Dispatch from Guam: Prubechu Aims to Please Your Inner Chamorro
Pete Kane Golai Hagan Suni, with spigarello, eggplant, sunchoke, turmeric and coconut
In the event that you weren't aware of the massive shortage of Guamanian (or Chamorro) food around the Bay Area, lucky you, crisis resolved! Prubechu, on Mission between 24th and 25th, is here to fill your belly with all your old favorites from the island nation -- or, on the off-chance you've never eaten anything from Guam, some new ones.
A project of two acquaintances named Shawn -- Camacho and Naputi -- Prubechu (a variant of provecho, or "appetite") is a modest storefront, still crowned with the semi-anonymous-looking green awning -- and wifi network -- of previous tenant Roxy's Cafe. Only a hand-written sign in the window lets you know what it is. Inside, a friendly, diner-ish vibe governs the air, and I laughed out loud upon seeing a giant turnip, pomelo, and cauliflower in the place of the bowls of to-be-muddled mint and citrus you usually see at a cocktail bar.
I confess that many of the dishes and some of the ingredients were totally unknown to me, but that was a feature and not a bug. A better-exposed acquaintance approved of both the relative absence of taro and the inclusion of chicken kelaguin, probably "the Chamorro national dish," noting the genius of the island is "cooking everything in coconut milk." Golai Hagan Suni, a vegetarian melange of spigarello (a green in the broccoli family), eggplant, sunchoke, turmeric, and coconut was initially a bit gluey at first bite, but the strong seasoning and wide range of textures grew on me immensely. Eager to introduce S.F. to their blend of Chamorro dishes remade with California produce, Prubechu's two Shawns have a $40, five-dish tasting menu that's considerably more omnivore-centric than the rather standard menu, which is heavy on the veggies.
It's as serious in there as it is fun. There's no liquor license, but you may get a complimentary pour of something along with an earful about the cuisine of Guam. Prubechu's on a section of Mission Street that's full of heavyhitters (La Taqueria, Rosamunde) plus any number of forgettable mediocrities. With a little more visual appeal from the outside, it ought to rise to its proper place among the former.
Prubechu, 2847 Mission, 952-3654.