Saturday, 9 November 2013

Marriot Cafe

Location: Marriot Hotel, Tumon
Hours: 11-2 Mon /Wed-Fri 
Phone: 649-7827
Price: $18-20

II  arrived at the Marriott and the guys plus one special guest were already eating. KUAM's In The Mix, Joan Agoun Charfarous, hello and thanks for breaking bread with us.

I have been here before on a couple of special occasions but never on their  popular Dim-Sum day.  It was quite busy, but it seemed like it was a regular day at the office for this food and beverage staff.  They all seemed to be smiling when they attended to customers and manned their respective serving stations.  

The ambiance of the place was very relaxing with warm earth tones from the floor, walls, and ceiling complimenting each other.  The best part however was the view. Guam's beautiful ocean view with well designed exterior landscaping was a breath of fresh air.  Speaking of air, the air quality inside was nice and cool too.  I was even wearing 2 shirts (one of them my favorite red one) and was still very comfortable.  

This is an all you can eat buffet, but I just chose a few items to fill me up.  On the main course section, I plated the Lechon Kawali (deep fried pork belly) with the accompanied all purpose sauce and the roast duck.  The fleshy part of the Lechon Kawali was very, very moist and juicy with the skin nice and crunchy. It was very tasty and not too salty as some  tend to be. Together with the sauce and BOOM, a winner!  The duck was very tasty too. I didn't get the sauce for this but it didn't matter because this too was very good.  I then chose a few items from the Dim-Sum section. Included were some fried dumplings, a mini-siapao, a fish cake, and a spicy orange chicken foot.  These items were ready to go in a bamboo steam basket.  When gathering more than one you can stack them up to 5 or more baskets high because they were generally the same size.  This was pretty cool. The taste however wasn't so great and I'll just leave it at that.  I wasn't surprised by the orange chicken foot because my in laws make an adobo version of this at my house.  I guess for a chicken foot, it is pretty good.  I had hoped that I would try the Dim-Sum but every time I went to try and get some I was always a step behind someone else. It must have been that good because people kept stacking them up before I can get my hands on one. 

The dessert I chose today was just the Pumpkin Pie and Creme Brulee. The Pumpkin Pie looked very good on the outside, but the lacked in taste and was very bland. I really like pumpkin pastries but I did not want to finish this. The Creme Brulee however was very good. The sugary crisp topping with chocolate bits worked perfectly with the creme in the bottom. My sweet tooth was satisfied just by this dessert.

Overall I give the Marriott Cafe 4 plates out of 5. Very relaxing ambiance and smiling staff were both a plus.  The gigs here came on the lack of available Dim-Sum and the not so great tasting dumplings, fish cake, mini-siapao, and pumpkin pie. I would still like to go back and finally try the Dim-Sum. 

The guys and I were invited to the Marriot Cafe by our friend Joan to try their theme lunch buffet.  The cool thing about the Marriot Cafe is that each day of the week has a different theme for lunch.  Today was Dim Sum day, and I definitely had an appetite enough to "eat all you can" . 

I had heard that parking can be a problem at the Marriot.  It must have been my lucky day because there was a single open parking spot in the parking lot in front of the hotel.   I had passed the ramp leading to the other parking area but decided that I did not want to chance taking my Titan into the very narrow path leading down.  Not good.

After waiting in the lobby for some of my cohorts to show up, we finally made our way downstairs to the restaurant (sorry Joan!).  The atmosphere was nice and there was plenty of space between the tables and the buffet was laid out nicely.  I find some buffets are cramped and it makes for a less enjoyable experience.

I hit up the dim  sum station first,  because it was dim sum day and why not. There were stacks of little bamboo containers with a variety of siopao, gyoza and other goodies like tofu topped with salmon. Next to the plates was a tray with various sauces and condiments.  You can take as many as you like and there was a variety of different items. I didn't know what everything was, but there was a little sheet with pictures and descriptions off to one side. It was a little hard to figure out exactly what was what.   The taste was good, however one of my gyoza was a little hard (dried out). 
In addition to the dim sum station, the buffet has the more usual fares including poke, salads (vegetable and meat based salads), ramen, pizza, fries, hawaiian style beef, duck,  chicken, sweet and sour pork. Ok ok, you get the point.  There is more than just dim sum.  I decided to take a small amount of most of the main dishes and everything I had was good.  I especially liked the hawaiian style beef.  I did have a small slice of pizza which I thought was plain cheese but ended up being topped by chopped onions and cheese. I did not like it at all. The onions were more raw than caramelized dominated the pizza.
How good would a buffet be without dessert? Not very good at all! I left enough room in my belly to get a big plate of dessert, which included creme brule, brownies, cookies,  creme filled pastry, a tangy lemon meringue type dessert (my favorite by far) and tapioca pudding.  The lemon dessert bar was delicious.  I probably would have taken a plate full right off the bat if I knew how good it was.  The rest of the desserts were good. Various Ice cream (including ube), fruits, and two types of slushies were items that I didn't get to try on this trip because I was just too full.

As I mentioned earlier,  the Marriot Cafe buffet changes depending on what day it is. I am definitely going to return to try some of the other themes (can you say Indian food on friday? Yes please!).  So if you want to try some good food and experience a changing menu,  check out the Marriot Cafe!

4 plates

Parking (5) - The parking I found was in the underground garage.  The whole first floor seemed to be reserved for one reason or another.  I was able to find a spot close to the elevator though on the next level down.  There seemed to be a lot of spots open, but it was only about 1100 at the time.

Ambience (5) -  All the windows had the shades drawn open allowing a lot of sunlight to shine in, giving the cafe a very open and light feel.  It was comfortable  and clean, except for the usual lines you'll find at a buffet.  Although nothing made it stand apart from any other buffet style restaurant you'll find in a hotel, it was still very nice.

Service (5) - From the moment we arrived, the staff was friendly, helpful and even made a couple of jokes.  As soon as we sat down, someone was taking our drink order.  During the meal, I was never able to finish my iced tea without someone coming over to see if I needed a refill.  They were also really good about taking our used and finished plates.  They didn't sit there long before they disappeared.

Food (3) - Typical buffet style food.  There was your salad station, this one had a tuna poke that I really enjoyed.  I think it was the best poke that I've tried in a restaurant to date.  There was a soup station, a ramen station with a big selection of "fixings".  There was a main entree station, which had some good lechon Kawali.  There was a dessert station, that I thought contained some of the best desserts I've tried in a hotel buffet.  The caramel flan was not too eggy and the caramel was done perfectly.  I tried Creme Brûlée for the first time and really enjoyed it.  It was sweet and creamy almost like the Creme brûlée, but it had a caramelized crust and some white chocolate on top.  The best dessert item though was the strawberry slushie.  The ice was the perfect size, it was not too sweet with just the right amount of tartness.  With a little seeds in each sip it actually tasted like you were biting into a frozen strawberry.

The main attraction for Marriot Cafe is there theme.  On Mondays, it is Italian.  On Wednesday, it is Dim Sum.  On Thursday, it is Streets of Asia, and on Friday, it's Indian.  We went on a Wednesday, so the theme was Dim Sum.  Surprisingly there wasn't a big spread of dim sum that I was expecting and hoping for.  Having tried Dim Sum at China Town in San Francisco, my bar is set high for dim sum.  I've been looking for dim sum on Guam for a while and I'm glad to have finally found a place to get my fix.  I'd give their Dim Sum 3.5 plates out of 5. 

Overall - Good poke, all you can eat dim sum for $20, excellent desserts and my new favorite slushie.  I give the Marriot Cafe 4.5 Plates out of 5.

"Good Food, Good Company"