NOTHING can tease your palate more than having your meal served on banana leaves on top of a wooden plate instead of the regular plates in most restaurants.
For years, such “binalot” — Filipino for wrapped — meals have captured the essence of authentic Filipino meals on Saipan at Jhem’s Restaurant in Garapan.
Binalot meals come with a variety of viands to choose from — tocino or is a sweet pork dish, embutido or a Filipino style meatloaf, daing na bangus or marinated milkfish, longganisa or Filipino sausage, pork steak, and fried tilapia, head or tail, for $6 an order. Each meal comes with a huge serving of steamed rice, fresh tomato slices, fried eggplants, salted egg and bagoong, a condiment made of partially or completely fermented fish or shrimp.
For $6.50 per order, relish the joy of a home-cooked variety of binalot fiesta meals with fresh mixed vegetable sauté. If you prefer garlic rice, order it for additional 75 cents.
Jhem’s Restaurant is one of those places where you get to sip on a bowl of hot beef soup while waiting for your order, and where the craving to eat with your hands is a big temptation, but you have the option of taking your food home and be free to do so. You can eat your favorite binalot meals everyday regardless of the time — an advantage for those who don’t have the luxury of time or the appetite to eat during regular hours.
Not into binalot meals? Then go for grilled entrees, beef tapa meals, Japanese favorites, Jhem’s fresh green salads, and tapsilog meals. A sizzling plate of pork or chicken sisig — chopped meat — delivered to your table will require self control to wait a bit until the food gets cold enough.
Try Jhem’s combo meals of chicken supreme, pork outlet combo, fish fillet supreme, Jhem’s porkchop supreme, Shanghai supreme or the chicken inasal combo — another favorite which is grilled chicken leg with finadeni sauce, all from $7 to $7.50
Dig into Jhem’s all-time favorites anytime like fried chicken, crispy pata (deep fried pig trotter or knuckle), hamburger steak and lechon kawali (deep fried pork belly) — all served with steamed rice and buttered corn, or have it all with any of Jhem’s fried rice specialties — porkchop, Spam fried rice, fish fillet and garlic rice.
On a cold day, Jhem’s hot noodles and vegetable selection can spell the difference for you. Try their egg soba, chicken mami, beef mami or lomi to warm you up.
At Jhem’s Restaurant, side orders mean a different thing because the selections come in family size orders big enough for several people. Choose from chicken or shrimp chopsuey, shrimp sinigang (tamarind-based soup or stew), nilagang baka (beef stew), daing na bangus, bulalo (stew made from beef shanks and marrow bone), sinigang na bangus or baboy (pork), and pork kare-kare which is cooked with peanut butter.
My favorite is one whole fried tilapia which you dip in a hot finadeni sauce with or without rice.
Join the steady stream of diners from all ethnic races who never get tired of Jhem’s home-style cooking day in and day out. Enjoy your meals in the comfortable ambiance of the air-conditioned restaurant, or at the tables in the outdoor area for those who prefer the fresh air.
Cap your meals with any of the yummy desserts including banana con yelo (sweet banana with crushed ice), halo-halo (a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk, various boiled sweet beans and fruits), ice cream sundae chocolate, gulaman (gelatin), leche flan (custard), and one all-time favorite, the turon or thinly sliced bananas rolled in spring roll wrapper and fried.
When the craving for binalot meals or authentic Filipino cuisine strikes, dial Jhem’s number and you can pick it up a few minutes later.
Jhems Restaurant, located next to Sketchers on Beach Road is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. All major cards are accepted. For orders and reservations, call 233-5436.