April 6, 2007, Volume 7 Number 14
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Every now and then we need reminders about our purpose in life, something that reinforces the values we live by and reminds us of why we do the things we do - those things that give meaning and purpose to our very existence. One of the most important to me, is doing things that benefit others, especially those in need. When I was asked to support the recent Make-A-Wish event to help 15-year-old Soichiro Sano fulfill his wish "to have a big steak On Guam" several times over, I didn't hesitate to help and participate.
There are no words adequate to describe his young face when he saw the chef coat custom-embroidered with his name "Chef Soichiro Sano, Guam USA" and the Make-A-Wish logo that our firm donated for him to wear (and keep) during the Steak Cook-off Competition at PIC's Bistro Restaurant. Incredulous excitement comes close! The room was filled with merry attention as all were tuned into every response and reaction of Soichiro as he cooked, observed, tasted and judged his favorite steak. Though the winner of this fun competition between executives chefs was Christophe Durliat of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa (Hermann Grossbichler of the Hyatt Regency Guam placed second, followed by PIC's Andrew Edwards), I believe that all of us involved were winners for doing something so magnificent that it had an impact far beyond that particular moment in time and space. [Photo L-R: Chef Edwards, Chef Durliat, Soichiro and Chef Grossbichler]
We all need to celebrate and observe the positive things we do in our lives, things that make the world a better place. On this day, it was making a wish come true for a 15-year-old visitor from Japan diagnosed with AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia). His smiles were our rewards.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- GFG Top Picks for Business Lunch 2007 - Directions Magazine's March Issue Blazes Off the Press
- TGI Friday's Launches "Devilish Dinners" and "Heavenly Lunches" Promo April 5
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - Proa and Lone Star Strip Steak
- Andaman Restaurant - A Haven of Spectacular Thai & Intriguing Western Culinary Creations
GFG Top Picks For Business Lunch 2007 - Directions Magazine's March Issue Blazes Off the Press
Coming soon to newsstands is the March 2007 Issue of Directions Magazine, the cover of which is graced by the smiling visage of Continental Micronesia's President/CEO, Mark Erwin. This is a compelling interview that will give you insights into a firm that is the island's largest private employer and has 260 weekly flights from Guam, making it Continental's fourth largest hub. For a story you'll really want to chew on, check out my Business Weekday Lunch Picks for 2007. This is the first time that so many fabulously appealing food shots have been used to support the showcased eateries...this is literally a "red hot" article you don't want to miss. Other stories featured in this month's publication are on Banking, Residential Development, and a really nice spread on Corporate Celebrations.
TGI Friday's Launches "Devilish Dinners" and "Heavenly Lunches" Promo April 5
TGI Friday's has a new promo which will either bring out the angel in you with a new wholesomely good menu or encourage the devil in you with a new decadent menu. Both menus are designed around a three-course meal. Diner will choose an appetizer, entree, and dessert from a selection of six appetizers, eight entrees, and two desserts, for $26.50.
On the heavenly side, you can start off with Hot 'n' Cool Lettuce Wraps, Chicken Parmesan Crusted Quesadilla, or a delightful Shrimp Martini, then for your main course choose from the tantalizing Pineapple Mojito Grouper, Chili Pepper Chicken, Shanghai Chicken Salad, or Southwestern Chicken Stack. The dessert, a Sorbet Martini, is literally "out of this world" - I can attest since I had it! This is one of the most refreshing desserts I've ever had. It's made with creamy fruit sorbets served with fresh juicy strawberries, sweet pineapple and topped with San Pellegrino sparkling fruit juice.
The Devil's "advocate" offers appetizers like Buffalo Wings, Fried Mozzarella, and French Onion Bowl Soup; entrees include a Chicken & Shrimp Diablo, BBQ Roasted Chicken, Half Rack Ribs, and Jack Daniel's Salmon; and the dessert is Oreo Madness (half), which is exactly what the name states!
It's great having choices...to be good, or to be really bad! And to ensure a complete dining experience, Coronas and Cuervo Margaritas are the featured beverage companions for your TGI Friday's visit.
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
April 7, 2006 Vol 6 No 14
Restaurant Reviewed: Marriott Cafe's Dim Sum Wednesdays - Fabulous Treats to Touch Your Heart
GFG Top Picks for Biz Lunch 2006 - Directions March Issue Hot Off the Press
Wild Asparagus 2006 at Manhattan Steakhouse - A Sure Sign Spring is Here
Around the Island - Proa and Lone Star Strip Steak
I just can't stay away from Proa - and am apparently not alone! It's really becoming one of those "in vogue" places to be seen...which ought to surprise some of the "Big Players" in the market. If you wait for the lunch rush to subside and come around 1:30pm, you can have a leisurely lunch with an Ipao Park view that's magnificent. (Lunch is a RUSH!, so come early or come late, otherwise, you may have to wait).
If your server suggests you try the daily soup special, go for it...I've never been disappointed and have always found each one remarkable. The lunch I had the other day allowed me to indulge with a bit of "culinary license" (similar to "poetic license") in that I modified the Grilled Roasted Vegetable Panini with Queso Blanco ( $8.95) by adding Grilled Chicken Strips ($3.95). The red onions are sauted to perfection along with zucchini, eggplant & mushrooms, delightfully combined with melted white cheese. Interestingly enough, this meal satisfied my desire for a healthy choice meal and a good source of protein. Proa's got the best Shoestring Fries on island. The simple salad on the side is simply good. The real stunner for the day was the special dessert that Proa's been serving - it's not on the menu, but a special they promote. It's called the Bocone Dolce, or 'sweet mouthful'. This is one of those mad indulgences we've talked about before. Pastry chef Mark Duenas has created a masterpiece using meringue, whipped cream, chocolate, strawberries, bananas, and vanilla cream. It's a dish you don't want to stop eating until it's gone!
My Lone Star Steak House craving was rampant again and I stopped in on a Sunday night intent on getting some grilled beef! I ordered the New York Strip Steak ($26.99) and added steamed vegetables ($1) in lieu of baked potato, sweet potato or rice. I had my starch - it comes in the form of hot, melt-in-your-mouth dinner rolls slathered in butter! I ordered the steak medium rare, and that's how it came. I had a glass of Cabernet and enjoyed how it paired with the succulent strip loin that was both tender and flavorful. It was just enough to eat and I was even able to get a discount using my GuamCell FX Nation Membership card.
Andaman Restaurant - A Haven of Spectacular Thai & Intriguing Western Culinary Creations
Andaman Restaurant, located in Tamuning's Monticello Plaza (home of Cost-U-Less), has been an evolving entity since it opened its doors in late November 2006. Though the bright green light box sign calls this restaurant "Andaman Western & Thai Cuisine", it still has remained "off the radar" and somehow invisible to a lot of people who have no idea about the phenomenal food experience that awaits inside Andaman. I've been trying to figure out the best way to convey just how good the food at Andaman is and what makes it unique. It has almost everything to do with quality ingredients carefully prepared and presented with finesse and flair.
Andaman's Chef/Owner is Jhamnong Kraitong, a jovial, well-respected, and popular chef who worked at the Westin Resort Guam for nearly eight years. He is assisted in kitchen by Emily Na Bangchang. Jhamnong's wife, Reviwan, manages the front of the house, overseeing the serving staff which also includes some family members. I can't count the times I've eaten at Andaman, but it's been a lot more than I've eaten anywhere else. This has something to do with my living just down the street, but more than anything, it's the food which I consider to be among the island's best tasting. Andaman has wine and beer, but is not a "drinking place" the way some other more popular Thai restaurants are. Andaman's personality and charm are not so much in its service, though it is quietly attentive and polite, but rather in its food which elicits new "wows" every time I eat there.
For this review, I'm going to depart from my normal protocols and create more of a pictorial excursion of the many meals I've had at Andaman, featuring some of the more memorable experiences. Otherwise, this could honestly be three or four full reviews! Before I go further, I have to show you what I mean by a new "wow". On my last visit I tried something totally new that's not even on the menu though it soon will be. It was a pan-fried Mahi Filet with an Herb Mustard Crust in a Tarragon Cream Sauce and sauted Vegetables on a bed of Thai Fried Rice ($12.50). There's a colorful sensuality in the mix of vegetables that pose with the bronze crust of that large mahi plank. All the flavors are balanced with each vying for and receiving attention a little bite at a time.
Recently, with the onset of vegetarian and healthy options, we've been ordering meals that are both vegetarian and regular. A must have is the Por Pia "Spring Rolls" ($7), which are homemade, crisp-fried and combine mushrooms, bean thread noodles, carrots, and cabbage. These are served with Andaman's three flavors sauce. The 'with meat' version of this combines pork and shrimp along with vegetables.
The Som Tum Talay ($7.75) is shredded green papaya that's been pounded and is served with roasted peanuts and fresh lemon palm sugar dressing. This is a vegan choice while another version has lemongrass Thai shrimp. Chef Jhamnong can prepare vegetarian (and some vegan) alternatives for many of his dishes that usually contain meat. The flavors and tastes are awesome. Jhamnong's got his Thai flavors down!
We've drooled over his mountainous Caesar Salad chockful of crisp romaine tossed in an anchovy-lemon garlic dressing dusted with fresh grated Parmesan and crunchy homemade croutons, layered with strips of Italian salami - it's an unmatched bargain for $7.
The Saow Rong Hai ($7.75) is a Thai-style barbecue eggplant salad topped with marinated ground pork and shrimp chunks doused with a spicy coriander garlic shallot dressing that leaves your lips smacking!
More outstanding appetizers are the Seared Marinated Yellow Fin Tuna ($7) with sun-dried tomato and olive oil marinated tuna coated with green mustard aioli served with crisp lettuce and a balsamic tomato dressing and the Andaman Seafood salad ($10.50), which combines a lemongrass and cilantro-lemon dressing with marinated baby octopus and prawns.
Although the Tom Yum (Hot & Sour soup) with Chicken ($5.50/sm or $10.50/lg) or Shrimp ($6.50/sm or $12.50/lg), is bursting with the flavors of fresh lemongrass, shallots, tomato, coriander, kaffir lime, galenga, mushrooms, and lemon juice, the Tofu Soup ($5.50/sm, $10.50/lg) is excellent, and can be made without ground pork and shrimp.
A really memorable soup is the Guay Tiow Naam (Noodle Soup $8.50), which has beef balls, chicken and shrimp.
I've had both the Red and Green Curry entrees which you can get with Beef, Chicken, or Pork ($8) or Shrimp ($12.50). These are made with coconut milk, eggplant, bamboo shoots, pumpkin, and fresh basil.
We've also had the Pad Ped (Pork, $8), and a vegetarian version which is loaded with more veggies ($8).
Another wow and must try is the large Sea Bream ($28), which is superbly fried to a crisp finish leaving the juicy white meat moist. There are three signature sauces to choose from to accompany this fish - Three Flavor Chili, Thai Curry or Sweet & Sour. We had the Three Flavor Sauce, which seems to have sweet chili, lemongrass, fish sauce, and probably a few other powerful ingredients - but it does justice to this great fish. I've also had this same Sea Bream with the richer and thicker Thai Curry Sauce. Other fish choices on the menu are tilapia, snapper, parrot fish, or grouper, usually in both medium and large sizes, with prices from $9.50 to $18 and $24.
One outstanding dish I had just before Christmas was the Grilled Fresh Salmon ($16), that's made with almond and saffron cream sauce, with sauted vegetables and rice.
My all time favorite Thai dish is Pad Kra Praow (Beef, Chicken, or Pork $8 and $12.50 for Shrimp). This is a glorious stir-fried dish that combines fresh chilies, garlic, and hot basil leaf and is served with a crispy fried egg, all atop a bed of steamed rice.
Desserts aren't forgotten here either and you can't leave Andaman without sampling the Tiramisu Cake ($4.75), Baked Pumpkin Custard ($4.75) or Ai Tim Bo Raan ($3.75), which has your choice of ice cream served with coconut sweet rice topped with fresh milk.
Andaman's ambiance is ornately casual and allows for a quiet intimacy, with soothing Thai music as a backdrop. The room is clean, air conditioned, and decorated with a variety of interesting art pieces, glass top tables, wall art, plants, and statues. For lunch, Andaman offers both a la carte service and an all-you-can-eat buffet for $9.75, which includes iced tea. Lunch is served Mon-Sat from 11am-3pm, with dinner service from 5:30-10pm. They are closed on Sunday. Take-out and special orders can be made by calling 649-9889.
It is with pride and confidence that I recommend Andaman Restaurant, a quaint little haven that specializes in serving outstanding Western & Thai cuisine.
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