Posts Tagged ‘saipan coffee shops’

Coffee, crepes and more at The Shack


Okonomiyaki, one of the must-try favorites at the SHACK

WELCOME to The Shack, the newest rave in the island where ‘hunters, fishermen, politicians and other liars are welcome.’

Although it’s still on a soft opening phase, The Shack has become a trending household word as the satisfied diners try their unique dishes and go back for more.

It was my second time to visit The Shack for lunch yesterday, and was looking forward to something new. A friend and I had The Shack’s famous Chili Beans on Rice and the equally famous dessert called “The Dentist” before.

We headed to the farthest table for two against the wall and Glen Hunter, who runs The Shack with his mother Gloria Hunter, and Glen’s brother Randy, came to assist us.

Mom Gloria’s special version of fried rice and egg during the weekends, and we decided to try that. Glen also recommended the okonomiyaki and I said yes, not knowing what it was.


The Favorite

Glen served us the fried rice topped with eggs over easy first, which we started to attack immediately. Next, he served us the Shack’s version of Okonomiyaki, a very tempting flatcake splattered with sauce and Japanese mayo and topped with bits of onion leaves and fish flakes which looked so alive like they were waving.


Shack Breakfast Akai Bowl

Although it was so tastefully served that I didn’t want to ruin the plating, I was hesitant to try it, not knowing what was inside. I watched my companion slice off a bit from the side and ate it. When he sliced another portion immediately after the first bite, I decided to try it. One bite is all it took, and we kept going at it until there was nothing left of the whole okonomiyaki. We even scraped off the remaining sauce from the plate.

Glen explained that the okonomiyaki, which is one of the most popular dishes at The Shack, literally means “what you like” and their version contains a mix of corn, mushrooms, noodles, tofu, mongo sprouts, cabbage, and more. One bite will stop you to analyze the flavor and you’ll discover it’s a bit of everything—salty, sweetish, a bit sour, a bit spicy but blended beautifully together in one savory flavor that would send you wanting for more. Glen said diners can customize the Okonomiyaki and diners can order what they want to be stuffed inside the pancake.

We were not even halfway into our meal when Glen served us another delight called The Favorite. It is a dessert made of Nutella and bananas wrapped in a think warm crepe folded into quarters and topped with whipped crème. I don’t have a sweet tooth but the empty dish is a testimony of how well we liked it.

We were already very full when Glen came again and let us try the latest breakfast treat—The Shack Breakfast Acai Bowl which is a small glass containing layers of Frozen Puree of Acai Berries and Mixed Fruit on top of layers of Homemade Kefir Yogurt topped with layers of Honey, Nut and Raisin Granola and topped with dates, banana slices and fresh strawberry slices.


Mom Gloria’s version of fried rice on egg, only at The Shack

I looked at the Shack Breakfast Acai Bowl doubtfully and voiced out that it was too small for anyone’s breakfast. Glen said that’s what everybody said, until they try it and find it even hard to finish everything off. He was right, the Acai breakfast bowl was small but it packed a punch and should never be underestimated. We capped our lunch with tall glasses of lemonade.


The Dentist, one of the most popular favorites at The Shack

The boldly warm orange tables and walls of the wooden deck and the glaring neon green chairs on the tables below the deck outside is a big contrast to the cool and simple rustic beauty inside The Shack. A sofa occupies one part of the restaurant with a low table. Sack curtains hung from the sides of the glass windows, allowing sunlight to stream inside. Paintings adorn the walls, along with books on the shelves, lamp shades and bric-a-brac on the walls. The mix of modern and antique décoration provides an overall homey ambiance of like dining or having coffee at your own home.IMG_6653

“It’s all about relaxation, of having tea, coffee and crepes and hanging out with friends and family,” Hunter said.

Every day is never the same at The Shack. Mom Gloria prepares varied lunch specials. Check out their Facebook page everyday for the lunch specials the next day.

20130810_144324 (2)Don’t miss out Mom Gloria’s special carrot cake for a sweet, moist slice of paradise. Check out the menu board for the list of crepes available. Beverages available include Espresso, Shack coffee, Shack teas, fresh lemonade, classic iced tea, beer and wines.

The Shack has ample parking spaces outside and WiFi is available free.IMG_6668 (2)

The Shack Saipan is located across from Downtown Market in San Jose, Oleai and open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. They are closed on Mondays. Credit cards are accepted. For reservations please call 235-7422.


Late night coffee at the Sands

THE craving for coffee hit me while driving home from the movies on Saturday night, and at past 10 p.m., my choices for a place to eat or hang out were limited. Most restaurants close at 9 p.m. so if you get hungry after that, good luck.
Driving slowly around Garapan while looking for a possible place to have coffee, the dimly lit signboard of Sands Coffee & Bar caught my attention. I had been to the bar a couple of years ago for a quick coffee stop.Sands is patronized by mostly Japanese tourists, but it also attracts statesiders, Chinese, Russians and locals. It is located right across from Fiesta Resort and the Hyatt.Bartender Rico was whipping up a couple of orders of Piñacolada when my companion and I sat on rattan stools at the bar.

I asked for a hot cappuccino while my companion ordered Chivas with Coke. My coffee was a foamy, frothy goodness topped with cinnamon.

??My companion took a few sips of his Chivas before playing darts, leaving me alone at the bar as I played Candy Crush on my cellphone.

Sands Coffee & Bar serves a wide selection of drinks: gin, vodka, rum, tequila, Campari, Kahlua, wines, beers, whisky, shochu and cocktails. Although the prices were a bit high compared to other bars, all the tables were filled when we were there and more people came in as soon as a table was vacated. It was a place where time seemed to stand still and no one was in a hurry.

For those who just want to hang out, Sands Coffee & Bar offers soda, ice cream, fresh fruit juices and sparkling wines. Grab your favorite steaming cup of hot coffee or a cool refreshing glass of iced regular coffee, latte, mocha, espresso or cappuccino while listening to the latest hits or watching music videos on the huge LCD screen behind the counter.

Chasers include beef jerky, pistachios, potato chips, popcorn, mixed nuts, chocolate or mixed fruits dishes.

You can also play darts or billiards or claim your own corner without feeling out of place even if you’re alone.??

You can breathe in the evening air at Sands Coffee & Bar, but it also has three semi-private stalls where small groups can convene, drink and talk.

Sands Coffee & Bar is for those who want a relaxing night — it’s not too noisy and you can talk without having to raise your voice. The music is lively but not loud.

DSC07756Sands Coffee & Bar is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day. All credit cards are accepted. For inquiries and reservations, call 233-4136.

First published at the Marianas Variety

Coffee and Jazz

?????? HFOR weeks now, I had been watching out for the opening of a new Russian restaurant in Garapan but when I passed by on Friday I saw a new sign that stated “Jazz & Coffee Bar” beside the restaurant. I just had to check the place out, which I did on Saturday evening. C
The glass walls were heavily tinted and I and my companion didn’t know what to expect but when we entered it was like stepping into a red magic room — the dimly lit bar with red trimmings, soft lights on the walls, the brick walls and wooden floor panels, comfortable sofa sets and tables and the huge posters of musicians.Jazz filled the room, making you want to head straight to a table and get lost in the music. A friendly wait staffer headed to our table with slim laminated menus. I decided to try their latte mocha. My companion chose the white chocolate mocha, and we both agreed to try the Russian apple pie.Jojit, our wait staffer, delivered our Russian apple pie first — two huge slices that looked too sweet at first glance. I forked a small piece and popped it into my mouth, expecting a sugary concoction of flour and apples, but I was wrong. The pie was not so sweet and it was soft in the inside and crispy on the top.

Our coffee arrived next, and I spent the next minutes snapping photos while my companion was watching me, silently fuming. I knew he wanted to sip the coffee while it was still hot but I took my time snapping photos.

I was halfway through my coffee when Jojit told me they had a special promo on Saturday — free red or white wine for the ladies. He insisted so I accepted, not sure if coffee and wine would work out harmoniously. Luckily it did for me.

Check out their menu for a selection of desserts: carrot and ginger cake, cheese cake, cup cakes,ice cream and other mouthwatering Russian specialties below the $10 mark.


If you’re a bit hungry, you can order soup, salads and appetizers. The main dishes include seafood, beef, mushroom omelet and other dishes — all under the $20 range.

Coffee & Jazz serves a selection of red and white wines, house wine, sparkling wine, beer cocktails, beer, frozen margarita, vodka, whisky, tequila, gin, rum and cognac.

.?????? H

Coffee & Jazz is located on the second floor of ABC across from DFS in Garapan. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Cards are accepted. For reservations or inquiries, call 233-7722.

First published at the Marianas Variety

Of tea, snow and pearls at Cha

IF you’re looking fL2or a place where you can quench your thirst and beat the summer heat, try out this hip place called Cha.
Squeezed between a row of fastfood restaurants in Garapan, Cha is slowly but surely creating its own niche as a new hangout for the young and old alike.Since Cha opened last month, it has started to become a household word for specializing in tea and pearls.

Unlike regular tea houses, Cha is not big and spacious and does not have regular tables. Instead, it has a comfortable sofa and a couple of make-shift counters with bar stools. Quaint lanterns and artistic twigs adorn the walls.

I got the chance to check out the place on Friday night and was immediately drawn to the colorful menu board advertising the different tea and snow pearl flavors.L3 1

I chose pineapple snow while my companion ordered mango snow. Cha uses transparent plastic cups which are then vacuum sealed. Cha staffers also write the names of your orders on the cups, a personalized touch which I find artistic. The whirring sound of blenders entertains you as you wait for your order.

I am not a pearl shake fanatic but my pineapple snow was just perfect — not so sweet but super smooth and creamy. Sipping the black pearls from the bottom through the big straw was an added bonus. I returned the next day for another pineapple snow.

Cha has iced green or black tea for $3.50 and iced green or black milk tea for $3.75. These are Cha’s bestsellers. Jumbo size costs only 50 cents more.

For the pearl snows, other selections include lychee, strawberry, passion fruit, peach, cantaloupe and café sua da.

Cha also serves Rota sweet potato chips — flown directly from the island — as well as popcorn chicken.

Cha aims to offer only the best quality products and is staffed with young people.

Cha brews tea daily and makes sure it serves only clean, refreshing and tasty drinks. Pearls are added and you can taste the freshness and the difference.


Cha’s tea is very flavorful, thirst-quenching and light. The pearls are high-quality tapioca cooked every three hours with a secret infusion.

Next month, watch out for the newest item on the menu —frappuccino.

Cha has no plans of selling its pearls and shakes at the street market so you have to visit it to try its high-quality drinks and excellent customer services. Cha also gives out loyalty cards which allows you to have your 7th order for free.

R3Cha takes orders from businesses and parties. Just give it ample time to prepare the drinks. Cha is located in Garapan between Nami Restaurant and Bobby’s Cadillac. Only cash is accepted. It is open Sunday to Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For inquiries and reservations, call 233-2421.

First published at the Marianas Variety

Say cheesecake

Baileys cheesecake

WHEN you hear the word “cheesecake,” two popular destinations would immediately pop up that serve the most sought-after cheesecake on Saipan—Hyatt Regency and Shenanigan’s Restaurant, both in Garapan.

An hour of unadulterated indulgence over cups of coffee and heavenly slices of cheesecakes for two consecutive nights at these two outlets rekindled the sweet cravings that I have shelved for some time.

Shenanigan's cheesecake

One night last week took two buddies and me to Shenanigans Restaurant for coffee and a slice of the restaurant’s most popular and addicting cheesecake. It was not my first time to try their cheesecake which come in several variations but with cheesecake, one could never have enough.

Shenanigan’s cheesecake comes in a heavy rectangular platter with splashes of chocolate syrup, whipped cream and orange slices—presented in such a way that would make you forget how to say no. Shenanigan’s cheesecake is made of chocolatey and fluffy soft sponge cake topped with a thick layer of fresh cream cheese. My buddy finished his cheesecake and wiped the whole plate clean down to the last morsel in minutes.

Shenanigan’s cheesecake variations are Pana Cotta cheesecake and Mascarpone Cheesecake with blueberry sauce, for $6.

On Friday evening, my two buddies and I sampled the Hyatt Regency’s famous cheesecakes with coffee at the Lobby Lounge. My buddies opted for one slice of the hotel’s blueberry cheesecake each, while I decided to have the Bailey’s cheesecake. A cheerful staffer from the DJ Corner delivered our cheesecakes at the Lobby Lounge where we were comfortably seated and we lost no time in digging into it.

The blueberry cheesecake dripped with a generous topping of blueberry puree, its sweet taste blending with the light and fluffy texture of the cake and making every bite melt in your mouth.

My Baileys cheesecake told a stronger story. Topped with macadamia nuts, each bite of the sumptuous velvety Baileys cheesecake gives you a slight flavor of Baileys in every bite—not overpowering but just a tinge of Baileys.

Cheesecakes have become a special favorite for all occasions and are available 24 hours a day at the Hyatt for $6.

Check out Shenanigan’s Restaurant and the Hyatt Regency Lobby Lounge to get a heavenly bite of cheesecake and join the growing throng of cheesecake addicts in the island. For inquiries, call Shenanigans at 233-8324 and Hyatt Regency at 234-1234.

Published here

Irresistible temptations at Sweet Escape

A TEXT message from a friend on Friday night directed me to this newly opened cove which is Saipan’s newest destination for people with a sweet tooth.

Saturday afternoon saw me and a buddy heading our way toward the white imposing Chamorro House in Garapan looking for this particular food stop named Sweet Escape. We were about to give up when we spotted the small sign above a wrought iron gate almost hidden by tall shrubs on the ground floor of the building. Picking our way in the grassy area instead of using the paved pathway, we reached a somewhat deserted but very beautiful patio with wrought iron chairs and tables.

We located the front door on the side of the building and pushed open the door to discover a quaint shop decorated with attractive coffee cups on the shelves, dried twigs and tree branches, and small picture frames  of coffee on the walls.

I decided to have a go for a glass of iced coffee, and a caramel cupcake to go with it. Not a coffee drinker, my buddy opted for the $3 ice cup combo — a mouthwatering scoop of vanilla ice cream served with the cupcake of the day which was the same as mine.

Not a sweet-toothed individual, I had qualms about the cupcake but when I took my first bite, I changed my mind. The caramel cupcake, topped with cream and strips caramel was a delight — fluffy on the inside and crispy on the edges. I easily finished my cupcake, but had to take home the strawberry cupcake for later.

Sweet Escape offers specialty cupcakes at $1.50 each or $15 a dozen. Take your pick from the various tempting choices of flavors you simply can’t resist —Chillin’ Choco Chip, Chocomallow heaven, Cruzin Karamelu, German Chocolate Euphoria, Go Nuts n Bananas, Lemony Meringue Getaway, Maple Pound Paradise, Peanut Butter Choco Bliss, Red Velvet Dream, Simple & Sweet, Snickerdoodle Serenity, and Strawberry Eutopia.

For desserts, you can go for an ice cream sundae, traditional root beer float, caramel apples, and scoops of Dreyers ice cream with various toppings.

For beverages, you can try the fruit smoothie, hot coffee, and assorted soft drinks.

Sweet Escape’s unique feature is its charming wall decorations, a plush sofa where you can recline, comfortable chairs, a chessboard to while the time, glimpses of flowers and the lush greenery outside. You can also take your coffee and cupcakes at the patio outside and enjoy the fresh air, or at the tables ensconced near the walled gardens for more privacy.

The afternoon light streaming in through the huge picture windows providing a romantic and cozy atmosphere inside the shop — a photographer’s dream.

Behind Sweet Escape’s irresistible temptations are sisters Jessica Sonoda and Erica Thornburg who decided to create a haven for sweets and cupcake lovers.

“We want to specialize in something unique for our clients that we too love and what else than cupcakes,” Jessica said. She said her family had been in the restaurant business decades ago and used to run the now defunct Chamorro Restaurant in Garapan.

Sweet Escape caters to cupcake orders for all occasions. Orders must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

Free wi-fi is available. Sweet Escape is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Only cash is accepted for now. For orders, reservations and inquiries, visit Sweet Escape on the ground floor of the Chamorro House near Kristo Rai Church in Garapan, email or call 233-3657.

(Article first published Irresistible temptations at Sweet Escape)

Late night donuts and coffee stop in Susupe

THE sudden craving to bite into a fluffy dme at pasonut hit t midnight on Saturday, and everybody knows there’s no other place to go for the best donuts available but Winchell’s in Susupe, or Garapan if you’re in the area.

Deciding to take the longer drive, I and two buddies drove to the Winchell’s outlet across from the Saipan Grand Hotel.

Buddy Andrew ordered a donut and hot soup while Jimboy went for a cold chocolate drink and donuts. I gave in to the temptation and chose a large, hot cup of vanilla coffee.

There’s nothing extraordinary about Winchell’s in Susupe. It’s just your usual coffee house/donut stop but aside from the affordable coffee and wide selection of donuts and sandwiches, the place provides an atmosphere that makes you want to stay for a while.­ It’s one place where you can see late night or early morning diners working on their laptops and sipping iced or  hot coffee.

The mirrored walls and ceilings, immaculate tables and comfortable chairs and the pleasant aroma of fresh coffee lingering in the air make the place ideal for late night or early morning coffee and chats with friends and family.

Winchell’s provides a wide variety of warm and fresh donuts and bakery products every day, including cinnamon rolls, muffins, bagels, croissants, burgers and more. For $2.75, you can get a 16oz cup of hot or cold cappuccino. Add 50 cents to go large and get a 20-oz cup to satisfy your thirst.

Regular coffee is also available, as well as hot tea and hot chocolate.

Start your day with a combination of two donuts and a 16 oz. cup of coffee for $3. Choose your own combination of two donuts, one fancy donut, four pieces of pandesal or one muffin, or the new Winchell’s hamburger for $4.25 and mini-burger for only $1.25.

Winchell’s serves a variety of sandwiches such as ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato, prime rib, tuna, spam, egg with Chamorro sausage, veggies for the weight watchers, and more choices.

You can pick your own toppings from a selection of classic mayonnaise, honey mustard, ranch, and more.

Despite having been around for years, Winchell’s too has felt the sting of the hard economic times. Effective Oct. 17, Winchell’s Donut House in Susupe will only be open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. They will open from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and from 12:01 a.m. to 10:30 pm. on Sunday. The Garapan outlet remains open 24 hours a day.

Major credit cards are accepted. For inquiries/reservations, call 235-0247 or 233-5566.

%d bloggers like this: