Meskla mixes it up with new Tumon location

MESKLA FIESTA PLATTER: The Meskla Fiesta Platter ($25.95) is loaded with food because it's meant to be shared. Barbecued chicken, smoked pork, fried reef fish, kelaguen and salad are served with red rice and titiyas. The selection of fish is based on seasonal availability. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

As the other kids his age played in the yard during family get-togethers, a 6-year-old Peter Duenas was underfoot as the adults prepared the meal, pestering his elders and asking all kinds of questions about the food.

After a while, they stopped shooing him away and started delegating duties to the precocious youth.

"It was like, 'This boy needs to be here, he wants to be,'" Duenas says. By 13, he was preparing his own dishes for the gatherings.

"This boy is going to be a chef one day" became a common refrain among the adults in his family.

To this day, the food of his childhood is infused in some of his earliest memories.

"I can associate a memory in time with a food experience," he says.

Duenas, a certified master chef and the owner and head chef of four – with the opening of Meskla in Tumon this spring – local restaurants, has come a long way. But his roots have always guided him on the journey.

When Duenas opened Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro in Hagåtña a decade ago, he moved on from more than 20 years of focusing on French and Italian fine dining to breaking the mold in the local food arena.

'Why not try it with a twist?'

"I thought, 'Why not try it with a twist?'" Duenas says. "I'm taking what is considered a home classic and spruced it up a bit. Now it's ours."

The impeccable presentation and an atmosphere that straddles cozy and classy makes Meskla in Tumon an ideal way for visitors to get their introduction to local food at its finest, all while keeping it down to earth.

He describes what is on the menu at Meskla as not "fine dining" but "fun-dining."

"I like non-pretentious food with good flavor," he says. "When you eat it, you feel right at home."

The decision to open a location in Tumon was perhaps one of the easier decisions Duenas has faced over the years.

"We want locals and tourists alike to come here. We thought, 'Hey, why not put a spot down in Tumon?'" he says.

Something for everyone

Along with many of the tried, tested and true items found on the menu in Hagåtña are set menus "to make it easier for tourists to come in and select what they want to experience."

Or visitors can venture off the set menu and start with a "major staple," such as the Tinala' Katni, a local style of dried beef that many of Meskla's guests are "addicted to," Duenas says.

First-timers also can't go wrong with the fried titiyas – a slightly sweeter, thicker, coconut-based version of the tortilla – paired with the house-made dinanche sauce.

"A match made in heaven," quips Duenas.

From there, guests can dive into a perfect example of CHamoru fusion: the Dinanche' Glazed Pork Chop, tender center-cut porkchops seasoned with local pepper mash and topped with a mushroom cream sauce.

Accompanied by friends who care to share? Make room on the table for the Meskla Fiesta Platter complete with barbecued chicken, smoked pork, fired reef fish, kelaguen, salad, rice and titiyas.

Make lunch a meal to remember and choose from one of their custom burgers such as the Teriyaki Burger with their special teriyaki sauce and pineapple, or the Lamb Slam, a house-made lamb burger patty topped with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese on a grilled sesame bun.

Don't feel like cooking breakfast on the weekend after a long week of work? Try out their breakfast menu, found exclusively at the new Tumon location, with original choices such as the CHamoru Sausage and Biscuit, or the Finadene Grilled Salmon Benedict. Hotcakes and waffles are also available to keep all members of the family happy.

'That's why we're here'

And for Duenas, making his guests happy is the whole point.

"I want people to be able to enjoy our food," he says. "That's why we're here."

Recommended for you