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March 31, 2006, Volume 6 Number 13

Dear " Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Wow! What a week! Week? What a Month! Chamorro month officially ends on Friday and April is off-and-running on Saturday, bringing yet another action packed month! Next week, the annual PHARE (Pacific Hotel & Restaurant Expo) event at the Hilton Guam gets underway, and two weeks after that we have the 9th Annual Guam Girl Scout Auction and Wine Tasting fund raiser at the Hyatt Regency.

The restaurant scene on Guam is ever evolving with closures and openings happening almost every other week. Cuppucino Cafe in the Micronesia Mall is closing only to be replaced by Cold Stone Creamery. A new eatery going into the old Uncle Bob's in Sumay, and Tumon's going to see more changes. It is remarkable how many people want to open up a restaurant...there are first-timers as well as experienced veterans who are looking to add new concepts or to fill niche markets that aren't being developed. I discovered long ago that I'll never be able to review all the restaurants using the same frequency of my weekly review. I'd have to review one every day, and I don't see my "diet" allowing for that!

One of the memorable events of Chamorro month was watching the live Saturday night performance of the Guma' Palu Li'e' at Planet Hollywood. Their performance of traditional-style Chamoru chant and dance was compelling, with members ranging from small children to adult members dressed in colorful native woven skirt costumes. The tempo of their chants and the sound of their powerful voices singing in unison held the audience's attention - with some seeming spellbound by this large group performing in the middle of this restaurant. The Planet Hollywood movie screens were filled with live images of the group. Visitors were snapping up photos like mad! This group did an outstanding job of conveying their message via chants. I am sure many visitors were as impressed by this unusual vocal performance as I was! This was much more than just doing a Polynesian "dinner show"! This was a moving insight into Guam's culture.

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Ronnie Perez Wins Chef's Cup! Clayton Babas Nabs 2nd Place Spot!
  • PHARE Set for Next Week, Thursday - Saturday, April 6-8, Hilton Guam
  • Guam Girl Scouts Auction & Wine Tasting Fund Raiser April 21, Hyatt Regency
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the Guamdiner Newsletter
  • Around the Island - Big Burger at Latte Stone Cafe, May's Fabulous Steamed Lapu Lapu, Sam Choy's Superbly Fried Parrotfish
  • A Round Up of Guam's Best Japanese Restaurants - From Noodles to Fine Dining

Ronnie Perez Wins Chef's Cup! Clayton Babas Nabs 2nd Place Spot!

It was described as the best Chef's Cup ever by organizers and many of those who've attended past events at the Hyatt Regency Guam, the kitchen 'home' of the Chef's Cup. One thing for certain is that last Friday's Chef's Cup Competition held the attention of attendees better than ever before with most staying through all five courses. Although this was not a serious competition amongst the chefs (it's impossible to fairly judge one course against the others), there was no denying the seriousness everyone undertook to have a great time, to laugh a lot, and to eat splendidly.

Top vote getter was Veronica "Ronnie" Calvo Perez, chef/owner of Firefly Bistro, Cup & Saucer and Bestseller Cafe, who surprised and delighted the audience with a whimsical, highly imaginative, even 'Technicolor' dessert creation, "Psychedelic Island", which had a rich layer of rum-laced chocolate cake wrapped in a shell of tropical white fudge placed atop candied ginger shortbread with a coconut cookie tree, surrounded by a colorized sea of exotic fruit sauces.

Clayton Babas, Executive Chef of the Guam Reef Hotel, garnered a 2nd place finish with his Hawaiian/Chamoru fusion creation of Grilled Corn and Coconut Tamales with Kalua Style Beef Brisket on Roasted Eggplant and a Boonie Pepper Dinanche. Although this was a delicious hands-on kind of surprise ingredient package, there were no secrets to Executive Chef Peter Duenas exquisite Rock Lobster Spring Rolls with Bouquet of Mesclun Greens, Vietnamese Mint infused Vinaigrette, Boonie Pepper Oil and Seasoned Crab Roe, certainly a notable contender and, in many people's minds, the best course of the night.

However, Peter's dish was served first, and you'd have to have been there to see how a convoluted series of events and misdeeds, including a comedy skit involving a furtive meeting of Columbian drug dealers scheming to addict all those present with cocaine secretly placed in their food, would ultimately throw everything off course. Who could have guessed that the head of AK could partner with the publisher of the Marianas Variety to get Calvo's Insurance to underwrite the Outrigger's Executive Chef Chris Aguilar, who needed a policy to retain his title? Chef Chris' Smoked Paprika Chicken with Chorizo Sausage was caught in the middle of this drug bust and couldn't get out to hold the trophy.

The tragedy of the night came when a white-robed medium channeled in the spirit of a food critic who predicted that the main course created by Hyatt's Executive Chef Hermann Grossbichler was out of season. Well, he wasn't far from the fact, as it turned out, he was quite close, as close as those glorious, course-saving market fresh chantrelles were to that well-conceived and divinely-executed Lemon & Thyme Roasted Poussin (young chicken) that was filled with Black Truffle Risotto! It was a classic dish - a veritable masterpiece that was brilliantly presented. Alas, most had no idea how to eat this dish (it needed some instruction, if not a demonstration), but when sliced to reveal the marbled risotto with succulent deboned breast and ladled with the savory chanterelles and sauce, the dish was absolute perfection. We're not even going to mention the hip hop rap skit with Jojo, Nate, Ronnie, and that insurance icon, Kurt Moylan, who voiced a "prescription" that brought down the house!

The Hyatt staff and management are to be commended for their outstanding performance. The University of Guam Endowment Fund and Micronesian Chefs' Association pulled off another successful event. It's people like Jerry Calvo, Flora Baza Quan, Gordon Misuzawa, Barry Mead, the GCC Culinary Arts students, the JFK ProStart Champions mentored by Hilton's Executive Chef Christophe Durliat, the Denights, and emcees Ray Gibson and Sonya Artero who, along with a slew of other folks too numerous to mention, made this event the stunning success it was. Kudos to all! [Winning Chef Ronnie Calvo (pretty in pink!) surrounded by her crew]

PHARE Set for Next Week, Thursday - Saturday, April 6-8, Hilton Guam

Be sure to mark your calendar to attend next week's Pacific Hotel & Restaurant Expo, an exhibition that showcases the Pacific's largest collection of hospitality-related businesses. There will be product displays, seminars, food competitions, and a bartender's competition. To view the preliminary schedule of events, visit the GHRA site.

Guam Girl Scouts Auction & Wine Tasting Fund Raiser April 21, Hyatt Regency

The 9th Annual Auction & Wine Tasting to benefit the Guam Girl Scouts will be held on Friday April 21, from 6-10pm, at the Hyatt Regency Guam. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door. This extraordinary event will be an evening to remember, with a variety of fine wine samples, international cuisine of the caliber of last year's phenomenal spread (which was a credit to executive chef Hermann Grossbichler and his Hyatt kitchen team), complete with live cooking stations, a silent and loud or live auction, and terrific raffle prizes. For more information, call 646-5652 or email me to purchase tickets!

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

April 1, 2005 Vol 5 No 13

Restaurant Reviewed: Nana's Cafe - Tumon's Quiet Oasis Featuring Chef Kishimoto's Special Sauces

Eat Whole Grains - Gov't Offers Advice on Dietary Guidelines

Around the Island - Big Burger at Latte Stone Cafe, May's Fabulous Steamed Lapu Lapu, Sam Choy's Superbly Fried Parrotfish

Attention - New Burger Alert! It's official - Latte Stone Cafe, located in the Acanta Mall, have entered the ongoing Best Burger Competition with an impressive half-pound Bacon Cheeseburger. This pre-seasoned hand made patty has jumped up in stature over some of the past contenders. Priced at $7.95 including regular fries, (an extra $1.25 for the Cajun Fries pictured), this Bacon Cheeseburger joins an increasingly popular line-up of tasty fare being served by Liz Gerber's evolving "boutique" coffee shop.

May's Chinese Restaurant reaffirmed her dominance in the taste category over last week's seafood review of Yummy Tummy with her rendition of steamed Lapu Lapu. Both fish were fresh, though shaped somewhat differently when served, and all other things being equal, May's seafood broth better captured the essence of the ginger, soy and green onion, making her fish taste better for me. Of course, I can't help but enjoy May's Yang Chow Fried Rice. I'm still waiting for another Fried Rice to equal or exceed hers.

Sam Choy's Executive Chef Peter Duenas is a chef after my own heart. I had one of his lunch specials; The Crispy Fried Parrot Fish ($14.95) features a 1 1/2 pound whole fish seasoned and deep fried, served with steamed rice and finedene. The fish was beautiful and plated atop a bed of steamed broccoli, onions, bok choy, carrots, and red bell peppers. I used the soy finedene to flavor my rice and had some finedene dinanche for the fish. It was pika but soooo good. Dessert was a humongous slice of Pastry Chef Maggie Flores' Flourless Chocolate Mousse Cake. I ate every bit of it, filling my chocolate quota for the next 3 weeks. I can heartily recommend any of Chef Peter's Culinary Creations when having lunch or dinner at Sam Choy's. I've never been disappointed.

A Round Up of Guam's Best Japanese Restaurants - From Noodles to Fine Dining

Guam is blessed with a wealth of excellent Japanese restaurants of all types from the most humble of noodle shops and izakayas, the Japanese equivalent of a pub, to elegant contemporary restaurants. This week we take a look at some of the best options for diners craving Japanese food in all of these categories.

While noodle options are good and varied, Aji Ichi remains our favorite noodle shop. Twenty plus years of feeding Guam diners delicious noodles and Japanese food sets make this place worthy of patronage. Two restaurant locations, one in Upper Tumon and the other at Blue Lagoon Plaza, along with their fast food spot at GPO ensure that you are never far from a tasty meal. Read the review.

You would never find a restaurant quite like Flamingo in Japan but it is their rendition of local-style Japanese favorites that makes this place so popular. Where else can you get a combo plate of Chop Steak, Yakisoba and Shrimp Tempura? Read the review.

For izakayas, we have a three good choices including Izakaya Katsu, Kai Restaurant and Doraku. We note Izakaya Katsu for their salads and tofu dishes while Kai offers wonderful sashimi and other pub-style fare from the skilled hands of master chef Kanda. Doraku is almost in a class by itself being tucked away and known to a select few who would prefer it remain unknown except to themselves!

Buffets are not forgotten as we include the combo Japanese-Chinese buffet served at P.I.C's Hanaya Toryu restaurants. And, for those who want to feel that they've fallen into an upscale Japanese food court, there is no place better than Sunday Brunch at Niji in the Hyatt Guam.

Teppanyaki is a local favorite and the food and view at Onward Agana Beach's Sagano Teppanyaki Lunch make this a must try for lovers of the quickly grilled meats and vegetables known as teppanyaki. Read the review.

One of Guam's best Japanese spots is located out in Manenggon Hills at the Leo Palace Resort. Iki Japanese is best described as a full-service Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar, tatami rooms and a well-appointed dining room. Their Bento Boxes are an excellent choice but, in truth, everything is very good here. Read the review.

And, last but certainly not least, we can not forget the return of Genji to the Hilton Guam. Newly renovated and with a new chef creating contemporary Japanese cuisine, Genji is better than ever. The restaurant is gorgeous and the food is revelatory. Read the review.


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