December 18th, 2023

New food truck offers Oso Good taste of the Pacific

A compostable to-go box filled with food and a can of Hawaiian Sun juice.
BBQ chicken plate with red rice, kelaguin, tatiyas, and salad.

Puffy coconut flatbreads, thin-sliced teriyaki short ribs, fragrant red rice, and a kiss of fina’denne; there’s a new taste of the Pacific in McMinnville! 

Donna and John Libemday and their adult children Andrea, David, and Illeana have opened a family food truck in the lot of Second Street behind Mac Stage, across from the McMinnville Post Office. Their mission? To share the flavors of Guam, the Mariana Islands, and Micronesia. 

Donna says they want to teach people that there’s more to the food of the Pacific Islands than those of Hawai’i, “there’s a big ocean out there! It’s not just the Hawai’ian and Polynesian cultures people have been exposed to.”

Though geographically closer to the Philippines than to Hawai’i, Guam is a U.S. Territory, and the overlapping and distinctive cultures of the Micronesian island nations have a food culture shaped by place and various cultural and colonial influences: Japanese, Filipino, Spanish, and American.

The indigenous “chamorro people of Guam and the Mariana Islands,” Donna explains, have lived under “Spanish Rule and Japanese occupation. Our food is distinctly different because there are so many influences.” 

John grew up on a small island in Micronesia called Yap, and though Donna grew up in Oregon her mother is Chamorro. The couple met and married while living in Guam and had two children. Seeking a more affordable cost of living and proximity to Donna’s sister in Newberg, they moved to Yamhill County in 1987.

“We’ve always had this desire to keep the island part of who we are, that’s our sense of identity,” says Donna.”We raised our kids in our culture and in our food.” At Oso Good, “our desire is to introduce people to the culture through the food.“

For the Libemday family, especially for John, starting a food business has been a lifelong dream. “I’ve been wanting to do this,” he says, “I’ve got to do this while my body still can.” They launched Oso Good in August and currently serve during daytime hours four days a week. 

“As Islanders we love fish, taro and breadfruit, but when we have people over we like to cook for people party food,” Donna explains, and it’s these dishes, the staples they cook when hosting, that shape the menu of what they serve. “Chamorro people love to cook, party, and get together.”

This includes kelaguen mannok (chicken kelaguen), a chopped salad made of smoky grilled chicken with onion, jalapeño, lime or lemon juice, and shredded coconut. In Guam, Donna explains, kelaguen is also made with raw fish or shrimp, but this smoky version they serve at Oso Good is particularly good with slight coconutty sweetness of tatiyas, soft, slightly sweet coconut milk flatbreads with a texture similar to naan. 

There’s the essential hineska’ agaga (red rice), which Donna calls Guam’s version of Spanish rice. It gets its savory flavor from garlic, onion, and butter and its red-orange color from achiote, anatto seed. 

A Libemday family favorite is a creamy imitation crab and broccoli salad. The combination, said Donna, was first introduced to Guam by the chain steakhouse Sizzler.

Oso good also offers a selection of grilled meats. “For an islander the base is rice, however you serve it, your protein, and then crunchy freshness and tartness from the crab salad or kelaguen or fina’denne.”

That’s one essential you can’t miss no matter what you order. Fina’denne is a punchy seasoning sauce of chopped raw onion and jalapeño, vinegar, lime, and soy sauce. Reminiscent of Japanese ponzu with a kick of heat, it’s a crunchy, tart foil to everything. 

“You can dip into it,” said Andrea, “but we just pour it all over.” 

Oso Good currently serves lunch from 11:30 until 3:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Emily Teel (she/her) is a McMinnville-based food writer and recipe developer and a food editor at Better Homes & Gardens.