June 29, 2007, Volume 7 Number 26
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's hard to believe that June is almost over! It was this time last year when we celebrated our 5th year as GuamDiner.com, I'm still amazed that we've maintained our weekly e-zine's publication, the GuamDiner Newsletter, for six years! Anniversaries are fun ways to celebrate and commemorate the important events in our lives. We want to extend a special congratulations to Sichuan Kitchen on the anniversary of their first year of operation, who opened their doors on July 1, 2006.
We also want to send everyone Independence Day greetings and wish all of you a safe and happy 4th of July holiday. The United States of America will be celebrating its 231st birthday on Wednesday. Now that's a lot of candles to put on a cake!!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
In Today's Issue:
- GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show Saturday June 30 10am-Noon
- Planet Hollywood's 8th Annual International Bar Flair Challenge, July 2 & 3
- Spring Chinese Restaurant - 4th Anniversary Lunch Specials July 2-7
- This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
- Around the Island - Lone Star Chop Steak, PROA Lunch Special
- Sea Turtle Sunset Cruise - Apra Harbor Dinner Cruise is a Boat Load of Fun!
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show Saturday June 30 10am-Noon
Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-Noon. This week's first hour guest will be Chris Aguon, Executive Chef and Manager for the Old Hagatna Grill. For the second hour, we are pleased to welcome Sheila Peebles, Liquor/Wine Team Leader for Ambros, Inc. Sheila is a wine enthusiast and is devoted to raising people's awareness of, and appreciation, for wine. She publishes a monthly column on wine called "Grapevine".
These interviews will offer unique and interesting insights into the people behind the scenes at the island's restaurants and food & beverage professionals. This will be an opportunity for you to hear compelling stories about what they do 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.
Planet Hollywood's 8th Annual International Bar Flair Challenge, July 2 & 3
Planet Hollywood Guam's 8th Annual International Bartending Flair Challenge will take place on July 2 and 3, 2007. This year there are six international competitors coming to the island to compete in the challenge.
Planet Hollywood Guam's International Bar Flair Challenge will showcase professional bartenders' talents in bar flaring, mixing drinks and entertaining guests. Competitors will be judged on their accuracy, technique and style.
A preliminary competition for the local challengers will be held on July 2 at 10pm. From this competition, two local bartenders, along with the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association bartending competition 1st place winner Claus Pableo from TGI Friday's, will qualify to compete in the final event against the international competitors. The final event begins at 10pm on July 3.
The event debuted in July 2000 and has been held annually on July 3 without fail. Previous years have brought us competitors from Korea, Japan, Australia, Taipei, the Philippines and Washington, USA to compete with Guam's best. Last year, the competitor from Korea took home the grand prize.
Planet Hollywood Guam has been hosting the competition yearly as a way to raise the awareness of bartending as a fun and exciting career. Bartenders are encouraged to combine style, entertainment value, a sense of humor, and a willingness to provide extreme service to their daily routine. With a focus on flair as well as pouring accuracy, the bar challenge highlights bartenders skills and provides a high energy forum for the industry to network.
This July 2nd and 3rd, watch as the bartenders flip, toss, and throw their way to the championship offering more than $5,000 in cash and prizes. For more information, contact Amber San Gil or Ruthe Paeste at (671) 647-7827.
Spring Chinese Restaurant - 4th Anniversary Lunch Specials July 2 - 7
Spring Chinese Kitchen, a Tamuning eatery that I reviewed in August 2003, is celebrating its 4th Anniversary next week and will be offering a very special present to its customers - a Lunch Special Menu with 29 items priced at their 2003 Opening price! This 5-day special menu will offer Roast Duck, Beef with Oyster Sauce, Braised Chicken with Black Bean Sauce, Roast Chicken, Mapo Tofu and more for only $4.95! Only four items, Egg Fu Yung with Shrimp, Shrimp with Broccoli, Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables, and Fried Noodles with Shrimp, will be priced at $5.95, which is still a bargain worth celebrating.
We stopped by this week for dinner and met a surprised (and happy) owner, Spring Yeh, who had been awaiting my return. Spring Chinese Kitchen is located on Farenholt next to Video Quest. It had been a long time between visits and I recall from the original review that it was Spring's "low price" that drove in "high traffic", and we noted the same thing still happening, with large local families coming in to eat.
We had Chinese Broccoli with Garlic ($7.95), Vegetable Fried Noodles ($6.95), Shrimp Egg Fu Yung ($6.95) and Salt & Pepper Pork Chop ($7.95). I'd never seen three pork chops on an entree plate so I could see why it is one of Spring's most popular dishes.
The Chinese Broccoli was excellent.
The Egg Fu Yung had large chunks of shrimp which tasted quite good - this is because Spring's husband (the chef) believes that you have to use large shrimp instead of baby shrimp since the large ones have more flavor. Bamboo shoots are used generously in this dish as well as in the Vegetable Fried Noodles. Spring Chinese Kitchen does a lot of take-out which you can order by calling 646-6365.
This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
June 30, 2006 Vol 6 No 26
Restaurant Reviewed: Hyatt Regency Saipan's Sunday Extravaganza - A Culinary Fantasy Renewed
Wente Vineyards Wine Maker Dinner Wows Diners at Al Dente
7th International Bartending Flair Challenge - Planet Hollywood, July 2 & 3
Around the Island - Lone Star Chop Steak, PROA Lunch Special
We can't forget about Lone Star's 12th Anniversary either! They are celebrating with a monthly raffle drawing - dine there and you could be a winner. I did have lunch there recently and what I ate was a winner for me.
The Chopped Steak ($15.99) is a large portion (I'd guess between 1/3 to 1/2 pound if not more!) of ground chuck and sirloin covered in sauteed sweet white onion and marinated mushrooms. I also had a bowl of steamed vegetables in lieu of a starch for $1 more. I get enough starch with those fabulous hot buttered Lone Star rolls! A side salad comes with this entree as well, so there's plenty to eat.This is one of those meals you just have to sit and enjoy.
Proa Restaurant, located on the edge of Ypao Beach Park, had a daily lunch special the other day that was irresistible - a grilled Marlin Sandwich with Mango Salsa ($9.95). The fish was surprisingly moist and juicy since I typically expect marlin to be on the dry side. It had been recently caught so its freshness was uncompromised, and the mango was from one of the trees just behind the restaurant, so you had a genuine local sandwich! It was fantastic though probably a bit too much fish, if I had to offer a small protest.
The Soup of the Day was Cream of Seafood ($3.95), which had a portion of that same marlin presented in the center of the bowl.
The dessert special that day was another creative surprise - an Orange Lavender Creme Brulee ($6.95). I've never eaten anything with lavender, though I love its aroma. This creme brulee was exceptional, and the portion could have easily been shared.
The chefs at Proa work a special magic in that kitchen - it's one that folks can taste with every bite! Another thing I noticed is that the noise levels in Proa have been significantly reduced. They have installed some much needed (and appreciated!) sound absorbers and deflectors. Proa Restaurant continues to be an evolving phenomena...the menu choices offer diners many variations of satisfaction.
Sea Turtle Sunset Cruise - Apra Harbor Dinner Cruise is a Boat Load of Fun!
The Sea Turtle Sunset Cruise has got to be the best two hour vacation I've ever had and one you'll certainly not want to miss! I have to call it a "vacation" since you really do "vacate" the island and embark on a leisurely, fun-filled voyage on the breezy tranquil waters of Apra Harbor. You get a satisfying dinner catered by our friends at Jamaican Grill, bottomless pitchers of Budweiser, wine, soft drinks, and water, as well as live music and what seems like continuous entertainment that'll get you up off your feet and dancing on the deck!
One of the great thrills of this boat cruise is that breathtaking sunset, with everyone on board searching for the ephemeral "green flash". I don't know that anyone has ever photographed the flash, however, there's no shortage of cameras held by tourists who are snapping away at the incredible colors that flood the horizon as that golden orb makes its descent.
This review is timely since there is a summer special running from July 1 through September 30 that offers an extra incentive for families. In addition to their current reduced local rate of $45 for adults and $25 for children, ages 3-11, the summer special is for each paying adult, a child can go for free! This should really encourage families to come and enjoy a spectacular holiday evening on the ocean.
Once you've made reservations by call 646-8331/1710, you just show up before 5:30pm at the Sea Turtle Sunset Cruise berth in the Harbor of Refuge in Piti - there are signs giving you complete directions so you really can't miss getting to the boat. The boat is a very large catamaran floating effortlessly on the surface of the ocean providing a comfortable ride. For those worried about rough waters, the vast harbor is protected from the large unruly waves of the deep ocean outside the mouth of Apra Harbor. After your party walks the plank to boards the boat, you'll be given a plastic lei and asked to pose in front of the Sea Turtle Sunset Cruise banner for a souvenir photo, which is processed and presented during the trip for optional purchase.
All guests are assigned a table that already has chafing dishes and cellophane-wrapped salads awaiting. Once seated, you serve yourself the Jamaican Grill-made Salad and Jerk Chicken Kelaguen. One of the servers will put Red Rice, BBQ Jerk Chicken, and Steak on your plate, as well as a Seafood Kebab. The food is served and guests are eating before the boat disembarks. Pitchers of beer are on each table and guests can avail themselves of free beer, water, sodas, and no-host well and call drinks. For $6 you can order a tropical drink like a Haggan Tasi, Ocean Spray, Blue Lagoon or Melon Daiquiri. Non-alcoholic versions of these specialty drinks are available for $5 each.
While dining, guests are entertained by a live musical performance from either David Evans or John Moore. Tonight Dave was playing. He's highly entertaining as well as an accomplished musician, with several cd's recorded. After the main meal was served (by the way, I should say that Jamaican Grill is a perfect caterer for this sea cruise, since the food is consistently good and holds up well from the time it was initially prepared), a local dessert favorite, latiya, is put before guests in small bowls. This is a really flavorful version of this smooth, refreshing light creamy dish.
After dessert, servers came around with a tray full of Sauza Tequila shots in little glass cylinders. Some members of our party requested the traditional accompaniment of salt and lemon slices, and after getting them rendered up a hearty toast of "bottoms up"!
The boat just cruises throughout the harbor, capturing the bright afternoon sun on both sides of the catamaran, so that passengers on both sides get an equal share of sun. While cruising, some of the crew members who are expert in making balloon art go from booth to booth making hats, umbrellas and all sort of twisted creations to entertain and amuse the guests.
The sunset time is one of the highlights, since everyone is encouraged to look for that elusive "green flash". This is a special time with myriad hues of orange, yellow, rose, and magenta create an evolving panorama of colors on the deepening blue sky's palette. The ocean's colors deepen, too, and this becomes a romantic, photo opportunity as the sun slowly descends. It's a magical moment that should provide a cherished memory of a lovely evening.
Now that the sun has retired, it's time to party! Guests are beckoned up to dance to Dave's reggae music. Songs such as "One Love" and "Island Style" are performed and people are just as happy as can be to clap their hands and move their bodies to the rhythmic cadence.
Other events that happen are birthday recognitions with everyone singing along, contests for dancing, and even a kissing contest for newlyweds. The tourists are ecstatic throughout...it's wonderful to see this, too, as a local resident, since it allows you to view a Guam vacation with the same positive feelings our visitors have. One person who really keeps the whole party moving is the energetic and talented emcee, Alex, who hails from Saipan and speaks five languages. He is able to really work the audience to a near-fever pitch of excitement, and goes back and forth effortlessly between English and Japanese. In addition to being the emcee, Alex is also the Captain of the boat!
A final event is the Polynesian dance, and these comely dancers find willing volunteers amongst the guests (usually a couple of guys) to put on skirts and flowered bikini tops and to dance with them. This adds an uproarious hilarity to this non-stop floating party - the guys are really good sports and seem to have as much fun as everyone laughing at them! The last song performed is "YMCA", which seems now to be the international anthem of group dance, with everyone making letters as they belt out the words. It's pure fun! The line dance includes parents with their kids and adults of all ages, with everyone smiling broadly and just having the time of their lives.
The Sea Turtle Sunset Cruise is just one of several optional tours offered by Kloppenburg Enterprises, who have long been involved in Guam's tourism industry. This was one dinner cruise I will always remember and will certainly make plans to return again with friends and family. It's a boatload of fun!
Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit!
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