Guam Bubble

Chamorro cuisine, San Francisco style

"Some people think Chamorro food is about barbecued meats," says Prubechu co-owner Shawn Camacho, as he set down a dish of tinaktak ($14), fresh pasta stir-fried with ground beef, snap peas and coconut milk. "But that's party food. We're serving grandma food."

We're not so sure about that.

Month-old Prubechu is San Francisco's only Chamorro (ethnic Guamanian) restaurant. Maybe chef Shawn Naputi's grandmother in Guam cooked her golai hagan suni ($9) by tossing kale, a broccoli variant called spigarello and fried sunchokes with coconut and turmeric, but we doubt she arranged it so daintily on the plate.

Shawn Naputi, left, with Shawn Camacho (Photo: Jackie Santos Blas)

That influence came from Naputi's former chef, Manny Torres Gimenez, who bequeathed Roxy's Cafe to his former chef de cuisine when Torres Gimenez closed Roxy's to focus on The Palace.

Naputi learned other lessons from his old boss: stay small and cheap, mix traditional and local flavors, and offer a tasting menu ($40 per person).

We craned our necks to check out the parade of courses that the table next to us was eating, but not for long: The keleguan ($8)–grilled and then citrus-cooked chicken served with green onions and fresh coconut on a coconut flatbread–was too good. So was pork belly, braised to the tenderness of a romantic daydream, whose juices soaked into a mound of rice ($16) tinted red with achiote.