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July 28, 2006, Volume 6 Number 30

Dear " Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It is deja vu all over again! This is the 2nd time I've had to re-do a newsletter because my computer crashed, and it's a brand new HP! So please bear with me as I recreate a modified Diner Bytes for this week's newsletter. We'll be covering some familiar ground by visiting Y Kusina's fabulous Sunday Brunch, as well as give you some pointers about dining at Izakaya Katsu, aka "the Green Door", one of the island's best Japanese dining adventures. Last, but certainly not least, we'll take a tour of Tumon's newest lunch buffet sensation, Gan Day Vietnamese and Thai Restaurant, located behind Chung Hae Korean BBQ and adjacent to Marty's along Fujita Road.

We wish to congratulate and give a shout out to Sam Choy's Guam GM Frank Toves and Executive Chef Peter Duenas who are culminating a month-long celebration of their 7th Anniversary. I had the pleasure of attending a VIP Concert with Hawaii's top Reggae Band, Natural Vibrations, who performed on a stage in the main parking garage of Sam Choy's. It was pretty awesome, as was the dinner we ate before! Two of our dinner companions, Chris and Gina Romero, are visiting Guam after a 13-year hiatus from their new home in Albuquerque, and they were absolutely amazed at the buildup in Tumon, especially Pleasure Island and Sam Choy's. Can you remember what this part of Tumon looked like 13 years ago? Better still, try to imagine what Tumon will look like 13 years from now, in 2019! Will Guam have 1,000 restaurants then? What do you think?

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

Notable Mention

Cold Stone Creamery opened their second location (the other is at GPO) this past weekend at the Micronesia Mall. On Sunday, 30% of their proceeds were slated for donation to the Guam Girl Scouts. We commend owners Jun and Sumie Espaldon for their generous support of Girl Scouting on Guam.

Y Kusina's Sunday Brunch - Palace Hotel Guam

For the ultimate Chamorro dining experience you must try Y Kusina's Sunday Brunch served from 10am-1:30pm. I once tried to describe this as a "fiesta table in Heaven", since it had the best-tasting selection of local classics like Suni (oxtail soup with taro in coconut milk), Chicken Kelaguen, Bifsteak, Gollai Apan Lemmai (breadfruit cooked in coconut milk), Tinala Katne, Tinon Birenghenas (broiled eggplant in coconut milk), foil-wrapped Tamales Gisu, Fried Chicken, Red Rice, White Rice, Pork Chops and Grilled Onions, Chamorro Sausage, Corn and Chicken Soup, Gollai Hagon Suni (chopped spinach in coconut milk), pickled papaya, flour and corn titiyas, finadenes, and desserts such as latiya, velvet cake, and cookies. This buffet line has chafing dishes containing non-traditional food items like Spam, bacon, scrambled eggs, and even waffles that are modern-day favorites assimilated into the local breakfast culture. Price is only $21.99 and reservations are recommended. Call 646-2052.

Izakaya Katsu aka "The Green Door" and Secrets you should know!

The other night we had a sumptuous meal at Izakaya Katsu located in Tumon's Central Building on the 3rd Floor. Although I've written extensively about this legendary restaurant, our recent dining experience exposed some crucial information that I thought you would appreciate knowing, since it could make a difference in the quality of your dining experience.

Our dinner party was composed of five people: Mary Anne Wihbey, founder of Peak Performance Solutions of Dallas, Texas and her partner Roy Davis, Project Manager, both of whom are here conducting training; Liz Henry, Customer Service Manager of MCV/Kuentos (and a recipe contributor to plus Zee and myself. The photo shows our happy group along with owner, Yokho Soma. [Photo L-R: Yokho Soma, Ken Stewart, Zee Lynn, Liz Henry, Mary Anne Wihbey and Roy Davis]

What we learned was surprising to me. First, you need to make reservations by calling 646-0247. Something we hadn't done so we ended up sitting at the bar until a table was free. This turned out to be a bit awkward as the bar only has four chairs and they were busy with several large bookings. Second, every single dish is prepared one at a time by Chef Takashi Soma, so don't expect fast food. Food is an art here, and Takashi-san is the artist. For dinner, he'll only prepare enough ingredients to make about nine Chicken Salads and these salads are out of this world. They are priced at $12 and a single one is more than enough for four people. The Ribeye Steak ($25) is probably one of the most flavorful steaks on island and there are a limited quantity of these available on any given evening. Once they, and anything else on the menu, is gone, that's it for the night.

Katsu does not offer take-out as the owners feel strongly about the quality of the food and take great pride in the crispiness of the panko fried shrimp ($14) or the freshness of their salads which could be adversely affected by packing it up for take-out. So, if you're going to Izakaya Katsu plan to dine in.

Bottom line advice, arrive early and order early. Be sure to order everything you think you might want to eat since adding something could extend your meal by 30 minutes or so since your add-on is placed in a queue with other orders. Following these tips will make your meal more enjoyable and help you avoid any undue frustrations.

Gan Day Vietnamese & Thai Restaurant - Fujita Road Tumon

Though I mentioned Gan Day Vietnamese & Thai Restaurant in an earlier newsletter, I hadn't yet eaten there until Thursday. I heard on good authority the food was good, so I went to try the Grand Opening Special Lunch Buffet, served from 11am-2:30pm, which is priced at $6.99, including China Mist Iced Tea. Gan Day is a Vietnamese word meaning "near by", and it's near by Marty's and Chung Hae Korean BBQ. This place is new, very clean, and well air-conditioned. The buffet line changes every day, and the selection is impressive. This day they had Sweet & Sour Tilapia heads, Fried Shrimp, Pad Thai, Chop Suey Vegetables, Fried Chicken, Fresh Lumpia, Red Curry with Beef, Salad, Fruit, and Arroz Caldo.

The Arroz Caldo was the best and meatiest I've ever had! There was so much chicken I thought they skimped on the rice! The flavor and condiments of garlic, ginger, and scallions made this soup memorable. I've heard that their Tom Yum is wonderful, too.

The food is palatable and the price is outrageously low - I've paid a lot more for bad food served in a buffet. I do suggest early arrivals to get all elements and entrees at their freshest and not just those that are replenished.

I ordered the Pho (Beef Soup $7). It's a good-sized portion, with lots of beef in a tasty broth you can further enhance with red chili and spicy hoisin sauces, which are colorfully combined in a small dish served with the meal, along with sprouts and lettuce.

The a la carte prices are reasonable for their entire menu, ranging from $5 to $15, which is where the Lapu Lapu starts and ascends from. It is fresh and flown in from Manila, and can be ordered fried, steamed, served hot & spicy or sweet & sour.

Gan Day is an interesting restaurant with a story to tell. It's owners and employees are former employees of the failed Mekong Viet-Thai Restaurant, previously in the Blue Lagoon Plaza. Michelle Carmona is the president and she is doing a great job at leading her team to provide good service and tasty food at a price you just can't beat! They have a Sunday Brunch that highlights seafood, with a price of only $9.99, which runs from 11am-2pm. Gan Day's hours are Sun-Thu from 10am-2:30pm, with dinner served from 5:30-11pm, and Fri & Sat lunch hours are the same but dinner service is extended until 1am. Take-out orders are welcome as well as party reservations. Call 646-5905 or 988-5905.

Bon appetit!

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