January 5, 2007, Volume 7 Number 1
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Can you believe it's already 2007? It's certainly going to be one of the most expansive years we've seen of this decade, especially when it concerns restaurants. Not only will we see the already-announced brand restaurantsChili's, Ruby Tuesday, and Hooters opening, but we'll see new restaurants in April at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort (formerly Palace), P.I.C., and the Guam Okura. There will also be a slew of restaurants moving in and out of places - the Blue Lagoon in Tumon will have an expanded version of "The King & I Thai" in the slots that previously housed 7-Eleven and Mekong Viet-Thai Restaurant.
Hagatna's also well on its way to adding yet more reasons to make it a dining destination. Soon to be rejoining the likes of Old Hagatna Grill, Le Tasi Bistro, Hava Java Cafe, Carmen's Cha Cha Cha, Simply Foods, Capricciosa, Tony Roma's, and Jamaican Grill, is the Mermaid Tavern, which will be located on Saylor Street, across from Asia Pacific Investors. Readers will recall they closed following a fire in their previous location at the GCIC annex. Recently opened is Gabriel's House of Pasta (see review below), which is a small, Chicago-style family eatery, with a big taste! Other small restaurants with big ambitions in Hagatna include Padrino's, Crossroads, Jojo's Adobo, and Elaine Damian's, The Shrimp Shack. Yes, we have some impressive dining options, with a list certain to only get bigger!
Of all the restaurants I know, there are none that can match Jeff's Pirates Cove in the value for distance equation! There are a multitude of reasons to go to Jeff's, however, from my vantage point, the most compelling is the food. Jeff's serves some of Guam's best local cuisine (any of their seafood kelaguens are excellent), and they have by far the best Greek fare. The Traditional Gyro ($9) with Greek Style Lamb or Chicken (I had the lamb) wrapped in a pita pocket is worth the drive by itself and is served with fries or a salad. I don't think I can adequately describe the rush of satisfaction and gratification I got when I took my first bite of this delicious gyro the Saturday before Christmas. Yes, the burgers are also awesome at Jeff's as are the fresh catch plates, Chamorro BBQ Fiesta Plates, and other Greek menu items. Even the extra crispy chicken wings have been consistently good - among the island's best for me. Moreover, Jeff's has the most expansive coastal view of the island as well as the largest beach footprint of any restaurant. The gift shop and museum are two more features that should not be overlooked. All in all, Jeff's is the consummate destination for local residents and visitors alike - just driving to get there is like taking on a mini-vacation. So, come the weekend, or even weekdays if you're not working, plan a visit to Jeff's - I promise you'll have fun and eat well!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Latte Stone Cafe
If you're looking for good French Toast ($5.95), Latte Stone Cafe can satisfy your craving with three golden brown grilled slices of thick French bread which has been soaked in a delicious egg/milk wash to flavor it thoroughly then dusted with confectioner's sugar. Add a cup of your favorite coffee brew (there are about five choices available in airpots), and you have a beautiful breakfast.
Another item I had for breakfast; and actually I should have only had one or the other and not "both", was the Breakfast Wrap ($6.95). I am still shaking my head in utter disbelief that I picked up each half of this 'ham-packed" wrap. These were heavy and filled with diced ham, egg, cheese, and green onions, and partnered with some awesome steak fries. This also comes with your coffee or juice choice. Latte Stone has the distinction of being one of the most colorful and attractive breakfast/early morning stops on the weekend. Truth be known, it's a great place to go all day long! Be sure to try a slice of Liz's Banana Cranberry Cake...it's good and uses nutritious ingredients.
Gabriel's House of Pasta
Hagatna, next to Shooter's
If you think we already have too much Italian on Guam, think again! New kid on the block being just down from Bank of Hawaii and across the street from the Chief Quipuha round-about, Gabriel's is a compact ristorante overflowing with big flavors. Chef Joe Borja had been envisioning this place for months and it's finally evolved into reality! I'd been craving a really hearty Fettuccine Alfredo ($8) like I used to get at long-closed Latino's. Gabriel's matches it in taste and surpasses it in presentation! The cheese and cream are perfectly blended with pasta cooked al dente. Before I had the fettuccine, I had a bowl of an appreciably fresh-tasting minestrone, accompanied by warm garlic bread. The entrees are accompanied by a choice of soup or salad and garlic bread.
I also was served the Cannelloni ($8.50), a large dish of tube-shaped pasta stuffed with ground beef, spinach, cream and eggs, and smothered with marinara and melted mozzarella cheese. Ohh, the cheese! Other dishes that can be had on premise or ordered as take-out are Penne a La Vodka ($8.50), Linguini in Clam Sauce ($9), Chicken Parmigiana ($8.25), and a handful of pasta and sauce combinations. If you are up for feeding a duo, try the Lady and the Tramp ($20), a large bowl of spaghetti and meatballs with two soups, two salads, and one NY style Cheesecake! Gabriel's features daily specials like Shrimp Scampi ($9.25), MeatBall Sub ($8), and Sausage Sub ($8.50).
If you've not been down to Jan Z's for a while, you'll be pleasantly surprised by some of the changes that have taken place with both the facility and the menu. Gone are the giant pancakes that made Jan Z's a landmark for pancake lovers. The plus of no longer serving these is that customers get their orders faster. There are new specials as well as other improvements in the works according to Larry Hall, who has come back to Jan Z's as manager. One of the novelty items I sampled was a Coconut Marshmallow Stuffed French Toast ($4.50). This was pretty good, and not as sweet as one would imagine. I ordered my standby Chicken Gizzards ($6.75) with Sweet Honey Mustard and Finadene. I accidently spilled my finadene in my honey mustard and discovered a new taste sensation! I also ordered the Fresh Catch of the Day ($11), which happened to be Mahi Mahi, and had it grilled. This was fabulous, and came with a seafood salad in a larger portion and bowl than served before. I noticed that the rice scoops were smaller, which was a good thing, especially since garlic bread is served with this entree.
Jan Z's has both indoor and outdoor patio deck dining. It's also a great place to enjoy the island's scenic beauty - so much of which is concentrated down south.
The Westin Resort Guam
People often ask me about lunch buffets and which ones to try. I can easily recommend Cafe Kalachucha. It's not the lowest priced at $16.50 plus 10% sc, but it has one of the best live cooking stations...with tastes and flavors that make your mouth water when you pass by them. Seasoned calamari rings, marinated beef, chicken, and prawns are put on a plate with cabbage, carrots, onions, and celery and then like Mongolian BBQ, they are grilled and blended with garlic oil. Aside from this, a bowl of traditional udon can be made. Carving stations, and a long salad counter filled with choices just add to the experience. There are several hot items in the buffet line on any given day such as Sweet & Sour Fish and Pancit. Dessert selections await, so save room for three to four cake or pastry items along with a selection of fresh fruits. Make it a day at Cafe K!
Old Town Chinese Restaurant - Shop II
East-West Business Center
We went to the new Old Town location in the East West Center around 9pm Thursday and were pleased with the make over from the previous Chinese restaurant, Tao Yuen. There are three large function rooms in addition to a spacious dining room. This place is known for its home-style Shanghai Cuisine.
We started out with the cold Five Spice Beef Shank appetizer ($3), which comes in a reasonably good sized portion. Our Yang Chow Fried Rice ($6) arrived very quickly and was actually the best fried rice I've ever had at Old Town (the Tumon location). It was so good that my dining partner said it could be a meal in itself! The Walnut Shrimp ($10) were alright, but not as good as Sichuan Kitchen's.
The Shrimp Egg Foo Young ($10) was also quite good, and a close second to Fast Wok's, which I've enjoyed a number of times. We had the Baby Bok Choi and Garlic ($6), which was also richly seasoned and flavorful, but just a tad over-cooked. A Fire pot menu is available and we saw several guests came out of a private room who gave high marks for the hot pot. Old Town's success in Tumon, and hopefully here, is based on high volume and longer hours. The Upper Tumon spot is open daily for lunch from 11am-3pm and dinner from 5:30-10:30pm. Lunch specials are available daily.
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