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June 15, 2007, Volume 7 Number 24


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Talk about people who have made a difference! I'm speaking about our good friend and colleague, Chef Clayton Babas, who will soon be leaving our island to return to his home island of Oahu, Hawaii. I have known Clayton for about 11 years, and first met him when he worked as the Executive Chef at the Rota Resort. He has since been the Executive Chef at Ladera Tower, Outrigger Guam Resort, then served as the Chef de Cuisine at PIC's Bistro, before serving in his most recent capacity as Executive Chef at the Guam Reef Hotel.

He has been an active participant in the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association where he was involved in the Food & Beverage Committee. He was one of the founders of the popular annual event, Pastries in Paradise, as well as a founding member of the Micronesian Chefs Association in 1999.

He describes his style of cooking as "Pacific Rim, Island Fusion...Using local ingredients and cooking them with Asian influences using traditional techniques," and expresses his philosophy about food, stating that "your food is only as good as the ingredients. I believe in using the best ingredients, no matter the expense."

Top: Rota Resort December 1996
Bottom: MCA Meeting June 2007

Clayton has been a Chef Instructor at Guam Community College, a mentor chef for the ProStart Culinary Competition for high school students, and won numerous competitions and participated in many culinary events. Among his recipes that are posted on both GuamDiner.com and HawaiiDiner.com are Cilantro Oil, Beef & Coconut Empanadas, Chili Mango Sauce, Chocolate Decadence, Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee with Caramelized Bananas, and Fresh Ahi and Marlin Ceviche.

I could go on literally for pages detailing his accomplishments here on Guam and describing how many lives he has influenced and inspired with his unique culinary prowess. He's a big guy whose absence will leave a big hole that we'll have to just fill with great memories of his ever-smiling cheerful visage. I'm sure we'll see him grace our island again at some time in the future. For now, we'll just say thank you, adios, and mahalo!

Finally, may all you dads enjoy a love filled Father's Day this Sunday! Eat well and grin widely!

Ken the "Guam Food Guy"

SPECIAL EVENT!
Guam's Ultimate Grilling Competition
Return of the Grill Masters
Saturday, June 16 Adelup

Don't miss this Saturday's "Return of the Grill Masters" as Pacific Island Grillers will once again be hosting the best-organized and largest barbecue competition on Guam. This event will be FREE to the public and will feature live music and entertainment for the kids. There will be raffle prizes, taste samplings of the competing barbecue entrees including chicken, beef and pork.

There will also be a special eating contest the public can join sponsored by Jamaican Grill. The eating contest promises to both entertaining to watch and rewarding to the winner! The event starts at 10am at the Adelup Complex and will last until 6pm.

La France
Mezzanine Level, Outrigger Guam Resort
Tumon
649-7327

If you are looking for a special place to hold a birthday lunch with your office mates, give some serious thought about going to La France. It was my birthday last Friday and La France was our destination. Contrary to the impression I had when they opened, this is NOT A FRENCH restaurant, but a fine dining restaurant with a superb wine selection and an impressive menu of Continental and Japanese dishes. There are also lunch specials starting at $12 and ascending to $65 for the Lobster Lunch (I did say fine dining!) that are worth trying, too.

I celebrated with a Business Lunch Special ($25), that featured an appetizer of Tuna & Squid Salad, Onion Gratin Soup, Tenderloin Steak and Dessert. This also comes with a fresh bread basket, coffee or tea. My favorite part of this was the steak. It was about 6 oz., extremely tender and seasoned with a herbed butter patty that melted on the top. This was accompanied by shoestring fried onions, roast potatoes and diced vegetables.

Two members of our group had the $18 Special Lunch Tenju of Deep-Fried Prawn served bento-style with miso soup, salad, oshinko (pickles), rice and dessert. This is something I'll go back and try as it really looked good. The prawns were BIG!

Two others of our party opted for Seafood Spaghetti from the $12 lunch menu which came with salad, soup and dessert. This was laden with various denizens of the deep and a truly chewy bit of octopus! Other $12 items were Curry & Rice, Whitefish Meuniere, and Hamburg Steak.

There is a daily special that's featured as well. For the $18 menu, besides the Tenju you can get a Chamorro Steak Lunch (sirloin steak & Chamorro sauce) and Tempura Hiyashi Udon Set. The charm of being in this elevated peaceful hideaway overlooking San Vitores enhances the experience and somehow makes the food even more palatable. Service is attentive too! Lunch starts at 11:30am with service until 2pm.

Le Tasi Bistro
New Marina Hotel
Hagatna
472-7877

So, it was still my birthday and Le Tasi Bistro (which is DEFINITELY FRENCH) was my choice for celebrating this occasion. It was also my first time test-driving a couple of completely new menu items, specifically appetizers, that I think will be big hits with local foodies!

New to the menu is "Havarti Cheese Dip" ($7.25), which is an absolutely heavenly smooth, buttery cheese that is blended with onions and served in an oven-baked dish with pieces of crunchy toast. Scooping up this tangy young cheese and layering on the toast is something one could do for a long time! You can't imagine how well this went with our Mondavi Pinot Noir.

Another splendid introduction by chef/owner Bertrand Haurillon is his "Saumon et Thon mi-cuit a la creme d'avocat" aka Seared Salmon and Tuna served with an Avocado Wasabi Cream ($9.50). This appetizer was not only visually appealing, it tasted great, especially the avocado wasabi sauce for dipping the seared pieces of fish - this was so good that I had to share some with our neighbors, who loved the salmon and the tuna.

Of course, other elements of the meal included Le Tasi Bistro's Soupe a L'oignon ($6), which has long been the best-tasting on island, a mini-Caesar salad, Bruschetta, Tofu Tapenade aux legumes grilles (Grilled fresh tofu layers filled with an olive paste over tomato sauce and served with grilled vegetables, $18.95).

And, of course, one exquisite rendition of an all-time classic - can I get a drum roll? - the Carre d'agneau parfume aux herbes (Rack of Lamb, $24.95), which is served with Bertrand's inimitable gratin potatoes.

The Chocolate Mousse Birthday Cake was more than I could bear, so it was shared with Dave & Susan Cassidy, the Tony Tenorio family, and others. What a memorable evening of culinary delight and wonderful companionship! Merci & Gracias!

Health World
Marine Corps Drive (across from Dededo GTA)
Dededo
633-4584

Hey, there's a new health haven on island and it's called Health World! This is the brainchild of owner/general manager Jim Chen, who is an avid fitness type. The store is filled with high quality nutritional supplements, vitamins, diet products, workout gear, Goji and Noni juices, along with other beverages and water purifiers. It's on the opposite corner of the intersection where GTA and Harmon Loop Road intersect with Marine Corps Drive, kind of kitty-corner from the Dededo PayLess shopping center, and in the same building housing Larsen Family Chiropratic.

The food part of this comes into play with the talents of Jim's wife and business partner, Joanna, who fixed us up a couple of tasty treat - a Vegetarian Wrap with Basil Pesto ($6.50) and a Panini Sandwich called "The Monster" ($7.95). I don't think it was as intimidating as its name implies, but it sure tasted good with its combination of turkey, roast beef, ham, cheddar and Swiss cheeses. All of the sandwiches and wraps come with a side of sliced fruit or a fruit cup and Shangri La Iced Tea. There are salads including the House Salad with Spiced Walnuts ($4.95; Asian Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing ($5.95), and a Fruit Salad ($4.25). Soups are on the menu as well. And, of course, you can't forget the Smoothies! Choose from Pineapple Passion, Berry Banana, Cool Mango, Chocolate Almond Dream, Orange Sunrise, Just Peachy, and Strawberry Rave - all priced at $4.50. Protein shakes start at $3.50 with add-ons extra.

Health World is not a restaurant or cafe, and currently when you order food, it's pretty much "take-out". You can call-in your order in advance. I think this place will become very popular once people are introduced to Jim's sincere enthusiasm, fitness knowledge, Joanna's good cooking, and their gracious, friendly hospitality. They really care about you and your health. Store hours are 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday.

 

Men-Kui Noodle House
Ground Floor, Tumon Trade Center
Tumon
649-0212

This is a darling of a place. The perfect ramen shop for those of you who have been searching for an ideal noodle house! I could kick myself for not getting here sooner! Located on Fujita Road just past Marty's, Men-Kui Noodle House opened about six months ago. The Japanese name has two meanings - one is "eating noodles" and the other is "people like, good looking". What I discovered about this place is that I like the good eating here, and the place has a personality that matches the flavorful creations.

The chef/owner is Akira Kudo who works with his wife, Sumiko, who I remember meeting when she worked in the F&B dept. at the Hilton. Akira has worked at several places, including Leo Palace and Onward. The personable Sumiko told me that they've been here for 25 years!

As this was my first venture and I was alone, I ordered a Gyoza appetizer ($4) and selected the Special Negi Ramen (Soy Ramen with Meat Sauce and Green Onion, $9). I also had a bottle of Fiji Water, which seems to be popping up everywhere.

The gyoza was better than usual, with a fresh taste and texture, not like the frozen ones you sometimes find. I learned that Akira starts his work day early around 7am to prepare the stock and broth for his noodles and to wrap the gyoza. I sat at a table (there's a large counter, too) and added chili paste and chili oil to my soy sauce for dipping my gyoza.

I was awe-struck by the presentation of my Negi Ramen! There was a large pile of thinly-sliced Japanese green onion atop the noodle-filled soup. I mixed this in and started eating, finding ground pork pieces throughout. Again, the texture and taste of the noodles was superb. There's a reason for this...Akira has provided his recipe for noodles to the local noodle factory, and voila, he's got a noodle that rocks! This bowl was polished clean when I finished...there was no MSG and the broth didn't require any additional seasoning...it was actually gourmet ramen!

Other ramen dish flavors include Soy, Shio (salt), Chashu (sliced pork), Wonton-Men, Hiyashi Chuka (cold noodle - highly recommended), and Ja-Ja-Men (cold noodle with special meat sauce, also recommended). Men-Kui also serves Yakisoba, Fried Rice, Chuka Don (chopsuey over rice) and Ankaka-Katayakisoba (crispy fried noodle with chopsuey, $9).

Business hours are 11:30am-3pm for lunch, Monday-Sunday, and 6-10:30pm for dinner, Monday to Saturday with Sunday's dinner service from 5:30-9:30pm. They are closed on the 3rd Saturday.

I am pleased to introduce this charming little eatery to you....please enjoy their good tasting food!

Ita Dake Masu!

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