breakfast in saipan.

breakfast in saipan

i recently spent the day in saipan, our lovely neighbouring island to the north, in the commonwealth of the marianas islands (CNMI). guam is the largest, southernmost island of the marianas islands chain, and is aligned with the commonwealth as being the main home of chamorro (or chamoru) culture and heritage. i myself am not chamorro, but as a nearly lifelong resident of guam, quite proudly guamanian; still, i have quite an affinity to saipan, as it is very much like here, only not so big (it's 14 miles long), and a little more unspoiled by modern living (although thoroughly modern in many ways).

inside escos

after a short 40-minute airplane ride, we decided to have a late breakfast, but unfortunately, one of my favourite restaurants, el segundo's, appears to be closed (for good? unknown. i think it might still be open for dinner service). el segundo's was well-known for its chamorro breakfast specialties, including champulado with tinala katne (chocolate rice porridge with air-dried beef served on the side), and charakiles with chotda or lemai (toasted rice soup with green bananas or breadfruit). somewhat saddened by this, we made our was to a small village bakery, esco's, which is also well-known for its native delicacies.

escos treats

we had a bit of a tough time choosing what to get, but eventually settled on some manha biscuits made from freshly grated coconut, coconut milk and flour, just-out-of-the-fryer banana chips, and guyuria, a local cookie made from coconut milk, sugar, and flour, then coated in powdered sugar.

escos apigigi

i also couldn't resist picking up a few packages of apigigi, a local specialty made with freshly grated coconut and tapioca flour, then grilled in banana leaves. soft, sticky, smoky and slightly sweet, it is quite delicate yet earthy and irresistible. this only whet our appetite, so we went over the hill to a longstanding coffee shop, coffee care.

coffee care toast coffee care fruit yoghurt and granola

coffee care is a bright shop with a fantastic view, near the government offices of capitol hill. it used to be an ex-pat hangout, but lately has become a favourite with locals as well. although the menu is small, it is quite eclectic, and the food is fresh, interesting and healthy. we started with a large, shared bowl of cut up fruit (nothing local, alas, just oranges, fuji apples, and bananas), greek yoghurt, and granola. we were also given a couple slices of wheat toast and white toast, which remained mysteriously hot and toasty throughout our meal.

coffee care joe's special

julius--cousin and travel partner--had the joe's special, an omelette based on a famous san francisco breakfast dish. this one was filled with sauteed red potato chunks, onions, and ground beef, then topped with a fresh tomato salsa. generous and hearty.

coffee care veggie frittata

i had the veggie frittata, an open-faced omelette with a sautee of locally grown long beans and tomatoes, red onion and green bell peppers. it was topped with some kalamata olives, cubes of feta cheese, and more tomatoes. this was also a generous portion, very fresh and delicious.

saipan valley flame trees 1

stuffed to the gills, we headed off for some laid-back sightseeing. as saipan is less developed than guam, the landscape can be breathtaking for miles; flame trees line the streets and dot the valleys, along other lush tropical foliage. many of the attractions are related to the battle of saipan and world war 2, as it became a major battleground towards the end of the war.

saipan last command post okinawa peace memorial

of course, the ocean vistas are stunning, as are the beaches and diving spots.

bird on shore near bird island taking the plunge

although i managed to work off most of our hefty breakfast in the tropical heat, and by hiking down and up to various touristy spots, we weren't very hungry for lunch. we ended up stopping at another bakery during the shopping portion of our adventure, this time at herman's bakery (and adjacent tan marikita's café).

herman's bakery and tan marikita café

herman's is one of saipan's best known bakeries, for their bread made with the local coconut liquor, tuba, pan de leche (milk bread), and pan tosta (er, toasted bread. sort of. more like baked-until-dry bread). it has been open since the battle of saipan, making it the oldest business establishment on the island. however, you can see that this particular outlet isn't that old, and offered a light snacks menu besides their bakery items.

i wish we had a little more time to spend on saipan; although it is quite small (you can drive around the entire island in less than an hour), there were so many little shops and restaurants i would have liked to have explored further. however, we left, stuffed and happy and luckily, i'm only a 40-minute plane ride away, so hopefully i'll have more to report in the future.

saipan's official tourist mascot, saipanda. sai in japanese means "rhino," and panda, is well, panda. therefore, crazycreepycute rhino panda!


check out chopsticks, a saipan food blog!


per usual, more photos of the lovely island of saipan in my i heart saipan flickr photoset.

capitol hill, saipan.

coffee care,
capitol hill, saipan.

herman's modern bakery and tan marikita café,
garapan, saipan.


Great to have you back. I love the food photos and hope to be back on the islandin 2007 to see my dad and rest of the family.

Glad you're back!

Looks like a fantastic trip - so much foodie goodness! I hope that El Segundo's hasn't shut down so you can blog about it another time :D

It all looks delicious... that photo on the back wall of Herman's looks like one of yours!

hi gia-gina! oh! i forgot that you were supposed to visit this summer, did that not happen? if you come next year, i hope to meet you then. we can go to saipan :)

hi ana! glad to be back :) sort of. i just bought some plane tickets today.

ellie--i hope it isn't closed either. the food was really quite tasty there.

hi cathy! (laughing) yes it does!

super glad you're back! have missed reading your posts. :)

~s, a green banana fan

Welcome back- gorgeous photos. That frittata looks so unusual...what a great idea to serve it like that. I love the look of the fresh veggies on top. Anyway, welcome back to the blogworld- we missed you.

I can't stop staring at the saipanda... do they sell little saipanda plushies?

While we're talking about all things that are black and white and strange and cute (sounds like a bad riddle), have you seen this little guy?

Oh what a gorgeous breakfast! I want that bowl of fruits with the greek yoghurt!! I love champorado too, but I haven't yet gotten accustomed to sprinking tinapa or tuyo bits on it as most do. Lovely pictures!

hello s! thanks for stopping by, i'll be here for awhile :)

tokyoastrogirl! that was a very good frittata--more veggies than egg, so although it was quite hearty, it didn't sit in my stomach. it's good to be home :) although i'll be back in la soon enough :P

shukumei, of course! what self-respecting tourist mascot doesn't? they are very cute, i'll take a photo soon. and love those water dispensers!

christine, it was really nice to have that to offset the eggs. i wish there were more places here on guam that offered that.

ps--christine, i'm not used to eating champorado with tuyo or tinapa either!

The photos of Bird Island in your flickr set bring back some wonderful memories. I have a set of framed photos taken during my time in Saipan (Old Man by the Sea, Bird Island, and Forbidden Island). I lived in Saipan from 1989-1993. When I landed there for the first time, there was still only one traffic light on the whole island. I bet I would hardly recognize some parts of the island now.

hi andrea! it's true, there are some parts that i absolutely did not recognize myself! however, it's nice to know that some places remain blissfully untouched.

Cool Blog. I was just looking for a recipe for green tea tiramisu saw your site.

By the way, If you ever get a chance to go to Saipan again please try out Casa Urashima.
Excellent food.