August 25, 2006, Volume 6 Number 34
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
By the time most of you read this I'll be on my way to Atascocita, Texas (Houston area), to attend my mom, Toni's, 80th birthday, which is on August 27. Mom lived on Guam for more than 25 years and still considers this island "her home". As you can read in my profile on GuamDiner.com, my mom was the person who launched me on a lifetime love affair with food. If by chance any of you would like to send her a birthday greeting, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm sure she'd be delighted to hear from you.
Over the past 6 years I've chronicled a lot about restaurant openings and closings, however, I don't think I can remember hearing more about new restaurant openings than I've heard in recent weeks. In the next 12 to 18 months, we expect to see several new restaurants like Proa in the old Ypao Store, Colours and national chains like Chili's, Hooter's, and Bubba Gump. There will be as yet unnamed new restaurants as the Sheraton takes over the Palace Hotel, and you can expect to see new outlets at the Guam Plaza Hotel, the Marriott Resort, and the Hotel Santa Fe. There will even be a new restaurant in the same Tamuning location near Cost-U-Less that previously was the home of Duangdee Thai Cuisine, which recently closed. And, there's much excitement at Chamorro Village where former PDN Lifestyle writer, Jojo Santo Tomas will be opening "Adobo". There are even rumors about IHOP coming to Guam - that's International House of Pancakes for those who don't know.
Speaking of pancakes, I thought you'd be interested to know that Stanlee's Liquor Store and Deli will be offering a version of the popular Japanese vegetable pancake known as okonomiyaki. This should be available sometime this weekend according to Stanley Miller. This is a great example of how restaurants have to diversify to attract more customers, and do more to keep their current customers who want something different than the "same old, same old". Stay tuned for more information on new outlets and new food concepts in future newsletters.
I also want to send our very best to The Mermaid Tavern which is closed due to a rather serious electrical fire in the GCIC Annex. We wish them a speedy recovery and re-opening.
Ken, The "Guam Food Guy"
Note Worthy Special Events
Micronesian Chefs Association Contributes $1,000 to GCC Culinary Intern
On Thursday, August 24, 2006, the MCA donated $1000 to Carol Perez, a GCC Culinary Academy student (and MCA member) to assist her with her 4-month internship at a 5-star resort in Vietnam. Carol will be working under the guidance of former Outrigger Guam Executive Chef Thomas Fois, who is now the Executive Chef at the posh Ana Mandara Resort in Na Trang, Vietnam. Carol has won awards in several local culinary competitions including Pastries in Paradise, and PHARE, and is currently employed by Sam Choy's Guam. Her current mentor, Executive Chef Peter Duenas, had glowing comments about Carol, and recently remarked, " I believe that Carol is just one fine example of the many local culinary students who have been working hard towards their degree and career goals in our field." We are all proud of Carol and look forward to her return home where she can share some of her newly acquired culinary expertise. [Photo: Carol Perez with Sam Choy's Guam Executive Chef Peter Duenas ]
Majestic Wine Affair at the Hyatt Regency Guam - August 24
Mid-Pacific Distributors hosted a Majestic Wine Affair in TJ's at the Hyatt Regency Guam Thursday night that showcased an impressive array of Kendall Jackson Wines, including wines from the Jackson Wine Estates Intl, specifically Yangarra Estate Vineyard. A special guest, Jeff Cook, General Manager, Asia/Japan for Jackson Wine Estates International, spent hours discussing wine with the assembled invitees. [Photo l-r: Rick Rodriguez, Mid-Pacific Distributors; Rey Ochavillo, Roy's Restaurant; Jessica Rosario, Mid-Pacific Distributors; and Jeff Cook, GM Asia/Japan, Jackson Wine Estates Intl]
There were food stations set up around the room next to wine displays, set up for optimal tasting and pairing. A marvelous paella was one of the main draws for guests - it was fresh and flavorful. There were also beef and ham carving stations, a cheese section, a pasta station, and a roast chicken area, that came with delicious green King olives and Kalamata olives. Flat screen monitors positioned at each station displayed wine information. I've attended many wine events, however this one was probably the most advanced technologically I've ever been to, and the wine selections and pairings were spot on! Guam's come a long way in its appreciation of wine and its unique way of celebrating life!
The Shrimp Shack
Chamorro Village #162
This is a terrific little restaurant, which has just celebrated its 5th month of operation. Owned by budding entrepreneur, Elaine Damian, The Shrimp Shack has a simple menu with all items cooked to order. The Shrimp Shack is located next to the main pavilion, a gathering place where most people sit down to eat. At present the hours are limited to lunch from 10am-2:30pm Mon-Fri and all day 10am-10pm on Wednesday nights.
Though I'd heard a lot of good things about The Shrimp Shack, it wasn't until my visit last week that I discovered what I'd been missing! I ordered the Shrimp Taco ($5) and the Hot & Spicy Shrimp ($8). Man, was I surprised at the size of the shrimp!! These are just shy of jumbo and you get 13-15 pieces per pound. The taco has four of these, along with shredded cabbage, a creamy white sauce, and a side of zesty tomato salsa. This taco is more of a wrap or a burrito and seems much too big for a mere taco! It comes wrapped in foil - be sure you secure the bottom well to avoid leakage - and tastes so good you don't want to put it down until you're finished!!
The Hot & Spicy Shrimp was equally impressive; the shrimp are mixed with sauteed onions and glisten with butter and garlic, along with some donne peppers. These come with shells on (a $1 extra gets them shelled). However, true shrimp lovers know that the best way to eat shrimp is to suck the flavor right off the outside! This entree is served with two big scoops of steamed rice and some seasoned macaroni salad. Other menu items (all $8) include Shrimp with Oyster Sauce, Garlic & Butter Shrimp, Shrimp Stir Fry, Cajun Shrimp, and for $7, a Quesadilla. Take out is welcome, just call in advance. Go "Shrimpin' at the Shrimp Shack!"
Lone Star Steakhouse's Awesome Pork Chops
"It's the other 'white meat'"! If you don't like pork, then read no further. However, if you happen to like pork, then you'll not be disappointed in the quantity and quality of Lone Star Steakhouse's Grilled Pork Chops ($17.50). Never has a description been so truthful! - "Two tender juicy 8 oz. center cut chops, mesquite-grilled to perfection." Well, maybe they didn't tell the whole truth about the weight, they had to be bigger than 8 oz.! I could only eat one of these at the restaurant and took the other one home for a future dinner. When applied to meat, juicy and tender are words that really work for most people. I also think the word "thick" is an apt description of these flavorful chops. The mesquite grilling imparts a unique smoky flavor that elevates this pork closer to steak status! These go on my list as some of the best on the island.
I wanted to try a dessert and ordered the Fried Banana Crisp ($6.50). This has fresh banana slices rolled in a lumpia wrapper before they are fried to a crisp. This is served with Vanilla Cream. You'd think that this would be one of the more popular desserts, since the people on Guam love lumpia! Well, you're right, this is a popular dessert and is ordered quite frequently and is made to order. If you like lumpia or ice cream or cooked bananas, this is a perfect dessert choice.
Chef Peter's Backyard Kitchen Lunch Specials at Sam Choy's
If there's one thing for which the people of Guam should be grateful, it has to be the fact that Peter Duenas came back to Guam to share his culinary vision. Today's experience of tasting several of Chef Peter's newly-launched Backyard Kitchen Chamoru menu entrees reinforced that impression. The first dish I sampled was the Tinaktak Manok (spicy chicken in coconut sauce). According to the menu, it's supposed to have "ground chicken cooked with string beans, a little boonie pepper, cherry tomatoes and a splash of coconut milk all served over steamed rice." However, since there was a shortage of long beans and cherry tomatoes, Chef Peter improvised and made this glorious dish with bok choy and regular tomatoes, and I couldn't care less about the ingredient discrepancy! The sauce was curry-like in appearance and consistency, yet it was one of the most savory blends I've encountered anywhere not spicy hot, nor overly-spiced, spiced just right, maybe toned down by the coconut milk. While tinaktak is usually a beef dish, Chef Peter adapted it by using ground chicken. Served on a big bed of steamed rice, it sells for $10.95, which is a bargain!
The other dish I ordered was the Tinala Katni or local-style dried beef, which uses Angus beef brisket sliced and cured with Chef Peter's secret spice rub, dried and pan-fried to order, and served with toasted Chamoru corn tortillas or steamed rice, finadene and finadene dinanche. This is a lot of meat for $12.95, and it comes piled on pretty high. The meat has lots of flavor, chewy and moist, and becomes addictive every time you dip it in finadene dinanche!
We also had the Kelaguen Uhang Yan Titiyas (shrimp kelaguen with tortillas, for $9.95). The menu describes this as "succulent tiger shrimp marinated with fresh lemon juice, salt, boonie peppers, and onions, served with Chamoru corn tortillas." The shrimp have a very fresh taste and texture, almost like they had been caught fresh that day. The Chamoru corn titiyas are salted and crispy from toasting or grilling. The effect is memorable, and everybody just likes eating these which I think are house-made.
Finally, we sampled the Tasahos Babui Ma Fohne (smoked pork) for $11.95. It looked so much like the Tinala Katni as it is cooked the same way. The only difference is that one is beef and the other is pork. It reminded me of pork belly when it's dried or smoke cured at an outdoor BBQ. To be honest, I could alternate between beef and pork and be perfectly happy, they both have distinct and delicious tastes. Check out the rest of Chef Peter's Backyard Kitchen offerings online. These are only available at lunch time!
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