August 4, 2006, Volume 6 Number 31
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Today was a big payday for me. No, it wasn't the money kind of pay I'm talking about. It was a payment for all of the efforts and labors involved in creating the body of work known as GuamDiner.com, home of the Guam Food Guy. What kind of pay was it if it wasn't any cold hard cash you might ask? Well, I did a presentation on the Guam Food Guy, GuamDiner.com, and the dining scene on Guam (with some reference to Saipan) to the Family Support Group for the USS Frank Cable. The payment came in the form of sincere gratitude for and a genuine active interest in the work we do on GuamDiner.com and the role I play as the Guam Food Guy.
Let me tell you, when you have people say that they've been reading my reviews and newsletters even before they were stationed on Guam, and have been avidly following and keeping up with the reviews since they've been here, and telling other people about the comprehensive information we offer on restaurants, health, nutrition, wine, and recipes - well, that's a "payday" for me!
Though I receive thanks from many people, it's nice when a group of ladies who are spouses of the men serving our country and protecting our quality of life give me "thanks" for the work I do to describe the uniquely abundant and diverse dining options available on our little slice of paradise, I am both humbled and honored, and I thank them for this payment that really means so much to me!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- Islander Terrace Renovates - Meanwhile, Have Buffet in the Marianas Ballroom
- Premiere Showing Kristal Collection Fall Line - Wed August 9 Sam Choy's TOW
- Summer Holiday Over - Le Tasi Bistro Re-opens with Fresh Face
- Wine Rally VII Makes Learning About Wine A Fun & Rewarding Experience
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - Lone Star Steakhouse, Outrigger's Bambu Lounge Wine Corner Featuring Patrick & Cindy
- e Cafe Chinese Restaurant- Good Food, Right Prices PLUS a Dash of Culture
Islander Terrace Renovates - Meanwhile, Have Buffet in the Marianas Ballroom
As the slogan goes, it's going to be a "Brand New Look with the Same Hilton Smile" for the Islander Terrace Restaurant, which has temporarily closed for renovation. The good news is that for the time being their buffet meal service has relocated to the Marianas Ballroom. It is expected that a brand new Islander Terrace with a sophisticated and modern, yet still tropical, ambiance will be opening in mid-October. We are anxiously awaiting this project's completion. In the meantime, see you at the Islander Terrace in the Marianas Ballroom!
Premiere Showing Kristal Collection Fall Line - Wed August 9 Sam Choy's TOW
There are many great blessings that have been bestowed on Guam, and one of them I'd like to mention is Kristal Koga, who will be unveiling the Kristal Collection Fall Line on Wednesday, August 9 at 7pm at Sam Choy's 'Tail of the Whale Lounge'.
Though I've known Kristal for a few years, it wasn't until I saw my friend and Sam Choy's Guam general manager, Frank Toves, decked out in some of the most original tropical island shirts I'd ever seen, including one with an amazing Koi Pattern, that I fully appreciated her design genius. So, I'm definitely interested in see what else Kristal has created for men.
Ladies, however, will have a much broader range of items to view including black flare pants with side slits, new jackets, new skirt suits, plus capris suitable for office wear along with accessories. The fashion show coincides with Sam Choy's weekly Wine Affair sponsored by IWS and Mid-Pac Liquor Distributing, so guests will be treated to Wine Specials and Tastings. This is an event you don't want to miss and reservations are recommended! Call 649-6637 for details and to reserve.
Summer Holiday Over - Le Tasi Bistro Re-opens with Fresh Face
They're back!! Yes, our friends, Chef Bertrand and wife, Mari Carmen, are back with their daughters, Emma and Rosemarie, after a month-long vacation in France and Spain, where they spent quality time with family and friends. And may we say we are delighted they have returned and are again serving their wonderful food.
We stopped by on Tuesday to get our "LTB fix" and were pleased to find many other diners doing the same! Though it's slight, there is one notable change that you may enjoy, and that is that each table has a new tablecloth. These are from Provence so they are the real deal and truly brighten up the tables and add to the ambiance.
Of course, the food was splendid. We had a Grilled Ahi Filet with tartar sauce and a lovely Pasta with Blue Cheese and Pecan Sauce - this was deliciously (and decadently) thick and cheesy, while the pecans added a welcome nutty crunch that complemented the soft pasta. Both entrees were part of the Daily Three-Course Lunch specials so one of us had a Caesar Salad and the other the Vegetable Cream Soup. We finished up with our choice of pastry indulging in Coconut Cream Pie and Custard Pie. Check out the weekly lunch specials on GuamDiner.com, then head down to Hagatna and welcome Mari Carmen, Bertrand, and Le Tasi Bistro's staff back.
Wine Rally VII Makes Learning About Wine A Fun & Rewarding Experience
Pacific Wine & Spirits (PWS) continues to motivate and inspire hospitality servers on both Guam & Saipan by holding its annual Wine Rally, now in its 7th year. The Wine Rally is a competition among the restaurant and bar service staff designed to educate them on the various aspects of wine, from its origin to its composition, including descriptions, terminology, and taste. Aside from competing for beverage and cash prizes that are disbursed during the "After Hours Happy Hour" events (comprised of three monthly events held on both Guam and Saipan), four lucky winners will be flying to Napa Valley on September 23 to visit the wineries of Robert Mondavi, Opus One, Van Asperen, Rodney Strong, Blackstone, and Woodbridge.
This year I was able to attend both "After Hours Happy Hour" events held in Guam and Saipan in July. The PIC Bistro was the scene for Guam's hospitality servers to relax after a long work shift and enjoy the camaraderie of their colleagues from competing establishments, including the Hyatt Regency Guam, Capricciosa, Sam Choy's, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, House of Brutus, Leo Palace, Pietro's, P.I.C., Tony Roma's, and SandCastle. On Saipan, the fun place to be was the Hyatt Regency Saipan, where staff members from Aqua Resort Club, Hotel Nikko Saipan, Fiesta Resort Saipan, PIC Saipan, Marianas Resort & Spa, Capricciosa Garapan, SandCastle Saipan, and Hyatt Regency Saipan gathered in a well-attended festive celebration that was nearly "standing room" only! It was impressive to see all of these hard-working service staffers test their wine knowledge by answering difficult quiz questions correctly to win prizes.
This innovative way of educating service staff in our restaurants about recommending and serving wine has both near and long-term benefits for restaurant patrons in both Guam and Saipan. I have personally witnessed a surge of interest and knowledge of wine by various bartenders and servers. This exposure to viticultural information is valuable and the opportunity to travel to the key wineries for the winners is a once-in-a lifetime learning adventure they will never forget. Kudos to PWS and to the participating establishments who are supporting the education and training of our hospitality servers.
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
August 5, 2005 Vol 5 No 31
Restaurant Reviewed: Champ's Hot Dogs and More - Bodacious Dining in an Historical Landmark
Marty's Mexican Merienda's Grand Opening - August 5
Seafood From the Fisherman's Co-Op - Bringing You the Bounty of the Sea
Seafood Recipes on GuamDiner.com - Enjoying the Bounty of the Sea
Around the Island - Lone Star Steakhouse, Outrigger's Bambu Lounge Wine Corner Featuring Patrick & Cindy
I could think of dozens of reasons to go to Lone Star Steakhouse, however, truthfully, I'd only be able to eat them one at a time! As you know, I get cravings for particular entrees with specific tastes, and this day it happened to be the Chopped Steak ($13.99, including salad) with Steamed Vegetables. The steak they use is sirloin and it has a char-broiled smoky flavor that permeates the entire dish which comes with sauteed onions sweet from caramelizing and mushrooms. I can't think of anyone else's Chopped Steak that can even compare. The steam veggies are just what my body needed for health, too, and the cauliflower and broccoli are steamed just right. Now, the next reason I'm going to Lone Star is to try their Pork Chops, the "other white meat"! I saw them the other night, and my goodness, they were a plated dream - thick and juicy with beautiful grill mark tatoos! See you at Lone Star...it's just a happening place where people are serious about the food they eat.
If you haven't been to the Outrigger's Bambu Lounge Wine Corner on Wednesday nights, then you should consider going. The Wine Corner lasts from 6-8pm, a bit later than most Happy Hours which is nice and for just $18, you can drink your fill of whatever wines are featured that week. Some of the recent wine labels have been Yellow Tail and Caliterra. I had the Caliterra Merlot the other night and it was as smooth as the silky sultry singing of Guam's own Cindy Manglona, who performs with Guam's own 'Mega Star' and island legend, Patrick Palomo, with Randy ? plucking the bass strings. These three talented musicians are as good as it gets, and could easily fit in any club or venue in the world. The Wine Corner also features a selection of appetizers including various cheeses, seafoods, cold cuts and pizza bread. This is a superb venue and once you're seated and enjoying the music while sipping wine, you'll wonder why you hadn't gotten there sooner!
e Cafe Chinese Restaurant- Good Food, Right Prices PLUS a Dash of Culture
If you saw the May 19 Newsletter (Vol 6 No 20), you would have seen this write-up I did for e Cafe Chinese Restaurant: "Located on the corner of one of Guam's busiest intersections is the e Cafe Chinese Restaurant, which will have its soft opening on Monday May 22. You can't miss the newly-painted lime green building with the red sign and banner proclaiming "We Serving Local Favorites Chinese Food and Oriental Delicate Dishes"! Well, I'm sure they'll be pretty good, too!
Lunch will be served Mon-Fri 10:30am-2:30pm and the lunch menu has Roast Duck, Chicken with Black Straw Mushrooms, Kung Pao Chicken, and Mixed Vegetable with Garlic Sauce for $6 each. There are a total of 38 items on the lunch menu, with the highest price being $7.50 for Chop Steak. The chef's name is Yi Chi Lo, and he used to work for VIP House Seafood Chinese Restaurant years ago. He said he was the one who introduced Walnut Shrimp to Guam. Now we know who started the Walnut Shrimp craze! e Cafe Chinese Restaurant is surprisingly nice and it's amazing what they did to the space that used to be CopyCat. Let's wish them well. Call for take-out at 472-3388."
I missed this soft opening and left the following week for the States on vacation. Since my return, I'd been meaning to stop by and see if this place was able to live up to its promise. Truthfully, I can say they do, with the only caveat being that they need more time to season the serving staff, unless of course you are handled by Yi Ling Lo, the irrepressible and pleasantly chatty brother of chef/owner Yi Chi Lo, who says that he's just there to help his brother's business. Yi Ling used to work at the Pacific Star's Lotus Garden, and he's returned to Guam after spending time in the States. Yi Chi Lo's wife, Miao Fang, manages the business, and works both the front and in the kitchen.
We went for lunch the other day at e Cafe and during the entire time I watched this amazing man spend time serving customers, directing the waitress, and explaining to customers about Chinese culture or his love for Guam and its people, or talking about their good luck fish pond, which is an interesting and "interactive" atmospheric art piece that makes clouds or vapor, to cleanse the air, and has fish you can pet - I did say this was an interesting place, didn't I? Ask Yi Ling to talk about Chairman Mao's proclamations that are written on a wooden tablets laced together in a wall-art piece. Or about the tea table, with the special porcelain "tea cup holder" hand, or the stone hog feeding trough...does this pique your curiosity or what?
e Cafe's dining room is pleasantly quaint and naturally well-lit during the day, with beige walls adorned by a variety of local and Chinese art pieces. Yi Ling Lo pointed out a piece of local art that he'd purchased years ago as he wanted people to know how much they appreciate and value local artists. In fact, he wants to offer space for local artists to place their art on the wall for sale, sort of like one of those gallery restaurants.
Now to the food. We decided it was good idea to order one of the posted Daily Specials, a half Crisp Roast Chicken ($6.50). The other two specials that day were Stir-Fried Eggplant with Fish Fillet ($7.50), and Fried Tilapia one of three ways - Sweet & Sour or Brown Sauce or Deep Fried ($8.50). We also ordered House Special Fried Rice ($6), Mix Vegetables with Garlic Sauce ($6), which happened to be baby bok choy with baby corn and sliced carrots, and then we ordered off the dinner menu an item I'd been overly curious about, since it was one of their "claims to fame", Honey Walnut Shrimp (10 pcs/$9.50).
The Crisp Roast Chicken had a coating of what may have been a garlic blend, and it was crisped and not crunchy from a heavy batter. The dark meat was juicy and palatable, but the white breast meat was a bit dry, so you needed to add the vinegar dipping sauce with onions, and we later kicked it up a notch with sliced green chili peppers. The Fried Rice was a good-sized portion, probably enough for four people to share. It was moist, filled with a lot more ingredients than you would normally get in anyone else's fried rice.It has lots of ham, chicken, and shrimp, along with green peas, onions, carrots, and egg. It also had a seasoning or flavoring that made this rice anything but bland.
The Mix Vegetables were really good, and cooked rapidly in the wok to maintain the crunchy cellular integrity that keeps 'em crunchy. I detected a bit of MSG in this - you can request no MSG be used when preparing your dish if you have an allergy. The Honey Walnut Shrimps were actually better than I'd thought they'd be with the mayo dressing being lighter and not so heavy as is the case in many other Chinese restaurants. They also used really large shrimp - bigger than any I've had in a Walnut Shrimp. The very first bite you could taste the difference in the meatiness of the shrimp taking about three bites to finish...whereas the shrimp at some other places can be eaten in a single bite. The corn starch batter wasn't thick or gooey, rather it was crispy and light on the palate, almost delicate. They pair this with canned pineapple chunks on the side of the plate, like a garnish, with the shrimp laid across a bed of shredded cabbage. This dish would have been enhanced by fresh pineapple, but that's asking a bit much, right?
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