SEARCHING for a place to eat yesterday noon was no easy feat. Aside from the fact that I was still half asleep, most of the restaurants are close on Sundays including the one that I have been planning to visit for the past month.
But then I saw a big sign in bright red letters on a road that says “Uncle Ed’s Barbecue & Restaurant,” so I wasted no time and turned 360 degrees and pulled into the parking space.
It’s a small but comfortable shack with a glass-encased front section where the barbecue grills are, and an air-conditioned section for a restaurant enough to fit five long tables. A table with chairs is also available outside for those who want to eat out or smoke.
A familiar face greeted me when I pushed open the door of the restaurant — chef Sam Santos. He said he and his wife Cynthia decided to open a restaurant last January due to the reduced working hours at the hotel where he works.
I was told that lechon manok, or roast chicken, was the most popular item on the menu, but my taste buds were still asleep so I decided to order one of my favorites — fried whole tilapia. My companion ordered a bowl of beef bulalo, a Filipino stew made from beef shanks and marrow bones.
Sam served us slices of ripe mango dipped in vinegar with bits of pepper — the appetizer that makes you want to eat more but you have to fan your tongue because of the spicy flavor.
It was 12 noon and we were the only diners. Sam said most of the restaurant’s regulars come later in the afternoon for meals, barbeque or drinks. Uncle Ed’s may be small but it is comfortable and makes you feel like you are in your own kitchen.
Our orders came fast. My tilapia fried to perfection (by that I mean really crispy) with a small bowl of spicy dipping. The bulalo was served in a big bowl it was impossible to finish in one meal, and the rice serving was generous. I finished only half of the rice and we had to take the rest home.
House specialties at Uncle Ed’s Barbecue & Restaurant are the fried or lechon manok which you can order half or whole for $11 or $5.50. They also serve Filipino and island favorites like lumpiang Shanghai (spring rolls), daing na bangus (salted and dried milkfish) with cucumber and tomato salad, chopsuey, chicken or pork adobo, pinakbet (mixed vegetables), sizzling pork, kare-kare (stew made from peanut sauce with a variety of vegetables, stewed oxtail, beef, and occasionally offal or tripe), squid calamari, crispy pata (deep fried pig trotter or knuckle) and barbecue baby back ribs — all from $6 to $12.
Uncle Ed’s Barbecue & Restaurant also serves breakfast for $4.75: Filipino sausage or longanisa, Chamorro sausage, sweet pork or tocino, and Spam — all served with garlic fried rice, scrambled or sunny side up egg and coffee or tea. Pancakes are also available and served with bacon, coffee or tea.
Noodles and snack items are also served. Check out the hamburger with fries, various sandwiches, pancit bihon or canton (noodles) good for two or three people, desserts like ice cream, pearl shakes, and beverages to cap your meal like soda, coffee or tea.
The a la carte menu includes grilled local vegetables, tuna and mahi-mahi sashimi, roast chicken, tempura prawns, pork belly barbeque, prawns wrapped in bacon and spicy beef with Jalapeno.
For a hassle-free party or picnic, Uncle Ed’s Barbecue & Restaurant serves party trays which include local vegetable tempura, lechon kawali (pan-roasted pork dish), barbecue style grilled pork, shrimp or pork vegetable chopsuey, spring rolls, fried or grilled chicken, hot wings, pancit bihon, spaghetti, tofu vegetables, pork adobo, local fish sweet and sour, burritos and more. Party trays are available in big or small sizes, from $18 to $64 per tray, depending on your order. Call one day in advance to place orders.
Uncle Ed’s Barbecue & Restaurant is located on Kadena de Amor Street next to Musung Building in Garapan. Food prices range from $3 to $12 per order. It is open from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day. Only cash is accepted for now. For inquiries or reservations, call 233-5456 or 256-1301.
Published at the Marianas Variety