December 12, 2003, Volume 3 Number 50
If you didn't know already, Guam is blessed in having world class dining establishments, and I don't mean of the white tablecloth variety. I'm talking about places like Old Hagatna Grill, where I just had a splendid dinner with a long-time friend visiting from Hawaii. He was very impressed with the "Old Hag" as some of the regulars have dubbed this dynamic Hagatna pub and eatery, which has become a favorite watering hole and filling station for many residents. My friend does have some qualifications in comparing cuisine...he travels all over Asia and is responsible for the business activities in this region for the world's leading food equipment manufacturer. He said that Honolulu could use a place like OHG, where locals can hang out in a relaxed, sophisticated environment that is not caught up in the "tourist mindset."
We had some fabulously-spiced baby back ribs as an appetizer along with the Grill's signature Seared Peppered Ahi Sashimi and Wasabi Aioli. My main course was a sumptuous, perfectly cooked Chilean Sea Bass simmered in a coconut miso sauce over mashed potatoes. My friend had a tantalizing baked Onaga on mashed potatoes, which was one of the dinner specials. The menu will change in the next week, so it would be a good idea to visit OHG and treat yourself to a glass of wine and a memorable selection of appetizers and entrees created by Executive Chef Chris Aguon's team. You can even save money at OHG by using your Premium Dining Club Card. As I said, world class food in a casual ambiance...that's how most of us enjoy eating. Check out the Old Hag's menu entrees on the net before you visit. Owner Dave Hanley is excited about the upcoming New Year's Eve dinner/party, that will even have pick-up and drop-off limo service for guests - can you beat that for service and caring about your customer?
When you leave OHG at night, take a stroll through Skinner Plaza's magnificent Christmas display...you will be mesmerized by this magical assembly of Christmas lights. It's a winter wonderland without snow!
Ken - the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
New Web Site Has Impressive Range of Local Products - Great Xmas Gifts
A new locally-owned website, shoponguam.com, has recently been launched that has an extensive variety of products available for purchase on line. We receive numerous inquires from people wanting to purchase local goods (mostly foods) that can be shipped to the States. This site is does a great job of promoting island culture and awareness through its product and merchandise selection.
Taro Hut in Mangilao Sells a Wide Range of Local Food Favorites
Been wondering where to get large foil pans and big party-size bowls of many local favorites including (but not limited to) Kadon Pika, Smoked Beef, Kelaguen, Shrimp Patties, Corn Titiyas, and desserts like Apigigi, Buchi Buchi, Latiya and Ahu? Well, you don't need to search any further than the Taro Hut in Mangilao. Taro Hut is in the La Isla Arcade on University Drive just after you turn off of Route 10 towards UOG. They carry a selection of prepared plates and packages of food items you can buy for a quick meal. They also carry products from Micronesia and sometimes have the legendary Pohnpei Coconut Oil scented with Ylang Ylang. Call 734-9400 for more information about Taro Hut. Be sure to stop by whenever in Mangilao.
Round Up of Holiday Weekend Events - Salvation Army, SKIP Christmas, Cantate
As usual, there are many things going on this weekend, and the Guam Food Guy is participating in some of them. First off, you can listen to the GFG guest host K-57's "Tourism & You" program this coming Saturday morning at 10am. Among the featured guests will be PIC Bistro Chef Clayton Babas and GVB Deputy Manager, Ernie Galito.
It's that time of year again and the GFG will be supporting the Salvation Army in their effort to raise funds to help those less fortunate residents by ringing the Kettle Bells in a Celebrity Bell Ringing this Saturday at Guam Premier Outlet. Come out on Saturday afternoon and throw some bills in our kettles!
WIthout a doubt, SKIP is one of the most awarded, well traveled and talented troupe of young dancers in the world and we are proud that they are from Guam. Take advantage of the opportunity to see SKIP perform their New York Christmas Extravaganza at the Tiyan Gate Theatre starting this Friday night (Dec. 12) at 7:30pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2pm and an evening performance at 7:30pm. These performances will repeat a week later, on the 19th and 20th, with the same schedule of shows. I've been told that the Skip Dancers will be in several costumes, including Santa suits for a New York Rockettes-style performance, as well as an act involving scrubs.
Cantate will perform excerpts from Handel's "Messiah" this coming Saturday, December 13, at 8pm at St. John's in Upper Tumon. A repeat performance is set for 3pm on Sunday, December 14 at the Hagatna Cathedral Basilica. Selected Christmas carols will also be sung by this talented chorale group which should put everyone in a holiday mood.
Around the Island - Restaurant News, Giant Lobster, King & I, LTB Xmas Eve
The newly-opened Pacific Grill in Tumon, across from the Hilton and next to Flowers by Tand (yes, the former Tina Marie's location), serves a selection of steaks, burgers, ribs, pasta, seafood, and even curry dishes for lunch and dinner. The fresh new interior is inviting and the view to Tumon Bay makes this a nice addition to our restaurant mix. Chef & Owner Thiruchelvam Vadivel has cooked with Sizzler and Lone Star Steakhouse for a number of years. I asked four adventurous diners who'd just finished their meals how they liked the food, they all gave enthusiastic "thumbs up"! A salad bar is available with the meal, and the popular lounge/bar from the old days is still there. Call 647-6677 for reservations and information.
Hava Java Cafe, one of the island's favorite coffee destinations, is still open and operating in its temporary location at the Agana Shopping Center and will be there until December 31. Owner Carol Ragan is planning on having a customer appreciation party sometime before Christmas...date and time to be announced. Hava Java Cafe will be moving to a new Hagatna location in January and will reopen to the delight of its loyal patrons soon after.
Java Junction is a brand new, upscale coffee stop at the corner of the first phase of the Agana Shopping Center's renovation comprising the former Town House structure. Owned by local attorney Joyce Tang and developer Keith Farrell, Java Junction is an attractive, sophisticated venue that raises the luxury bar on getting your "java jolt." Good coffee and fresh baked pastries are served in this stylish, tastefully decorated cafe. The new Center Court of AGS is breathtaking, and gives a wonderful sneak preview to the revitalization of this part of Hagatna.
Thanks to alert newsletter readers for advising us of changes to locations here and in Saipan. If you were planning to dine at either the Guam or Saipan location of Claret (in the respective Dai Ichi hotels), they are closed for renovation. According to management, they will reopen and we are awaiting word regarding the expected date and will pass the information along when we receive it.
Giant Lobster & Steak Restaurant, in Tumon between VIP Seafood and the Grand Plaza Hotel, is celebrating ten years of service to Guam residents and visitors alike. One of Tumon's best-kept secrets, featuring self-cook BBQ in a tropical garden setting with top-quality meat and seafood dishes, Giant Lobster is easy to find - just look for the burning tiki torches on its 2nd floor deck location. Check out their local specials and menus.
King & I Thai Cuisine on Ipao Road in Tamuning (next to Polynesian Hotel) brings a unique Thai ambiance and serenity to your lunch and dinner dining. The food, though, speaks perfect Thai on its own! Papaya Salad, Combo Phad Thai, and Garlic Shrimp made lunch one day this week a "flavor-savor"!
Le Tasi Bistro is bringing a wonderful French tradition to Guam this year by offering a delightful set menu for Christmas Eve dinner. In France, the entire family gathers on Christmas Eve to dine on special dishes before (and after) attending Midnight Mass. Chef Bertrand's menu includes a seafood stew in puff pastry with lobster sauce, a choice of entrees and individual baked alaskas for dessert. We think this is a Christmas tradition we want to participate in! Call 472-7877 for reservations and information.
New Sandcastle Chef Dazzles with Happy Hour Spreads at Manhattan Bar
The Thursday Night Happy Hour at SandCastle's Manhattan Bar is a special culinary destination and has been for a few years during the tenure of several chefs, notably former Executive Chef, D.L."Chef Deborah" Walshinsky who has since left Guam. Fortunately, her successor has arrived and is "cooking up a storm of great eats" that has impressed diners so much that some have been seen licking their plates clean! Executive Chef Jeff Hill has been on Guam for less than a month and is already making waves (a few of which he sorely regrets experiencing since he was recently injured in a boating accident.) Although Jeff is a low-key, unassuming kind of guy, he is a real go-getter who participated in the Jingle Bell Fun Run within a week of arriving and is an avid diver who enjoys the wonderful ocean surrounding Guam. His passion for things physical carries through to his culinary creations.
Jeff has a talent for food sculpting, as was evident from his watermelon carving that decorated the elaborate buffet spread at Manhattan. Before I go further, you should know that Manhattan Bar is not a "dinner" place. The Thursday Night Happy Hour features a different menu and food theme each week, and the food is meant more to be sampled as appetizers (which we all know can easily become a meal.) There is no charge for the buffet, but there is a two drink minimum per guest. Manhattan has a private club ambiance with an elegance and class befitting its Big City namesake - one can't help but appreciate the upscale appointments and cushy lounge chairs that make you want to sip a dry martini or savor a robust cabernet while listening to soft jazz and chatting with friends. If you are at the Manhattan Bar, you have "arrived".
Back to the food! The menu at last Thursday's Happy Hour featured "Tastes of New Orleans", with cold appetizers of sweet New Zealand oysters on the half shell, home made pasta and potato salads. The Chicken & Seafood Gumbo was awesome (did I tell you that Chef Jeff came from "Awesome" Austin Texas?). I had 3 bowls of this delicious classic, and I could taste all the genuine seasonings and flavors that make gumbo a favorite for many. Another dish we loved was his Red Beans & Rice, which is a southern comfort dish...the kind of hearty food that "sticks to your ribs." I wonder if that food aphorism is politically or even dietically correct? - no matter, its darned good eatin'!
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