dinner at nana's cafe.

six of us went to dinner at nana's cafe, in tumon. housed in the former sails restaurant, it is one of the last beachside restaurants and bars on the island. nana's is basically a steak and seafood joint (aka surf + turf, beef + reef), but in a weird quasi-formal/completely casual way that only a restaurant owned by japanese corporate management on a dinky tropical island can achieve. the current chef is takuhiko kishimoto, who used to be at seahorse kuramaya (which was demolished last year), and it looks like the menu and the clientele followed him over.

like the seahorse kuramaya, nana's is actually divided into two restaurants--nana's takes care of the "indoor" menu, which focuses on kishimoto-san's strange but tasty cajun and italian infused blends. (yes, i know--cajun and italian, sometimes in the same dish. mostly it's best to forget about this, and just focus on the flavour.) the beachside barbecue is still known as sails, where diners sit around a teppan-yaki style grill right by the ocean, and partake in a jovial beef and beer fest, surrounded by tiki torches and warm tropical breezes. which means no locals would be caught dead there. sticky, nenes, and like, sand gets in *everything*. i think, however, you can get anything from the "outdoor" menu brought inside.

the restaurant itself is one giant room, with plate glass windows that overlook the outdoor dining area and the beach beyond. the room is filled with local nara wood carvings, and tropical wood furniture, which is softened by bamboo matting and palm weavings. the staff is friendly and brisk, despite being undermanned on a busy weekend night. we shared three starters: vegetable summer rolls made from julienned vegetables and glass noodles in a rice wrapper and served with peanut sauce, poached shrimp in a sauce that was a cross between an aioli and a zabaglione--like a frothy mayonnaise spiked with lemon and balsamico, and a mixed seafood cocktail in a fresh tomato sauce and creme fraiche with pink peppercorns.

the summer rolls were good, if standard; the shrimp jarring at first with the sweet seafood and tart creamy sauce, but it grew on you. the seafood cocktail was a bit strange looking, but very refreshing--the tomato sauce was lively and the creme fraiche quite light.

the soup and salad bar used to only be featured at lunch, but is now a part of the dinner service. it's quite small, but fresh, and has a crazy build-your-own miso soup.

the two main entree salads ordered had grilled shrimp and panko breadcrumb- coated soft shell crabs, respectively.

i'm assuming the former was very good, as it was demolished within minutes. pinch was put off by the appearance of her soft shell crabs--she claimed (correctly) that they looked like deep fried tarantulas. the crabs were rather large and fresh, but the heavy breading detracted from the creamy sweetness within. they were also slightly undercooked in the middle, enhancing its ocean-flavour, which is not necessarily a good thing--sometimes, you don't want to know where a crab has been.

we also ordered two seemingly different items--the grilled salmon, and the fried mixed seafood, but both were smothered in that strange aioli-zabaglione sauce, with a few herbs added in. kishimoto-san is known for his skills in the sauce department, but i think he was a little too in love with this one.

grilled salmon

it's good, but a little goes a long way. also, the menu did not mention it would be on either dish (in fact, i think the mixed seafood plate at lunch is completely different).

the only two things from the old seahorse menu we ordered were the cajun chicken--a roasted spicy chicken breast with a fricasee of onions, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, garnished with black olives; and cioppino, a mixed seafood stew in a tomato broth. the chicken was as it always was--a surprisingly well-suited blend of strong cajun spices and strong mediterranean vegetables that do not overwhelm the chicken, which actually tastes like chicken (a rarity these days). as for the cioppino, well, who knows. the table next to got the last two servings, but we didn't get short shrifted by the staff--the very kind floor manager brought us a lovely, massive, t-bone steak (alas, not cooked in duck fat), from the "outdoor" menu--grilled and served simply with grilled onions, eggplant, and a very mild finadene. free of charge.

and a complimentary tiramisu.

despite the glitches, and the sauce-that-would-not-go-away, the overall tastiness of the other items, the completely amenable staff, and the lively company made it a great meal. we'll be back (and we'll all order the cioppino to see what happens next).

nana's cafe
pale san vitores road, behind the plaza


Hi Santos,

Looks like you had a good meal there. But I have to agree with you on the sauce overload on the grilled salmon. If I had ordered dish and it arrived like that, I would have probably sent it back. I normally don't eat food that's swimming in sauce that way.

"Deep fried tarantulas". After reading that, I don't think li'l ol' arachnophobic me will ever dine on softshell crab.