Food review: Tsubaki’s Casa Oceano lunch buffet

I never bothered interest in Tsubaki Tower’s very-much-talked-about lunch buffet, because I assumed it was one of those $65-a-person things. I also mistakenly thought the gourmet experience would be just like any other hotel buffet.

A week before a friend arrived in Guam for a few-hours layover he said he wanted to treat my boyfriend Temmy and me to lunch at Tsubaki’s Casa Oceana (lobby level). I told him not to bother because it’s just too expensive and we can eat elsewhere for much cheaper and probably better food. I’m glad he proved me wrong. He made the reservations himself (you don’t need reservations to eat there), and said the price was only about $50 per person. But even he was wrong, we just didn’t know it yet.

The weekday lunch buffet price per person (inclusive of the tax) is $49.50, BUT locals get a big discount on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They assumed my friend treating us to lunch was a local, so when he got the bill, he was pleasantly surprised to discover all of that food we ate cost only $34.65 a person.

It would cost less to hold a birthday lunch there on a Wednesday or Thursday than it would at a bar, and the only work you’d have to do is to get up from your chair to get your food. Everything else is served to you.


Casa Oceano’s lunch buffet is more expansive than even Dusit’s Aqua. We refilled our plates several times over two-and-a-half hours of eating and chatting, and there were several food stations I didn’t even get a chance to choose from.

I started with a tempura plate, which was cutely dressed with two tempura shrimp standing on top of tempura eggplant. Crispy, light, the shrimp’s texture firm and the batter lightly salted.

By that time our server brought us our waters and juices. I had the four seasons juice mix, which tastes as refreshing as any other hotel’s four seasons drink. That glass never reached empty. The server kept checking us to refill our beverages.

On my way to the meats station I found the cheese, jams, and bread table, where someone serves you a plate of your choosing. The variety of cheeses is similar to other hotel buffets: creamy Brie, gorgonzola, manchego, gouda, provolone. I paired these with salami and prosciutto and the only bread I saw at the table. That bread is my only complaint about the cheese station. It was the only one, and it didn’t match anything in the cheese selection. It was a thinly sliced white bread with a texture suggesting it was baked a few days ago. Casa Oceano should consider expanding its bread selection at that table.

Meat-loving eaters will go to town at the restaurant. The roast beef carving station comes with choices. You can be served well done, medium-well, medium, and medium rare thick slices. I tried them all. Each was juicy and tender. The roast tasted like it was brined in salt, rosemary, parsley, and a hint of oregano, then roasted with a light covering of soy sauce.

The mashed potatoes were thick, creamy, and garlicky, but not as buttery as I hoped they would be, though the spiced peppercorn gravy made up for that.

I kept going back to the barbecue meats station for the boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which were juicy and crisped, but lacked the lemon tang I’m used to with local-BBQ cuisine. There were spare ribs, short ribs, pork steaks, and several other meats, but I was just so full already and wanted to eat from the other stations, so I regrettably skipped all of that.

Temmy had a plate from the pasta and salads sections. This wasn’t a time for salad, so I didn’t care about all that. The tomato and cream penne, though, caught my eye. Creamy, tangy, lightly salted, and the pasta not complicated with a drowning of spice that takes away from the wonderful taste of pasta, this dish would have ranked up there if it were al dente. Some people prefer softer pasta. To each his own.

At this point, it was time for coffee because there was no way my stomach could handle more for a bit. That fresh, dark roasted cup of Joe served to me did the trick. Within 10 minutes, I got my pork butt up and walked across the buffet to the sushi and Japanese cuisine station. It wasn’t worth it. The tuna was mushy, and the salmon was not milky or tender. The sushi rice was bland. I felt bad about wasting my leftovers, but it wasn’t worth finishing and filling myself up again before dessert.

I had lower expectations about the dessert selection, not because it didn’t look good, but because the non-dessert food was really so tasty. I’m used to hotel buffets where either all of the food generally sucks, or if the desserts are good, the main dishes are bland, or vice versa. Sometimes Aqua gets both right, but most of the time it’s their dessert station that rules over the rest of the cuisine.

So when I had my first bite of Casa Oceano’s Japanese cheesecake, I knew we had found Guam’s hotel buffet gem. I mean, first of all, it’s not easy to find Japanese cheesecake in a hotel buffet that isn’t dry or napkin-tasting. This was the best. Creamy but light. Fluffy but not cakey. Sweet and savory with a hint of lime. I intended to eat only half of that slice so I could make room for the ice cream, but I finished that sucker and didn’t get a chance to indulge in the fat tubs of milkshakes that bring all the boys to the yard.

As I drank my second cup of coffee lying to myself that this would help to make more room for more meats, pasta, cheese, and maybe salad, I snacked on some biscuits, which again I thought would not be anything to write about. Son of a gun, those little crispy bites were packed with sweet confection and texture!

According to Tsubaki’s website, Casa Oceano’s senior chef de cuisine is Angelo Lacson, a locally educated culinary leader who has worked his way up in hotel food management here in Guam.

Yasushi Kashiwagi is their pastry chef. Mr. Kashiwagi, according to the Tsubaki website, spent 22 years in ANA Intercontinental Hotel in Tokyo before working at Guam’s Tsubaki.

Well done, chefs. Well done.



Casa Oceano is huge, brightly lit with bay windows surrounding half the perimeter, and ornately decorated. It’s got that fancy feel, but with many of the tables tucked into corners and nooks so you have the option of a bit of privacy. We chose a window view, which sacrifices privacy with everyone going back and forth to the buffet stations.

The tall ceilings (it appeared to be a more-than two story climb to the top) helps with the acoustics of having so many people in one place talking and laughing and clanking the dishes.

The place is clean, and the tables dressed neatly and bussed often by the servers.


You may have noticed that much of what I ate and drank either came to me at our table, or was served to me at the several food stations. The service sets Casa Oceano apart from other buffets on island.

Every one of their staff, each wearing clean-pressed black uniforms and a smile, were kind, attentive, busy, and urgent about their customers’ needs.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being my intention to make the restaurant a regular place to dine in Guam, I give Casa Oceano an 8.5. While the price is well worth the amount and quality of the food, it is not something the everyday Guamanian can sustain as a more-than-once-a-week dining experience.


I don’t know what their Sunday brunch is like, and I imagine the food and drink choices are even better than the weekday lunch spread, but I did check and the price is $71.50 inclusive of the tax.

Their weekday breakfast costs $44, and weekday dinners cost $66. Both those prices include the tax.

According to the Tsubaki website, Casa Oceano is open for breakfast every day from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Lunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day but Monday and Tuesday, when they are closed for lunch. Dinner is from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day but Monday, when they are closed for dinner. They note that their hours are subject to change.

My goal is to take my family to Sunday brunch here after a big payday. I’m not sure about spending that much money on weekday breakfast or dinner, especially when my tastebuds are stuck on IHOP’s French toast meals. But maybe. I’m definitely going back to Tsubabi every here and there on a Wednesday or Thursday to eat their lunch buffet and take advantage of the local discount.

And when I do, I’m going to pepper in some of their wine. They serve French wines there!


Worth it. Fat-boy certified.


[Note: This was not a sponsored or paid food review. My friend paid our lunch, and he has no connection whatsoever to Tsubaki Tower or its managers and staff.]

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