December 29, 2006, Volume 6 Number 51
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
This year has passed too quickly!! The end came upon me so quickly that I completely forgot that this week's newsletter is a compilation of the Guam Food Guy's Top 10 Reviews for 2006. This listing has become an annual tradition and really is not to be taken as my top 10 picks for restaurants...there are many of my favorites that weren't necessarily reviewed in 2006. Regardless, it's certainly a nice refresher on some of the best reviews that were done over the course of the past 12 months.
One of the things about 2006 is that it expanded our restaurant inventory numerically and qualitatively. Take Thai restaurants as an example. There are 14 Thai restaurants doing business on Guam, five of them opened just this year. The addition of Pattaya, Thapanee, Turnjai, and Andaman have raised the overall quality of the Thai food experience to a new level. Preliminary feedback from most people I've met have unanimously agreed that Andaman Western & Thai Cuisine has given them the best overall Thai food taste. It's understandable since the owner is Jhamnong Kraitong, a highly trained chef who was formerly at the Westin Resort Guam.
This entree of a fabulous Grilled Fresh Salmon with Almond & Saffron Flavored Cream with Mushroom Rice is not one of Andaman's Thai dishes, but rather from the "Western" part of Andaman's mixed menu. I am still amazed and confounded that we can get close to 5-star quality food in the strip mall adjoining Cost-U-Less Tamuning!
Other places to keep a watch out for are The Blue Plate, located in the Imperial Suites Hotel on Ipao Road, Proa (in Tumon, near GVB), Jia Asian Bistro in the Guam Plaza, Gabriel's House of Pasta (next to e Cafe Chinese on Marine Corp Drive) and a group of brand new eateries set to open in 2007, including Chili's, Ruby Tuesday, Colors, Hooters, and the new outlets at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort and PIC Guam.
I spent my Christmas Eve dinner at Le Tasi Bistro and took this photo of the dessert, which was a Buche de Noel (Christmas log cake). It took well to color saturation, giving it a surreal, brightly exaggerated look and feel. Le Tasi Bistro's one of those enchanted destinations where food dreams come true. There are many marvelous experiences awaiting our island and region in 2007...I'm so glad to be a part of it and to be able to share with you. Happy New Year from the staff at GuamDiner.com!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
Dec 30 2005 Vol 5 No 51
Restaurant Reviewed: Guam Food Guy's Top 10 Reviews for 2005
Taste of Rainbow's End - Tova Harel Bornovski's Exciting Culinary Contribution
Guam Food Guy's Top 10 Reviews for 2006
The useful thing about lists is that they give people an easy-to-follow guide of places to try especially if they haven't been there yet or are new to Guam. Unfortunately, lists are by nature limited, and don't give a full representation of the numerous excellent options not on the list.
In this case, our list is only for the reviews that were done in 2006. In reality, there were less full restaurant reviews in 2006 than in 2005 because we introduced Guam Diner Bytes in our April 14 newsletter. The Diner Bytes format was created to provide more food photos from a variety of restaurants, in some cases three or four from as many restaurants, with short written descriptions. Diner Bytes have been well-received by people who can now learn more about several different restaurants in the fashion of mini-reviews.
We at GuamDiner are always seeking better ways to provide useful information on our restaurant scene. In fact, if all goes according to plan, we may finally be seeing the fruit borne of the past few years of hard work in a collaborative effort with Directions Magazine. Yes, it could be as soon as mid January that the first copies of Let's Eat will be available to residents. We'll be the first to share this with you when we get a copy...I can hardly contain my excitement as I write this! Let's get on with our Top 10 listing!
The reviews are listed in chronological order so their placement is not based on any particular ranking. I hope you have an opportunity to experience these places and that you like them as much as I did!
Kai Restaurant - Creative Japanese Cuisine Captures Hearts, Minds, & Tummies
January 20, 2006
There's both wisdom and truth to the saying, "All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait". That's certainly how I could summarize the dining experience we had at Kai Restaurant in Tumon's Blue Lagoon Plaza... Kai appeals to those who are looking to unwind after a long hard day of work, and serves a range of libations, from top level wines, sakes, and shochus. In this fashion, food is prepared to complement the beverages, and the portion sizes are purposely small along with the prices to give couples and small parties access to more dishes than they'd normally eat. Read the complete review
Vitale's Italian Ristorante - For Food That's Amore!
February 3, 2006
"The food at Vitale's is what would be considered traditional American-Italian favorites, like the kind of Italian food you'd get in the Michigan suburbs where Joseph founded his original Vitale's Ristorante in 1967. Joseph's extensive menu is developed from authentic old country recipes, so you can get different pasta selections ranging from Manicotti, Lasagna, Mostaccioli, Tortellini, Spaghetti, and Fettuccine Alfredo, to Cannoloni and Ravioli. You can also find Veal Parmigiana, Eggplant Parmigiana, Chicken Parmigiana, and Linguine Clam."
Read the complete review
Pietro - Unique Fusion of Italian and Japanese Brings New Tastes to Guam
February 24, 2006
"Pietro has its own unique taste. It's different from other Italian restaurants, but then again, it's not trying to be an Italian restaurant. Pietro is about imagination, and I have to give credit to Pietro's founders who opened their first restaurant in Fukuoka in December 1980. Since then, they have expanded by word of mouth advertising to 82 restaurants in Japan, four in Korea, and single locations in Honolulu, Shanghai, and on Guam."
Read the complete review
Marriott Cafe's Dim Sum Wednesdays - Fabulous Treats to Touch Your Heart!
April 7, 2006
"It also the best quality dim sum on island, and there is an excellent reason. The dim sum is prepared by the husband and wife chef team of LeLand and LiFen Feng, who originally made the revered dim sum for the legendary Lotus Garden, the famous Chinese Restaurant that was the pride of the Pacific Star Hotel before it became the Marriott...I was both surprised and impressed by the variety of unique and enticing dim sum dishes that are available."
Read the complete review
Hyatt Regency Saipan's Sunday Extravaganza - A Culinary Fantasy Renewed
June 30, 2006
"There's something about travelling that tends to embellish even the most mundane experiences, however, there is one dining experience that's worth travelling to as it would impress regardless of how mundane or exotic the location. I'm talking about the Sunday Brunch at the Hyatt Regency Saipan. For $31, guests are treated to a breathtaking cornucopia of culinary delights served in an elegant room bathed in natural sunlight with a scenic tropical garden view. Add to this a pianist playing both classic and contemporary melodies that sooth, inspire, and relax, compounding the pleasure of dining while sipping champagne." Read the complete review
Prego Italian Restaurant - New Italian Chef Revives Authenticity With Inspired Menu Creations
August 18, 2006
"Next we had the Assorted Antipasto ($17), which had fresh mozzarella on a tomato, topped with a tomato mousse crowned by a basil leaf, Parma ham, and a seafood salad combination made with prawns, octopus, mussel and tuna on a bed of greens accented with pesto and balsamic dressings. We decided to jump from the sea into the oven and had the Pizza Prosciutta Funghi ($19), with mushrooms, parma ham, marinara, and mozzarella. Prego's stone hearth oven makes a pizza crust you won't forget, and the pizza was consumed quickly with pizza lover's zeal." Read the complete review
Tachibana Japanese Cuisine - New Restaurant Raises the Bar with Exceptional Food Quality and Original Creations
October 6, 2006
"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."
Read the complete review
Sichuan Kitchen - Serving Addictively Good Authentic Sichuan Cuisine
October 20, 2006
"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." Read the complete review
Samurai Seaport Steak & Wine Company - Giving People What They Want
November 3, 2006
"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." Read the complete review
Manhattan Steakhouse's Alaskan King Crab Promotion - A Fantastic Array of Flavors
December 8, 2006
"Whenever I'm asked for a recommendation for a fine dining destination, I always include Manhattan Steakhouse, located in the Marriott Guam Resort & Spa, among my top picks. For ambiance, service standards, food quality, and value, Manhattan gets high marks. Another aspect that's not often found in typical steakhouses, high-end or otherwise, is culinary creativity and diversity. Although Manhattan has continuously maintained a solid line-up of traditional Certified Angus Beef cuts of filet mignon, prime rib, New York, and Porterhouse, along with pork chops and lamb chops, all grilled to your preference, they have also introduced creative enhancements to accompany their meats, signature entrees, and seafood selections." Read the complete review
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