November 3 , 2006, Volume 6 Number 44
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
This past Tuesday was Halloween. It was also the final day of business for one of Guam's most valued restaurants, Y Kusina, which will be closed indefinitely due to the ongoing construction at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort which is better known to us as the former Palace Hotel Guam. The good news is that the closure will only be temporary, until they are able to secure a location where they'll be able to operate. The bad news is that there will NOT be any Chamorro Sunday Brunches for a while, although it was by chance that we were able to enjoy the final Sunday brunch this past weekend. It was rather sad since there were only a few devotees who were able to wade through the tall grass that has overgrown the Palace Hotel's previously well-coifed grounds to be rewarded with what was hands-down Guam's best spread of Chamorro food. We will keep you posted on Y Kusina's progress, just as we will keep you informed on the re-opening status of Guam's only restaurant serving locally-brewed beer, The Mermaid Tavern, which may be opening in Hagatna adjacent to Hava Java Cafe, around the end of the year or early 2007. Believe me, nothing can keep a great restaurant closed for too long!
Last week we mentioned few restaurant closures and some new openings. One that just popped up on the radar is Gabriel's House of Pasta, located in Hagatna next to E Caf'e Chinese Restaurant. Also expected to open in November will be a classy little eatery called The Blue Plate, which will be housed in the Imperial Suites on Ypao Road in Tamuning. Chinese lovers will applaud the expansion of Old Town Chinese into its second location in the spot previously occupied by Tao Yuen in Upper Tumon's East West Business Center. Last, though not least, there is great anticipation about the opening of JIA, in the Guam Plaza Hotel, which will have a Pan-Asian menu concept. As I've said numerous times in the past, there will always be new places on Guam for the Food Guy to review...it creates an unusual type of job security!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- Guam Food Guy's Top Picks in October Directions - Get Your Copy Today!
- "An Affair To Remember" - Soroptimist Fundraiser Nov 10 at Planet Hollywood
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - Lone Star's Delmonico Steak Sandwich, Thai Kitchen Fires It Up!, Sichuan Kitchen's Hot Bowl
- Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company - Giving the People What They Want
Guam Food Guy's Top Picks in October Directions - Get Your Copy Today!
I liked the cover of this October's issue of Directions Magazine so much that I bought another one! Yes, this one has the confidently smiling visage of Jeff Jones of Triple J Group, who is profiled in a compelling interview. I've known Jeff for years and I'm proud of how well he's managed the ever-expanding empire started by his father, Robert "Bobby" Jones. This is a wonderful article about one of Guam's business dynasties.
Of course, I had to get another copy of this same issue to send my mom, Toni, since she likes those full-page pictures of me sporting those stylish Aloha print shirts introducing my Food Guy articles, this time for my Favorite Top Picks for 2006.
Also in this issue is an insightful article about sharing faith and religious beliefs in the workplace while staying within the law. People should read this just to understand what is and what isn't permissible.
Rounding out this month's issue is an article on how the limited supply of real estate is pushing up the prices of residential housing, along with an article on leadership, which is chock full of truisms from some of Guam's key business leaders. Get your copy today!
"An Affair To Remember" - Soroptimist Fundraiser Nov 10 at Planet Hollywood
A special "big screen" event will take place on November 10 at Planet Hollywood. The Soroptimist International of the Marianas will be holding a fund-raiser that will take you on a cruise in the Riveria, then across the ocean...and then all over New York...in one of Hollywood's classic romantic stories, "An Affair To Remember", starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. This classic was later remade in an updated version with Warren Beatty and his lovely bride, Annette Bening, called "Love Affair". Talk about a tear-jerker! The event starts at 6pm, admission is $35, and the show begins at 7pm. There will be appetizing food and appealing wines served along with other beverages, as well as prizes awarded for answering trivia questions. The Soroptimist International of the Marianas provides scholarships and supports various local organizations. For more information and tickets, call Charlie at 483-4040 or Denise at 727-7325. If you've not seen this movie, this is one of Cary's best...it's magnificent!
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner.com Newsletter
November 4, 2005, Vol 5 No 44
Restaurant Reviewed: Kaveh Kanes at Ladera Tower - Worth the Distance
Pacific Island Grillers for Education - $10K of Musical Instruments to Schools
The Magic of India at Hyatt's La Mirenda - November 1-10
Around the Island - Lone Star's Delmonico Steak Sandwich, Thai Kitchen Fires It Up!, Sichuan Kitchen's Hot Bowl
Lone Star's Delmonico Steak Sandwich ($11.99) is one of my favorite steak sandwiches on Guam. Just look at it! Char-grill marks crisscross this tender, juicy, and flavorful steak that's just the right thickness. This steak's accompanied by tomato, pickles, red onions, and lettuce along with a pile of steak fries. The toasted egg bun never sogs and holds the meat intact. I don't know why they even bother to ask if you need steak sauce - this meat's got all the taste you'll need!
Thai Kitchen Fires It Up! One day someone is going to get smart and create a chart that translates the degree of hotness ascribed to foods for the terms, "mild, medium and spicy". We recently were at Thai Kitchen after a long absence and ordered Som Tom (Papaya Salad, $7) "medium", and Pad Bai Kra Proa (stir-fried pork with hot chillies, bell pepper and fresh basil, $9.50, ), also "medium". We ordered Tofu Soup ($8), that had ground chicken, tofu, and bean sprouts, along with vermicelli. For some reason, I was unable to continue to eat the Papaya Salad without getting my hands on some sugar despite the three Thai Teas I ordered I ended up adding extra sugar! I've found sugar neutralizes the fire from peppers as it dissolves on your tongue. Of course, the food is delectable at Thai Kitchen, and it is always wonderful to see our good friend Thoy, who just keeps cooking her heart out!
Sichuan Kitchen's Hot Bowl is not to be confused with Hot Pot, which is the specialty of the house at Sichuan Kitchen. Now there's a story to this. One day I was having lunch at Sichuan Kitchen and just after they'd closed I noticed that Chef Li and his assistant, Chef Pan, eating from a single bowl...they weren't even talking..just eating intently! I asked owner Yang what they were eating and was told it was the Braised Beef in Hot Bowl ($10). So, we ordered it the other night and it was marvelous - tender, delectable chunks of lightly flavored beef stewed in a broth along with some veggies. I definitely recommend this if you like beef...it's plenty for two or three people. We also had the Kung Pao Chicken ($8) which we ordered "spicy". This dish'll bring the sweat to your forehead. It's certainly representative of Sichuan cooking - the peppers are everywhere.
Special GuamDiner note! I recently Googled Sichuan Kitchen and noted that we've moved the Guam Sichuan Kitchen up from #7 to #2 ranking...that's impressive when you see how many other restaurants in the US and Hong Kong share that name!
Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company - Giving the People What They Want
I'd been meaning to review Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company on a number of occasions since they first opened in April of this year. I'm sorry to have waited so long, but it was truly worth it! It is sometimes difficult to tell what's going to work for a restaurant and what's not. One thing that I observed about Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company is that they have fine-tuned their purpose and are giving the people what they want.
I'm talking about teppanyaki - not just any teppanyaki, but great teppanyaki, and affordably priced. Samurai has managed to capitalize on the closure of long-time favorite Joinus Teppanyaki, which is undergoing renovation. If you remember, Joinus was offering a special combo of bacon-wrapped shrimp, chicken, and steak for what started out at $9.99 and went to $11.99. Well, let's back away from price and talk about value. Samurai is offering an incredible value with their Samurai Teppan Combo ($12.95), which is served during lunch and has bacon-wrapped shrimp, chicken, and Prime rib steak, which is some of the tenderest teppan steak you can find anywhere. The portions of meat are larger, and the quality of the chicken and shrimp are impeccable. The meal includes a Samurai Salad (the dressing's a fabulous version of Japanese), Miso Soup, and Rice. Plenty of bean sprouts and tofu pieces are part of the deal. The Samurai dipping sauce is a feisty finadene with a little sake. It should be noted, though, that this special is only available Sat-Wed during lunch, and judging from the crowd that I saw this past week, word of mouth has really brought in the numbers.
Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company serves more than just teppanyaki, as you'll soon discover. There's also a history involved about this very location where Samurai is operating. Thirty years ago this was the home of the legendary Kurumaya Steak House, which at the time was the most popular Teppanyaki house for local residents. As time went on, things changed and a new restaurant emerged in the early 90's called the Kurumaya Seahorse, which had great teppanyaki and a view of Tumon. When Seahorse closed, there was the Shimbashi in the aged Dai Ichi. When the Fiesta Resort & Spa (Asia Pacific Hotels) purchased Dai Ichi, a new group, headed by Richard Lai of Shirley's fame, outsourced the space and brought forth the concept of a Steak, Seafood and Wine restaurant with Teppanyaki as a main draw. It is the main draw because the people of Guam love teppanyaki, especially when it's just basic, uncomplicated, unadorned, non-fusion, flavorful, and affordable.
Samurai's also has a group of experienced teppan cooks, who are headed up by executive chef for Japanese cuisine, Yoshikatsu Yoshioka, who was one of the stalwarts at the old Kurumaya. Our teppan cook, Raoul Cercenia, started out as a busboy and started teppan cooking back in 1988. He was trained by Chef Yoshiaka. Another great chef who is part of the team is Geneshiro Obara, who is Samurai's executive chef. Obara-san has a diverse background that includes European and Western cuisines. Though I had the Samurai Combo for lunch, there are plenty of other lunch choices like Teriyaki, Yakisoba, Grilled Fish, Tempura, Linguini, Fettuccine, Steaks, and daily lunch set menu offerings.
It was Samurai's dinner experience, though, that was most impressive. The extensive dinner menu will overwhelm you with tantalizing offerings, either as a la carte or as set menu courses. Superior grade meats are served (Prime U.S. and Choice, as well as U.S. Kobe) are available, with full teppan courses priced from $58 to $100 (the high end has Alaska King Crab Legs, Maine Lobster, & U.S. Prime Beef). We had a few samplers from the menu like the Jumbo Scallops ($9), which were teppan grilled perfectly by Raoul, who also made us some of the best mushrooms we recall eating ($7.50). We had the Green Asparagus ($6.50), too. I should note that we selected Beaucanon's Trifecta to accompany our meal. This unusual, but spectacular wine combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
We ordered the Tuna Tataki Sashimi Salad ($12), which has a marvelous wasabi-mayo dressing. Talk about presentations! Chef Obara demonstrated an artistic prowess equalled by his culinary skill, creating an exciting sashimi that was so good even Zee loved it, and she doesn't typically eat sashimi! The Shrimp Tempura Appetizer ($12.50) was delicately fried to splendid perfection. This was simply a superb line up of appetizers that previewed a menu rich with diverse of food styles.
Our final teppan course had an incredibly moist and lightly seasoned Basa Filet, Bacon-wrapped Shrimp, Salmon Filet, and Prime New York Steak, that was beautifully marbled and divinely succulent when grilled. The fresh vegetable complement had squash, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, tofu, and bean sprouts. We even had the exciting flare-up display. Our service was attentive and courteous as there's a real professionalism in the servers interactions with customers. Much credit for this goes to Samurai's restaurant manager, Albert Sison, who's really on top of things here.
I don't know how we managed to have room since it was Halloween so we "tricked" ourselves for this "treat" and had the Tiramisu and a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Macadamia Nut ice cream. The Tiramisu was a perfect confection. My Illy Caffe Affogato was the crowning finale to what could only be described as a glorious meal.
Samurai Seaport is open for lunch from 11am-2pm daily, and has dinner hours from 6-10pm. If you get to lunch early enough you may be able to sit at one of the prized teppan counter seats. The other choice is to arrive after the lunch rush, say around 1:20pm or so. Dinners at Samurai are meant to be special, whether you sit at the teppan counter, at a table in the main dining room, or in one of several small function areas that offer some privacy. Call 649-BEEF (2333) for reservations.
I enthusiastically recommend the Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company to you...it's a complete dining experience that emphasizes a quality you can taste.
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