June 3, 2005, Volume 5 Number 22
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
[Editor's Note: We publish an abbreviated version of the newsletter this week. We do think you'll find the first of a new series of articles featuring recommended restaurants and dishes interesting and useful. Next week we return in our usual format.]
Whenever I travel to the mainland I make it a point to go to grocery stores to view the variety of produce, meats, seafoods, baked goods, packaged foods, and other non-food items that fill the shelves and aisles with a nearly incomprehensible abundance. People in the United States take this profusion of food for granted, and don't seem to appreciate just how good they have it.
Of course there's no way to compare the quality of Guam's grocery selection with the mainland counterparts - we just don't have the population, we are extremely isolated from our sources of supply, and we can't afford to air freight all the fresh meats, vegetables and fruits you'd find at the base commissaries. We also have unfair restrictions, such as the Jones Act, which forces us to ship our U.S. products from the West Coast on American carriers, and we are generally unable to economically and consistently import produce from our Pacific Rim neighbors.
One notable exception is the impressive selection of products brought in by GPO's California Market, which has been successful in stocking their shelves with goods from Korea. Another example is Tokyo Market, however, you may be deterred from shopping once you see the price tags on their imported Japanese vegetables, meats, and grocery items. Both of these ethnic stores rely strongly on the market forces of supply and demand, with each catering to their own customer base, while neither are able to satisfy the general grocery needs of the island's population.
What we manage to do best is to "shop around", by going to Pay-Less, Cost-U-Less, K-Mart, California Market, Tokyo Market, the Fisherman's Co-Op, and an assortment of other grocery outlets (big & small), bakeries, produce and seafood stands that operate throughout our villages, whose fresh selections can vary with the latest harvest and catch of the day. Maybe that's one of the blessings of living on this small island, where we can shop creatively by picking and choosing from the wide variety of grocery, produce, and food options. Now, isn't this better and more fun than being able to go to a single store where all your needs are met?
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
"A Craving for Kelaguen"
For the recent graduation party I attended in Houston, I was able to satisfy a long-standing craving my family and friends (who were former Guam residents) had for one of our island's favorite local dishes - kelaguen. Using chopped pieces of chicken we'd marinated and barbecued, I added lemon, green and white onions, and serrano peppers to make a chicken kelaguen that everyone relished. I also prepared a shrimp kelaguen (using frozen pre-cooked shrimp) dish that disappeared soon after. Although neither of my creations, nor the finedene I made, could match or even come close to what you'd get at Y Kusina, I made a lot of people happy by bringing them a taste of Guam, which is something you just can't get at a WalMart, Sam's Warehouse, or Kroger's! Kelaguen rules!
Recommended Restaurants & Dishes from the North Asian Cuisines
Guam has such a wide variety of great food and excellent restaurants that it is always difficult to answer the frequently asked question, "Who has the best (fill in the blank) on Guam?" In order to help new arrivals, visitors or even local residents venture out and try something new we start a new series of articles designed to help answer this most delicious of questions.
Our first list focuses on cuisines from North Asia; specifically, China, Korea and Japan. Believe us, it was hard to narrow down the choices and we decided to focus on specific dishes that these restaurants do extremely well. While many restaurants do many of the recommended dishes, the ones selected have proven to be consistently excellent over time and the dishes are among the best, if not the best, available. Some dishes are unique to the restaurant, such as the Bamboo Rice from Po Suk Jung, and are well worth a visit to enjoy.
Din Tai Fong
Any of the dim sum especially the Crystal Dumpling with Meat & Chives
Shrimp Fried Noodles, Chinese Broccoli
Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Honey Walnut Shrimp and Lapu Lapu in Black Bean Sauce
Old Town Chinese
Shanghai Noodles, Five-Spice Beef Shank Appetizer and Kang Kong
Yuan San Chinese
Best Chinese Buffet
Sushi Box, Pork Ginger Set
Kawa-ebi Karagae (deep fried fresh water baby shrimp), Seafood Salad
Tofu Steak, Fried Shrimp, Unagi and any of their salads
Japanese Sunday Brunch
Sushi from high-quality fish at very reasonable prices
Gae Jang - fresh raw crab prepared with red pepper and mixed with vegetables
Nokdoo Jijim - delicious mung bean pancakes with scallions and carrots
Po Sok Jung
Bamboo Rice with Pan Chan - cooked in a bamboo tube this is amazing
Busuk Jungul - a hot pot of assorted mushrooms with beef in broth
Kalbi - everyone know this popular Korean favorite of barbecued ribs
Ishiyaki Bibimbab - a hot stone pot of rice with seasoned vegetables
Don't miss this week's features at GuamDiner.com!
You can find Guam Food Guy links and reviews at the following sites: