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Chamoru Tei reopens in Tumon

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Pilaf: There are several pilafs on the menu, including this Shrimp Curry Pilaf listed for $12.99. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

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SHRIMP COCONUT MILK: Shrimp Coconut Milk is a popular entree listed for $20.99. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

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Yoshida: Hideaki Yoshida is based in Tokyo, and according to operations manager Miguel Guerrero, took co-ownership of Chamoru Tei from Kumi Okumura. Photo courtesy of Chamoru Tei

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Terada: Makoto Terada is co-owner of Chamoru Tei. According to a release from Chamoru Tei, Terada worked at the Sheraton and Shiroyama Kanko Hotel in Tokyo before being a cook for the Japanese consulate on Guam. Photo courtesy of Chamoru Tei

After more than a year closed due to government-ordered pandemic restrictions, Chamoru Tei restaurant has reopened at the Oceanview Hotel & Residences in Tumon. The restaurant is back with some fresh changes and a new business model to deal with the shifting business landscape.

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FRIED OYSTERS: Fried oysters are listed on the appetizer section of the menu for $8.99. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

According to operations manager Miguel Guerrero, Chamoru Tei was opened back in 1996 by original owners Leo and Kumi Okumura. Veterans of the Guam restaurant scene will easily and fondly remember Leo Okumura as the owner of Leo's Restaurant. The popular landmark in Tumon had a vintage Volkswagen Bug seemingly smashed halfway into the dining room at the front of the building as an eccentric, hard-to-forget design feature.

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TOFU STEAK: Another offering from the appetizer menu is the Tofu Steak, listed for $7.99. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Guerrero said the team had to fend for themselves for more than a year as operations were halted on March 20, 2020. The ownership of the business shifted to Hideaki Yoshida, a consultant working in Japan, and partner Makoto Terada, a chef who worked at a Sheraton property in Tokyo.

"In the beginning it was very hard, we've had to make the adjustments just trying to get operations back up and building the business," Guerrero said, adding that the Japan-based owners travel here often.

"I communicate with them every day. I update them on operations and sales reports, and feedback from the food," said Guerrero. "They take the feedback of the customers and the response to the food very seriously."

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LOCO MOCO CURRY BOWL: The Loco Moco Curry Bowl ($12), as the name implies, substitutes curry sauce for the brown gravy. A traditional loco moco is also available. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

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Shawarma: The Crispy Shawarma Roll features crispy salmon skin, lettuce, American cheese, onions and tobiko for $11.99. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Now Guerrero and a fresh crew are pushing an Asian fusion concept of more than 60 menu items that draw heavily from local cuisine. Guerrero says Chamoru Tei is well-known for its preparation of coconut crab, which he said was featured by popular vloggers from Korea.

"Those vloggers were able to eat 13 coconut crabs – they were really downing it. They loved it," he said.

Now that tourists are barely trickling in, the kitchen shifted gears and is offering sushi rolls and Korean and Japanese cuisine, along with island-influenced favorites.

Chamoru Tei does allow dining in, as its team of eight services a dining room that could originally seat about 80 guests, though that number has been adjusted to comply with government regulations. The restaurant also has a private function room that could accommodate small parties or corporate functions, but for now the room has been closed.

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Banana infused: The Banana Infused Roll ($16.99) is a loaded sushi roll consisting of shrimp, eel, crab and Philadelphia cream cheese. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

"We should be able to open the VIP room soon," said Guerrero. "For now, we are just complying with the regulations and focusing on our dine-in customers, and a lot of takeout orders."

Innovative offerings

A kitchen crew with half a century of combined experience are creating and delivering innovative sushi rolls, like the Crispy Shawarma Roll ($11.99), an uramaki (sushi roll with rice on the outside) that features crispy salmon skin, lettuce, American cheese, onions and tobiko topped with spicy mayo. Another innovative sushi roll is the Glazed Salmon Roll ($14.99), another uramaki with Philadelphia cream cheese, salmon and crab topped with a sweet and savory glaze.

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Black curry: Japanese black curry is hand-carried back from Japan during the regular visits from the owners. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

The restaurant is offering something for Japanese curry afficianados, a black curry that Guerrero said is often hand-carried to Guam during the regular visits from the owners. The subtle curry flavor is offered with a variety of pairings, including eggplant, fried oysters, pork and chicken katsu and creamy crab croquette.

A robust selection of hearty entrees includes a regular loco moco, and a curry option. The grilled section of the menu includes the main proteins, which can be ordered separately or combined.

Guest taster Bert Duarte, the founding administrator for the blockbuster Guam Foodies Facebook Group, said Chamoru Tei "provides huge portions and a great presentation."

"I was not disappointed in any of the sushi dishes, and the mango and banana sauce was tasty and a welcome addition," he said. "The curry was on point – slightly spicy, just the way I like it."

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IN THE KITCHEN: The kitchen is staffed by cooks who have more than a half a century of combined experience in the industry. From left are Matt Albesa, sushi chef; Roger Dimalanta, head cook; and Jeorge Fernandez, cook. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

Now the flavors of the restaurant are spreading through word of mouth and social media posts.

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