of Kelaguen. This version really doesn't hold a candle to "Mom's", or even Santos's wonderful looking version you can find here. The Kelaguen at Islander Grill is also missing a key component....that would be grated coconut. What makes this Kelaguen tick, is the Finadene, the salty-slightly spicy-tart-sour sauce that brings life to the Kelaguen, or almost anything else for that matter.
As you keep digging away at your Kelguen, you'll start noticing a few things. First, you'll realize after a few large spoonfuls, that you've hardly even put a "dent" in your dish. Second, you'll notice that the heat will slowly get to you, until your brow is in need of some attention from some napkins. The Kelaguen at Islander Grill is served either cold or pretty close to room temperature, and with the hot rice, and Finadene, it is a winning combination.
Here are a few photos that were in "storage". This is the Combination #1($8.95):
A choice of 2 proteins, either BBQ Beef, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Short Ribs, and Pork Ribs, a scoop of Kelaguen, either Macaroni or Cabbage Salad, and either White or Chamorro Red Rice. Whew, that's a lot of food! Guamanian BBQ is on the mild side, and the meat tens to be dry....so much better for the finadene. This was so long ago, that I don't remember much about the macaroni salad, other than it was a bit too "pickly" for me. The red rice was fine....basically calrose rice colored with achiote, no onions or anything else to impart much flavor other than salt.
I recall that when Islander Grill first opened up, there were a few more items on the menu....various stews and such. But over time, the menu has been pared down to salads, fried items (i.e. Lumpia and Empanadas), BBQ, Pancit, and of course, Kelaguen. I've also found that even though the hours posted says they open at 11 am, on some days they don't open until noon. You'll need to find parking on Park Boulevard, which is not problem during week day lunch hours, but evenings and weekends can be a challenge. Still, if you need your Kelaguen, you know where to get you fix.