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May 30, 2003, Volume 3 Number 22

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

A recent congratulatory notice in the PDN announcing the graduation of St. John's Class of 2003 caught my attention. I zeroed in on a group among the thirty graduates in particular. They were fellow actors in the St. John's production of "Titanic", a play in which I had the honor of sharing the stage with these talented young people nearly two years ago. I immediately recognized them, since their bright smiling faces were imprinted in my mind from the weeks of rigorous rehearsals and exhilarating public performances. It's an impression that will last a lifetime for me. I read the names of the other graduating students and realized that I knew most of their parents. All of these students are going to college off-island, with the name of each institution listed under their pictures. I shared in the pride their parents must feel in seeing how well their progeny have grown to reach this crucial transition stage into becoming young adults. I witnessed first-hand the abilities and personalities of my fellow crew members and have even seen some of them perform in other productions since "Titanic". These young people were not just "acting", they were "performing". I commend these graduates, and all the graduates from other schools and institutions for completing this phase of your education, and wish you every success on your future growth and education. We are all proud of your accomplishments and are looking forward to seeing more! Perform well!

Ken "The Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Taste of the Marianas Closes with The Pastry Competition - Saturday May 31
  • Great SPAMô Cook-Off Island Style Kick-off - Saturday May 31
  • Tilapia - Versatile Fish is a Local Favorite
  • Coffee Care Restaurant & Bar - A Favorite Saipan Hang-Out
  • Nha Trang Vietnamese Restaurant - "Guam's Taste of Vietnam"

Taste of the Marianas Closes with The Pastry Competition - Saturday May 31

The American Memorial Park in Saipan will once again be filled with people enjoying the closing day's activities celebrating the CNMI's Tourism Month. This Saturday evening's main event will feature a pastry competition amongst professional chefs. I have been asked to be a judge in this event, just as I had been in the May 17 professional cooking competition. If you have not been to a Taste of the Marianas celebration, this would be a great way to experience our northern neighbor's unique and exciting hospitality and to sample a variety of delicious food.

Great SPAMô Cook-Off Island Style Kick-off - Saturday May 31

This is it! This coming Saturday the people of Guam will once again celebrate one of the island's favorite staples, SPAMô, in a competition that will introduce new recipe creations. This event marks one of two preliminary rounds in the competition and takes place in the Center Court of the Micronesia Mall. The final competition will be held on Saturday, June 14, with the Grand Prize winner getting a Trip for Two to the home of SPAM, Austin, Minnesota, 5 nights hotel accommodations, and $1,000.00 in cash! Wow!

Tilapia - Versatile Fish is a Local Favorite

Tilapia is easily one of the most frequently eaten fish on Guam, with a history of gracing tables around the world for over 4,500 years! According to a brochure produced by the Department of Commerce, tilapia is considered the "fish of the gods" in Egypt. It is easy to cultivate and grows quickly, taking an average of 3-10 months to reach a size of 1/4 to 2 pounds. It is an extremely popular fish that is almost always available at local Chinese and Filipino restaurants. Guam's fledgling Aquaculture Industry was producing respectable amounts of tilapia and selling it to retail markets and restaurants prior to Typhoon Pongsona. This industry is still recovering and will eventually reach past production levels. Tilapia haa a mild, white, flaky meat that lends itself well to grilling, frying, baking and steaming, enhanced with spicy sauces. I like it fried with finadene. I've even had it as sashimi. Tilapia rules in the Chamorro favorite, Escabe'che, where it is deep-fried and served with vegetables with vinegar, ginger and garlic. Yummee!

Coffee Care Restaurant & Bar - A Favorite Saipan Hang-Out

Coffee Care Saipan enjoys a reputation for serving more than just rich espresso beverages - far more! Their menu includes great salads, pasta, unique sandwiches, pasta creations, seafood, and exotic meat entrees. Located on the road winding up to Capitol Hill, Coffee Care is open from 7am - midnight, Monday through Saturday, and from 8am - midnight on Sundays. Their breakfast selection includes omelettes and huevos rancheros, as well as blueberry pancakes with big berries served in a way you don't see too often.

People rave about their Bruschetta Campagnola. I sampled the Three Alarm Gambas (baby prawns sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, 3 kinds of chilies, Worcestershire sauce and wine, $7.95, mild or spicy). These were awesome! I was really impressed by the Cafe Club Sandwich ($7.95), which has roasted turkey breast, Italian bacon, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo on toasted cracked wheat bread and Swiss cheese. The turkey vegetable soup was notable,too, with great flavors and fresh parmesan cheese in the middle.

Coffee Care enjoys an inspired ocean view and is filled with an amazing variety of art, with many pieces created by local artists. You can purchase colorful cups and plates, as well as coffee beans from their store. I have to return to sample some of their pasta dishes, like a Basil Pesto or a Diavolo (olive oil, garlic, onion, peppers, chilies and wine), or maybe their Lamb Bourguignonne (loin of lamb stuffed w/prawns and seasoned with rosemary, thyme and dijon mustard, pan-roasted in olive oil and finished with a mushroom demi-glace sauce), or even something light and flavorful, such as their Thai Spicy Shrimp Salad! Ahhh, so many choices - so much bliss! Such is the fate of those who dine at Coffee Care, a fabulous Saipan dining destination.

Nha Trang Vietnamese Restaurant - "Guam's Taste of Vietnam"

Nha Trang means "beautiful beach" and is actually a resort city in Vietnam that is known for it's natural beauty. Guam now has its own Nha Trang in the form of it's newest Vietnamese restaurant, located in Upper Tumon across from Nissan Motors. Nha Trang's owner is "Chef" Lieng, who is no stranger to local residents who love Vietnamese food, especially her fresh and fried lumpia and lemongrass dishes. She used to be the chef at Lieng's in the Hafa Adai Exchange and operated Lieng's II at the existing location next to Aji Ichi before leaving the island for a couple of years. Chef Lieng is back in town and back in business, and she's dedicating her time and energy to rebuilding the customer base she'd built at her former locations.

Still brand new, just going on their second week, Nha Trang has a welcoming environment, with each table graced by a colorful display of marinated and preserved fruit and vegetables presented in slender, curvaceous bottles. There are designer mirror tiles in most booths with others having some rustic scenes of Vietnam's country.

There really isn't too much that's different about Nha Trang's menu since it serves standard Vietnamese fare. The special lunch menu has 5 pieces of Fried Lumpia for $5, with a selection of other $5 plates including Chicken w/ Lemongrass, Chicken w/Ginger, Chicken w/Combination Vegetables, and Chicken Curry. Fried Pork Chop and Fried Spare Rib lunch specials are priced at $6, which is how much you'll pay for a similar selection of beef entrees.

One menu item I intended to try was their famous "Vietnamese Sandwich" ($5). This is a French-inspired Vietnamese favorite that isn't very commonly served on Guam, and I was so looking forward to it. However, they didn't have all the ingredients yet. What I did try though was the Fresh Lumpia appetizer (3/$6), and the Chicken w/Lemon Grass and Beef/w Combination Vegetables. The fresh Lumpia were small, and just so-so, with a peanut sauce that didn't light my eyes. I really like the fresh lumpia creations at Mary's and Truong's in Yigo, which have more ingredients. Still, these looked good, with their entire top lined with shrimp halves.

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Bon appetit!

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