October 13 , 2006, Volume 6 Number 41
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
This past Monday I received a long distance phone call from "down under"! Yes, it was a call from Heather Jarvis, one of the hosts of Radio Australia's program "In the Loop", which offers "a lively mix of music, interviews and sounds of the Pacific". Heather had pre-arranged the call from Melbourne to interview me on the upcoming Pastries in Paradise which will be held this Saturday night at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. It was about a 10 minute interview during which we chatted about the sheer volume of desserts, pastries, and beverages that would be sampled by a 1000-plus attendees.
I sent photos from last year's event and she had read the PDN article written by Leo Babauta in which he'd quoted some of my cautionary tips and words of advice on not over-indulging. Heather was fascinated with the lavish and creative displays of some of the boothholders, one in particular being Sam Choy's Willie Wonka and their "chocolate river". She was also impressed with the culinary creations, including GCC's Chocolate Ravioli and the various entries for the Bailey's Challenge. I even read the recipe ingredients from Chef Peter Duenas' award-winning Monkey Rolls (fresh banana lumpia), to giver her an example of a creative local dessert.
I think it's great that Heather found our annual Pastries in Paradise sufficiently newsworthy to want to feature it as a interview broadcast throughout the Asia Pacific region. As it was also live streamed through the Internet, I was even able to catch the tail end of my interview (there was about a 10 second time delay) after hanging up, and heard her make some really complimentary comments about the GuamDiner website. I wouldn't be surprised one day if we get some tourists who plan their visits around the time we have our Pastries in Paradise...Heather made it sound really enticing. She loves chocolate, but then, who doesn't?
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Events (all at the Hilton!)
- 9th Annual Pastries in Paradise - October 14, 6-10pm, Marianas Ballroom
- Oktoberfest Dinner Special - October 14, 6-10pm, Islander Terrace
- Oktoberfest Food & Party Festival - October 14, 9 pm-Midnight, Tree Bar
featuring live music direct from Germany (the Bavarian Sound Express)
San Vitores Rd, Tumon
Though I usually wait a few months before trying out a brand new restaurant, this one gets the "green light"! Proa Restaurant is located in Tumon at the entrance of Ypao Beach, across from GVB, and is housed in what used to be the Ypao Beach Store. This is one restaurant that deserves success and has the potential to become an island favorite. It's menu prices are astonishingly affordable considering the culinary effort and talent involved in the appetizer and entree creations. There is still work to be done on the facilities, however, these are overshadowed by the sheer brilliance of this restaurant's originality, island-themed decor, haute cuisine, and comfortable ambiance.
From what I observed today, everything that was put on a plate in front of each guest was meant to impress. Take the Tuna Tartare with Jalapeno, Avocado, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, and Cumin-Dusted Potato Chips ($8.95). This is no ordinary appetizer- it's a show piece! The fresh avocado blended with the seasoned tuna tartare and those delicious crisp chips are a sight to behold with a taste and texture to match.
Another appetizer I had to have was the Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla with Grilled Tomato Salsa and Buttermilk Dressing ($7.95). For you foodies out there, this is just magic. Think about it - when have you last had "grilled tomato salsa"? Talk about new and exciting flavor profiles...the buttermilk dressing is delightfully refreshing! Again, this is no ordinary Quesadilla. It's definitely a few notches above that, just don't expect to get full on the chicken...it's added more for flavor than for bulk.
I skipped the sandwiches though the Cornmeal Crusted Soft Shell Crab Sandwich looked terrific, and the Charbroiled Sirloin Burger with Mozzarella Cheese and Fried Egg cried out to me! I went instead with PROA's BBQ combo, the Big Feller Trio Platter ($9.95). This platter was a sampler of three hibachi-style barbecued meats (short ribs, chicken, and spareribs) all made with the Marianas Glaze. This comes with either white or red rice and a salad (no ordinary dressing on this salad). The meats were cooked well, still retained moisture, and could be considered fine dining barbecue. Didn't even need finedene. The glaze has all the flavor one needs. These are not BIG Guam-sized portions--they are adequate (if you're really hungry just double up!). Service was ubiquitous...you'll never go thirsty here!
I ended with the PROA Dessert Platter ($6.95), which is comprised of Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies, Coconut Banana Fritter with Caramel Sauce, Strawberry Creme Brulee, and Mango Panna Cotta. I found the fritter, creme brulee, and panna cotta to be exquisite, and worthy of competitive judging. You can eventually expect a full selection of desserts to be available in their soon-to-be added pastry shop called "Sweet Relief". The pastries I ate were prepared by Pastry Chef Mark Duenas. The menu represents the culinary vision of Executive Chef, Geoffrey Perez, who is partnered with Sous Chef Ryan Chiguina. Our friend from K57 Tourism & You, Chris Bejado, is Proa's Director of Hospitality. Talk about thinking "out of the box"! Expect great things from PROA...they are open daily from 11am-10pm.
New Menu Items
Pacific Place, Tumon
For a place that seemingly has everything going for it, Outback has just added more! I had an opportunity to sample the Billabong Ribs ($8.95), which are different from most other ribs in that they are flash fried before being tossed in a homemade sweet Asian BBQ sauce then topped with toasted sesame seeds. We had them on fries...the tangy ribs are both tender and meaty.
Another new aussie-tizer is the Cairn's Calamari ($11.95), which have a light batter and a tasty seasoning (light,too) that doesn't compromise the homemade marinara dipping sauce that comes with the notably tender calamari.
I was most impressed with Outback's new Prime New York Steak & Crab Dinner ($49.95), featuring U.S.D.A. certified Prime Angus Beef - certainly one of the most succulent, tender, and flavorful cuts of beef I've had and the best steak I've had at the Outback. Not to be outshined are the Alaska King Crab Legs that come with this great steak. These are carefully selected by Outback (they must have been first in line) as they are of a quality that I've not seen replicated anywhere else locally. The use of fresh real bacon chips on the baked potato made this potato so much better than those that use imitation bacon bits.
When it comes to size, I don't think I've ever seen a dessert come close to being as big as the Chocolate Chocolate Tower ($7.95) that was placed in front of us! It looked like 6 layers of cake separated by a smooth chocolate filling and a decadent raspberry sauce on top. It's enough for 4 or more people to share!
Gan Day Vietnamese & Thai Steak and Seafood
Gan Day is a Vietnamese word that mean's "nearby", and if you are in the vicinity of the Tumon Police Koban, you are nearby Gan Day, which is located directly across the hall from Marty's and behind Chung Hae Korean BBQ. Gan Day has some of the island's most affordable Thai and Vietnamese food, and probably the best buffet price anywhere ($6.99)! We had a dinner recently and were really pleased with most of what we ordered.
The Hotwings (6 pcs./$6) were cooked perfectly and better than most I've had. They come with a finedene sauce, to which you can add red chili paste. The Tom Kai ($8) had an excellent broth (it seemed curative) with lots of straw mushrooms and chicken.
The Pad Thai Combination ($12) completely filled the plate and had a fresh taste and texture...made to order. The Gan Day Beef salad ($8) was also tasty with tender pieces of marinated beef. An unusual dish we had was the Shrimp Adobo ($9), which was a spiced flavorful way to serve shrimp(made you want to suck the shell off!)
Hilton Guam, Tumon
Again I found myself faced with eating a very late lunch around 4pm. Fortunately I was at the Hilton and it occurred to me that I should try out one of the Hilton's highly-touted Tree Bar Burgers. After seating me where I could have a spectacular view of the Tumon's unusually high surf that was kicked up by the passing weather, my server Simon suggested I have the Philly Burger ($8.50). When it was delivered, I gazed at the plate and noticed that the sandwich had 2 patties and it was laying down open faced awaiting for me to dress it. I loaded everything (onions, pickle, tomato slice, lettuce, and a little mustard, and then placed this section on top of the bottom portion which had the two meat patties, melted Swiss cheese, sauteed red bell peppers, sauteed onions mushrooms. This resulted in one of those over-flowing towering burger shots that impresses all burger lovers. Now I've got to figure out which to try next? Maybe the Bulgogi burger?!
The New Islander Terrace
Hilton Guam, Tumon
The newly-renovated Islander Terrace has some pretty awesome kitchen technology, such as self-ventilating fryers and grills. It also uses state-of-the-art induction cooking and warming units that will allow smaller batch cooking, which will enhance food quality and freshness. This new modern layout and design conveys a sense of openness and freedom, giving diners a flexibility of choice that is currently the trend in upscale buffet dining around the Pacific Rim.
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