August 22, 2003, Volume 3 Number 34
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
There's never going to be a shortage of restaurants on Guam & Saipan, at least numerically-speaking. We could certainly welcome a few more cuisine styles to increase what most would consider a wide variety of culinary options. (Keeping in mind that we live on a small, fairly isolated island, with a tiny population.) We import an astonishing amount of food. I know there used to be statistics on the food products coming into Guam, and when that information is again available, I'm sure it will impress you on how much food is shipped to Guam by ocean and by air, as well as the various sources from which the food originates. This would be really good information to have. I have heard that Guam imports about $30 million dollars a year in seafood. I'm sure it's a lot more than we export! This is a topic we can discuss in another issue, I'd like to get back to restaurants.
Today, I experienced two meals in two entirely different restaurants, both of which have opened within this year. What's amazing is that today was the first time I'd ever heard of either of these restaurants. The first one I visited for lunch is called Paradise Food & Restaurant, located in the 1st floor of the ITC Bldg, across from the Bank of Guam Branch. It is a Filipino fast food restaurant that is run by the Morellano family in their first restaurant venture. It is becoming a big hit, since the food is really delicious home-style cooking, and the family's charm fills the room. I had a sumptuous Chicken Afritada (an incredibly flavorful and juicy chicken preparation using garlic, tomato sauce, bay leaves, onions, and oregano), Chicken w/Mushrooms, Braised Pork with Eggplant, Chicken Tinola, Beef Stew, Mongo Beans and Pork, and Fried Chicken. It was well-lit, spacious, and inviting due to its attractive decor.
The other restaurant is called Yakitori Grill, located in the Oka Point Plaza, near Pay-Less Supermarket. This restaurant serves a variety of Yakitori favorites that are grilled in the traditional style. The savory Negima is skewered chicken thigh meat with onions glazed with the Yakitori sauce, then barbecued over wood briquets. Also served are Tuskune (Chicken Meatballs); Tebasaki (Chicken Wings), Sunagimo (Chicken Gizzards), and Sasami (Chicken Breast Meat). Chef Hiro Igarashi is the owner of this little eatery, where yakitori sticks are accompanied by beer, sake, and shochu. It's a good thing the Yakitori Grill is only open for dinner, from 5pm - 10pm, as it takes time to prepare. You can expect reviews of both in the near future. Like I said, there's never going to be a shortage of restaurants - you can count on it!!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
More Bytes from "Eat Your Words" - The Origin of Bologna and Buffalo Wings
We conclude our series of excerpts from Charlotte Foltz Jone's magnificent book, "Eat Your Words", which describes the language of food and how food terms have become everyday expressions. Chapter 2 of "Eat Your Words" is titled "Food on the Map", and talks about places that are named for foods and how some foods are named for places. We share with you the passages on how Bologna and Buffalo Wings have become the commonly known food items we know today:
Bologna - "Webster's New World Dictionary defines bologna as a large smoked sausage. Its American name comes from the city where it was first made: Bologna, Italy. In Italy, the city is pronounced 'bo-Lo-nya" and the sausage is know as mortadella. But Americans call it baloney. Since this sausage was cheap, baloney became a term Americans used in the late 1800's to describe anything that had little value. By 1928 the term was so popular that presidential candidate Al Smith used the phrase 'No matter how thin you slice it, it's still baloney.'"
Buffalo Wings - "They sound like part of some kind of mutant bird. But actually, this is a dish of chicken wings that was originally made in Buffalo, New York - Buffalo chicken wings, more commonly known as Buffalo wings. Teresa Bellissimo and her husband ran the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964. One night her son and his friends came in and wanted a snack. So Teressa mixed a new sauce for the chicken wings she had on hand. She added some celery and dipping sauce and served the snack.
Everyone loved the wings. Their popularity spread first across town and then across the nation. They became known as Buffalo wings, and today people everywhere ask for them."
Herman's Modern Bakery Launches Healthier Line of Baked Products
On August 15, Herman's Modern Bakery became the first CNMI bakery to develop and bake reduced calorie, sugar, and sugar-free bakery products. This line of healthier baked products are being introduced to stores in Saipan and Guam. According to a recent press release, "Herman's has been working on developing quality products using Splenda, a sweetener made from sugar. It tastes like sugar, with no unpleasant aftertaste. Splenda is made from sugar through a patented, multi-step process and produces a sweetener that tastes like sugar, but without sugar's calories. After consumption, Splenda passes through the body without being broken down, therefore reducing the number of calories absorbed by the body." The following products will be available for sale in Saipan and Guam grocery outlets: Sweet Bread, Whole Wheat and Cracked Wheat Bread, Apple Pie, Plain Cheese Cake, Chiffon Cake, Peanut Butter Cookies, Sandies, Oatmeal Plain and Oatmeal with Raisin Cookies, as well as other products. Congratulations to Herman's for their commitment to the well-being and nutritional concerns of its customers.
Around the Island - Ban Thai, Giant Lobster & Steak, Jeff's PC & Jan Z's
Since re-opening this summer, Ban Thai has seen its loyal customer base return to enjoy their unique Thai preparations, especially at lunchtime when they offer their buffet special. We had an opportunity to dine there late one Saturday evening (a few minutes shy of their 11pm closing time). There were several tables of guests still eating, and I noticed that most of the tables had a wine bottle opened (Ban Thai has the best wine selection of all local Thai restaurants.) The new decor and furnishings have enhanced Ban Thai's authentic feel. We had Papaya Salad, which was fiery, yet flavorful. The combination Phad Thai was just excellent, with a portion big enough to take home for a second meal. We also had the Spicy Chicken Pad Pra Kau Gai, which was a basil rush. Our final entree was something new to the menu - a Thai Omelette. It was quite good, with ground pork in Thai spices and vegetables filling an omelette. There're many more things to enjoy at Ban Thai...we just have to pace ourselves!
The word is getting out that Tumon's Giant Lobster & Steak Restaurant is not just a place for tourists. Local families are discovering the "thrill of the grill" as they self-cook high-quality barbecue meats and seafood in Giant Lobster & Steak's outdoor garden. This is a fun experience for the whole family and ideal for bringing off-island guests for a Chamorro-inspired self-cook barbecue. A special 20% local discount on all menu entrees has brought the price down to what are bargain prices for the high quality of the food items served, including Alaska King Crab Legs, Lobster, Mahi, and Steak.
For those of you who really want to get away from "town", you can discover great menus and tasty foods (as well as thirst-quenching beverages!) at Jeff's Pirate's Cove in Ipan, Talofofo and Jan Z's at the Agat Marina - two places that just happen to be located almost directly across the island from each other. Both restaurants offer outdoor dining as well as ocean views with Jeff's looking out to the vast Pacific and Jan Z's with the marina and the amazing sunsets over the Philippine Sea. Both places have great burgers with each claiming supremacy in the best hamburger competition! Jan Z's has breakfast down pat, you can enjoy giant pancakes and omelettes while checking out all of the naval memorabilia. Jeff's has something no one else has - Greek food on their menu. The Gyros are terrific, as well as their Greek salads. Jeff's also is a destination with a seaside museum, gift shop, beach grounds and nature trails. Both restaurants rate at the top of my "Recommended Eats" list! Read their reviews and see why!
Toh-ka-lin's Tuesday & Friday Lunch Buffet - Superb Cantonese Cuisine
I was asked not to do this review. No, it wasn't the Okura's managers, rather it was by a regular customer who raised concerns that I would make this place so popular that she'd have a hard time getting reservations. This was one of her favorite places, since she relishes Toh-ka-lin's excellent Cantonese cuisine, as well as the elegant ambiance that elevates the dining experience to a higher standard. Eureka - now I know what she was getting at! This restaurant gives you the impression that it is "exclusive"!! If you are able to eat here, then you are living well. It's about "lifestyle." But don't these terms "exclusive", "elegant" and "lifestyle" mean that you have to shell out big bucks to have a satisfying meal? Nothing could be further from the truth! For only $14, you can treat yourself to an all-you-can eat buffet that features a list of entrees as long as my arm, including Petite Spring Rolls, Fried Chicken, Sauteed Beef with Broccoli, Chinese Vegetables Sauteed in Garlic, Sauteed Fish with Chili Sauce, Tofu in Minced Meat and Chili Sauce, Braised Shrimp in Chili Sauce, Fried Noodles Chopsuey, Shu mai, Noodle Soup with Shredded Roast Pork, and Almond Jelly with Fruit to name just a few. And, that's $14 inclusive - free of the almost obligatory service charge most hotels add to the bill.
If you are talking exclusive, there is one thing about Toh-ka-lin that is exclusive; you can only eat this buffet on two days of the week - Tuesday and Friday. Moreover, authentic Cantonese cuisine is considered to be the finest of Chinese cuisines, with preparations using sauces, fresh vegetables, and elaborate presentations. Granted, a buffet is a different food experience than an a la carte service, but when you observe the way the entrees are served in the chafing dishes (hot water bathes in this case), you will see that smaller portions are used to preserve freshness, and that the hot water surrounding the ornate serving dishes keeps the food hot without overcooking. Flavors are also retained by using this heating method with small batches.
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