October 7 , 2005, Volume 5 Number 40
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
When is too much enough? Isn't that an interesting question? I'm sure it could apply to a variety of things, however, I'm really talking about food, and specifically about the number of restaurants we have on our island. There are approximately 490 restaurant outlets on Guam, with most open at least six days a week, and with a good portion of them serving lunch and dinner.
If everyone on Guam ate out all the time, we would not have enough places for everyone to eat during any given meal time. The reality is that most families on Guam eat dinner at home and dine out around paydays and during special occasions. If there were no tourists visiting Guam, we would probably see the number of restaurants go down to less than 100. It's because of the visitors that we have so many more restaurants than an island with our population's demographics could support. And yet, even with the million or so visitors we get each year, many restaurants are struggling to stay open, with only a few realizing respectable revenues. I'm no economist, yet I know a little about supply and demand, and that the forces of the marketplace will determine who will win and who will lose. You can ask any restaurant operator and they'll tell you that they've seen a decline in customer spending. People are conserving more than they have in a long time, and are watching how they spend their precious dollars with a higher proportion going to gasoline!
What's all this mean? It means that restaurants are going to have to become more aggressive to bring paying customers through their doors, and once they get them there to find ways to keep bringing them back. Among the strategies you can expect to see more often are more menu specials, discounts, in-house promotions, and loyalty programs. This week's review of Alize Restaurant at the Guam Reef Hotel demonstrates how this property is taking the initiative to invest in meaningful changes that will hopefully increase local traffic into their establishment. I believe they are stepping in the right direction. Only time will tell.
Ken, "The Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- Chefs Compete in Pastries in Paradise - Saturday October 8 Hilton Guam
- Hyatt's 12th Anniversary Brings a Month Of Culinary Adventures
- HOB's "The Brutus" - A Worthy Burger That Comes with Eating Instructions
- Marriott Celebrity Pastry Chef's Magical Creations
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - Southeast Asian Cuisines - Thai Kitchen, Mary's Vietnamese
- Alize Restaurant Launches New Buffet Concept with Local-Friendly Pricing
Chefs Compete in Pastries in Paradise - Saturday October 8 Hilton Guam
Some of Guam's best chefs will be showcasing their culinary skills in Saturday night's Pastries in Paradise "Sweet Dreams" Fundraiser benefiting the Lend-A-Hand Charity. Among the chefs competing in the Judges' Cup and Bailey's Challenge contests are Nobukazu Takada, Guam Hotel Okura; Jude Gaguiog, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa; Lito Gonzalo, Hotel Nikko Guam; Ryan Chiguina, Ohana Bayview; Gerry Young, Outrigger Guam Resort; Peter Duenas, Sam Choy's; Andrew Myers, TGI Fridays; Takuhiko Kishimoto, Nana's Cafe; Robert Rhoden, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa; Chef Suharto, Hyatt Regency Guam; Chris Aguilar & Bernard Manasala, Outrigger Guam Resort; Maggie Flores, Sam Choy's; Thomas Bekebekmad, Westin Guam Resort and a team from the Guam Community College. As it has been for the past eight years, this is one of the island's most delightful tasting events...and certainly the sweetest! Tickets are still on sale at the GHRA Office and the PDN, and are priced $20 per person and $10 per child (6-11 years). Doors open at 6pm.
Hyatt's 12th Anniversary Brings a Month Of Culinary Adventures
October commemorates the Hyatt Regency Guam's 12th year of operation here and they are showing their appreciation to the dining public by preparing the following culinary options at their destination outlets:
- Al Dente's Chef Mirko will be featuring L'Angus Originale e Garnantito (a Certified Angus Beef promotion). Since Certified Angus Beef is the preferred choice for steak connoisseurs around the globe, it is only fitting that Al Dente will be serving a collection of prime cuts of tenderloin, t-bone, and rib-eye cooked to your liking, with sauces to give that Italian touch. This promotion is ongoing nightly through October 31.
- Autumn Flavors at La Mirenda - The Sunday Brunch Buffet will feature an international food fest, with the daily buffets changing weekly to reflect specialty cuisines from around the world, including Germany, Asia, the Mediterranean, and local favorites(fiesta-style) from Guam.
- Niji Japanese Restaurant's Chef de Cuisine, Chef Yasu, is showcasing an impressive fusion menu in which he is borrowing traditional Japanese ingredients and melding these with western cooking methods. Chef Yasu's "East Meets West" set menu dinner promotion is from October 16-31, and is priced at $39.50/person.
HOB's "The Brutus" - A Worthy Burger That Comes with Eating Instructions
The House of Brutus is one of the island's chic new eateries and has quickly established itself as a brand destination where people go for a Pellegrino or Illy espresso "fix" while eating through HOB's eclectic and original menu creations. In my continuous search for entrees to our "Guam's best burgers" competition, the HOB Brutus popped up on our radar (it did more than that...it literally blocked it from rotating!).
The Original Brutus Burger ($9.95) has a half pound of specially marinated ground beef, topped with a fried egg, American cheese, cabbage slaw, cucumber, tomato, and two thick onion rings. In lieu of customary buns, the Brutus has two thick planks of buttered/grilled sourdough that when you finally try to place the top of the sandwich down on the rest, you have to refer to the HOB Brutus Burger instruction card, which says "PRESS DOWN AND DON'T LET GO"! That's what I did and that's how I started, then finished my burger...it was full-flavored and filling, too...enough to satisfy the heartiest of appetites. The home fries were pretty darned good, too. I had ordered the cabbage slaw on the side, but quickly found out why they lather it on the sandwich...it's really a taste enhancement...just one more pleasing element.
Speaking of pleasing...you must try the Brutus Espresso-infused Melting Chocolate Souffle ($6.95), which is cooked to order (definitely worth the wait - and yes, even the other "weight")! This sinful original concoction is an illusional "Cafe Mocha" with a hidden agenda - the surprise is inside well beyond the foaming cream! Call Brutus for more info 647-0315 or visit them online at their ultra-cool Brutus website.
Marriott Celebrity Pastry Chef's Magical Creations
Prior to his early Friday morning departure, I was fortunate enough to meet up with visiting Chef Bruno Bohl, the renowned pastry chef from the JW Marriott Bangkok, where he had overseen the opening and operation of the highly-acclaimed Bangkok Baking Company.
Chef Bruno has been promoted to a new position at the JW Marriott in Jakarta Indonesia. He is an energetic, young visionary whose talents are creating ultra-fine pastries with simple ingredients. I sampled his Chocolate Truffles, Toffee Banana Trifle, Chocolate Tart, Chocolate Covered Bananas, Chocolate Mousse, and a slice of his awesome strawberry topped New York Cheesecake, and all I can say is "Wow!!" The good thing is that the recipes for these pastries are in the good hands of the Marriott's culinary team and that they will be offering Chef Bruno's unique dessert creations through November 30 at The View, the Marriott Cafe, and the Manhattan Steakhouse. So, after you've de-toxed from the Pastries in Paradise sugar-rush, you can get your "sweet-freak" on again at the Marriott! You'll understand why I (and those who know him) consider Chef Bruno one of the world's leading pastry chefs. [Photo L-R: Bruno Bohl, Pastry Chef JW Marriott Jakarta; Leland Feng, Sr. Sous Chef Guam Marriott]
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
October 8, 2004, Vol 4 No 41
Restaurant Reviewed: Feeregalo's "Biz" Lunch Specials - Economy Fare to First Class Dining
"Elegance of Napa" Experience at Hilton Gets Raves
Sam Choy's Team Attends Wine & Food Festival with Celebrity Chefs
Around the Island - Southeast Asian Cuisines - Thai Kitchen, Mary's Vietnamese
It's been a while since I've stopped by and been honored to have Toy McGurk's authentic Thai home-cooking at Thai Kitchen. Toy was the inspiration in the kitchen at Pim's Place, and that's where I really learned to love Thai cuisine so her cooking will also be special to me. We wanted something light so we started out with the Tofu Soup ($6.50), which comes with minced chicken. The broth is flavored by coriander with a bit of fish sauce. We had the Chicken Wings appetizer ($6.50) and then the Pad Bai Kra Proa ($8) Thai-style with egg on top. I love this basil-infused dish with peppers and minced pork! Thai Kitchen is one of the island's smaller Thai establishments and arguably one of the best. [Editor's Note: We agree!] Thai Kitchen is in the Cen-Tam Building along Marine Corps Drive in Tamuning. Call 649-1031 for take-out and reservations.
Mary's Vietnamese is my preferred stop for Sinigang Soup with Shrimp ($9.50) as I find it an ideal restorative to help fight off that nasty flu bug that's making the rounds. The hot, sour, and spicy broth really de-congests and makes one feel better immediately. Mary's also has the best fresh lumpia on island. While we were there, I noticed a large table where some military dependent kids were enjoying these for the first time. It made me feel good to see them really enjoy the food at Mary's, especially since it was one of my recommended places for the "TLA Survival Guide" that's been included in the Guam Orientation packets given to the military families being stationed on Guam. We also had the Beef Salad ($10), and the Kang Kung with Chicken ($8). Both were light, nutritious entrees that can be appreciated guilt-free! Mary's is in the G.B.Sangalang Bldg. on Rte 16 across from Iglesias ni Cristo Church. Call for take-out at 649-5523.
Alize Restaurant Launches New Buffet Concept with Local-Friendly Pricing
Originally it wasn't my intent to review this restaurant when I visited here last Saturday Night for the launch of Alize Restaurant's new series of theme buffet nights. In spite of offering steep discounts on Saturday and Sunday evenings which tried to counter the past couple of years of mediocre food quality, the downward spiral was not stemmed. I came to Alize specifically to see what I was confident would be a significant difference in the food service standard under the Reef's new Executive Chef Clayton Babas (formerly Chef de Cuisine at PIC's Bistro). What I found was that even though Clayton was still new to the property he has settled into this new position and I was pleased enough with the food and overall value offered to write this review.
Alize is exclusively a buffet restaurant, and includes Breakfast, International Lunch, Nightly Theme Dinners, and Sunday Brunch. Saturday night is called International with Seafood, so there is a strong emphasis on the bounty of the sea. The Dinner Buffet is $35 for adults and $20 for children ages 5-12, under 5 eat free. With the local 40% discount on weekends, this $35 becomes $21, which is not bad. Even better, if you become a member of the Reef's new loyalty program called Club Infinity which has an annual fee is $20, you'll receive a 50% discount on all meals at Alize! Did I mention that the price includes all beverages including draft beer, wine and juices as well as sodas, coffee and tea? Now the dollars and cents are beginning to make sense, right?
The Reef's Food & Beverage Manager is Ariel Rios, a trained, experienced chef. He is another reason why the tides have changed at the Reef. Though I can't comment about the food selection available on the other nights of the week, I can say that the Saturday International with Seafood Buffet had a good offering of the sushi, sashimi, tempura, salads, and fruits. They also had pizza, which is something others don't usually put out in their buffet lines. A real seafood highlight was the live cooking station manned by Neil an experienced cook I know from another property. He was grilling up customer selections from an array of salmon, shrimp, prawns, calamari, mahi, rock lobster tails, and steak in an irresistible garlic butter sauce. Believe me, the meal could begin and end right here at this station...it was that wonderful!
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