April 30, 2004, Volume 4 Number 18
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
April seems to be tipping the scale as one of the busiest and most interesting months I can recall, and though I can see completed events in my "rear view mirror" such as PHARE, the Media Fam Tour to Bali, the Guam Girl Scout Auction & Wine Tasting, and the Career Day at Guam South High School, there's still more month left to complete, with "A Taste of Guam" filling this weekend's event horizon.
April has also been Jazz Appreciation Month, and though I've not been able to attend all of the performances, concerts, workshops, and jam sessions, I will make it a point to get a big portion of Kadon Jazz (Jazz Soup) this Thursday at the Hilton's Marianas Ballroom. I met with percussionist Larry Franquez and members of his International Jazz Quartet; Osamu Soda and Randall Connors who are visiting from Tokyo, at Planet Hollywood the other day where they were enjoying a satisfying lunch that was sponsored by the good folks at Planet Hollywood. (Foodie Note: I tried the Shrimp & Bacon Club Sandwich which is one awesome sandwich, especially if you love loads of shrimp and bacon layered between slices of toasted multi-grain bread.) The Quartet is receiving a culinary tour, courtesy of generous sponsors, including Joyful Chinese Restaurant, Lone Star Steak House, Sam Choy's, Sandcastle's Manhattan Lounge, Shirley's, and Y Kusina Chamorro Restaurant. After all, they said they didn't want to eat food they can get in Japan, so they definitely had it their way and enjoyed the excellent culinary offerings of their local hosts. Thank you so much to all of the restaurants who showed the true spirit of our local hospitality through their generous efforts!
I guess we'll have to wait until the end of May to see if next month will be able to exceed April's exhausting pace and torrent of activity! I do know that there's lots of excitement in store for us all - brace yourselves!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
"A Taste of Guam" 3rd Annual Celebrity Chefs' Cup April 30, Hyatt Regency
The University of Guam Endowment Foundation, in conjunction with the Micronesian Chefs' Association, will host the 3rd Annual Celebrity Chefs' Cup competition this Friday in the Hyatt Regency Guam's Grand Ballroom. This is a fund-raising (and fun-raising!) event for the Foundation. Featuring a six course meal prepared by five Chefs from Guam's best hotels and restaurants, each chef prepares a course (with palate-cleansing sherbert served between courses), and they are required to use a local ingredient in their dish. During the evening the diners vote on each course with a winning chef announced at the end. Each chef's team is paired with local media personalities which only adds to the fun.
The chefs, team members and assignments are as follows:
Seafood Napoleon of Local Tuna en Escabeche and Salted Cod Brandade
Chef Jeff Hill, SandCastle; Mindy Fothergill and Marissa Eusabio, KUAM
Chamorro Fish Chowder
Chef Tomaso Fois, Outrigger Guam Resort; Frances Recheeuengel, Radio i94 and Jon
Sabares, 101.9 FM
Trio of Eastern & Western Delicacies featuring an array of Local Herbs & Spices
Chef Michael Bongiorno, Hyatt Regency; Karen Flores, KUAM and Jojo Santo Tomas,
Boonie Pepper Infused Tenderloin of Beef and Rack of Lamb Local Sweet Potato Croquette and a Port Mini Demi Glace
Chef Andrew Edwards, Pacific Islands Club; Rosalin Koss, K-Stereo and Steve
Nygard, Glimpses Publications
April in Paris A Chocolate Fantasy
Chef Christophe Durliat, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa; Lalaine Estella, PDN and Ken
Stewart, the "Guam Food Guy", GuamDiner.Com/Directions
The evening's hosts are GVB head, Tony Lamorena; Joy James, 2003 Miss Guam Tourism, and Russchel Seballas, 2004 Miss Guam Tourism. Caliente will provide sizzling Latino sounds, and live video coverage from the kitchen will be broadcast to the ballroom audience. A raffle will be held during the evening with the winner receiving a dinner for four prepared in their home by the participating chef of their choice. A splendid time is guaranteed to all.
Bento Chef - Former Dai Ichi Chef Finds Niche with Specialty Bento
You have to admire and congratulate Chef Naoto Nonaka, formerly Executive Chef and F & B Manager of the Guam Dai Ichi Hotel, for his recent entrepreneurial venture - Bento Chef. Located on the ground floor of K.C. Plaza, across from Tumon's Fountain Plaza, Nonaka-san's operation is a family business, with his wife and daughter working with him. It is an impressive set-up, with a brand new kitchen production facility that is making a large selection of specialty bento boxes for take-out. His business is filling a niche by selling popular bento boxes at reasonable prices. The main bentos: Saba, Salmon, Hamburg and Minchikatsu (deep-fried meatballs) are $4.90 each with a different daily special at $6.90. Donburi (beef, teriyaki chicken, or unagi) is $5.90. Their hours are Mon thru Sat, 10 am until 6pm. For ordering and info, call 647-CHEF (2433).
Around the Island - Lin's, Curry Kebab, Sam Choy's "Sake"Tini, Somjai Moves
Lin's Vietnamese in Tamuning across from GPO and next to the New Olympia Market has one of the largest Chicken with Lemon Grass plates I think I've had, and for $7, it's more than enough to feed two people. Not many people realize that this little eatery's a quiet escape from the hyper-active happenings from the mall just down the street. Go for dinner!
Curry Kebab continues to grow in popularity as it converts more customers to lovers of Indian cuisine. We had a Tandoori Chicken Kebab dish recently that was divine, marinated in yogurt and spices, then baked in the tandoor....with succulent morsels so good that it saddened me to eat the last one! Just go there often and work your way through their menu - you'll rarely be disappointed...and their service has finally got it together!
Sam Choy's has recently launched an intriguing appetizer promotion that combines ultra-premium sakes with the culinary creations of Chef Peter Duenas. The "sake"-tini appetizer is served in a martini glass, with Chef Peters's grilled seabass, pan-seared scallops and warm lobster jus with wilted greens. This delectable dish can be enjoyed with Dewazakura "Oka" or Dewazakura "Dewasansan" sakes, among Japan's finest ultra-premium sakes. I've not tried this interesting combination yet and will make it a point to do so before the promotion ends in the next two weeks.
Somjai Restaurant has a new home (their fifth!) and name, Sesomjai, and owner Somjai Vongjalorn wants you to come and enjoy her large, air-conditioned, beach front location in East Agana between Bob's Whispering Palms and Cars Plus. There is ample parking in the rear along the beach. Sesomjai is Guam's oldest Thai restaurant and a favorite for many. You will be more than impressed with her new home, which is open Mon - Sat, 10am - 10pm, and Sundays from Noon - 10pm. Her new phone number is 477-5115.
Planet Hollywood's Chamorro Special Menu Promotes Local Cuisine
Kudos and a big shout out to the PH team for being an "early adopter" in its inclusion of their Chamorro Special Menu as a regular part of their overall menu offering. The Chamorro Special Menu was initially intended to run during March for Chamorro Month. However, in the spirit of the Maila Ya Tan Fan Boka local cuisine initiative being spearheaded by Guam Visitor's Bureau, PH has retained the menu and is offering a la carte selections or a complete course.
Start off with a "Chesa" (appetizer) of Kelaguen Mannok ($5), followed by the one of four "Principat-Sentada" (main entrees): Mahi Mahi Eskabeche ($14.95), Estufao Katne ($12.95), Kadon Pika ($12.95), or Tinaktak ($10.95). End your dining experience with a "Fina' mamese" (dessert) - which happens to be Latiya that oh so luscious Chamorro delight of sponge cake topped with homemade custard and cinnamon. We applaud Team Planet Hollywood's embracing and showcasing our island's culinary culture!
Bumbu Bali Restaurant & Cooking School - Culinary Adventures on the Road
"Bumbu" translated means "spice blend" and is an apt description for the fascinating culinary experience we recently enjoyed on our Continental-sponsored media tour to exotic Bali, "Island of the Gods." The Bumbu Bali Cooking School is owned and operated by renowned Swiss chef Heinz von Holzen, author of the acclaimed book, "The Food Of Bali", which features authentic Balinese recipes. Heinz has lived in Bali since 1990, when he was Executive Chef at the Grand Hyatt Bali. He was also the Executive Chef of Bali's Ritz Carlton Hotel. Heinz and his beautiful Balinese wife, Puji, opened Bumbu Bali Restaurant in 1998. They also opened Rumah Bali, a fabulous resort patterned after a traditional Balinese village, with luxurious villas, temples, gardens, and courtyards. The "Paon" is the Balinese kitchen they built to accommodate up to 12 participants for their cooking classes. Bumbu Bali and Rumah Bali are conveniently located in Tanjung Benoa, with is just 5 minutes away from the Nusa Dua resort enclave.
The Bumbu Bali Cooking Class is organized on a strict schedule with participants departing at 6am from their hotels to arrive at the Vegetable Markets by 6:15am. Here, Heinz leads the group through the market, picking up ingredients that will be used for the day's cooking. Among these are Lemon Basil, Chilies, Cardamom, Candlenut, Laos (galangal, which is a member of the ginger family), Lemongrass, Peanuts, Pepper Corns, Turmeric, Shrimp Paste, Tamarind, Shallots, Ginger, Kencur (a.k.a., the lesser galangal, that has a camphor-like taste), Coconut, Onions, Garlic (Balinese garlic is softer than Western garlic), and Palm Sugar, which is made by extracting juice from the coconut flower, boiled, then packed into caramel-tasting, block-shaped molds. After touring the vegetable market, the group is lead through the adjoining meat market, where raw beef, pork, and poultry are displayed for sale. This is an open air market without refrigeration, which is a far cry from your local grocery meat department.
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The Grille at Santa Fe - Local Chef Blazes Sensational Culinary Trail
Finally, The Grille at Santa Fe has found the right chef to bring this restaurant's potential up to the world-class standard that has eluded it since its beginning including the years the Tamuning property operated under prior ownership. This idyllic, beach side restaurant had everything going for it except for a menu prepared by a competent and confident visionary who wanted to make a culinary statement to the world. The chef who has stepped up to the plate and hit the ball out of the park is Joseph Borja, who helped open Old Hagatna Grill before going off to culinary school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Borja also worked at Latini's, a popular Italian American eatery in Louisville, Kentucky. He has returned home to Guam (he is passionate about loving Guam!!) and has created a menu with a stellar line-up of appetizers, entrees, and desserts that would make his mama and golf-pro papa, proud!
We were finally "allowed" to come in for a review (he had armed guards on the look-out to keep me from entering until he got the menu down!) and I can only say it was worth the wait! Chef Joe's menu is exciting, fun, fresh, original, big-portioned, and full of moxie, just like the guy who created it. The Clams Casino appetizer ($10.25) is great, with clams on the half shell stuffed with peppers, bacon, and more clam meat than was in the shell, then baked to marvelous perfection. His Grilled Quesadilla of the Day is a must-have ($8), and our day's version had fresh spinach inside the grilled wheat flour tortillas, and smothered with Monterey Jack Cheese. The shells vary too, and accompanying the quesadilla is dollop of cumin-laced sour cream, a rash of jalepenos, and a savory salsa filled with big, sweet chunks of tomato! Delicious! The Spinach Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips ($5.50) was sensational, and further evidence of what Chef Joe advocates - fresh ingredients, large portions, and great taste. Honestly, I've never seen so much fresh spinach in an appetizer...and it's not ground up into a fine paste...it still retains its naturally fibrous, stalky texture.
We had one of his pasta dishes, the Shrimp Fussili with Cajun Cream Sauce ($20.95), which includes a choice of soup or salad. Words can't describe the first bite of this edifying concoction. Imagine, chunks of Chamorro sausage and big shrimp sauteed just right and blended in a flavor-bursting spiced cream sauce coating the spiraled pasta. It'll make you dizzy! Can't wait to try the other pastas, the Seafood Linguini in Chipotle Marinara or the Pesto Chicken Penne.
For entrees, we had a sampler plate of the Baby Back Ribs ($22.50), which is a full rack of succulent ribs with your choice of 3 awesome sauces, All American (a tomato-based, rich "Born in the USA" sauce); Honey Garlic, which is a sauce that demonstrates the compatibility of two great ingredients; and the Hoisin Apple, which I'll leave to your imagination, since you may already know that pork and apple have had an ongoing affair since day one. I'll just say that "hoisin-izing"it puts it in another flavor dimension! If you like ribs, you'll appreciate what Chef Joe's done to his. Fabulous.
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