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September 3, 2004, Volume 4 Number 36


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Have you ever thought about opening up a restaurant? I can honestly say that I haven't, even though a few friends have urged me to do so over the years. Fixing meals for family and friends or a small group, or even a dish or two for a potluck gathering is fun and even gratifying, especially when everyone raves about your cooking. But building a business out of something you enjoy doing and for which you have a flair is another matter altogether. I've worked in, with, and around restaurants for most of my working life, and it takes an enormous amount of effort, skill, talent, time, money, and luck to make a restaurant successful. You don't even have to know how to cook to go into the restaurant business - you can be a super salesman like Ray Kroc, who built McDonald's into the world's largest fast food chain (and it wasn't his job to flip the burgers!)

There are as many reasons as there are restaurants for why people want to get into this business. The underlying premise, however, is the best reason - people like to eat. Those who have lived on Guam for even a short time have reached the same conclusion as those who've lived here forever - Guam's national pastime is eating. We eat when people are born and we eat when people die; we eat at weddings, wakes, fiestas, christenings, graduations, birthdays, and receptions, and have no problem in finding a reason to eat for just about any occasion. We even eat when we're dieting!

We have become "sophisticated" eaters, and have developed an appreciation for a diversity of cuisine types from Asian (Southeast and Northern), European, Indian, Mediterreanen, American, Hawaiian and, of course, Chamorro. Never before have there been as many choices and ways to satisfy our tastes as there are today. So, keeping this in mind, let's go back to our initial question about going into the restaurant business. Food is like fashion in that changing tastes create new opportunities. So it should be no surprise that new places like the Pelican Grill and the PTC (Pacific Trading Company) will be opening to give us a "different" dining experience. Whatever their reasons are for going into the food service business, we sincerely hope they succeed. After all, we do need more choices, wouldn't you agree?

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Mekong Restaurant Opens in Tumon with Viet/French/Thai Menu
  • What Are "Heritage" Grains? Ancient Sources of Nutrition Still Good for You
  • Nu-Form Fitness Launches Special Weight Management Program
  • Around the Island - Mary's Sinigang, Mulligan Cafe, Great Poke at Buddies
  • Hava Java Cafe - Simply The Best!

Mekong Restaurant Opens in Tumon with Viet/French/Thai Menu

Ever had a Vietnamese-French breakfast? Well, you can now at Mekong Restaurant in Tumon's Blue Lagoon Plaza. Mekong opened September 1 and is owned by a former partner of Binh Minh, which was a popular Tamuning eatery that's now home to Sabai Dee Thai Restaurant.

Mekong serves breakfast starting at 6am and is open until 11pm, Sunday through Thursday, and open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. You will find Mekong Fried Eggs, Xiu Bao, and a Mekong Sandwich along with fresh-brewed French coffee. Among Mekong's special dishes are Cornish Hen "Roti", Prawn Adobo, and Hot Pot Rice, with prices ranging from $7 to $20. Thai favorites like Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Penang and Spicy Thai Fried Rice are priced from $6 to $12. Daily lunch specials include Mekong Beef Salad, Beef & Chicken Lemongrass, Pork Chop, and Hot & Spicy Fish priced from $5 to $7, which is not bad for Tumon. Serving a Viet-French style of breakfast and being open 24 hours are two welcome attributes for those craving the old Binh Minh flavors. Call 646-7467 for more info.

What Are "Heritage" Grains? Ancient Sources of Nutrition Still Good for You

Can you describe "Heritage Grains"? I came across some fascinating information about these grains written by dietitian and nutritionist Tamara Schryver, MS RD, on the back panel of Nature's Path Organic Heritage Muesli. Although wheat is prominent among the grains we eat, heritage grains are not nearly as well known, however, they offer significant nutritional values beyond those of wheat and are appealing to taste. Kamut, Quinoa, Spelt, and Millet are known as "heritage grains". Ms. Schryver's explains a bit about each of these heritage grains below:

"Kamut - An ancient form of wheat, Kamut has 20% to 40% more protein than common wheat and is also higher in lipids, amino acids, and some vitamins and minerals. Richly flavored, Kamut has a sweet tone which has earned it the nickname "sweet wheat.

Spelt - Spelt has notable measures of iron and potassium, contains B vitamins, and is higher in balanced amino acids, fats and crude fiber than common wheat.

Quinoa - 16% of Quinoa is protein. Comparatively, this is higher than other grains such as wheat or rice. More importantly, from a nutritional viewpoint, the amino acid profile of this protein is more evenly balanced than most other grains. Minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc and iron are also significantly higher in quinoa than in other grains.

Millet - Nutritionally, this grain is a good source of niacin, thiamin, phosphorus, and zinc. Millet is also rich in phytic acid, a phytonutrient believed to lower cholesterol."

Although these descriptions are rather technical from a nutritional perspective, I find it more compelling (and flavorful) to list the ingredients (including the "heritage grains" contained in the Mueusli, which are "Organic rolled oats, organic raisins (coated with organic canola oil), organic oat flour, organic barley flakes, organic flaked yellow corn, organic Kamut brand wheat flour, organic hazelnuts, organic wheat bran, organic evaporated cane juice, organic grape juice concentrate, organic freeze-dried raspberries, organic brown rice flour, organic spelt, organic millet, organic barley malt extract, natural raspberry flavor, sea salt, organic quinoa, (and) organic honey."

I hope you find this information about "heritage grains" to be worthwhile and enlightening. It's certainly broadened my awareness about the cereals I eat and encouraged me to learn more and eat more of these still "good for you" grains.

Nu-Form Fitness Launches Special Weight Management Program

The Holiday Season is fast-approaching and Nu Form Fitness has the right prescription for those of you who'd like to win the battle of the bulge by offering two 8-week courses that are part of Nu Form's Special Weight Management Programs. One is called "Pilates & Nutrition for Weight Management" and the other is "Circuit & Nutrition for Weight Management". Both use different techniques and approaches to teach you how to "Eat Smart & Burn the Body Fat". Registration for classes runs from September 6-18, with classes starting on September 21 and lasting until November 13. For more information about these proactive, innovative, healthy life choice programs, contact Pepe Laflamme at 646-3676. Don't delay as space is limited! Besides, getting a head start managing your weight BEFORE the holidays seems like a great idea rather than trying to get rid of it in the New Year!

Around the Island - Mary's Sinigang, Mulligan Cafe, Great Poke at Buddies

If you have ever been flattened by a flu bug like I recently was, a sure-fire cure for me has been a steaming bowl of Sinigang Soup with Shrimp. This spicy soup is laden with tamarind, mint leaves, fish sauce, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, lemongrass, and has a bunch of prawns (you can get it with chicken or even meatless), and it costs just $9. It comes with a bowl of rice and if you are adventurous, you can spice it up further with chili paste. This superb soup will clear up sinuses and remove congestion, and doesn't require a doctor's prescription. Mary's Vietnamese Restaurant is located on Route 16 across from the Iglesias Ni Cristo church, and is a highly popular eatery, known for their fresh Lumpia, Bird's Nest Crispy Noodles, and Steamed Fish with Ginger.

Mulligan Cafe, located in the Tumon Golf Driving Range complex in Upper Tumon, has some of Guam's most flavorful food creations for lunch that includes an all-you-can eat salad bar for only $7.95. I don't know how much longer Mulligan's chef/owner, Nilo Vega, will keep these "introductory" prices for his lunch specials, which include Chamorro Chop Steak (made with oyster sauce), Chicken Teriyaki, Fried Tilapia, Mahi with Salsa, Fried Pork Chop, or Pork Ginger; however, I do know that people can't resist his chicken kelaguen or poke which are part of a buffet salad bar that also includes tea and soup. The soup I had recently was a flavorful Arroz Caldo - a real treat and nearly a meal in itself, filled with chunks of chicken and bits of ginger. I'm sure that his customers go to Mulligan's more for the food quality than just the price - after all, you can save money anywhere, but it's much harder to get really GOOD food, which is Nilo's forte. His Crispy Pata appetizer is probably the island's best. Mulligan does catering, offering food trays filled with your favorite dishes. Call Nilo or Rose for more info at 646-8342.

Buddies Billiards in Tamuning has more than just a bunch of pool tables in one huge hall, or a night club with a live band and DJ's, making it one of Guam's hot night spots for the young crowd. Buddies also has some awesome genuine Hawaiian-style poke. In the last month or so, Chef Al has been fixing up some Hawaiian snack favorites and chasers (wings & things), and I had a sampling the other night that was quite impressive. I'm supposed to get a listing of some of the Hawaiian specialties Chef Al makes (especially for catering) and will share it with you once I get it.

Hava Java Cafe - Simply The Best!

If Guam ever held an Olympics for Coffee Shops, then Hava Java Cafe would get the Gold medal. Hava Java sells Lavazza, Italy's #1 coffee, and brews their espressos properly; they offer a "Make Me A Sandwich" Menu with more quality meats, cheeses, dressings, veggies, breads than anyone else; the interior features colorful murals and an intriguing collection of art deco coffee-themed & Torani syrup posters; and they have a prime location in the center of Hagatna next to the Post Office. It's these attributes and many more which differentiate Hava Java Cafe from the rest of the coffee spots that have perked up over the past decade.

The heart and soul of Hava Java Cafe is Carol Ragan, whose passion for service excellence and quality inspires her entire team to do their best and be the best. The cozy, coffee-toned palette of the new location's interior exudes the trusting comfort of home yet creates an atmosphere that both soothes and excites. You'd be hard-pressed to find a coffee house anywhere in the world with Hava Java's eclectic collection of background music, which blends jazz-fusion-contemporary-easy listening songs into what I'd call a "thinking person's sound track." It's a place where a single customer can order a beverage, pastry, or sandwich of their choice, sit by a window and read magazines or papers from Hava Java's library, and enjoy themselves in a solitude of self-indulgence. Cool.

Hava Java's Deli-Style Sandwiches have grown in popularity over the years, and are made to order after 10 a.m. daily. These include Pastrami, Roast Beef, Turkey, and Ham (all $5.95), Chicken Salad ($5.75), Tuna Salad and B.L.T. (both $4.95), and Vegetarian ($4). The sandwiches include a side of delicious, fresh-tasting cole slaw and all-you-can-drink Iced Coffee or Iced Tea. Your bread choices are White, Whole Wheat, Rye, French Baguette or Sub Roll. You select your veggies (lettuce, tomato, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, dill pickles), and can add cheese (American, Swiss, or Provolone) for $.50 extra. Dressings vary from regular and fat-free Mayonnaise, Mustards (Dijon, American, Hot English), Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Salt and Pepper. My all-time favorite is the Chicken Salad on a toasted baguette with Provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, dill pickles, mayo, and Dijon, with just a dash of Red Wine vinegar.

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Bon appetit!

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