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July 25, 2003, Volume 3 Number 30

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

As long as we are able to eat, we are blessed. I spoke to a dapper elderly Japanese gentleman the other morning who makes the Airport Mobil his regular coffee stop (must have something to do with going to the "Green Mountain"!). A long-time resident, he proudly told me about his daily coffee ritual and after finding out that I was the Guam Food Guy, he said he was 72 years old and that tasting and eating food was his favorite pleasure. It wasn't "what" he said that impressed me - it was "how" he expressed this sentiment. Smiling, he reverently spoke as if he were imagining a special dining moment. His words were measured, yet joyful. I was touched by his wisdom and his passion, reflecting on our common love for food. Considering our age difference, I have a lot of eating ahead of me before I reach his years, easily several thousand meals! I really love my work, and so long as there are unusual foods and new restaurants to try, I'll continue to have job security!

Speaking of new restaurants, it appears that we are trending Italian! Aside from today's review of Sereno's, another Italian restaurant, Trattoria You will be opening soon in Tumon's Blue Lagoon Plaza. The Leo Palace Resort is planning to open an Italian restaurant, as well. It will be one of four new restaurants that will be part of the Resort's hotel expansion project presently underway. I've also heard that the Reef Hotel is planning on re-opening the Sango Japanese Restaurant again, possibly in the fall. We'll keep you posted on any other new developments.

Ken - The "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • More Food Bits from "Eat Your Words"
  • Around the Island - Firefly, Tengu, Sushi Tairyo, Seaman's Club
  • Sereno's Italian Ristorante - Rustic Flavors At Guam's Newest Italian Eatery

More Food Bits from "Eat Your Words"

In last week's newsletter, we introduced Charlotte Foltz Jones' book, "Eat Your Words", which describes the language of food and how food terms and phrases have become common everyday expressions. Today, we want to share some more food tidbits, this time about how food was used as money, in a barter system, since paper money didn't exist until about 700 AD, and even then, as with coins, which were introduced around 650 BC, was not generally accepted as a medium of exchange. Quoting from a chapter titled "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is":

- "In Japan the only primitive currency was rice. Most Japanese words expressing value are related to the word rice."

- "Pepper was a highly valued spice in the Middle Ages. Taxes were paid with pepper in many European cities, and soldiers were rewarded for their victories with bonuses of pepper."

- "In the early 2400's dried fish was the medium of exchange in Iceland. One pair of black leather shoes was equal to four dried stockfish."

- "On the Leeward Islands in 1668, a salary of fourteen thousand pounds of sugar was paid to 'an able preaching Orthodox Minister.' The minister charged a hundred pounds of sugar to perform marriage ceremonies. "

- "Coconuts have been used as recently as 100 years ago on the island of Yap, near Guam. Two coconuts would buy one match; ten coconuts a bread roll; forty coconuts a twelve ounce bottle of gasoline; twenty-thousand coconuts a cooking stove. And on the island of Faraulip, in the South Pacific, a small boat could be purchased for three hundred coconuts."

Around the Island - Firefly, Tengu, Sushi Tairyo, Seaman's Club

Firefly Bistro, the bastion of elegant and intimate dining in downtown Hagatna, has introduced a new twist on its popular Tuesday & Wednesday night $25 Three Course Menu. The new menu features a Spanish theme with a Tapas Starter Plate, an entree of Firefly Paella and Orange Leche Flan for dessert. Reservations are recommended at 477-2565.

Tengu Japanese Restaurant is small, yet full of big surprises! Located in the Blue Lagoon Plaza, next to Sushi Tairyo, this little inn-style Japanese eatery has a sushi bar open during dinner, which makes sense since the owner, Osamu-san used to be the Sushi chef for the Bistro-Tei Yokazuna. Tengu has a rather intimate seating arrangement, so you can literally watch everyone around you enjoy their food, which is a great bargain during lunch with $8 specials. I had the Pork Cutlet the other day, which came with salad, an unusual miso soup with ramen noodles, and a very thick pork loin panko-battered and fried as a cutlet. My companion had a creative combination - eggplant mixed with ground beef in a cutlet. For the money, Tengu is a bargain especially considering the excellent food!

The Blue Lagoon Plaza is also home to Sushi Tairyo, which features some of the best values on sushi. Though it is a rotary style sushi restaurant, it is immaculately clean, allows no smoking, and the sushi chefs can make special sushi rolls by request. Try the California maki or the unagi (eel). Another popular is the fried prawn sushi roll...they add a little red pepper to give it just the right zing! If you want a reasonable sampler, the $10 lunch special includes miso soup and salad, and a selection of 5 different sushi roll pairs. The rotary carousel contains cooked foods (fried chicken, tomago 'Japanese omelet', edamame) and fruits, so even those who don't like or can't eat raw fish, can still find good items to eat.

The Seaman's Club in Piti (on the corner of the road leading into Cabras Island) continues to satisfy local residents with their affordable menu selections. The other night, I had a craving for Beef Liver & Onions, which is one of the Seaman's Club regular menu items. For $8.50, you can get several good-sized slices of liver (grilled the way you like) and onions, along with your choice of starch. I chose rice with brown gravy. The meal comes with either soup or salad. Their salads are surprisingly fresh, with plenty of crisp cucumber slices and lettuce. They do have daily specials for lunch and dinner, and if you are a chocolate lover, they have some dangerously rich fudge brownies that are sold at the check out counter.

Sereno's Italian Ristorante - Rustic Flavors At Guam's Newest Italian Eatery

When Sonny Uttam told me that I had to try the Tiramisu at Sereno's, he was making a recommendation that I had to take seriously. After all, we were both enjoying Chef Deborah's fantastic buffet selection at the Manhattan Lounge, and for him to have the presence of mind to talk about another restaurant's food....well, I knew he had to be impressed, and rightfully so. Sereno's Italian Ristorante's Tiramisu will soon become a local dessert classic, much the same as Roy's signature Chocolate Soufflé. Served in a chilled stainless steel bowl, it is a sight to behold, this over-sized portion is enough for two to share, and combines Kahlua with the semi-sweet taste of marscapone cheese. Ladyfingers are layered in between this creamy cheese filling, with powdered chocolate dusting the whipped cream that fills the rim of this large bowl. For $6, this is a stand-alone dessert that one can enjoy anytime of the day, not only after lunch or dinner.

Sereno's Italian Ristorante (Sereno is the Italian word for the person who would light the gas lights in the city streets), located on the lobby level of the Ohana Bay View Hotel, has been quietly operating for the past few weeks, and has let its customers do the "word of mouth" advertising! Sereno's is a dream fulfilled for the Ysrael family, who own this Outrigger-managed property. I remember Donna Ysrael and husband Jude Baker telling me they wanted to have a quality Italian restaurant as part of their hotel presence. Sereno's has met, if not surpassed, their expectations (and at least mine), since I've found it to have the potential to be one of those special places that become legendary, like Chianti or Melanzanne, two former restaurants that are still remembered for their extraordinary cuisine prepared and served with home-style pride. I predict that Sereno's, unlike its predecessors, is here to stay, and will be a permanent landmark overlooking Tumon Bay. It took an amazing amount of work to build this restaurant, which is just one aspect of the complete renovation of the former Regency Hotel. Once you see the new lobby, the restaurant, and the rooms, you too will be impressed. It's a class act!

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Buon Appetito!

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