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December 16, 2005, Volume 5 Number 49


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

I am truly fortunate! That's not to say that I don't have my "challenges" (everybody does), but I really have "pulled a lucky straw" when I decided on being a restaurant reviewer. Although I enjoy discovering new culinary creations along with traditional standards from a variety of cuisine types, I actually appreciate more getting to know the folks behind the plates who transform food elements into edible art. Last Saturday I attended Roy Yamaguchi's Cooking Class at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. It was fascinating to observe, listen to, and interact with this Master Chef who is certainly a living legend. He is a modest man who handles his success quite well by down-playing it and by remaining reserved and soft-spoken. Sometimes these qualities are mistaken for "aloofness"...Roy is happy being one of the guys and is quite content with a good bowl of ramen.

I consider it magical to be able to mix soy sauce, palm sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, Thai red chilies, a minced shallot, bean sprouts, bok choy, tomatoes, rice noodles, pepper, mint leaves, sesame oil, shrimp, pork belly, and sea bass filets to make a glorious dish simply called Hawaiian Sea Bass. This man has created scores of recipes and has fed thousands, if not millions, of people, in the 32 restaurants bearing his name. After finishing Saturday night's dinner, Roy was able to toss his chef's coat, put on a T-shirt, and go out with some of the guys he'd been working with during his brief visit. [Pictured L-R: Genji Chef Hamada, Roy's Manager Rey Ochavillo, Yamaguchi, and Roy's Chef de Cuisine, Eddie Chien] Wherever they went that night you can be sure of one thing, they all valued each other's company and probably swapped some of the best stories told in Tumon that night, regardless of where they went or what they ate!!

Ken, The Guam Food Guy

In Today's Issue:

  • K57 "Tourism & You" Guam Food Guy Program Saturday December 17 10am
  • Christmas Sundays At Sam Choy's - Last Chance December 18
  • Treasures By The Sea - Arts & Crafts Fair, Jeff's Pirates Cove, Dec 18 9am-5pm
  • Chef Roy Yamaguchi's Special Holiday Menu - A Grand Master's Treat To Remember
  • Saipan's Taste of Shanghai - Jade Garden (soon to be The Bund) Has the Real Deal!
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the Guamdiner Newsletter
  • Around the Island - Vegetarian Dream at LTB, Sam Choy's Comfort Lunch, OHG's Blackened Ahi Burger
  • Duangdee Thai Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge - New Thai Eatery Gets High Marks

K57 "Tourism & You" Guam Food Guy Program Saturday December 17 10am

Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy's segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-Noon. This week's first hour guest will be Ruben Mortera, General Manager, House of Brutus, Tamuning's quintessential cafe, diner, pub, wine bar, and night club. For our 11am time slot we'll be featuring folks from the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa's newly-reopened Genji Japanese Restaurant, including Kunihiko Hamada, Chef de Cuisine; Naoki Matsui, Genji's Manager; and Crystal Sablan, Marketing Communications Manager. These live in-studio interviews will offer unique, candid, and interesting insights into the people behind the scenes at the island's restaurants. Your phone calls are welcome. Call 477-5700, or *57 on your cell phone.

Christmas Sundays At Sam Choy's - Last Chance December 18

This is the third and final week for the special Christmas Sunday's at Sam Choy's. This successful event is one you don't want to miss since it combines a delicious brunch buffet featuring free flowing Beringer White Zinfandel with entertainment by Jessie & Ruby, a fashion show by the Kristal Kollection, and a unique holiday bazaar with vendor displays. Among the vendors are Rare N Precious Accessories, Gift Baskets by Jean Chabonne, Underwater World, Tupperware, and the Soroptomist International of the Marianas. Moreover, this brunch supports worthy causes, with the booth rental fees and a portion of the $25 buffet cost being donated to the Edward M. Calvo Cancer Foundation, the First Lady's Book Mobile, and Soroptimist International of the Marianas. For more information and reservations, call Sam Choy's at 649-6637.

Treasures By The Sea - Arts & Crafts Fair, Jeff's Pirates Cove, Dec 18 9am-5pm

The Chamorro Artists Association will be presenting "Treasures by the Sea" at Jeff's Pirates Cove this coming Sunday. This is an excellent opportunity for you to purchase some locally produced art and handicrafts for Christmas presents. You'll be able to pick up Efil carvings, Storyboards, Glass floats, Chamorro jewelry, paintings, carvings, shell art, and many other items. Plus, you'll have an opportunity to eat Jeff's tasty local fiesta food, his famous Homemade Cheeseburger, or a nice selection of savory Greek food made by daughter Sarah. The admission is $1 with children under 12 free. For information, call Rosanne or Jeff at 789-2683 or call Viki at 828-2138.

Chef Roy Yamaguchi's Special Holiday Menu - A Grand Master's Treat To Remember

Roy Yamaguchi was in the house and serving a four-course set menu for $45 ($65 with wine pairing). I'd heard earlier that Saturday that the Lamb Chops were fantastic - literally melting in your mouth! The dinner started out with a Cassoulet of Lobster, Scallops, & Shrimp with Kabocha Ravioli, followed by a Roasted Duck Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette. The prawn - nothing "shrimpish" about that big fella! - dominated the bowl, though the lobster and scallops were perfect complements.

The next course was the Tempura of Moi with Braised Pork Belly in Miso Broth. I don't know how to relate just how fine this dish was, aside from being an original creation, it prompted all kinds of other sensations, not unlike Soul food's red beans & rice. This Japanese-based dish would be a hit on any menu. And, the lamb was exceptional. It was a Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chop with Stewed Cabbage Potato and Apple Cider Sauce. The meat did "melt" in my mouth and the thick pistachio crust had a mustard base that made this entree roar!

I hope Chef Eddie will be able to run some (if not all) of these on future menus. I could use a thousand words to try to describe the dishes, yet the best way to understand this food's magnificence is to eat it. Mahalo, Roy!

Saipan's Taste of Shanghai - Jade Garden (soon to be The Bund) Has the Real Deal!

While in Saipan last week I had the privilege to eat superb Shanghai-style Chinese food at the Fiesta Resort's Jade Garden for dinner with Executive Chef David Spitzer, his wife Nancy and daughter Megan. The Jade Garden will soon be re-named "The Bund," which is a famous district in Shanghai known for it's historic collection of international buildings along the bustling Huangpu River. The shopping and dining options abound there.

The dining at Jade Garden was marvelous, too! We started off with a Roast Chicken (truly one of the best I've had), followed by a Tofu Sauteed with Seafood. We had a Hot & Spicy Crab that was out of this world..it was fresh from the Philippines and flavored throughout...all that was left was a pile of shell bits. One of the real treats was the Fresh Eel sauteed Shanghai Style. It was sauteed in a spicy black been sauce with bamboo shoots and chives. The eel was flown in fresh from Shanghai...it was totally de-boned so the meat was a delicate pleasure. We also had an exceptional Peking Duck, which I was compelled to finish (must have had 8 servings). I even managed to have some Pickled Chicken Feet.

The Fiesta is a beautiful property and is decorated for Christmas with what seems like a million bubbles (glass ball ornaments) that appear to be floating. Also, there is an awesome Seattle-based band that's playing R&B classics at the Chambre Bar, called Emerald City. Guam-born musician Jesse Rivera is joined by Butch Harrison and F. "Frank" Carmen Felix. They played at the opening of Fiesta Resort Saipan... I hope they can come to Guam for the opening of Guam's Fiesta Resort later this month. If not, try to get over to Saipan to hear them play...you'll want to get up and sing with them!!

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the Guamdiner Newsletter

Dec 17 2004 Vol 4 No 51

Restaurant Reviewed: The New Uncle Bob's - The Place for All Things Beef and More! [Editor's Note: Uncle Bob's is no longer open]

Highlights:
A Culinary Christmas - GCC's Culinary Arts Offers a Lavish Fund-raiser Buffet
WHAT'S 2 Eat?" GuamDiner.com & GUAMCELL Launch New Wireless Restaurant Guide
Cantate Christmas - 3rd Annual Presentation of Handel's 'Messiah' Dec 18 & 19

Around the Island - Vegetarian Dream at LTB, Sam Choy's Comfort Lunch, OHG's Blackened Ahi Burger

Oooohh La La! Vegetarians are gonna love this! Attention! Attention! Mesdames and Monsieurs! Nous avons "Tofu Millefeuille Aux Legumes Grilles"! Yes, Le Tasi Bistro has a great vegetarian dish on it's menu. Grilled fresh vegetables are layered between two tofu slices over a basil tomato coulis for $17.50. We had broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, onions, green beans, yellow bell pepper, and mushrooms in a sweet savory marinara - that's the Basil Tomato Coulis - the fresh basil leafs are a signature LTB garnish!

If you caught the Hamburger Steak & Eggs at Sam Choy's for lunch (one of Executive Chef Peter Duenas' culinary innovations), you were as lucky as I was. It was an 8 oz Hamburger Steak that had TWO eggs on top with steamed rice, and mushroom gravy ($14.95). I added finadene and Tabasco and was in heaven while I ate this comfort food that was based on the Loco Moco, an old local standard started by King's. I'd enjoyed some really good chicken kelaguen before the Hamburger Steak came...it's a part of Sam Choy's "Gof Mangi Na Chesa" (starters) on their lunch menu called Kelaguen of the Day ($7.95). They really pile it on! The special desserts we had was an incredible White Chocolate Panna Cotta - which was like a white chocolate "jello" topped with a caramel pecan sauce...just heavenly, with real crunchy pecans...an original! The second dessert (both $6.95) was a Chocolate Irish Mousse made by Auntie Maggie Flores...who used some Bailey's Irish Cream. It had the rich density of a fudgecicle. Awesome!

Old Hagatna Grill's got a mean Blackened Ahi Burger that's topped with a flavor-packed Cajun Remoulade, caramelized onion, and fresh spinach, with a price of only $9.50! The Ahi tasted like it was just caught and the remoulade enhanced it's flavor profile, and the spinach leaves with the caramelized onion...certainly a palate-pleaser! This is a sandwich you'll have to try for yourself...I recommend it without reservation!

Duangdee Thai Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge - New Thai Eatery Gets High Marks

If you like Thai food, then you'll probably enjoy any entree you'll receive at Duangdee Thai Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, located next to OP Bakery in the Monticello Plaza which is better known as the home of Tamuning's Cost U Less. Though I don't like to review a restaurant that's too new (only 3 weeks old) I felt this one needed me to put the word out.

The first impression you get when you enter Duangdee is that it is "clean." I mean noticeably clean, smoke-free, and well air-conditioned. The other thing you'll note is that the owner, Arawan Chairid, went through considerable expense in outfitting the interior with fine furnishings and Thai artwork, with little window boxes containing statues giving the restaurant a museum-like feel. It's an unlikely place to put a Thai Restaurant, especially one with such a classy ambiance and the delicate strains of Thai music playing in the background.

So, the first thing I'm going to do is warn you. The food is made to order, so that it will take some time for large groups to get their order served, unless you call ahead and place your order (call 646-9779). The food is quite good here...I was told about it by several reliable sources (scouts) and after eating at Duangdee, I told a few friends who have since returned several times. The menu cover is an elaborate depiction of a famous Thai temple and has the King's barge (called Subanahonsa,or Golden Swan), with the barge's figurehead raised in flight. It holds a crystal ball and tassel in its mouth. This certainly sets the mood for authentic Thai. Unfortunately, the menu's entree listings were overly ambitious, with many items not yet available. Plus, you should be prepared for the menu's sections being out of order - an uncorrected printing error. To her credit, Arawan has marked the items she does have to help you with your choices.

We had three dishes - the Panang Curry with Chicken for $9.25, the Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp, $8/small, and $12 for the Large Bowl, and the Pad Thai Noodle with Shrimp, $9.25. The Panang Curry is made with a slightly sweetened red curry paste blended with a rich coconut milk, then blended with red and green bell peppers and mushrooms. Duangdee's Panang has more vegetables than usual, with a healthy infusion of green long beans, something I really like. There are chilies in this mix, too, not many but enough to notice. You need to tell Arawan what level of heat you want :mild, medium, or hot. The Panang we had was excellent, with every bite reinforcing pleasure. If Arawan only cooked five dishes, this is the one you'd better have!

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Bon Appetit!

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