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March 12, 2004, Volume 4 Number 11

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Wow! What a weekend we just had! There are certainly plenty of activities to keep you occupied on this little island, and eating food is central to most, if not all of the things we do! We want to congratulate all the chef teams, both professional and amateur, that competed in the Maila ya ta Fan Boka Chamorro cuisine contest this past Saturday. I had the good fortune to be a judge for this event, the first of its kind, which had media and food critics/writers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. I was flattered and honored by all the attention I was given by the visiting media, as they interviewed and photographed me during the judging of the various dishes.

What may prove to be a marvelous unintended consequence of this contest was what I'd call the introduction of "Nouveau Chamorro Cuisine" or "Chamorro Fusion." One of the rules for this contest was for each contestant to "Prepare three (3) dishes (appetizer, entree and dessert), with an original recipe created by the contestant." When I was asked by the visiting media and judges to identify these Chamorro dishes, I told them truthfully that many of these were brand new creations, based on the use of traditional ingredients. The words "fusion" and "Nouveau Chamorro" began to float around. I believe that most, if not all, of the chef team creations should be prepared and served at restaurants as well at homes, which means that the recipes will eventually become public, with the respective creators getting nominal credit. (Photo: Ahu Flan, 1st Place Dessert, Hilton Guam Team)

Stay tuned for more information on this interesting culinary development, as this may very well be the beginning of what could be called "Chamorro Regional Cuisine," similar to what happened in Hawaii in the early 90's, when a group of professional chefs from diverse ethnic backgrounds created updated versions of local foods using fresh, home-grown ingredients. It's the dawn of a new era!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Maila ya ta Fan Boka Culinary Competition Winners
  • "Tales of a Broken Heart: Not a Love Story" - Moving Story Benefits Sanctuary
  • Pay-Less Annual Kick the Fat 5K Run - Saturday, March 20
  • Around the Island - Izakaya Katsu Reunion, Nana's Cafe, Denny's Re-Opens
  • Le Tasi Bistro's Tapas Thursdays - Delicious Spanish Tapas & Great Music

Maila ya ta Fan Boka Culinary Competition Winners

Competing teams in the professional division of this March 6 event were from the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, the Westin Resort Guam, Planet Hollywood, and the Pacific Islands Club. In the Amateur competition where Chicken Kelaguen was the only dish prepared for judging, teams representing the high schools of JFK, Simon Sanchez, George Washington and Southern competed.

The Winning Teams Were:

Professional Division:
1st - Pacific Islands Club

2nd - Westin Team #2
3rd - Westin Team #1

1st - Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
2nd - Planet Hollywood
3rd - Westin Team #2

1st - Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
2nd - Westin Team #1
3rd - Pacific Islands Club

Amateur Division
1st - George Washington High School Team #2
2nd - Southern High School
3rd - Simon A. Sanchez High School Team #2

"Tales of a Broken Heart: Not a Love Story" - Moving Story Benefits Sanctuary

Marcelo Illarmo's self-revealing one-man show relating the experience of facing life threatening heart disease, "Tales of a Broken Heart: Not a Love Story", has it's debut performance during a dinner show on March 11 at 6pm in the Pandanus Room of the Guam Reef Hotel. A second dinner show (tickets $50) is on March 12. Theater shows are scheduled to take place at 4pm and 8 pm on March 13, and are $15 a person. Proceeds from the performances will benefit Sanctuary.

Pay-Less Annual Kick the Fat 5K Run - Saturday, March 20

Yes, it's time again for one of the most popular 5K runs on the island, the annual Pay-Less Kick the Fat 5K Run will take to the streets on Saturday, March 20. Show time is 5:30am and go time is 6am at the Paseo in Hagtana. March is National Nutrition Month, and Pay-Less is to be commended for their introduction of Health Smart 100% All Natural Food Products. Registration can be done at Hornet Sporting Goods and Pay-Less Super Markets in Hagatna, Dededo and Yigo.

Around the Island - Izakaya Katsu Reunion, Nana's Cafe, Denny's Re-Opens

A reunion with a tasty tradition was recently enjoyed at Tumon's Izakaya Katsu (aka "The Green Door"), one of the best Japanese restaurants around, when Dr. Jonathon Morris, and his charming wife, Suzan, returned for their annual visit from Portland, Maine. Dr. Morris is a psychiatrist who has spent two weeks every year since 1994 on Guam working with the Department of Mental Health. This is our 3rd reunion, and Katsu's signature Tofu Steak, Panko-Battered Prawns, and Unagi were dishes we relished as we've done during previous visits. Our introduction is an example of what the modern internet age can do as it stemmed from Suzan reading my online review of Izakaya Katsu prior to their visit in March 2002 which lead to an exchange of emails, an engagement to dine and, as they say, the rest is history! Katsu has some excellent new creations including a Seafood Salad and BBQ Pork. Say hello to owner, Yokho Soma (now sporting a new purple hair do!) when you visit. Call 647-0247 for reservations and information.

Nana's Cafe is featuring some great Japanese and Western specials this and every week. This Tumon bayside eatery has the most spectacular view, you literally feel as if you are "on the beach" but cooler. Current offerings include Broiled Black Cod Fish Yakizakana; Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura; and Cold Noodle "Inanwia Udon" with Shrimp Tempura each at $8.95. Delicious seafood choices range from Pan Fried Assorted Seafood with Caper Butter Sauce ($8.95) and Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab & Shrimp ($9.50) this week. Call 649-7760 for info. Lunch is served from 11am - 2pm.

The much anticipated re-opening of Denny's in Tamuning has happened. Denny's sports a complete new look and feel, with new booths, interior decor, and carpets. The overall comfort and style of this popular 24 hour restaurant has been greatly enhanced. You'll still find your favorite traditional American fare along with a unique local menu.

Le Tasi Bistro's Tapas Thursdays - Delicious Spanish Tapas & Great Music

If I were asked to name some of my favorite restaurants, one would certainly be Le Tasi Bistro, Guam's "Taste of Europe", located on the ground floor of the New Marina Hotel in Hagatna. Since my first review in October 2000, Le Tasi Bistro has been mentioned a multitude of times in newsletters, on the radio, and in magazine articles I've written. The truth of the matter is that I love that place, I love the people who own it, and feel like I'm part of the family!

For those of you who haven't read my original review of Le Tasi Bistro, I'd like to share a bit of what I penned back then about the origins of Le Tasi Bistro: "Once upon a time, a young Spanish woman named Mari was in London and fell in love with a young Frenchman, Bertrand, and they married and made great food; but it was cold in England, and they dreamed of living their lives in a faraway destination, on a remote tropical island somewhere in the Pacific, and they dreamed of having a specialty restaurant with a view of the ocean, with tables on the beach, where diners could enjoy the culinary magic their love produced, and where diners would experience 'the pleasure of a fine table.' That's no fable, it is a dream that has come true for Chef Bertrand Haurillon, wife Mari Carmen Aguilar, and their partners, Peter and Yeonso Park Koppen."

Le Tasi Bistro's weekly lunch specials are a favorite draw for the restaurants royal loyalty, or should I say loyal royalty - either way, people who dine there repeatedly have adopted this place as one of their great getaways (like taking a trip to France without needing a passport nor a plane ticket.) The Salad Nicoise is always in demand with a huge plank of fresh seared tuna resting atop a bed of fresh romaine and swathed in a vinaigrette. There's no beating their fresh baked basil-infused bread either...this place has a "magic" baker who creates terrific cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, and desserts. Dinners are outstanding as well. You can view their ever changing weekly lunch specials and monthly dinner menu at anytime - just reading the menus will make you hungry!

Today's review, however, is about Le Tasi Bistro's very special Thursday nights, which is Tapas Nights, an evening when you can savor delicious Spanish appetizers (little dishes) and listen to the inimitable sounds of that fabulous group of merry minstrels, Guam's own Pago Bay Reefers!

According to Mari Carmen (who is after all Spanish) Tapa comes from the verb 'tapar', which means 'to cover'. Originally, the tapa was a slice of cured ham or chorizo salami placed over the mouth of a wine glass (some say to keep the flies out) and served compliments of the house. To eat tapas-style is to embrace the Spanish lifestyle and eat by whim, free from rules and schedules. And trust me, schedules are the last thing you're going to be concerned with while grazing your way through plate after plate of flavorful tapas and tapping your feet to the rhythm of the banjo-pickin', guitar-strummin', harmonica-blowin', accordion-squeezin', bass-pluckin', drum-beatin' music and singing that comes to you LIVE on the floor stage of Le Tasi Bistro!

Among the tapas we ate were Gambas Pil-Pil (Hot sizzling chili shrimps with garlic $6.95); Salsa de Santiago (Spicy meat sauce topped with melted cheese and olives served with tortillas $6.50); La tapa tradicianal (Marinated Manchego cheese in olive oil and served on toast with Serrano ham $6.50); Champinones a la panilla con queso (Garlic grilled mushrooms with melted cheese $6.50); and Chulettas de cordero (Grilled lamb cutlets marinated with rosemary $6.75). We also had a small Caesar salad - something you can order anytime and that's extra good all the time.

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Bon appetit!

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