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November 17 , 2006, Volume 6 Number 46


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

I am nearly breathless with excitement and anticipation on the planning and opening of many new restaurants as outlined in our Restaurant Scene blurb below! I've been writing about the ever-changing landscape of Guam's restaurant scene for the past six years and this has to be one of the most active times in memory for new openings. It's what happens when the economy starts to move. We'll be getting more choices and I would expect to see the overall quality of our dining experiences continue to improve. Service is still one of most people's biggest gripes and concerns about Guam's restaurants. Do you think people are too demanding? Are you? We need our standards! When was the last time you made constructive comments to a restaurant owner about something lacking in your dining experience? It's important that you talk to management. They'll be thankful....or should be!

Most of you know how I usually wait for a new restaurant to operate for a few months before I do a review...well today's review of Thapanee Thai Cuisine is another of those rare occurences when I am compelled to unabashedly rave about a terrific restaurant that doesn't require a lot of time to perfect it's product...as you will read and as you will see, the "product" of this great Thai eatery is just fine!

Finally, of behalf of the staff at GuamDiner.com, may you celebrate and enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday with family, close friends, and acquaintances, and eat plenty of turkey and all the "fixings"! In honor of the holiday, we will be taking a rare week off from the newsletter, but will return the following week with plenty of great food news and information!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Thanksgiving Specials from our Great Restaurant Subscribers
  • GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show, Sat Nov 18, 10am-Noon
  • Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill Features TMR "Unplugged" - Fantastic Friday Night Entertainment for Old School Rock Fans
  • Restaurant Scene - Andaman, Jia Asian Bistro, Turnjai, Hanaya/Toryu at PIC, Ruby Tuesday
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner.com Newsletter
  • Around the Island - Cafe Kalachucha's Buffet Astounds, Jojo's Gugat Adobo, PIC's Rock & Roll Burger
  • Thapanee Thai Cuisine - A Haven For Truly Superb Thai Food

Thanksgiving Specials from our Great Restaurant Subscribers

Whether you need a fabulous Pumpkin Cheesecake (oh so yummy!) or want to take the family for a lavish Thanksgiving brunch or dinner buffet, there are many great choices available. Check out the offerings below and be sure to check the Thanksgiving Specials link on the front page of GuamDiner.com for new specials being added daily.

Cup & Saucer - Thanksgiving Baked Goods, Pastries and More
Firefly Bistro - November Harvest Specials
Nana's Cafe - Seaside Thanksgiving Lunch Feast
Palm Cafe - Thanksgiving Brunch and Dinner Buffet
Sereno's - Italian-Style Lunch and Dinner Buffet

GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show, Sat Nov 18, 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 be Daya Stryker, PIC's Food & Beverage Director, who will be joined by Executive Chef Andrew Edwards. Our second hour's guests will be Erika Cruz, manager of Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill, one of Guam's best-kept secrets for casual dining on fine food and enjoying great entertainment.

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.

Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill Features TMR "Unplugged" - Fantastic Friday Night Entertainment for Old School Rock Fans

If you are able to find a way to get down to Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill, located on Isla Plaza's second floor between Subway and Yuan San Chinese with the can't miss flaming tiki torches, this Friday or next, you'll be treated to a night of fun you won't forget as you enjoy listening to a live performance of TMR, a newly-formed trio of local muscians who play old school rock classics by the Beatles, Stones, Grateful Dead and other music of the golden-age rock music.

From 6:30-9:30pm, you can hear Bruce Reynolds playing the Dobro, which is a resonating guitar, lead singer Chris Williams playing the ukelele and wearing jingles on his ankles, and Ken Pierce, who rocks a cello like you've never heard before! They are playing in Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill's expansive outdoor beer garden. Tasty appetizers as well as full-course a la carte meals, specializing in great steaks and seafood. The lobster and Alaska King Crab Legs are house specialties! Just sit in the presence of these talented musicians for 15 minutes and you'll find yourself waxing nostalgic and singing along while you sip from a glass of wine or your favorite brew. TMR only plays on Fridays, however, you'll be able to catch the righteous sounds of Kaya's members during the other nights of the week as they alternate evening gigs, playing your favorite reggae tunes and other island sounds.

Restaurant Scene - Andaman, Jia Asian Bistro, Turnjai, Hanaya/Toryu at PIC, Ruby Tuesday

The restaurant scene is perking away! Here's a quick run-down of some restaurant happenings:

  • Andaman Restaurant Western & Thai Cuisine opens Monday November 20, at 11am. Located in Monticello Plaza (next to Cost-U-Less Tamuning), Andaman is the brainchild of long-time resident and former Westin Chef, Jhamnong Kraitong.
  • Jia Asian Bistro opens for lunch on Monday November 20. This new eatery is located in the Guam Plaza Hotel and promises to excite and delight your palate with a variety of Asian treats.
  • Turnjai Thai Restaurant is open for business in the former Somjai location in Tamuning next to AC Auto (just past Hafa Adai Exchange). Turnjai is owned by Ray Babauta (USMC Ret.) and his wife, who operated a popular Thai restaurant in Hawaii.
  • PIC's Hanaya Japanese Restaurant and Toryu Chinese Restaurant will soon become fond memories as they both will be converted into what has been described as an exquisite, upscale Japanese restaurant that will set a new standard for Japanese cuisine.
  • Ruby Tuesday has announced plans to open an outpost of its famous restaurant in the GPO complex with a target time frame of Spring 2007.

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

November 18, 2005, Vol 5 No 46

Restaurant Reviewed: Seafood Chef Restaurant's $9 Lunch Buffet - Quality Eating with Mass Appeal

Highlights:
"A Taste of GCC" Fundraiser Friday November 18 GCC Campus
2005 Food Safety Mini Fair, Saturday November 19 at GPO

Around the Island - Cafe Kalachucha's Buffet Astounds, Jojo's Gugat Adobo, PIC's Rock & Roll Burger

If it's a buffet you want for lunch, you'll certainly get your money's worth at Cafe Kalachucha, located on the Westin's ground floor. I have eaten around and not found another restaurant outlet that has the variety of fresh seafood and marinated beef and chicken available for selection by guests and grilled to order by a cook who'll add garlic and oil to your mix. I watched people just pile up prawns, snow crab, calamari, beef, chicken, and vegetables like there was no tomorrow! The buffet also has a Japanese soup station, where you can make a bowl of udon anyway you like with all the condiment. Plus a roast beef carving station that has excellent rib roast sliced according to your preferred doneness. The hot line items vary and usually include prepared beef, chicken, pork and seafood entrees. The day we ate there was an awesome breaded mahi mahi! There are plentiful salads and cold appetizers, too. You can't go wrong for only $16.50 plus 10%. Desserts selections are above the ordinary, too.

Jojo's Adobo in the Chamorro Village has been causing quite a stir since it's opening a few months back, and has been enjoying a growing momentum of interest along with a growing fan base of loyal customers. I think there's something addicting in the food! Today I had the featured special, "Gugat Adobo", which is an unusual preparation wherein the soft bones of spareribs are used in the adobo stew. This amazingly satisfying dish - I'd call it a truck driver's "Happy Meal" because the portion was so big! Let me tell you, I've never seen so much meat in a bowl of rice...it was not just laid out on top, it went all the way through to the bottom. There was ample cabbage, onions, and carrots in the covered plastic container holding this meal. The meat was tender, succulent, and seasoned perfectly, blissfully slow-cooked to lip-smacking ectasy! The gristle-like soft bones were easy to chew. For $8.25, you'll get your money's worth from this hearty comfort food made by Jojo Santo Tomas and "Big" Mike Rozanski. This meal, and the other specialties they prepare, should be served with a pillow, since you may feel the urge to nap right after eating! Hours of operation are 11am- 1:40pm, Mon-Fri plus 5-7pm or so on Wednesdays. They are located in the main pavilion next to another grea eatery, the Shrimp Shack. Take-out's easy, and you can call in the morning (477-DOBO) for an afternoon pickup!

I keep finding myself on a never-ending stairwell that must be the hierarchy of burgers! If you look at PIC's Rock & Roll Cafe's Cafe Burger Supreme, you can see why it makes a big impression! The toasted sesame buns have between them a treasure of quality elements - juicy flavorful char-grilled beef with meaty smoked bacon, crisp lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed onions, and Swiss cheese - I just knew I was munching in Hamburger Heaven! Crisp and greaseless fries come with this meal that's well-worth the $8.50 ( + 10% sc) price tag. In addition, I ventured to try the Buffalo Wings ($7.50) and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked them even thought they weren't the Buffalo Wings' preparation I was craving. PIC uses only the best ingredients, so the chicken was superb and cooked just right. There was a light breading that was just crispy enough, and they came garnished with cut chives and diced pickled red ginger. Lettuce stalks dipped in a blue cheese-based dressing are the center-piece of this tasty, appealing snack. I'd certainly order both again! You can order these round the clock, too, while watching any number of televsion monitors playing different shows.

Thapanee Thai Cuisine - A Haven for Truly Superb Thai Food

'"Sensational" is the best way to describe eating Thai food, precisely because it engages so many sensory experiences. The eyes are dazzled by the brilliant array of colors, while the nose, and taste buds are totally immersed in the spicy pungent aromas, the sweet, sour, and "pika-pika" tastes, which are often blended together in a single, delicious dish. Thai food is designed to stimulate, with exciting natural ingredients combined to tantalize our palates - coriander, ginger, fresh basil, various mints, aromatic leaves, lemongrass, banana flowers, green and red chilies, garlic, tumeric, crushed peanuts, water chestnuts, green onion, limes, nam pla (fish sauce), bamboo and lotus root. It's amazing how easily shrimp, chicken, beef, and vegetables can be interchanged with the varied pastes, soup stocks, and curry bases to create those wonderfully rich Thai entrees! "'

The above serves as a perfect intro to today's review and is excerpted from my January 24, 2003 review of King & I Thai Restaurant in Tamuning. It's perfect since that review was done at the time when Kim Screeton owned it (the ownership changed in late 2004 if memory serves), and now Kim has established herself in a new restaurant that bears her birth name, Thapanee. [Photo: Kim aka Thapanee, owner with Ken Stewart, Guam Food Guy]

Thapanee Thai Cuisine opened a little over a week ago and has quickly built an astonished clientele, many of whom are fast becoming regulars. Located in the Hafa Adai Exchange across from Rambies Kamayan and down the hall from The Curry Kebab and Lieng's Vietnamese Restaurant, Thapanee is one of the most ornate and well-appointed restaurants I've seen in a while. The rest rooms are so clean you're afraid to use them as they look like displays in a design shop. There is a continuous melodious bubbling sound of water churning through ambient fountains, which accompanies gentle Thai background music. It's entrancing!

There are about 14 highly polished wooden tables with plenty of seating and the dining room appears twice its size because of wall-length mirrors in the back that reflect the space back on itself. This place has a charm and appeal that simply caresses you once you sit down and start to get accustomed to your new home. Woven table mats and attractive wooden condiment holders grace each table, with chopsticks resting in woven covers.

The menu is huge, with the first page devoted to Lunch Specials served from 11am-2pm Mon-Sat, with prices from $4.99-$6.99. We came at dinner and ordered the Fried Spring Rolls ($5.99) based on a departing customer's high recommendation. I ordered a Thai Tea ($2.25) and was amazed by the huge goblet in which it was served - it lasted me throughout the meal. I usually don't like Spring Rolls, but these were indeed exceptional, the best I've ever had! They were crisp and light with the thin wrapper not the least greasy and filled with cabbage, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and mung bean noodles. They were served in a boat-shaped dish with a dipping well containing sweet chili sauce.

Next we ordered Beef Satay, which had eight skewers of beef marinated in special Thai seasonings and served with a pika peanut satay sauce. The beef was tender and not overcooked, retaining some juices. Our next dish was a Combination Pad Thai ($9/small) with shrimp and chicken. We ordered medium heat and this was because of my preference to error on the mild side of caution, though my partner Zee would have been happier with a few more degrees of heat added! This was a generous portion of fresh ingredients with an abundance of chicken, noodles, egg, bean sprouts and Chinese leek. Peanuts and a lime slice are on the plate so you can blend to suit your own taste.

Our next entree, Combo Green Curry ($10/small) also with chicken and shrimp was on the sixth page inside Thapanee's encyclopedic menu (what don't they have?) in the "Curry Dishes" Section. This was one of the most flavorful green curry I've had in a while, with it's savory green curry paste filled with cooked bamboo, eggplant, string beans, red bell pepper, and lots of basil leaf, cooked lovingly in coconut milk, with a side of steamed white rice. Just fabulous!

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