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October 6, 2006, Volume 6 Number 40

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

"Hafa adai, ladies, and welcome to Guam, where America's 'food day' begins!'" Now that's how I should have begun the presentation I made this past Tuesday night to the Oakleaf Club at Flag Circle at the Visiting Officers Quarters on Nimitz Hill in Piti. The Oakleaf Club is a group of Navy spouses and active duty officers affiliated with the medical, dental, nurse and medical service commands on Guam. They are also the group responsible for making that infamous "Boonie Pepper Jelly" which I sampled with some cream cheese and chips - simply awesome!! I really enjoy making these live food guy perfomances and believe me the audience, consisting mainly of relative newcomers to Guam, are happy to get a lot of first-hand tips on where to go for good eats.

Of course, the website plays a major role as it is the resource where many go to for reviews, restaurant information, and recipes. As I've said before, I'm always delighted and thrilled to be able to tell Guam's "food story" to newcomers as well as to anyone who wants to know where to go for their favorite foods.

The exciting thing is that the members of the Oakleaf Club are going to spread the word about our site and about the publications where our writing is found, which is primarily Directions Magazine and Guam Food Today. I also mentioned our radio shows on K57, which is every Friday afternon with Travis Coffman and every third Saturday for the K57 Tourism & You Guam Food Guy segment. There's so much to share, and truthfully, in the 90 minutes of my talk, I barely scratched the surface - fortunately, I showed them where and how to "dig" for information.

Thank you ladies for being such a lively and interested audience - I'd be happy to do it again!!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Buffet-Lovers Rejoice - Islander Terrace Re-Opens
  • Pastries In Paradise - Saturday October 14, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
  • More Food Bits from "Eat Your Words"
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
  • Around the Island - Lone Star's Bubba Burger, Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill
  • Tachibana Japanese Cuisine - New Restaurant Raises the Bar with Exceptional Food Quality and Original Creations

Buffet-Lovers Rejoice - Islander Terrace Re-Opens

After about a 2-month renovation the Hilton's Islander Terrace will be re-opening in its original location with a completely different look and feel - it's going to be ultra-chic and modern, with fresh-cooked foods, healthy fare, and "Gourmet Cuisine". The same Theme Night creations will be available and augmented by some Asian cuisine and selections for the health-conscious diner. Expect to see a completely new buffet arrangement that will feature multiple live cooking stations. There will even be a pizza oven to serve fresh piping hot pizza! Kudos to the Hilton team on this impressive enhancement to a venerable landmark restaurant!

Pastries In Paradise - Saturday October 14, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa

Mark your calendars for next Saturday, October 14 and set your watches to 6pm 'cause that's where you're going to be next Saturday night for the 2006 Pastries in Paradise, which is themed "Fantasies in Chocolate & More"! For the $20 entrance fee, with proceeds going to support the Lend-A-Hand Chapter which helps local residents in time of severe need, you can avail yourself to sampling a wide assortment of pastries, desserts, beverages, and confections. There will also be competitions among some of the islands' best chefs.

For advice on how to approach the feast of sweets, check out this article from the PDN in which I explain how to successfully navigate the event! This is truly the sweetest event of the you don't want to miss. Tickets are availalbe at the Pacific Daily News and at the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association's Offices in the Shell HQ Building.

More Food Bits from "Eat Your Words"

Two weeks ago we re-introduced Charlotte Foltz Jones' book, "Eat Your Words", which describes the language of food and how food terms and phrases have become common everyday expressions. Today, we want to share some more food tidbits, this time about how food was used as money, in a barter system, since paper money didn't exist until about 700 AD, and even then, as with coins, which were introduced around 650 BC, was not generally accepted as a medium of exchange. Quoting from a chapter titled "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is":

  • "In Japan the only primitive currency was rice. Most Japanese words expressing value are related to the word rice."
  • "Pepper was a highly valued spice in the Middle Ages. Taxes were paid with pepper in many European cities, and soldiers were rewarded for their victories with bonuses of pepper."
  • "In the early 2400's dried fish was the medium of exchange in Iceland. One pair of black leather shoes was equal to four dried stockfish."
  • "On the Leeward Islands in 1668, a salary of fourteen thousand pounds of sugar was paid to 'an able preaching Orthodox Minister.' The minister charged a hundred pounds of sugar to perform marriage ceremonies. "
  • "Coconuts have been used as recently as 100 years ago on the island of Yap, near Guam. Two coconuts would buy one match; ten coconuts a bread roll; forty coconuts a twelve ounce bottle of gasoline; twenty-thousand coconuts a cooking stove. And on the island of Faraulip, in the South Pacific, a small boat could be purchased for three hundred coconuts."

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

October 7, 2005, Vol 5 No 40

Restaurant Reviewed: Alize Restaurant Launches New Buffet Concept with Local-Friendly Pricing

Chefs Compete in Pastries in Paradise - October 8 Hilton Guam
Hyatt's 12th Anniversary Brings a Month of Culinary Adventures
HOB's 'The Brutus' - A Worthy Burger that Comes with Eating Instructions

Around the Island - Lone Star's Bubba Burger, Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill

You may find it hard to believe, but even the Food Guy sometimes is too busy to eat on a regular basis, and one day I found myself famished and standing in line at the bank at 3:30pm when I called Lone Star and ordered a Bubba Burger ($6.75) and Fries ($2.09). I didn't want it take-out since I was just around the corner. By the time I got there I sat down and the burger was delivered! I can't tell you how satisfying that first bite was!!! It was like throwing water on a fire!

One of the benefits of being an FX Nation Member of GuamCell is that I get a 10% discount on my meal. Hey, it's a savings and we can all use that! The Burger though, was worth the wait - perfectly cooked with all the fixings. This burger is really a steak burger since it is made from all the trimmings of premium steaks.

I had to return to Tumon Bay Lobster and Grill to try a few more menu items, in particular, the Shrimp Cocktail ($7.95), which had 6 chilled shrimp served with their homemade cocktails sauce. These were medium sized and quite good...the sauce blend was tart and pika. For main courses, we ordered the Alaska King Crab Legs for $27.95. We received a generous portion and they were steamed perfectly and served with drawn butter. The other entree was a T-Bone Steak (12 oz., $23.95) that was char-broiled. The steak was delicious, and came with the salad bar, baked potato, and steamed vegetables.

Tachibana Japanese Cuisine - New Restaurant Raises the Bar with Exceptional Food Quality and Original Creations

Tachibana Japanese Cuisine is no ordinary restaurant. In fact, out of the 55 or so Japanese restaurants on Guam, it is arguably one of the best. That doesn't mean that it's my favorite Japanese restaurant, but it's a place I would not hesitate to recommend or promote, and it's a restaurant where I'd take people I wanted to impress. The impressive aesthetics of restaurant is complimented by the culinary genius displayed by Executive Chef Koichi Yoshida. In fact, it's a restaurant I'd take my Japanese friends to since they'd really appreciate what comes out of the kitchen. Tachibana has, in my opinion "raised the bar" on the quality of preparations one finds in the local Japanese restaurants. The restaurant is traditional in the sense that it features a broad menu including sukiyaki, tempura, sashimi, soba, beef tataki, pork ginger, and yakiniku. It does not server sushi, but it does have rice and it's famous rice at that!

Tachibana's organic rice distinguishes it from all of Guam's Japanese restaurants. Known as "Koshihikari' rice, it is grown by farmers in Niigata, Japan which is where Chef Yoshida and Kazu Ishizuki, Tachibana's administration manager, hail from. More than 50 farmers grow this rice in the Kamo area and what is used at Tachibana is shipped directly from these farms. It has a unique, special flavor and a distinctive texture which sets it apart from ordinary rice and is used in the restaurant's signature dish, "Wappa Rice", as well as featured in several set menus and as an a la carte item. Wappa Rice ($9), is served on a wooden platform in a round wooden container similar to a mini-barrel with a lid. It has shredded egg, ikura (salmon roe), cooked salmon, and a cooked green leaf vegetable displayed atop the rice. All the ingredients are blended together to eat. The rice taste and texture are notably different, and certainly justifies the high reputation this rice has gained.

For this review, I had dinner one night and lunch on another day, which gave me a way to compare both day and evening dining experiences. Both were fantastic, as the 2nd floor location in the Central Building (just above Chuan Fu Chinese) has large windows with a panoramic view of the Tumon hillside, spanning from the Hyatt all the way to the Acanta Mall. At night the mood is subdued - this place is classy and sophisticated, but not stuffy. Ishizuki-san speaks perfect English as do the serving staff, so gaijin shouldn't be intimidated. As of yet, not too many gaijin or haoles are eating here, but this is sure to change.

Chef Yoshida's presentations and recipes are truly stunning. One dish he created was like a fish terrine, with pressed white fish, salmon, vegetables and a wasabi sauce, it made a refreshing, thought-provoking appetizer, as you puzzle over what the ingredients tastes awfully good and the layers of texture are intriguing.

Another dish is called "Steamed Egg Hotpotch" ($6) on the menu, but we know it as chawanmushi. Chef Yoshida made us two different flavored hotpotches. One had seaweed strings with a dash of grated ginger on top, and the other also had ginger, but with a different flavored broth as well as with a vegetable I couldn't identify, but it had the texture of okra and could well have been thin-sliced okra. For those who don't know, chawanmushi is a savory egg-custard dish. It's a dish I've always enjoyed, but this was at a whole new level of quality.

We also tried another Tachibana signature item, Grilled Salmon Salad ($9). This is served in foil packet in which it was steamed. When opened it reveals a= lemon slice atop a chunk of salmon with onions, potatoes, and carrots with a bit of mayonnaise. I liked it. This same item was one of the ingredients in my bento box lunch, just a smaller portion.

Tachibana's dinner menu is an elaborate, comprehensive showpiece and is definitely one of the most visually compelling menu on Guam featuring impressive food photographs. Dinner courses offer seasonal tastes of Japan and have such names as Yuki ($25), Tsuki ($30), Hana $40), and the Chef's Special (something he improvises) is $50 and up. The Yakiniku set dinners are the Yukitsubaki ($30) which has prime rib, tenderloin, and tongue, and the Toki ($40), adding scallops and shrimp) to the first. Both sets come with kim chee, namuru, rice, and soup. A la carte ordering is available for Yakiniuku, too.

For lunch, I had the Katsu-don ($10), and the Ume Lunch Box ($15), which is one of the best bentos I've had, too. Though I have long had a favorite spot for on Katsu-don (pork cutlet with egg on rice), Tachibana's has superior rice, and a really good pork, egg, and onion blend. What sets Tachibana further apart is the other additions. Aside from the chopped parsley on the Katsudon, the oshinko (pickled vegetables) were fabulous with a new taste altogether which I thought might be green pepper spice and ume. A small bowl of ikura was blended with fresh-grated daikon radish, teeny slivers of lime peel, and some dashi for flavoring. It was magnificent...the intricate interplay of these flavors amazed me! The suimono (clear soup) was delicious, too. Katsu-don at Tachibana is a culinary art piece.

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Itadake Masu!

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