October 6, 2006, Volume 6 Number 40
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
This an amazingly busy month, or at least it is for me, and one especially filled with events involving chefs! This week's newsletter covers many of these events and activities in more detail. I was just looking at last year's newsletter for our Highlights from the Guamdiner Newsletter section, and felt a strong sense of deja vu, since my guest on K57's Tourism & You show included the Hyatt's Chef de Cuisine from Al Dente at the time (Chef Mirko Agostini) who was accompanied by Catherine Cruz Norton, Hyatt's Marketing Communications Manager. Catherine will be joining me on this coming Saturday's Tourism & You Food Guy Show along with Al Dente's new Chef De Cuisine, Aziz Nadif.
I recently attended a special Wine Launch at the Hyatt for which Chef Aziz had prepared some tantalizing hors d'oeuvres using Provimi Veal, which were paired with Casetta Wines from Tuscany. Among the guests at this wine launching was Prego's Chef de Cuisine, Denis Schiavo, who had come along with Westin's Executive Chef Andreas Lorenz. As you can see from the photo, I am always delighted when chefs show up to honor their fellow chefs - it truly demonstrates the camaraderie that's part of the Micronesian Chefs' Association (MCA).
Doing this week's review of Sichuan Kitchen has almost been an obsession, since I have found myself returning again and again to this cherished place to try different Sichuan dishes...they are more than just hot, they are flavorful and nutritious, and made with no MSG. As you will read, the house specialty for Sichuan Kitchen is the Chongquing Hot Pot, which has a cooking process similar to the popular Japanese dish Shabu Shabu, but with a peppery kick from the Sichuan peppercorn. It is my hope that you will be enticed to try Sichuan Kitchen's a la carte menu items as well as their Hot Pot. I can assure you it's an eating adventure you'll never forget!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show, Sat Oct 21, 10am-Noon
- Pastries in Paradise 2006 Winners - Sugar Overload!
- Cook with Guest Chef Jacqueline Lau at Roy's Sat, Oct 21, 10:30am-Noon
- Diwali at La Mirenda - Guest Chef Returns For Indian Celebration, Oct 19-25
- Savor Chef Nadif's Provimi Veal Alongside Casetta Wines at Al Dente, Oct 11-31
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner.com Newsletter
- Around the Island - Roy's Life-saving Appetizers, Steaks & Shakes, Curry Kebab, Issin Autumn Special
- Sichuan Kitchen - Serving Addictively Good Authentic Sichuan Cuisine
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show, Sat Oct 21, 10am-Noon
Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy's segment of K57's "Tourism & You"Show, from 10am-Noon. This week's first hour guests will include Yang Lawlor, owner of Sichuan Kitchen, followed by PROA's Chris Bejado, who will then hand over the microphone to Carol Ragan, owner of Hava Java Cafe in Hagatna. Our second hour's guests will be Al Dente's new Chef de Cuisine, Aziz Nadif and Hyatt Regency Guam's Marketing Communications Manager, Catherine Cruz Norton.
These interviews will offer unique and interesting insights into the people behind the scenes at the island's restaurants. This will be an opportunity for you to hear compelling stories about their professions and their passions, which are often synonymous in this industry for people of their caliber. Your phone calls are welcome at 477-5757 or *57 on your cell phone.
Pastries in Paradise 2006 Winners - Sugar Overload!
Kudos to all of the teams and organizations participating in this year's Pastries In Paradise, which was aptly themed "Fantasies in Chocolate & More" and let me tell you it was MUCH MORE!! It was Chocoloate Super-Sized! It was Chocolate "ON Steroids"! It was Chocolate to the MAX!! Unlike previous years, there was a proliferation of chocolate carvings and sculptures, some of which were absolutely stunning, the Eiffel Tower was phenomenal! The judges and the voting public came to the same conclusion on their winning selections. The Reef Hotel, lead by Executive Chef Clayton Babas, swept the chocolate awards, while the People voted that Hyatt's Chef Suharto had the tastiest dessert. I was impressed by many. However, the Marriott's Frozen Chocolate & Coconut Souffle Mikado with Raspberry and Ginger Sauce was the one I'm still tasting! Herewith are the winners for the Chocolate competition as well as the Bailey's and Torani contests:
First Place: Clayton Babas & Sammy Fellone - Guam Reef Hotel
Second Place: Ernest Chonggum - Planet Hollywood
Third Place: Chef Suharto - Hyatt Regency Guam
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS
Best Presentation of Desserts: Guam Reef Hotel
Most Creative Dessert: Guam Reef Hotel
Best Tasting Dessert: Hyatt Regency Guam
Best Booth Design: Guam Reef Hotel
BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM DESSERT COMPETITION
First Place: Robert Rhoden - Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
Second Place: Chef Suharto - Hyatt Regency Guam
TORANI SUGAR-FREE BEVERAGE COMPETITION
First Place: Sean Pangelinan - Kave Kanes Cafe
Second Place: Peter Miranda - Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
Third Place: Stanley Hallers - Sam Choy's Restaurant
Cook with Guest Chef Jacqueline Lau at Roy's Sat, Oct 21, 10:30am-Noon
A cooking class will be held this coming Saturday featuring the talented Jacqueline Lau, Corporate Executive Chef for Roy's Restaurants Hawaii. The Class is $60 per person and will be held from 10:30am-Noon, and includes a four-course lunch and glass of wine. Seating is limited, so call soon to see if there are still seats available. Chef Jacqueline also will be serving a special Dinner Menu from October 16-21, so you can sample some of her scrumptious cuisine even if you can't make the class. [Editor's Note: Executive Chef of the flagship Roy's in Hawaii Kai, Ronnie Nasuti, names Chef Lau as his most admired chef saying "She is amazing. She can write a menu in 10 minutes. She can glance in my refrigerator and come up with a complete meal right off the top of her head."] Chef Lau began her career with Roy's in 1988 as a pastry chef, and became Roy Yamaguchi's first chef de cuisine in 1992. She opened Roy's Tokyo and then our Roy's here on Guam. Call 646-DINE (3463) or go to HiltonGuamResort.com for reservations.
Diwali at La Mirenda - Guest Chef Returns For Indian Celebration, Oct 19-25
Honoring India's most celebrated holiday, Diwali, Hyatt Regency Guam will transform La Mirenda Cafe Restaurant into a traditional Bombay street market for this year's Diwali or Festival of Lights celebration. Guest chef Ashwini Salvi returns from Hyatt Regency Auckland to create an array of authentic Indian masterpieces from October 19-25.
Along with preparing traditional epicurean delights and timeless favorites, Chef Salvi will introduce a few new dishes including live carving stations similar to what can be found at the Bombay street market. Diners will find dishes such as Aloo Chaat, a spicy and tangy potato salad; Poppadums, deep fried crispy lentil crackers and Dosas, which are very popular in South India, made of rice flour stuffed with spiced potatoes and served with Sambar and chutney. In addition, guests can expect Tandoori Chicken, Lamb Madras Curry, Prawn Malabari Curry, Seekh Kebab, Jeera rice and much more including a few special desserts inspired by the region.
A native of India, Chef Salvi is best known for her culinary awards in the New Zealand Culinary Fare Competition held in Auckland. Chef won several silver and bronze medals in the "Excellence in the Hot Kitchen" categories for her Asian and Mediterranean dishes. Chef Salvi received her formal training with the Taj Hotels chain in India.
Enjoy this carnival of flavors for lunch and dinner from October 19-25 with a special brunch buffet on Sunday, October 22.
Diwali at La Mirenda
Reservations at 647-1234
Sunday Brunch $36.00*
* A customary 10% service charge will be added to your bill
Savor Chef Nadif's Provimi Veal Alongside Casetta Wines at Al Dente, Oct 11-31
Revered as the highest quality veal, Provimi Veal is appreciated for its delicate taste, tender texture and nutritious qualities. Chef Aziz will be using the freshest ingredients and spices to create succulent veal dishes, including Sicilian olive encrusted veal tenderloin with a marsala wine sauce, char grilled veal chop with caramelized cipollini onions and thyme jus, wood fire baked veal cannelloni and more. The items will be paired with a selection of exclusive fine wines from the Fratelli Casetta winery located in the Piedmont region of Italy. A land with the finest wine-making and where excellent red and white wines have always been produced. Don't miss out on this opportunity to sample the highest quality veal prepared with the freshest ingredients and paired with one of Italy's finest wines.
Through Oct 31
For Reservations Call 647-1234
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner.com Newsletter
October 21, 2005, Vol 5 No 42
Restaurant Reviewed: Al Dente Ristorante - Chef Mirko Embellishes the Perfect Steak
Guam Symphony "An Oktoberfest of Classics" Oct 22 & 23 Hilton Guam
La Mirenda's Austrian Sunday Brunch - A Taste of Destination Dining
Winchell's in Yigo Shopping Center Offers First "Top It Your Way" Donuts
Around the Island - Roy's Life-saving Appetizers, Steaks & Shakes, Curry Kebab, Issin Autumn Special
So there we were, shaking from a sugar rush brought on by over-consumption of chocolate at Pastries in Paradise. To remedy this rather serious condition, we went up to Roy's Lounge and ordered the first thing to come to mind - Roy's Dim Sum Style appetizer, a sampler of some of their most popular appetizers including Crispy Crab Cake with Nanami Sesame Butter Sauce, Coconut Crusted Shrimp Stick with Spicy Tropical Mango Sauce, Kabayaki Salmon, and Wood Smoked Szechwan Baby Back Ribs. The price for a single serving is $14, and for multiple is $26. Although they may occasionally change out a few of these items, this is one of the best introductions to Roy's for a newcomer to get a sense of the flavor, texture, and personality of Roy's cuisine. This was enhanced by a glass of exquisite Peter Lehman's Shiraz. After finishing this small, yet satisfying meal, it was much easier to function!
If like most (non-vegetarian) Americans you get a craving for an East Coast-style Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, you don't have to go all the way to Philadelphia to get one. Just head down to Steaks & Shakes (across from K-Mart) in Tamuning between the hours of 10am-10pm and order their famous Cheese Steak (six-inch $5.79/ 12-inch $9.79) .They even offer Free Delivery with a minimum purchase of $20. I was lucky to get one of those fabulous sandwiches the other day. They really load it up with meat, and it's not just any ordinary meat...it's precision sliced Black Angus beef. They even have a Chicken Steak (six-inch $5.99). I also noticed that they've expanded their space down a few steps and now have a whole room that is an ice cream parlor serving Dreyer's ice cream desserts. Great things are in store for these Steaks & Shakes people!
I hope I never lose my desire for Indian cuisine! I was feeling a bit run down the other night and needed to energize my spirit and body, so we went into The Curry Kebab and ordered that elixir of soups, the Mulligatawny ($4.95). It was the fuel I needed and, like Popeye eating his spinach, I immediately felt my strength returning. We ordered a Chicken Saag ($10.95), which coincidentally combines chicken and spinach in a spicy sauce, along with the Fish Curry ($10.95), which featured mahi mahi. The reddish-brown sauce for the mahi was fabulous - just rich with spiced flavors. Each sauce was distinctly different than the other, and both took tastes in different directions. The Cilantro Naan Bread is the island's best ($3.50).
Issin Japanese Restaurant, located in the Westin, is one of Guam's most venerable establishments and they are offering their Autumn Special, from Oct 11-Nov 15. It's a "thank you for your support" special by owner Tom Iizuka, and he's rolled sushi prices back to the 80's. Lunch is served from 11:30am-2p.m Mon-Sat, and dinner is served daily from 6-10pm. Special lunch bento sets are available for $12. Come and enjoy Issin Restaurant's special anniversary offer of 30% off the regular menu price! Call 647-0945 for reservations.
Sichuan Kitchen - Serving Addictively Good Authentic Sichuan Cuisine
This is one restaurant review that I really enjoyed doing since it provided me a fundamental understanding of the essence of Sichuan cooking. This understanding is one that can't be learned from a book. It has to start with the mouth, the palate, so that you can taste and feel the physical and physiological effects of eating the Sichuan pepper. It is not a bad or negative experience, and is not about putting molten lava on your tongue! Quite the contrary, it is profoundly engaging and exciting to people who love food, and who can accept a little or even a lot of spice in their lives.
Sichuan Kitchen is Guam's only Chinese restaurant specializing in Sichuan cuisine. This relative newcomer to the island's restaurant scene has already made a positive impression on the local Chinese community, as they've discovered Sichuan Kitchen's House Specialty - Chongquing Hot Pot. Similar to Japanese Shabu Shabu, the unique ingredient of the Chongquing Hot Pot is the sichuan peppercorn which has a "mouth-numbing" effect. The Chinese call it "Ma La", with "La" meaning chili spice and "Ma" meaning from Sichuan.
Sichuan Kitchen opened in June so it is still relatively new, however it is quickly gaining recognition. It is owned by Yang Lawlor, who with her partner, Susan Webber, have brought a genuine authenticity to the hot pot experience, since they are from the place where it all started - Chongquing! Sichuan Kitchen's kitchen is headed up by Chef Pan who is assisted by Chef Li, who has cooked at several local hotels including PIC. He also cooked in Saipan before coming to Guam, and is from Sichuan province, too.
Eating Hot Pot is both a healthy and a social dining experience. Groups gather around the boiling cauldron and all natural ingredients (no MSG is used in any of the dishes here) such as meats, seafood, vegetables, tofu and noodles are cooked in the boiling broth until done. The items are then removed from the pot and dipped into a variety of specially-made sauces to complement the flavors of each ingredient. For example, you would use a sauce made from peanut butter and sesame mixed with green onions, cilantro and minced garlic for thinly sliced cooked lamb. You could really punch the flavor by adding a bit of the spicy broth. Overall, the flavors are unbelievably good. Shrimp balls, fish balls, crab rolls, spinach, mushrooms, cabbage, potato, beef, sliced fish, and egg dumplings are just a few of the items available.
Hot Pot dining can be enjoyed by vegetarians as well as meat or seafood lovers. There's plenty of flexibility here. Once the broths have simmered and all of the meats and vegetables have been cooked and removed, noodles can be added that absorb the rich flavors of the broth...they are sooooo good, they're intoxicating! The ingredients are all natural, so there are health benefits from eating Sichuan cuisine as well. Hot Pot dining is probably better suited to evening dining, when people have more time to relax and enjoy their meal without having to feel rushed. There are several large round tables that can comfortably seat up to 10 people using two hot pots. The price for Hot Pot dining will depend on the number of ingredients one adds. It could conceivably cost $25.00 per person, so it is not inexpensive. Once you've tasted and eaten Hot Pot, the price doesn't mean as much...it's the experience that really counts.
It has been said that the Sichuan tastes and flavors are addictive, so after you've had Sichuan Hot Pot, you'll inevitably have a craving for it soon after! If you are a food adventurer, then Sichuan Kitchen's Chongquing Hot Pot is something you'll have to put on your must-do list. Don't be discouraged if spicy food isn't your cup of tea as Sichuan Kitchen also offers a selection of Cantonese dishes including everyone's favorite Honey Walnut Shrimp, Steamed Lapu-Lapu, Beef with Broccoli, Chicken Cooked with Lemon Sauce, and BBQ Pork or Duck. These are all excellent.
If you want to experience other uniquely Sichuan items, you will find dishes here that are rarely seen anywhere else. You could start with cold appetizers like the Marinated Cold Cucumber ($4), which is zesty yet refreshes the palate or the Sichuan Mouth-Watering Chicken ($8), which has chilled pieces of succulent chicken in a savory marinade - this is certainly a perfect example of "truth in advertising"! You could follow with one of the most popular entrees, Kung Pao Chicken ($8) which has sauteed chicken chunks with peppers and crunchy peanuts. You can see the red pepper flecks as well as the larger chilies mixed in with celery, carrots, and onions...all filling your mouth with rich flavors and textures - an outstanding dish!
Other great entrees include the Fried Slice Pork with Green Pepper ($6), the ever-popular Ma Po Tofu (bean curd cooked with chili and sichuan pepper, $6), and Fried Dry Fish with Chili Sauce ($7), which I recently enjoyed and found myself overwhelmed by the dizzying blend of red and green bell peppers sauteed in a thick, marinara-like pepper sauce! There are vegetarian choices as well.
Sichuan Kitchen has 16 different lunch specials available for just $5.00 Monday - Saturday, from 11:30am-2pm; dinner hours are 6-10:30pm daily.
So, whether you're craving Hot & Spicy Sichuan Hot Pot and other tongue-numbing delicacies, or milder Cantonese fare, Sichuan Kitchen is here to impress your palate with its fresh and dynamic flavors, whether you dine in or take-out (call 649-2088), you will be surprised. Stop in to Sichuan Kitchen, located in Dhonson Plaza, Tamuning, next to Suzie's Tavern. Reservations are accepted and menus and specials are available online.
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