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June 8, 2006, Volume 6 Number 23

Dear " Guam Food Guy" Reader,

I'm back from a long, whirlwind tour of the States, where I visited family in Houston, Seattle, and Idaho, and spent time with partners and friends in Honolulu. I am writing this on my birthday, which is a first for me since my birthday has never coincided with a "newsletter production" day!

I had two glorious meals today, with lunch at Al Dente, and dinner at the PIC Guam's newest restaurant attraction, The Garden. I really feel blessed, since my birthday was celebrated three times, with the first being at Japanese Restaurant & Bar Shokudo in Honolulu, where I had Honey Toast for dessert after sampling some rather eclectic Asian Fusion dishes including Unagi Rolls, Oxtail Ramen, and Chicken Karaage with Spicy Tartar Sauce.

My second birthday celebration was lunch at Al Dente, where I was treated to a glorious antipasto salad bar and we toasted the occasion with a bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne.

The dinner celebration was at PIC's "The Garden", where we were mesmerized by stunning presentations of delectable delights served in a natural outdoor setting on the lush, well-coiffed grounds of the Pacific Islands Club.

I am coping with jet lag so I'm going to keep this week's newsletter very simple and share with you aspects of our fabulous garden dinner, where we relished a parade of indescribably delicious dishes!

Ken, The Guam Food Guy

The Garden - Imaginative Fusion Cuisine Brings Elegance & Romance Outdoors

I have often been asked by people for recommendations on where to go for an intimate, romantic dinner as well as where one could enjoy a relaxing meal outdoors. After tonight, I have a single answer that combines intimacy, romance, and being outdoors. It's called "The Garden", and is located on the grounds of the Pacific Islands Club, just in front of the Hanaya Japanese Restaurant and the Toryu Chinese Restaurant. This is certainly one of the best developed dining concepts I've experienced here, and once you've had the opportunity to enjoy the creative beverage and novel culinary selections, I'm confident you'll agree.

If you go, be sure to arrive just before sunset so that you can view the changing hues of the skyline - this is the remarkable natural imagery that blesses Guam almost every day. The garden has five pavilions, each having a sturdy teak table and large enough to accommodate up to six people on a hardwood deck surrounded by colorful flowers and shrubs. Each table has a candle lantern as well as a sufficiently bright electric lamp in the top of the canopy. Our server, Jackie, took our drink orders after we'd arrived. We ordered cocktails, a Pineapple Daiquiri for me and Zee had an Orange Margaritas. Both came with the ubiquitous cocktail parasol, orange slice, cherry and a fresh plumeria blossom served in a twisted stem glass with a swizzle stick. The daiquiri was dreamy!

Warm edamame was brought to our table to snack on with the drinks. What followed was a procession of exquisite dishes that each seemed to be competing against each other for most creative and flavorful! The Pepper Berry Seared Tuna ($14 was made with kombu tea, tobikko, and wasabi caviar capellini finished with a shoyu reduction and pesto oil. The ahi was perfect and easily picked up the shoyu and pesto oil, which also served to partially coat the delicate capellini pasta and crunchy tobikko.

The Thai Lobster Shooters ($17) are easily among most peoples' favorite. These are petite lobster wontons delivered in tiny cups into which you pour a thick spicy coconut-ginger cream.The wontons are tightly wrapped little packages of flavor that become "drinkable' once you immerse them in that thick coconut cream. Somebody had their thinking cap on when they created this dish.

Next came a colorful, visually exciting soup and sandwich creation, the Smoked Salmon Sandwich & Chilled Artichoke Sage Soup ($21). Petite taro rolls are layered with Norwegian salmon, plum tomatos, red onions, quail eggs, and saffron aioli. A small side dish contains creme fraiche and russian caviar, which you mix and spread atop the sandwich. Nothing prepared us for the refreshing palate-pleasing flavor of the Artichoke Sage Soup. It was somewhere above superlative! I should also mention that each dish is embellished with micro-flowers and a herb sprig, giving each a little more personality. I couldn't help but think that Chef Tournade Roy from Toryu was overseeing the preparation of some of these exotic dishes.

Accompanying the Salmon Sandwich and Artichoke Soup was a meticulously prepared platter of Chirashi Sushi ($28). The tuna, yellow tail, squid, sweet shrimp, egg, salmon, and sea urchin were primed and ready for launching, and just needed to be blessed by a wasabi/shoyu dip before release. These wonderfully fresh sushi creations were the work of Hanaya Japanese Restaurant Chef Tony Pineda.

We also ate the Sake Glazed Shrimp Skewers ($18), which are served with braised burdock, dried papaya, and mango coulis. These were sharing sized portions and were presented on an elegant china tray. I didn't really detect much of a sake influence on these plump shrimp, however, the mango coulis more than compensated for this with its undeniable fruit intensity. The braised burdock was an interesting pairing with the shrimp. It is actually a popular Japanese dish called "kinpira gobo", where the burdock root is shredding into strips and braised along with carrot strip in soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sesame oil. Burdock is a medicinal herbal root known for curative powers.

It was now time for dessert, and we were presented with two compelling ice cream treats. The first was the Garden Trilogy ($11), which had Green Tea Ice Cream atop Sweet Red Beans, Rambutan, and a medley of fresh tropical fruit, including kiwi, mango, strawberries, and blackberries. Bits of edible gold foil were on the ice cream, giving it a regal quality. Rambutan, one of Thailand's most popular fruits, is something rarely seen at our local restaurants. The next ice cream dessert was the Fuji Tempura Delight ($11), which had tempura battered fuji apple with red bean ice cream with layers of whipped cream and strawberries. The whipped cream was genuine, thick and semi-sweet. I didn't like the tempura battered apple as much as I enjoyed the fresh tropical fruits. The red bean ice cream had gold foil flecks adorning it, too.

I highly recommend taking someone you care about and enjoy being with to The Garden at the Pacific Islands Club. There are several other appealing appetizers and entrees, as well as specialty beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The Garden is open for dinner, and reservations can be made by calling 649-9171.

Bon Appetit!

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