Heavenly Treats at Underground Supper Club

January 11, 2017 Elizabeth M. San Nicolas

Chef Dylan Saad’s love for Guam was in every playful course at the Underground Supper Club, which took over Roy’s in the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa for one night only in November.

Chef Saad came to the island as a toddler with his family. Relocating from Texas, his father was part of the opening of the Leo Palace Resort. Though they moved back and forth, Chef Saad felt Guam was home, saying, “Once you’re here at such a young age, you can’t get it out of your blood.”

He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, then cut his teeth in the Big Apple restaurant scene, learning as much as he could.

Wanting to come back to Guam, but knowing he wasn’t ready yet, he then moved to Colorado to work at a high-end resort, gathering more experience and techniques from James Beard award-winning chefs.

Finally making the move back to Guam, he helped open Crust Pizzeria and was ready for the next challenge when he landed at Roy’s just months ago. 

“Originally, the first time I heard about Underground was [through] Lenny (Fejeran), [who] reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, I’m doing this event at Pika’s, come by.’ ”

A seat at the bar and a chat later, Chef Saad said he was “down with the Underground.” 

He decided to showcase food that can be found locally, and use it in unexpected ways—highlighting the unique, raw ingredients found here with a tribute to the spirit and places of Guam. 

“I closed my eyes and thought about places on this island and things. Little Treasures was one of those things; we find so much of that on this island, there’s a lot of little things that we overlook every day that are there.”

Taking local herbs, fruits, and proteins, and playfully pairing them with Leinenkugel craft beers and Henry’s hard sodas, Chef Saad aimed to surprise and delight Supper Club guests. 

“The idea is I really wanted to give everyone who’s dining in an opportunity to taste local products, but not with a local flavor; that’s really the focus. So how do I present products differently, like using the snake bean and making hummus out of it, is kind of something that people wouldn’t normally see happening, so I think it’s a cool way to feature the ingredients,” he revealed.

The first course, Essence of Guam, featured a creamy banana leaf-cured fish topped with coconut snow and potent Oka Point Sea Salt. Finished with bright, tangy parsley, these simple ingredients come together in one complicated bite paired with a golden pale lager.

Northern Farm was the next course, a fermented salad on nutty snake bean hummus and buttery local lettuce. Chef Saad used the paired Leinenkugel Grapefruit Shandy Tepache to pickle fresh, local cucumber and daikon topped with a burst of blueberries. A sip of the tepache brought out all the citrus notes of summer. 

Next up was savory, foraged sea urchin, charred and sprinkled with cured local egg yolk and star apples, surrounded by dabs of lush avocado and spicy donne’ sali sauce. Chef Saad made the delicacy a special gift to Supper Club guests. The briny, velvety uni was definitely the highlight of the menu, and indeed a Little Treasure of decadence.

Guam’s scenic waterfalls were the inspiration for the next course, The Falls. A glass of watermelon ice with hints of mint and cucumber arrived at the table, and came to bubbly life as the server poured over Henry’s Hard Ginger Soda Ale. The sweet granita was a perfect palate cleanser before the main course. 

The entree, Southern Pride, was lean and tender wild boar loin on a bed of sweet corn puree and eggplant marmalade with fresh, local herb chimichurri giving a nice touch of acid to each forkful.

Dessert was truly Picked from the Tree—a fruit poke of pineapple, watermelon, honeydew, and starfruit in a sea of bright lemongrass water with a dollop of refreshing citrus sorbet. With a sip of the sweet, hard orange soda mojito, it was a sublime finish to the meal. 

Of local produce treasures like starfruit, avocado, and the little donne’ sali peppers, Chef Saad said, “They’re there and you see this stuff every day, but when you realize how special it is to this island, I think it takes on a whole other meaning.”

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