September 29 , 2006, Volume 6 Number 39
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Ten years ago there was no such thing as "google", however today, "google" has changed the way the world gets information. Just think about it. Imagine telling someone in 1995 about a search engine? They wouldn't know what you were talking about. Google has effectively collected and connected the world's data since it was founded in 1998, and today, if you were to key in a name of a person, say "Mirko Agostini", the former chef de cuisine at Al Dente, you'd find out he's now in Bali. Google has expanded rapidly, offering more information resources, such as Maps, Images, and most recently, Videos.
We are quite honored and pleased that our GuamDiner.com website has become an established information resource, not only for restaurant information, news, and reviews, but for recipes. Using Google, key in "Clayton Babas" and see how many recipes he's got listed in GuamDiner.com! In fact, if you"google" the names of many of Guam's chefs, and even chefs from Saipan, chances are you'll find something about them from Guam Diner. On a recent trip to the Bay Area, I was quite surprised when a lady I met at a lunch reception said she recognized me from reading my newsletters. It turns out she was originally from Guam and has lived in the Mainland for over 30 years, but she has been staying up on the restaurant scene by reading our newsletter. It's also where she gets some of her local recipes, she told me.
One of our long-time friends and recipe contributors is Remo Berdux, formerly Executive Chef at the Hyatt Regency Guam and now the new Executive Chef for the JW Marriott Hong Kong. Remo just left Seoul, Korea last month where he held the executive chef position for the Ritz Carlton. If any of you would like to drop Remo a line or if you have any plans to visit Hong Kong, you can email him at email@example.com. The hospitality community is rather close-knit, so there are many colleagues and friends who move to other properties within the region, and manage to stay in touch. That's just one more remarkable thing about the Internet!
Finally, if you really want to have some fun, go "google" yourself! You may be amazed at what comes back about you!
Ken, The "Guam Food Guy"
Y Kusina Chamorro Restaurant
Guam Palace Hotel, Tamuning
Friday Lunch Special - Fried Parrotfish
After having travelled a third of the way around the world I was finally pleased to be able to satisfy one of my cravings for some down-home Chamorro food, and since it was Friday, I was excited by the prospect of eating Fried Parrot Fish, available as a daily lunch special. As it is a popular fish and available in small, medium, and large sizes, you had better come early enough so you don't miss your preferred portion. If there's two of you, a large would do quite nicely. I had a medium size, which was a lot to eat, but I managed!
The fish is fried a perfect golden brown, its fins and tails are perfectly crispy and the white meat is amazingly moist, juicy, and flaky just beneath the crisped skin. Joining this large fish are two large scoops of steamed rice, mongo beans, a finedene dinanche, and lemon finedene. I also had a side salad with Y Kusina' s signature vinaigrette salad dressing. Today I did something out of the ordinary by combining my finedene dinanche with the mongo beans...I started out with just a small spoon sized dollop and graduated to larger blendings...it was really tasty. For those who don't know, Y Kusina offers its famous Chamorro Sunday Brunch, starting at 10:30am. Call for reservations.
Fiesta Resort Guam, Tumon
That same Friday I had to forego dessert at Y Kusina since I knew I'd be sampling some newly-introduced dessert creations at the Haagen-Dazs Cafe at the Fiesta Resort Guam. First of all, I'd like to point out that eating Haagen-Dazs is not about eating ice cream - it's about indulging yourself in luxurious fulfillment!
Haagen-Dazs prides itself in using only the best natural ingredients to make their ice cream, without any preservatives, stabilizers, artificial emulsifiers, or food coloring. Among the specialty desserts we tasted were Aoyama Anmitsu ($10), Green Tea Envy Specialty Frozen Drink ($8.50), New York Brownie Special ($9), and Cafe Belgian Mocha ($8.50, also a specialty frozen drink).
The Green Tea Envy came in a tall, pear-shaped sundae glass, and had a consistency thick enough to support a dollop of red beans on top. I just had a taste of this delicious frozen concoction, which blended green tea sauce with ice cream. It was not overly-sweet, and the red bean topping made this a Japanese dessert fantasy.
I concentrated on eating the Aoyama Anmitsu, which was an expanded Japanese dessert fantasy, since it had a range of textures unique to Japanese confections, including mochi balls, red beans, gelatin cubes with coffee flavor, water chestnut, crisp apple slices, and something like a vanilla extract sauce that was drizzled over the scoop of vanilla ice cream, while the other ice cream flavor was Dulce de Leche. For some people, this may be a bit too busy, but for me, it was a culinary cultural journey. Everything was proportioned and balanced, with no flavors or textures overwhelming any others.
The next dessert was fantastic, containing one of my well-documented dessert vulnerabilities - the chocolate fudge brownie, which happens to be baked fresh at the Haagen Dazs cafe. Chopped almonds, sliced strawberry, whipped cream with chocolate sauce and nuts, chocolate syrup, a scoop of Coffee Ice Cream and a scoop of Cookies and Cream, and chocolate powder dusted on the rim of the large platter. I don't know where to begin, but I'll start with the brownie...it had that deeply-rich, chocolate fudge taste without being gooey soft or having that unpleasant wet fudge consistency. The brownie was crisp, cookie-like on its crust, but softened when chewed. The coffee ice cream was dreamy with a fresh-perked richness permeating throughout. I alternated between the two ice creams to see which would outlast the other...they both won!
The Cafe Belgian Mocha was a phenomenal frozen specialty drink, since it had the advantage of true Belgian Dark Chocolate slivers blended in the ice cream. It was topped with Whipped Cream laced with chocolate syrup, and served in a Hurricane-shaped sundae glass. Wow! All of these are treats easily described as magnificent and superb, and available soon at the Haagen-Dazs Cafe.
More of Chef Peter's Backyard Kitchen Lunch Specials
Sam Choy's Guam, Tumon
Chef Peter Duenas introduced his special Backyard Kitchen Lunch Menu this past summer and though I had featured a few of the entrees in an earlier Diner Bytes, I'd still not had two dishes that had peaked my interest at the time. These were the Kadon Katni or Clear Beef Soup with Vegetables ($10.95), and the Aflito'n Manok aka Chef Peter's Garlic Fried Chicken ($10.95).
The soup is delightful, made with love and full of belly-rubbing goodness, just what kadu dreams are made of! The savory clear broth is not overly salty and easily drinkable as a good beef bouillon would be. The beef is USDA Choice and just melt-in-your mouth tender, with bok choy and potatoes. The beef and vegetables are portioned out over the rice and for your eating pleasure. I was accompanied by two noted executive chefs, Christophe Durliat of the Hilton Guam and Clayton Babas of the Guam Reef, along with the creator of this menu, Peter Duenas, when we sampled this and we all agreed on the exceptional quality of the soup.
I just love chicken so I couldn't resist trying it, especially since it is described as "Golden garlicky fried chicken" and is served with steamed rice or mashed potatoes topped with gravy and corn on the cob. It's a half-fried chicken; crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. We asked our server to have one of the cooks cut it up so we could better share the pieces. Yep, this chicken rates! You'll just have to come and try it for yourself. Don't forget to check out these specials and more at GuamDiner.com.
Alize Restaurant Sunday Brunch
Guam Reef Hotel, Tumon
Keep an eye out for amazing things happening at the Guam Reef Hotel - they are going all out to invite the people of Guam to come and enjoy the great food and entertainment experiences offered at the Reef. Executive Chef Clayton Babas was a recent guest on the K57 Tourism & You Food Guy Show, and I learned that the following Sunday the Reef was offering the residents of Tamuning and Tumon 50% off the regular buffet price, including Sunday Brunch.
Effective Oct 1, the Sunday Brunch price will be $29.99, and includes bottomless Heineken and Wine.On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, all residents of Andersen AFB and Naval Station will get a 50% discount of the lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch buffets at Alize. Every subsequent weekend will offer rotating village discounts - how cool is that? The food and beverages (including coffee, hot & iced tea, juices, wine, champagne, beer) are all self-serve which makes it very convenient to replenish whenever you like.
The buffet is beautiful with displays of an ice sculpture of jumping fish above the crab, shrimp and mussels laying on a banana leaf spread over a bed of ice below. There is a roast beef carving, omelette station, hot line, breads, fried tempura, salads, sushi, sashimi, pizza, kelaguens, and even a halo-halo station. The view from the window is magnificent, showing the expanse of Tumon Bay just beyond the infinity pool. The price, the food and the setting should make this one of Guam's most popular Sunday Brunches. Reservations can be made by calling 646-6881.
New Dinner Menu Additions
Carmen's Cha Cha Cha
Across Cathedral, Hagatna
The other thing I promised myself to do when I returned from off-island would be to stop by Carmen's Cha Cha Cha to try some of their new menu items. I discovered that these were for the Dinner Menu and was fortunate that they were able to accommodate me during lunch - which was amazingly busy - this place was packed with people waiting to be seated!
There are two new entrees under the Healthy Affair section, a Mango Wrap and a Salad Wrap. I tried the Mango Wrap ($9), which consists of a flour tortilla wrapped in foil and cut in two that's filled with strips of fresh mango, roasted red peppers, green onions, cilantro, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, cheese, and a touch of mixed chipotle and cream cheese. Carmen's plates and platters are gigantic, almost covering the woven placemats, so the actual size of the wrap is bigger than it looks when compared to the plate size.
The one thing that struck me when I had my first bite was the freshness of the ingredients. As I ate it, I was able to discern the various ingredients and their unique tastes and textures. This is such a blessing for vegetarians and anyone seeking healthier dining options. Since mango is seasonal, I really wonder how this wrap would taste if the mango was riper - as I've had mango salads that were more on the sweeter, fruitier side. The wrap comes with a side salad with Jack cheese shredded over the top making for an adequately filling meal.
In addition to the wraps there are other new Entrees, which include Chiles Rellenos ($13), Mole Enchiladas ($13), Green Enchiladas ($13), Entomatadas ($11), and Chimichangas (Chicken $12/Beef $13). I ordered the Green Enchiladas, which the menu describes as having rolled corn tortillas filled with shredded chicken, topped with a tomatillo, jalapeno, cilantro sauce and cheese served with beans and rice. This is a fabulous dish, with each enchilada (you get two) stuffed with savory shredded chicken. The melted Jack cheese appears to be stretched out over the top of these two tortillas. Alongside was a small pile of pico de gallo. Though Guam has known ingredient availability issues, it is impressive to see the amount of work an effort put into creating the flavorful salsas which accompany the chips and entrees - there are always at least three different salsas offered.
I ate up all of my beans and rice, which was moist and fluffy; both of these sides were really very good. Adding to the experience was the sour cream and guacamole, both of which were shaped in little balls and decoratively layered with diced jicama pieces. The taste combinations were really good, and I couldn't help but nod my pleasure. My companion had the Carne Asada Plate ($15), which is one of my favorite dishes at Carmen's. The Charbroiled Steak is prepared "Sonora" Style and I was able to get a few pieces to fulfill the goal I set earlier this year to treat myself to Carmen's Carne Asada!
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