Dear " Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's time for a change! We've been doing a major restaurant review as the highlight of our weekly GuamDiner newsletter for nearly six years. Rather than do a major review each week, we're going to do one every other week and alternate this with a new format. This new format will be more flexible but will include upcoming events, a roundup of what's been going on and places I've been eating recently. There will be also be more photos. Change is good! Let us know your thoughts on this change. We appreciate your feedback. We also want to wish everyone a very happy Easter! This holiday has special meaning for many of us and this year there are many reasons to celebrate. And, if you haven't made plans for your Easter feast, check out the specials from our fine restaurant subscribers. Happy Easter!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
WINNERS! - PHARE 2006 Culinary Competition Winners
There were two culinary competitions at last week's PHARE 2006 and I had the honor (and pleasure) of being one of the judges for both the Professional Level and for the GCC Student contest.
The Professional Competition theme ingredient was Chicken Mango Sausage, a product from event sponsor, Quality Distributors. The other 'required' ingredient was Tabasco, distributed by co-sponsor Market Wholesale. The creativity demonstrated by the chefs in preparing their entries was truly impressive.
First Place: Ernest Chonggum, Sous Chef, Planet Hollywood and his Chicken Mango Cannelloni [left]
Second Place:Carol Perez, Sam Choy's
Third Place: Gary Cruz, Hotel NikkoPeoples Choice Award: Sang Jung, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
The Student Competition theme was "Tropical Tilapia" and co-sponsored by the Guam Community College Culinary Academy and Triple J Five Star Wholesale Foods. I was actually more impressed with this competition since the contestants were High School and College student teams who displayed incredible talent and inventiveness in their recipe creations. I wish I could have written about all of the entrees - they had stunning presentations and the taste (and quality) of some were as good, and even better, than a lot of restaurant entrees I've eaten!
First Place: Team Commis, GCC Culinary Academy
Second Place: Team Fish Dippers, GCC Culinary Academy
Third Place: Team NewJac, GCC Culinary Academy
Peoples Choice Award:John F. Kennedy High School Team
Team Commis created a fabulous dish aptly called Flower of Paradise [right], which they described as tender rolled tilapia with vegetables, with a rich, creamy lemon butter sauce and a sweet taste of balsamic vinegar.
Congratulations to all the contestants in these culinary competitions. They are proving to the people of Guam that the culinary bar is being raised to meet global standards.
K57 "Tourism & You" Guam Food Guy
Saturday April 15 10am-Noon
1st Hour Guests: Winners of the recent Pro-Start State Culinary Competition, Team JFK [above left], who will be leaving island later this month to compete in the national competition in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is your opportunity to hear these young student "chef aspirants" tell their stories about the work involved in planning and executing their winning menu creations.
2nd Hour Guest: Veronica "Ronnie" Calvo Perez, Co-owner and Executive Chef for Firefly Bistro, Cup & Saucer, and Bestseller Cafe. Ronnie was this year's winner of the UOGEF/MCA 5th Annual Chef's Cup Competition held on March 24. Her winning entry was her sensational dessert creation, "Psychedelic Island" [above right]. This will be an exciting and informative show you don't want to miss. Listeners are welcome to call and join in on the conversation. Call 477-5700, or *57 on your cell phone.
Guam Girl Scouts Auction & Wine Tasting Fund Raiser
Friday April 21 6-10pm
Hyatt Regency Guam
Tickets: $45 advance, $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 to purchase tickets, or get them at the door!
Jan Z's Pancakes
It was early Sunday morning when we had a craving for pancakes, especially since we wanted to test-drive that bottle of genuine maple syrup given to us as a gift by friends, Jonathon and Suzan Morris, on their recent Guam visit. After listing several nearby options to sate our lust for the hotcake, Jan Z's name popped up and we immediately knew that's where we'd go. The drive from Tamuning to Agat that early in the morning (7:30 ish) has minimal traffic and is a leisurely way to enjoy Guam's scenic coast. Jan Z's opens at 8am and it's the best time to get there to secure a seat, since Sunday is their busiest day especially from 11am- 2pm.
Jan Z's was featuring a Banana Pecan Pancake [right] as one of their breakfast specials. We usually have the plain pancake ($1.50) which for us is enough since their pancakes are easily 3/4" thick and about 10" round. How people eat the Stack of three ($4) is beyond me! We finished the Banana Pecan cake alright and it was absolutely delicious enhanced, of course, by the syrup. We also managed to finish the omelette we ordered but could only get down half of the remainder of our order of regular pancake and ham so we brought it home. It's called breakfast balutan!
For those who've not been down to Jan Z's, you'll find it to be a very comfortable, laid back place where you can gaze out to the marina and the blue sea beyond while sipping coffee and conversing with friends. It's a charming place filled with maritime artifacts, Navy pictures, Japanese currency collections and fish charts, where boat folks meet with landlubbers and share a brew or indulge in their Signature Z Burger. Jan Z's is open seven days a week from 8am until 12 midnight, and they serve food until 10pm. There is an outdoor patio deck available for parties. For take-out, call 565-2814.
It's been a while since I visited the Inn Spot in Hunter's Inn on Ypao Road in Tamuning. I noticed from outside that they'd extended their hours and are now open 24 hours! That's good to keep in mind when you see just how extensive their menu is, which includes all-American fare like burgers and sub sandwiches; Italian goodies like Spaghetti and Chicken Fettuccine; American and Filipino breakfast items from omelets to Bangus and eggs; and Mexican favorites, like Enchiladas, Tacos, Quesadillas, and Burritos.
Since it was lunch, I checked out the Specials on the Menu board, which listed Pork Chop with Mashed Potatoes topped with Bacon Bits with a side of Vegetables for $5.95, and a USDA Steak Burrito with lettuce, tomato, olives, salsa, a side of refried beans and Mexican rice, for $6.95. I was looking at this and glancing at the color pictures on their menu (everything looked really good) when Hunter's owner Jim greeted me and recommended the Roast Beef Dip with Brown Gravy. This impressive plate came with Crusty French Bread, Monterery Jack Cheese, Dijon Mustard, Gravy, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, & Dill Pickle ($7.95). The Roast Beef was sliced thinly and layered throughout the sandwich. The bread was a crunchy and crusty as they'd indicated. All of the ingredients were fresh and believe it or not, that brown gravy was much better than I'd thought possible.
I had Chips and Salsa while waiting and these were also a treat, reminding me of a great Mexican meal I had here a while back. I also ordered the Pork Chop special with the thought of taking it home for a later meal which I did). It was a marinated pork chop with grilled onions on top. The mashed potatoes were the real deal! They didn't need those bacon bits. All told, this was comfort food, for sure. Call 647-8970.
Feeregalo Business Lunch
Feeregalo Euro Dining is in a class of its own, and for $12 (the 10% service charge is included) you can be pampered by some truly excellent cuisine and service during their Biz Lunch special available Monday thru Saturday. It is worth the drive to the Leo Palace Resort. You have to accept that premise first. Even if you go alone, it will make you feel better, maybe even superior!
The menu choices for the Biz Lunch Special are Sirloin Beef Steak with Pepper Sauce OR Sauteed Norwegian Salmon with Remoulade. The main course comes with Caesar Salad, Bread or Rice, Coffee or Tea. Surprisingly, I was the only customer when I arrived and had the chance to greet Grand Chef Fujigaya. It is always an honor to be in his presence...he is a master!
The service at this beautifully appointed, white cloth-draped tables is right on top of things. They brought out a bowl of delicious pumpkin soup to sample. As in my first experience here, I was transfixed by the hard-crusted French bread slices they put in front of me. These are probably the best you can get on Guam. They used to have them at Creole in the old Dai Ichi Hotel. The same bakers are here at Leo Palace.
I nearly fell out of my chair when the Caesar salad was brought to me. This was no ordinary salad..it was one of Fujigaya's art pieces...the type of creation a chef will make so one takes note of their consummate skill. The salad had micro-greens, parmesan, sweet cherry tomatoes, boiled egg wedges, bread croutons, and a creamy Caesar dressing. (Please note that this will not be the typical salad size that comes with the meal...it was a respectful salute...but the taste will be the same.) The salad was magnificent!
The Sirloin Beef Steak was immersed in a rich pepper sauce and I made easy work of this. It was just enough...after all I'd eaten since I'd requested more bread. Indulgent. As I said earlier, it's worth the drive. Try this yourself...it's a favor you owe yourself and your friends, associates, or significant other. Reservations and information, 471-0001 ext 7180.
Sakura's Kitchen Katsudon
I went to Sakura's Kitchen for lunch to re-certify that they have Guam's best Katsudon (Pork Cutlet & Egg Bowl - $7.50). They do. I've had more than 10 other versions over the past year or so and the only one that came a close second was Izakaya Katsu's, which I thought had a crunchier cutlet crust. But for a taste that captures the complete essence of the Katsudon experience of stewed onions, savory broth made from dashi soup stock, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, sliced cutlet with tender pork, and beaten eggs that are poured over the top then covered to simmer til done, no one has come close.
I also ordered the Spicy Cold To-fu ($3.50) as an appetizer, and enjoyed each peppery piquant bite! I was amazed at how crowded this small eatery was. I wrote my first review of Sakura's Kitchen back in 2001 for the PDN and was smitten by this place's easy charm and casual style - they have proven to have a winning formula. Sakura's Kitchen is located just across from GTA in Upper Tumon. They have Daily Specials for $6.95 - $9.95, from a Spicy Teriyaki Chicken Set (a local favorite) to the Tempura or Sashimi Set. They are open Mon-Fri from 11am- 2pm, and 6-11pm for dinner, and from 6-11pm on Saturday for dinner and their number is 647-1623. Closed on Sunday. I recommend this place to anyone who loves Katsudon and other Japanese standards as much as I do. Ita dake Masu!