February 17, 2006, Volume 6 Number 7
Dear " Guam Food Guy" Reader,
To critique or review, that is the question! The other night I went to a newly-reopened restaurant where I thought I could get a good steak dinner. Man, was I ever disappointed. Not only was my meal rushed. I had barely prepared a plate from the salad bar, when my appetizer arrived, followed immediately by my main course. The server told me that the Chicken Wings were not the pre-frozen, batter-fried type that I personally dislike, and they ended up being those. The baked potato was loaded with fresh bacon bits, chives, sour cream, cheese, and butter, and seemed to have everything going for it except that it was so lukewarm it didn't have enough heat to melt the butter!
The New York Steak looked appealing. However, the first bite brought a grimace to my face since it tasted like some kind of stale seasoning had bonded to its surface. The server made an effort at concern and, to her credit, replaced the baked potato with a nice steaming hot one, but forgot the bacon bits, which she brought later. She never made it back to check on the steak, which I tried several ways to eat from slicing off the outside to dipping pieces in finadene - I just couldn't get past that "old" taste. I paid and left the establishment, leaving behind some seriously uneaten food.
Now, imagine if I made this my review. Some of you would applaud and be delighted that I'd exposed the establishment as the "scene of the crime." Fortunately, I have already set my course as a reviewer that I would not do a negative review (oh, by the way, the Garlic Toast was quite good!). In this instance, I will return to see if there is an improvement. It could have been a bad steak, or just a combination of errors. I will tell the owner about my experience. If they want my public recommendation, they'll have to earn it with quality food and service.
In the meantime, perhaps one of you readers may feel inclined to take it upon yourself to start critiquing restaurants. I'd be very interested in receiving your comments and would even share them with the restaurants (discreetly omitting your name). We may even publish some of these critiques to give a different perspective to our reviews. We don't want to drive restaurants out of business but we do want them to take heed of some complaints and constructive criticism so that they can take steps to improve. Frankly, I'd be surprised if many of them would take these concerns seriously. So my question to you is would exposing them make me the "bad guy" or the "mean good guy"? Hmmmmm...this is certainly something worth chewing on! Your comments are welcome.
Ken, the Guam Food Guy
In Today's Issue:
- Food Guy Guest Host - K57 Tourism & You Saturday Feb 18, 10am
- Dinana Minagof Chamorro Dance Fest - Feb 18-19, Pa' a Cultural Village Tumon
- Kites For Wishes - Sunday Feb 19, War in the Pacific National Historical Park
- guamBusiness Ranks GuamDiner.com as Networthy in 2006 Internet Directory
- Chung Hae Korean BBQ - For Simple and Great Eats
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the Guamdiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - LTB's Rack of Lamb, Ban Thai Treats, Rambies Filipino Cravings, Coffees & Cream
- Shinkirou Japanese Restaurant - Pacific Place Spot Offers Lunch Bento Variety
Food Guy Guest Host - K57 Tourism & You Saturday Feb 18, 10am
Listen up this Saturday morning when the Guam Food Guy guest hosts K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-12 noon. This week's guests include Mr. Dave Gomberg, President of the American Kite Association, along with Kevin Sanders from Australia, and Make-A-Wish Foundation's Executive Director, Monica Guzman, who will talk about the Kites for Wishes Event on Sunday as well as about the art and sport of kite-flying. The 2nd hour guest will be Ms. Toshie Ito, of Motiva Inc. Toshie is one of the island's foremost work force training authorities in the areas of Customer Service, with a focus on preparing local workers in hospitality and retail to more effectively interact with our Japanese visitors. This promises to be a fantastic show...your calls are most welcome. Call 477-5757 or *57 on your cell to participate.
Dinana Minagof Chamorro Dance Fest - Feb 18-19, Pa' a Cultural Village Tumon
Get into the culture this weekend by attending the fourth annual Dinana Managof Chamorro dance competition and festival this Saturday and Sunday at the Pa' a Cultural Village, adjacent to the Guam Reef Hotel. Among the featured dance troupes will be Inetnon Gef Pa'go, Paraisu, Famagu'on Natibu, Simiyan Natibu, Inatua from Saipan, and Tinian's Taga Cultural Dancers. Also performing are Famagu'on Oro from Untalan Middle School and Katon I Tano from Talofofo Elementary School. All will be competing in three dance categories. Admission is $5 for those over 13 and $2 for those 12 & under. The event runs from 10am-6pm on both Saturday and Sunday. The public is invited. For more information, contact 475-4PAA.
Kites For Wishes - Sunday Feb 19, War in the Pacific National Historical Park
Go fly a kite! Hey, it's even for a good cause!! The Kites for Wishes Event is scheduled from 1-5pm this coming Sunday at the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Asan. You can look forward to seeing exciting demonstrations and exhibitions performed by professional world champion kite fliers, some visiting from around the world. This event is a fund-raiser for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children who have life-threatening illnesses.
guamBusiness Ranks GuamDiner.com as Networthy in 2006 Internet Directory
Be sure to pick up the latest issue of guamBusiness (it's the one featuring "Uncle Dave" Sablan on the cover for winning the coveted 2005 Business Executive of the Year Award), so you can see Sam White's article on cool local websites in the 2006 Internet Directory. Actually, there's a very complimentary review of the Guam Diner website on page 34 that had me blushing with pride. "You can't help but smile when the home page of GuamDiner.com opens, clearly displaying a caricature of well-known local, Ken Stewart, aka, The Guam Food Guy," the article begins. The "Overall Impression" ends the site's review, with these remarks, "Few regions are so lucky to have such a comprehensive and accessible restaurant database. The vast amount of regional information on the site is current and easily accessible. Even after 252 reviews and 235 newsletters, Ken's reviews and articles remain interesting and informative." Now, I was really touched by this! On behalf of the Guamdiner.com team, I sincerely thank you for this high recognition.
Chung Hae Korean BBQ - For Simple and Great Eats
Many people have heard me championing the wonderful dining experiences awaiting them at Tumon's Chung Hae Korean BBQ located next to Marty's on Fujita Road. This is a place that I have returned to repeatedly, each time re-discovering how much I enjoy the hot & spicy beef soup, Yukgaejong ($12). I consider this soup to be one of the best anywhere! This eatery is comfortable, homey, and neither elegant nor pretentious. In fact, it's kind of hard to describe it aesthetically since it lacks the "professional" staff and service you'll see in larger establishments. I doubt, however, that many larger or more impressive establishments can produce a comment book with as many compliments and rave reviews given to Chung Hae's owner, Hyun Lee.
One of the interesting things about this place is that the chef is always experimenting with new foods. I had a hot & spicy poke the other night, along with new stuffed gyoza. The Bone-in Kalbi was awesome as it typically is...marinated for nearly three days in a tenderizing marinade. We were even rewarded with two jumbo prawns barbecued in front of us - talk about "Shrimps on the barbie"!! Chung Hae is open seven days a week, is rarely crowded, and owner Hyun is a delightful hostess. When I say the place is homey, it's probably because Hyun spends more time at the restaurant than she does at home since they open from 11am until 1 or 2am! Call Chung Hae at 649-2343 for more information, or better yet, make it a point to just go there and eat!!
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the Guamdiner Newsletter
Feb 18, 2005 Vol 5 No 7
Restaurant Reviewed: Joinus Teppanyaki $10.99 Lunch Special Satisfies All
Got Cookies? Girl Scout Cookies Still Available
Rainbows 17th Annual 3.5 Mile Run Race Walk for Youth, Saturday March 5
Around the Island - LTB's Rack of Lamb, Ban Thai Treats, Rambies Filipino Cravings, Coffees & Cream
Le Tasi Bistro's Rack of Lamb (Carre d'agneau parfume aux Herbes $19.95) is renown as one of, if not, the island's best. Beautifully seasoned with garlic and rosemary, and cooked to perfection, it is always delicious. The gratin potatoes superbly complement this lamb. While we were there, four other people, each at separate tables, ordered the same. Check out their weekday lunch menus as well as their dinner menu that's posted online. So long as I'm the Guam Food Guy, I'll always be delighted to sit down and eat at Le Tasi Bistro, which is consistently one of the island's top restaurants. The quality of the food, the friendly service and the reasonable prices make this one of Guam's best dining values.
Ban Thai Restaurant is arguably Guam's most popular Thai restaurants, and if anything, I've been negligent by not dining here often enough! So, as a treat tonight, I decided to eat there prior to writing this week's newsletter. I did find out that Tim Palacios, former owner of Sabai Dee, is now working as a chef at Ban Thai. She's doing okay, actually better now that the onus of running a business is off her back! I ordered three dishes to accompany my Thai Tea; Chicken Wings appetizer ($7), Spicy Chicken ($8.50), which blends garlic, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, onions, chilies, and hot basil with spicy chicken that sauteed in oyster sauce; and, the third dish, was the Thai Omelette ($8). The omelette is made with minced pork that's mixed with vegetables and Thai spices that are stuffed inside the omelets. The service is good, the food is great, and the ambiance is authentically Thai. This place has evolved nicely into a destination dining establishment, with an outside deck facing out on San Vitores Road making it its own best form of advertising.
What I have to say about Rambies in the GPO food court is "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!" I must confess to being a Filipino food junkie. I had cravings the other day...cravings for a good soup like Tinola, Nilaga, or Sinigang, and cravings for Adobo, or Kare Kare with Bagaoong. The fast food choices vary at Rambies, so you may not always get the dish you are craving...I was lucky, and they did have Chicken Tinola. There's something magical about this healthy broth that's laced with ginger and cilantro. The chicken is stewed and comes easily off the bone. I also ordered Pork Adobo as take-out, along with Fried Chicken with finadene (Rambie's serves both Filipino and Chamorro favorites). I ordered Kare Kare. It's soooo good with that thick ground peanut sauce and the chunks of tender pork and asked for the bagaoong (shrimp paste) to be placed atop it in the styrofoam container. All said, it was a lot of food and made for partial leftovers. As I said, I did have cravings, and to Nita's credit, these were satisfied. Salamat!
The Coffees & Cream kiosk at the main bus entrance for the Guam Premiere Outlets is in one of the best traffic locations on the island. It's like having the only fishing boat with lots of bait for all the passing fish in the Pacific. Someone's gotta bite, right? They have hot and cold espresso drinks and other beverages. I noticed many Japanese immediately recognizing the cute little San Pellegrino Fruit Beverages (Grapefruit, Bitter Orange,Orange and Lemon). These are gaining in popularity on Guam, as they are immensely popular internationally. I ordered a tall Caffe Mocha with an extra shot of espresso for $4.50. I'll have to go back for a Panini sandwiches on my next visit. It's actually a very nice, clean, and well-furnished eatery, with a physical location that should guarantee success. The service staff is courteous and always smiling, which usually makes for good business.
Shinkirou Japanese Restaurant - Pacific Place Spot Offers Lunch Bento Variety
Of all Guam's Japanese restaurants, Shinkirou has probably had the most traffic pass by it while going to its more popular neighbor's to eat. Shinkirou's immediate next door neighbors in Tumon's Pacific Place happen to be the OutBack and Capricciosa, two of Guam's most successful and busiest restaurants. It kind of makes Shinkirou an anomaly, or better still, a preferred oasis, at least at night when there's that perpetual waiting line snaking out the door and around the hall in front of Shinkirou.
Shinkirou has been open for about 8 years, and I believe I last ate there about seven years ago, before I became the Food Guy. If I recall, I must have had Shabu Shabu for dinner. It was good then, but I'd never returned for other, non-food related reasons. So that's why I'm glad I did return and discover that Shinkirou has quietly been wooing customers in with a very clever bento lunch special that allows customers to choose two main entrees for their $10 bento box, out of a possible 17 choices. Diners can select their two choices from the following list: Grilled Fish, Hamburg, Grilled Chicken, Deep Fried Chicken, Pork Cutlet, Veg/Croquette, Fried Shrimp, Deep Fried Tofu, Tuna Sashimi, Tuna Poki, Yam Paste, Natto Beans, Small Hot Udon/Soba, California Rolls, Tuna Sashimi with Yam Paste, and Tuna Sashimi with Natto Beans. There is also a Teppanyaki Set (Chicken $10 or Beef $12.50), which includes Bacon Shrimp, Appetizers, Rice, and Miso Soup.
For the purposes of this review, I decided on getting the Fried Shrimp and Tuna Sashimi with Yam Paste as my $10 Bento Lunch Special. I also ordered separately from the a la carte menu a Pork Cutlet Bowl for $8.50. Now, I was under the impression I was ordering katsu-don, which is probably what I received. What I discovered was that there is more than one way to make katsu-don.
I expected a more flavorful onion mix (almost stew), to be ladled over the batter fried pork cutlet and rice. I received this dish first and watched with fascination as the bonito flakes atop it curled from the heat. There were seaweed strips, green onions, yellow onion slices, and scrambled egg intermixed with the cutlet, which was fried to a light golden brown, as if panko was used. There were also a noticeable amount of sesame seeds sprinkled throughout, giving my bites more crunch than I usually get. This was a lighter version of the katsu don that I had been used to eating. It was still good, although I wanted more flavoring...it ended up being a little bland by comparison to others I've had at Izakaya Katsu (Green Door) or Sakura's Kitchen. Accompanying the Pork Cutlet Bowl was a side dish with cooked then chilled eggplant and broccoli. There was also a banana slice along with miso soup. It was a refreshing change seeing a piece of fresh fruit added. A salad was delivered...I don't remember if it was part of the Pork Cutlet or the Bento Box, but I think it's for the latter. The Japanese dressing was classically balanced for taste and freshness.
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