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July 23, 2004, Volume 4 Number 30

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

What a phenomenal 60th Liberation Day Parade we had! It had to be one of the grandest, if not the greatest, Liberation Day Parades Guam has seen. There were about 100 groups and organizations with floats, marching bands, cars, motorcycles, trucks, dancing troupes and trolleys, with some tossing candy, hats, and t-shirts to thousands of cheering residents lining both sides of Marine Corps Drive.

The weather was picture perfect, with billowing white clouds parading across a sky blue background, while the sun blazed brilliantly, testing every level of sun screen. There were occasional sprinkles of rain to cool down the revelers - however the best drenching came from the fire trucks whose water cannons sporadically doused the crowds, especially the packs of kids who purposely ran into the streaming jets.

It was Guam's biggest street party, and in walking up and down both sides of the parade route, I met friends and well-wishers offering delicious barbecue and cold drinks. It was even suggested several times that there should be a Liberation Day Barbecue contest to see who had the best barbecue. Though the thought is good, there are so many families and groups cooking and eating food, it would be too massive an undertaking to organize. What delight it was to sample the various chicken, ribs, and steaks that were steeped in special marinades to give maximum flavor! There's nothing better than island pride, and that was certainly demonstrated before, during, and after the parade - Biba Guahan!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Saipan's Aqua Resort Hosts Mondavi Wine Dinner - Chef Hubert Creates Fab Menu
  • Firefly Bistro's Taste of New Orleans Special - Jambalaya & Beignet
  • UnderWater World and Planet Hollywood Delight Visiting Family
  • Around the Island - Great Food at Jan Z's, May's, Izakaya Katsu & Uncle Bob's
  • Urijip Restaurant - Where Korean Dining is a Family Tradition

Saipan's Aqua Resort Hosts Mondavi Wine Dinner - Chef Hubert Creates Fab Menu

If you need a reason to take a short trip to Saipan this weekend, dinner on Saturday, July 24 at Raraina Fine Dining at Aqua Resort Club (they have the most beautiful pool!) is a good one. Book a room for a quick weekend getaway to a place where you will be pampered with attentive service, haute cuisine, and superb wines. Dinner on Saturday night is only $40 inclusive of wine, and you will taste a selection of Mondavi California wines (starting at 6pm) in the Vino Bar with dinner at Raraina following at 7pm. Executive Chef Hubert Freidle has prepared a menu of sumptuous Italian inspired delights:

Antipasti of Crostini, Caponata, Prosciutto with Bagna Cauda
Linguini "Puttanesca" with Garlic, Anchovies, Olives, Capers, Tomato & Herbs
Granita All Arancia (Orange Granita)
Filet Mignon with Goose Fillets And Livers & Saffron Risotto
Pan Seared Cat Fish on Creamed Fennel with Tomato-Basil Emulsion
Panna Cotta with Berries
Coffee, Tea or Espresso

Paired with this delicious dinner are DANZANTE (Mondavi Family Italian Blend) Pinot Grigio and Merlot. For reservations, contact Mayeth, Yoshimi, or Ramon at (670) 322-1234 exts 730-2.

Firefly Bistro's Taste of New Orleans Special - Jambalaya & Beignet

Firefly Bistro continues its series of Tuesday and Wednesday Night Three Course Set Menu specials by featuring a taste of New Orleans. This month Chef Ronnie dazzles your taste buds with a very special menu combining Creole spices, seafood and a fabulous dessert. The Set Menu price is $25. Lunch Specials at Firefly include Softshell Crab Sandwich, Organic Tomato Pasta, Three Mushroom Pizza, and Passion Fruit Salad. Reservations can be made by calling 477-2565.

UnderWater World and Planet Hollywood Delight Visiting Family

This past week my brother Carl's family returned to Guam and enjoyed a whirlwind visit that found them on local radio stations K57 and Power98, trekking to FaiFai Beach, jet-skiing, shopping at local stores and the Chamorro Village, and visiting old friends. The entourage included Carl's wife, Michele, daughters Brieana and Nataya (both born & raised on Guam before moving to Houston in 1998), and two of their girlfriends, Tiffany and Melanie, who were here for the first time. Although they had plenty of adventures on their own, I was fortunate to join them for two - UnderWater World and Planet Hollywood. It was entertaining watching the four teens interact with the magnificent aquatic environment that is housed at UnderWater World. They were continuously excited by the many sharks, turtles, rays, groupers, yellow fin tuna, and other fish swimming and floating around them in the submerged see-through tubes that tunnel through the aquarium. It's easy to see why this place is a big hit with our tourists - it's fun!

Later, we went to Planet Hollywood for dinner. I purposely ordered a variety of appetizers for the new girls to try to expand their culinary awareness. They still ordered familiar foods - a Cheeseburger and Club Sandwich. Before the food arrived, all the girls, including Michele, were recruited by our server to participate in a Planet Hollywood line dance, where they danced and sang to YMCA, followed by the latest group dance craze, the Ocho Ocho.

The Chicken Kelaguen appetizer from PH's Chamorro Menu was a big hit, and we had to order extra tortillas. They didn't know what Pot Stickers (gyoza) were and Melanie liked them so much (especially with the creamy ginger soy dipping sauce) that she ate three. The Blackened Shrimp with the Creole Mustard sauce didn't last long, nor did the Spinach Dip (which I thought was a really good version, with Creamy Parmesan Cheese and lots of mushrooms throughout). Of course, we ordered a Margherita Pizza and two BBQ St. Louis Rib orders which we shared. We were so full, there was no room for dessert, not even the Fried Banana Cheesecake that I told Brieana would temporarily satisfy her craving for banana lumpia. The kids really enjoyed their food and the overall Planet Hollywood experience - this exciting place certainly appeals to their demographic and, as travelling girlfriends, they had a blast. I'm already thinking about organizing a "food tour" for their next island visit. I'm sure they'll be ready for kimchi and sashimi by then!

Around the Island - Great Food at Jan Z's, May's, Izakaya Katsu & Uncle Bob's

There are not many places that serve Fried Chicken Gizzards on Guam, and when I have a yearning for them, I head down to Jan Z's in the Agat Marina. You can't just go to Jan Z's without trying a side salad with flaked smoked tuna. There are those who swear by Jan Z's Burgers, their giant Hot Cakes, their huge sashimi plates (super fresh by the way), as well as their Blackened Sashimi. The Sauteed Tuna Dinner Plate is something I usually order, and it comes with rice, garlic toast, finedene and tartar sauce. Jan Z's will always be frequented by those wanting to get away from the city for a relaxing mid-day meal, sunset dinner or leisurely weekend breakfast. The outdoor deck is a favorite gathering spot for many "Northern" residents.

May's Restaurant in Tamuning tops my list of great Chinese restaurants. The other day I was dragging a bit and was re-energized by a bowl of May's Won Ton Soup. I also had a plate of fresh Chinese Broccoli that was sauteed just right. While I ate my third dish, May's highly popular Salt & Pepper Shrimp, I looked around the dining room and saw many familiar faces of people who eat at May's regularly. It's gratifying when they come and tell me how much they love the food here.

Izakaya Katsu aka "the Green Door" is another one of those places I always recommend. I was there again recently and had the regular line-up (owner Yokho Sohma has this down by rote) of Tofu Steak, Edamame, Chicken Salad, Panko-fried Shrimp, Unagi, and this time we had broiled usual, everything was splendid. Katsu is on the 3rd floor of the Central Building in Tumon, which has Chuan Fu Chinese Restaurant on the street level.

Uncle Bob's in Sumay is famous for behemoth steaks. If you've been down to Anigua lately, you'll notice a very odd-colored new building that's just been constructed, with a big Uncle Bob's sign on top. Yes, they'll be opening soon to the delight of many central and northern residents, who just can't make that trek to Agat for Bob's giant steaks. I've been told that the new restaurant will also feature Cajun style foods and Western-style BBQ, using tomato-based sauces vs. our local soy-based marinades. I did have a brief look-see into the new place - it's large, with a main dining room for non-smokers and another one that has a very sizeable bar. We're all going to wait to see how this all turns out - it appears that Uncle Bob is very confident in building this place exactly to his specs and which promises abundant portions of finger-lickin' foods!

Urijip Restaurant - Where Korean Dining is a Family Tradition

Urijip Restaurant, located off of Marine Corps Drive in Tamuning next to Josie's Tavern and across from Dhonson's Jewelers, is probably Guam's oldest Korean restaurant. Like so many small establishments serving Asian cuisine, Urijip Restaurant is a family-owned eatery that has been satisfying customers with Korean fare since 1977. Urijip translated to English means "our home" and it seems fitting for this unpretentious and homey place.

Urijip is not a fancy restaurant. In fact, many people will probably think twice about eating here since it doesn't have the bright lights and fancy furniture they're used to seeing in the more tourist-oriented Korean restaurants on island. No, Urijip Restaurant is run by the Chang family who have made their name and earned their reputation on the quality of their food, not on the atmosphere, which could best be described as "worn", but in this case, "worn" means comfortable and familiar, much like an old book or a favorite pair of shoes. The cover of Urijip's menu has a picture of a traditional Korean home in the country, with kimchi pots outside. The menu cover personifies the homey ambiance of Urijip, which has photos of the Chang's grandkids posted on a refrigerator door, and a china cabinet with golf trophies and a framed picture of the elder Changs posing at Banzai Cliff in Saipan. These items and other memorabilia collected over the years by the Changs are located behind a bar near a TV that's tuned to the Korean channel. The Chang family's legacy of cooking continues with their son's restaurant, Flamingo, located in Anigua.

Urijip's menu is fairly straightforward, with photos of the 26 featured menu items with Korean, English, and Japanese translations below each. Since I was alone, I ordered only my favorite Korean dish, Kalbi ($18), the marinated and grilled beef rib. The first thing the server brings is either a pitcher of water or of bolri-cha (a refreshing barley tea). The tea is served to Koreans, while the water is served to non-Koreans, unless you specifically request the tea which you should as it is quite delicious. There are other beverages including beer, Jinro, iced tea, and soft drinks available. The panchan or side dishes of kimchis, marinated radishes, pickled cabbage, seaweed) were set before me, soon followed by the sizzling platter of Kalbi. It was a sizable portion and Mrs. Chang cut the strip loin off the bone into bite-size pieces. A small pot of white rice accompanied this, and I was left to eat.

The Kalbi was quite tasty, and the combination of kimchis with the seasoned beef and rice embodied my Korean cuisine fantasy. One of the vegetables served was pickled bok choy, which was a first for me. I did return for a second visit, and they had an even larger panchan selection that included dried anchovies and spicy bean sprouts. Apparently this selection varies with what's available. Both times though, the Kalbi was excellent, and the meal completely filling.

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Chal Mokkgesumnida!

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