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September 26, 2003, Volume 3 Number 39

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

The winds of change continue to blow, just as they have been doing here since ancient times, such as when Ferdinand Magellan's ships were blown by the winds across the seas on a course that would indelibly impact the history and culture of Guahan. It's amazing to realize that we are approaching the 30th anniversary of the Guam Reef Hotel on an island that only 30 years prior was occupied and controlled by the Japanese military. The irony is that we are still working to increase occupancy levels in our hotels as well as on our military bases, although it's now the U.S. military controlling the bases and Japanese businesses largely controlling the flow of tourists to Guam. I recall attending the Grand Opening party for the Reef Hotel in 1974, and I remember gazing out across Tumon Bay at the Hilton, which was a much smaller property, perhaps a third of its size today. At that time, the Reef Hotel's Top of the Reef served Prime Rib Dinners with an unparalleled view of the bay. Fast forward to the present with an update on our post-typhoon recovery process as we note the re-opening of the Top of the Reef's Lounge as well as the Sango Japanese Restaurant. The Sango is a venerable favorite for many long-time residents and has extended its size to include a new Tatami room. The view from the Top shows a beleaguered Tumon skyline, with closed properties and damaged facilities. Yet, a spirit of optimism persists as work continues to improve the Tumon infrastructure, changing and re-shaping the landscape with concrete monuments while a patient Mother Nature continues on its infinite mission of creating some of the world's most glorious sunsets. Change is a blessing.

Ken - the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Agana Shopping Center Expands Eateries
  • Bistro Prix Fixe Menu - Chef Clayton's Stellar Creations Every Friday Night
  • Around The Island - Hilton Oktoberfest, Thai Kitchen, Firefly Bistro, Seaman's
  • Pastries In Paradise - Mark Your Calendars for Saturday October 18
  • Holiday Inn's "Hafa Adai" Seafood Brunch - What A Difference a Chef Makes!

Agana Shopping Center Expands Eateries

There's cool food things a goin' on at the Agana Shopping Center which has been undergoing a major renovation and expansion these past few months. Phase I is scheduled for opening on December 1 and in addition to current tenants Shirley's, Taco Bell, Baskin Robbins and Pizza Hut there will be some exciting additions, namely Mongo Mongo, Capricciosa, Long John Silver, Gozilla Shake, and Java Junction.

We've all been waiting for Long John Silver since it was announced last year that the co-branding concept with Taco Bell would become a reality on Guam. The sheer popularity and financial success of Capriciossa's two Tumon outlets has made this Agana location a "calculated risk"...the only way they could fail is if all of Guam's dining public went on a "no carb diet" - not likely to happen!

Fuji Teriyaki will be returning in a new location since it's former food court stall was devastated by Typhoon Pongsona. And, we don't yet know the fate of the highly-valued Hava Java Cafe, which does not appear to be in the line-up of tenants for the Phase I Renovation. We will definitely keep you posted on any new developments regarding this favorite coffee stop! As we've mentioned previously, "change is a blessing!"

Bistro Prix Fixe Menu - Chef Clayton's Stellar Creations Every Friday Night

If there's a recommendation I can make with confidence, it's let Chef Clayton Babas take you on a gastronomic journey of his fabulous creations! Chef Clayton is the Bistro at P.I.C.'s Chef De Cuisine and every Friday night a different Prix Fixe Menu is offered as well as a selection of specially selected wines. It's a tasting menu, so the portions are small, and for $28.00 (+10%) you can indulge in an elaborate 5-course meal such as the one I had on September 19. Chef Clayton's ingredient choices and descriptions are artistic and poetic, with each element evoking a mental image that stimulates the palate. Read each word of the following menu courses out loud and tell me if you disagree:

  • Appetizer: Alaskan King Crab & Fennel Wontons with Mango and Calamansi
  • Salad: Spinach & Arugula Salad with Sweet Onion Compote
  • Soup: Poached Chicken in Shiitake Mushroom & Roasted Garlic Broth
  • Entree: Tea Smoked Salmon on Curried Potatoes Latkes with Gingered Apple Slaw and Scallion Oil
    Five Spiced Marinated Tenderloin of Pork on Oba Scented Polenta Spiced Pineapple Chutney and Hoisin Essence
  • Dessert: Lemongrass Parfait with Papaya Salsa

If you have a super hearty appetite, a full order of the main entree is available for $10 extra. The wine pairings this evening (a flight of 3 half glasses for $9) were a Caliterra Chardonnay, Antonin Rodet Beaujolais, and either an Arrowood Chardonnay or Danzante Merlot. Our personable server, Ruth, attended to us marvelously.

This week's menu (Friday, September 26) features Grilled Achote Duck Breasts with Maui Onion and Taro Hash, Garlic Scented Macadamia Nuts and Cilantro Chili Oil as one of the main courses...that should whet your appetite for more! Call 646-9171 for reservations

Around The Island - Hilton Oktoberfest, Thai Kitchen, Firefly Bistro, Seaman's

There's no better way to appreciate Germany's passion for beer, food, and revelry than to attend an Oktoberfest event! The Hilton is the traditional Guam destination for this annual celebration, with the festival taking place in several locations over the course of three days starting Friday, October 3 and ending Sunday, October 5. The Tree Bar will offer beer specials and serve homemade German pupus. There will be live music and DJs for your listening pleasure. The Islander Terrace will observe the festivities with elaborate lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch buffets offering hearty and delicious German cuisine complimented by free-flowing beer. For more information and reservations, call 646-DINE(3463).

Thai Kitchen in Tamuning's CenTam Building is one of those places people repeatedly frequent. Why? Simply because owner Toy McGurk was born in the kitchen. Her petite size belies a giant culinary talent that has satisfied the Thai cravings of her sizeable loyal following. We stopped in one night recently and had a Vegetarian Phad Thai with Tofu, a flavorful Phad Ka Praow (minced chicken w/Thai basil, Thai-style with cooked egg atop), and a tart, palate-scrubbing Papaya Salad. Every Thai restaurant has it's own personality, based largely on the owner and her family (seems that all our Thai restaurants are owned or managed by women) and there is only one Thai Kitchen! Call 649-1031 to order take-out or make a reservation.

Hagatna's Firefly Bistro has been offering their Fixed Price ($25) 3-course Dinner Menu on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for some time and the latest offering is a French menu featuring French Onion Soup, Firefly Coq Au Vin with Apple Tart Tartin for dessert and it includes coffee or tea. Sounds appealing! On Friday and Saturday nights when you purchase any a la carte dinner entree you get a free special appetizer. Now that's going after the business! Dinner hours at this intimate and sophisticated, California style bistro are 6pm to 9 pm Tuesday - Saturdays. Call them at 472-2565 for reservations.

There is no doubt that the Grilled Beef Liver at Seaman's Club in Piti is the best I've had so far...generous portions of liver grilled to order smothered with lots of grilled onions. This is loaded with vitamins and minerals, so I do recommend it over other red meat choices. I want to challenge other restaurants to feature beef liver dishes. Seaman's Club does great Eggs Benedict on Sundays, too! This casual and affordable little eatery does an excellent job with their entire menu. Be sure to sit in the small dining alcove overlooking the water for a mesmerizing view of the ocean.

Pastries In Paradise - Mark Your Calendars for Saturday October 18

Guam's biggest "sweet-fest", the Sixth Annual Pastries In Paradise is scheduled for Saturday, October 18 from 6pm - 10pm at the 1st floor of the DFS Galleria as it was last year. Sponsored by the Guam Hotel Restaurant Association, Bailey's Irish Cream, DFS Galleria, and the Pacific Daily News, this fund-raising event will benefit the Lend-A-Hand Foundation.

This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy delectable dessert creations by the island's top pastry professionals from various hotels and restaurants. A wide selection of beverages will also be available for tasting, too. Come find out who will win the Bailey's Irish Cream Dessert Competition! Participate in the People's Choice Awards, where you can judge the Most Unique Pastry, Best Pastry Presentation, and Best Booth Design. It's really going to be an evening of fun and fantastic tasting. Stay tuned for more information!

Holiday Inn's "Hafa Adai" Seafood Brunch - What A Difference a Chef Makes!

This may sound contradictory, but I have to be honest and just say it - "I don't like Sunday Brunch Buffets!" There, I feel better having said it! Why not? Well, there's just way too much food to eat. Aside from special occasions, Sunday Brunch means "work" for me, and that means trying to sample everything that's displayed. Now, this doesn't mean that I don't recommend them. In fact, Sunday Brunches by and large reflect the ego and personality of a restaurant. And, "personality" is one of the first things that comes to mind when you encounter Holiday Inn's new Executive Chef, Kotwal Singh. Highly energetic and always smiling, Chef Singh has managed to reposition and redirect the menu and the overall food experience at this hotel.

When we first walked into the palatially-scaled La Brasserie this past Sunday, the mellifluous vocalizations of one of Guam's most popular duos, Jesse Bias and Ruby Santos, filled the room with gentle, soothing, and uplifting contemporary music. The restaurant was packed, but not crowded, with the tables spaced adequately to allow easy movement to and from a multitude of food stations positioned around the perimeter. Folks who recognized me gave me "thumbs up" on Singh's enhancements. Since I've not had the Sunday brunch here for some time, I can't honestly say which specific improvements have been made, however, there was a unanimous enthusiasm by the diners about this particular Sunday Brunch, and I have every confidence much can be attributed to Singh's active presence.

At one station giant ice-laden clamshell bowls over-flowed with Boiled Shrimp, Fresh Oysters, Spanner and King Crab, while another table had Poki, Smoked Salmon & Capers, Sushi, Sashimi, Mixed Seafood Kelaguen, and Mussels with a Sweet Chili Sauce. Live food stations served Shrimp and Calamari Tempura, Prime Rib, Omelettes, Pasta, and Waffles. Hot food chafers were filled with a variety of meat and vegetable dishes, including Wok-fried Noodles with Seafood and Vegetables, Herb Marinated Lamb Rack in a Dijon Sauce, Grilled Cajun Salmon, and their trademark Chili & Garlic Stir-Fry Crab. And, how many places offer Garlic Mashed Potatoes? Of course, Dim Sum and Shu Mai were available, along with salads and even a Bread & Cheese station. Desserts include an assortment of pastries, pies, tarts, and an ice cream station. This really is a lot of food for the money!

At $21.99 (+10% ), this is competitively priced particularly in comparison to the two other brand properties whose names also begin with the letter "H", and who have what I consider to be humongously elaborate and excellent Sunday Brunch buffets. It is evident that Chef Singh's energy and resourcefulness has elevated the Holiday Inn's offerings to an impressive new level.

An added bonus is available for those who enjoy beer and champagne with their meals, with free-flowing Bud and Bud Light included. There is also a Kid's Corner as well as a Kid's Buffet with the price being $11 (+10%) for children 4-12 years. The hours of operation are 11am - 2pm, and reservations can be made by calling 647-7272, ext. 214. Free valet parking is offered, along with underground parking. We opted to park across the street so that we could ease our conscience by getting a little exercise walking.

Come visit the Holiday Inn and enjoy the "Hafa Adai" Seafood Sunday Brunch. See for yourself the difference a chef makes!

Bon Appetit!

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