The idea to have lunch at this cozy and idyllic garden restaurant on Tinian did not enter my mind as I and visiting photographer from Australia Dirk Spennemann drove around the island under the heat of the noonday sun looking for a place to eat one day last week, until I made a call to Tinian business woman Susan Cruz.
We flew in from Saipan real early — boarding the Freedom Air’s first flight out and haven’t had coffee or a bite to eat since that morning. It was past 1 p.m. and we were getting hungrier by the minute.
Island Garden Restaurant was Susan’s first recommendation and instructed us to meet her across from the amphitheater. It was not hard to find and we were there in no time, sipping iced tea and enjoying the respite in the air-conditioned restaurant from the heat outside. A Chinese couple and three other local residents were at the other tables, enjoying their food while watching news on television.
Susan arrived a few minutes later as we were browsing through the laminated menu. I opted for the grilled fish after checking the other choices, and Susan ordered the same. Dirk went for the sashimi. We were told the catch of the day was tuna.
Dirk’s sashimi arrived first, thin slices of fresh tuna neatly arranged on a platter and served with lemons and vegetable salad.
Our grilled fish order arrived shortly after, thick tuna slices grilled to perfection with its natural juices dripping on the plate. We wasted no time and speared the tuna slices and dipped in finadene sauce before indulging in the blended flavors
Susan splashed a generous amount of Chamorro Asiga, one of her locally produced products to enhance the flavor of the grilled fish.
If we were not in a hurry, I would have preferred to have lunch in one of the tables under the huts outside — a special feature which Island Garden Restaurant clients often take advantage of especially during the happy hours. The two string hammocks looked too irresistible, an ideal spot to relax as you sip your favorite cocktail or drink.
Island Garden Restaurant was opened in 2005, according to owner Bimela K-C. The restaurant serves a fusion of international cuisine including Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Western and local favorites — all to suit the diversified palates of the diners who have come to consider the place as haven for the weary and the hungry.
When on Tinian, don’t miss the chance to try the various specialties served at the Island Garden Restaurant to complete your island experience. The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Only cash is accepted for now. For reservations or inquiries, call 433-5333.