July 6, 2007, Volume 7 Number 27
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Have you ever dreamed of opening your own restaurant? If you like food, love to cook, and love sharing your preparations with family and friends, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to consider having your own restaurant so that more people would be able to enjoy the great tasting food you make. While it is a great idea, you should be aware that restaurants have a relatively high failure rate in comparison to other businesses. While it's one of the most time-consuming and demanding businesses one can be involved in, it can also be highly rewarding when people really take to your food. However, Guam has more than 500 places to eat, and that's actually too many restaurants for the island's population to reasonably support. Thus, the fallout. In the past, we've noted that there's about 25-30 restaurant changes per year, which includes new restaurants as well as conversions and closures.
Do you remember the Crossroads Cafe? There had been rumors that they would eventually re-open. We are still waiting. Another and more recent change is Kaveh Kanes (in Ladera Tower), which has in the past two weeks ceased operations. They had some really good beverage creations, sandwiches, and pastries. Noble Roman's and Tuscano Subs has made a successful conversion to become the Hellfish Tavern, which is now a beer and pizza restaurant & bar. Fast Freddy's in Mangilao is no more, and there is a big question about whether the Caspian Grill is going to re-open or not. Unbeknownst to me, the Caspian had closed "for renovations" when I included a mini-review about their Greek Salad and Gyro Platter in our June 22 Guam Diner Bytes.
One of the most notable closures is Y Kusina, which was Guam's flagship Chamorro restaurant, located at the former Palace Hotel. It's really strange not having an "official Chamorro" restaurant of the caliber of Y Kusina. There's a lot of chatter about the soon to open King & I Thai Cuisine Restaurant in Tumon's Blue Lagoon Plaza. This exciting new Thai restaurant will even feature a live Thai dinner show. There is a lot going on, and yes, we'll be here continuing our coverage of this ever changing restaurant landscape.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Tony Roma's Agana
Agana Shopping Center
Tony Roma's Time Square
Royal Orchid Hotel, Tumon
This visit to Tony Roma's was a quest to fulfill a July 4th tradition - American-style BBQ, Corn on the Cob, and Baked Beans. We left the Polaris Point July 4th festivities prior to the laser show to satisfy our craving for the piquant BBQ sauce and corn on the cob, which was oddly absent at Polaris, but definitely available at Tony Roma's. We didn't want to go all the way to Tumon to satisfy this taste craving and were pleased to find the Agana location not at all crowded whereas Tumon usually has a waiting list. The Star-Studded Sampler ($22.49) had a delightful combination of meats and comes with two sides and we selected a loaded baked potato and two ears of corn. We also ordered an extra side of Ranch Beans ($2.49). The Sampler has the Original Baby Backs, Carolina Honeys (prepared with honey and molasses), Tony Roma Red Hots (a pika blend of chili pepper, black pepper, chipotle peppers, Tabasco, and crushed red peppers) and a Bountiful Beef Rib basted in their Original Sauce.
I don't know when I first tried Tony Roma's, but I'm guessing it was sometime in the 70's. I do know that their tangy barbecue sauce has been a traditional draw for me on July 4th. I've had ribs I've liked better and more creative sauce blends, however, I believe my taste buds have been programmed to crave Tony Roma's flavors which is why they continue to get the business. Judging from their success, I can see that I'm not alone.
Western & Thai Cuisine
Monticello Plaza (next to Cost-U-Less)
Every restaurant deserves a first visit. It's a good restaurant that'll get you back in the door. It's a great restaurant that'll keep you coming back for more on a regular basis. Andaman has managed to extend that first visit to repeat visits with its unique combination of fresh, authentic Thai tastes that are distinctly discernible with each bite.
Start out your meal with an appetizer like the Por Pia "Spring Roll" ($7), which we've been ordering vegetarian. (We hear that these are now becoming more popular than the meat-filled ones.) These are a crispy delight with mushrooms, bean thread noodles, and cabbage. Andaman's signature three-flavors sauce offers a stimulating accompaniment.
The Tofu Soup (sm/$5.50 lg/$10.50), is simply delicious with its delicately-flavored clear chicken broth soup base. The broth seems nearly neutral and allows you to taste all the ingredients, including baby bok choy, green onions, ground pork, shrimp, and bean thread noodles made from ground mung beans, coriander and a generous amount of tofu cubes. This soup can be a meal on its own, and is highly recommended as a comfort soup!
The Som Tum Talay (Papaya Salad, $7.75) is a popular favorite for many who relish the sweet, sour, tangy, and spicy flavor sensations given by the contrasting ingredients of lemon, fish sauce, palm sugar, red peppers, roasted peanuts and crunchy long beans blended in a pile of pounded green papaya shreds. This version was ordered sans shrimp as a vegetarian option.
What has become a personal Thai favorite for me is the Pad Kra Praow (w/chicken, $8). This is a stir-fried dish dominated by hot basil leaves with fresh chilies, garlic and ground chicken that is served Thai-style with a crispy egg on top, all mounded on a bed of rice with salad on the side. I seem to vary from chicken to pork in my Pad Kra Praow choices, and Andaman's presentation is among the best I've seen. The flavors are addictively compelling with this entree, and if you order it spicy, be prepared to perspire! Sips of sweet Thai tea have a mollifying effect on the heated peppers that assault the palate. Some would call it a "good burn". Others just call it "hot"! It can be made to suit your taste...just specify when ordering.
Izakaya Katsu aka "the Green Door"
Central Bldg. 3F, corner of Fujita Rd & San Vitores
I don't get to have lunch at Katsu as much as I'd like to...it's a different dining experience than being there at night, and the menu is more limited to match the lunch service hours, 11:30am-1:30pm. The lunch menu has several sets that range in price from $8 to $12 including Pork Cutlet, Fried Shrimp, Minced Beef Cutlet, Crab Croquette, Pork Ginger, Pork Cutlet with Egg on Rice, Pork Cutlet Curry, Chicken Cutlet Curry, Grilled Fish, and both Cold Soba & Cold Udon Noodles.
We had the Tofu Steak ($7 or $10 for set w/rice & miso soup). It's really a treat watching a person's expression the first time they try Katsu's Signature Tofu Steak. The curling shaved bonito flakes, the scallions, garlic, pepper and ginger offer an incredible taste that really puts this dish firmly on the map!
Another must-have dish for the first-timer is Katsu's Fried Shrimp ($12 lunch set). This tastes as good as it looks...in fact, it tastes even better! The panko coating is minimal and allows quick access to the flavorful meaty shrimp. Add to this a dollup of Katsu's fresh-made "tartar salad" and you've arrived in culinary nirvana! I've had fried shrimp in dozens of places and never have I had one equal Katsu's. The shredded cabbage has a light dressing that makes it even more refreshing...it's a perfect little meal!
This time I ordered the Chicken Cutlet Curry ($10 lunch set). This curry is full-flavored and has a pika finish. They use tender and juicy thigh meat and give it a crispy golden brown panko coating. The cutlet by itself is great, but when you complement it with this awesome curry, well you now know why so many people come here often - it's the food!
Uri Jip Restaurant
Behind Tick Tock
Open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sunday 11am-9pm (closed 1st Sunday of the Month)
The island is full of Korean restaurants and there are several high-profile establishments that are a lot fancier than Uri Jip, but I don't think any of them have a better-tasting Beef Kalbi ($18). This is complemented by what I consider the best "pan chan" selection of pickled marinated vegetables and kimchis. The name "Uri Jip" means "our home" and this is a family run business owned and operated by the Chang family. They take enormous pride in the quality of their food - it's like being invited and welcomed into their home. When we go at night we be sure to watch the Korean TV channel which really helps create the homey ambiance...we usually catch the soap operas and dramas...they are quite engaging even if you don't speak the language.
"Mama "Chang is always there along with her husband, "Papa" Chang, and they sometimes can be seen relaxing at their table with a few of their friends. As I said, it's like dropping by their home. Sit down, have a glass of soju, and relax to a wonderful Korean flavor adventure.
Feeregalo Lunch Special
Feeregalo Euro Dining
Leo Palace Resort
There are times when you should indulge yourself by doing something extravagant, right? Even better, how about extravagant without the high price tag? This is what you'll be delighted to find at Feeregalo, the fine dining restaurant located in the base of the elegant Hotel Belvedere. For $12 you can choose a set menu prepared by Grand Chef Fujigaya. This month's choices are Tenderloin Beef Cutlet with Tomato Sauce served with Cheese Penne and Norwegian Salmon Steak with Tartar Sauce. The meal comes with a Caesar Salad, Bread or Rice, Coffee or Tea.
There are some very special things about eating here at Feeregalo. It's a beautiful and scenic get away. The service is impeccable. The table setting and table ware is first class. The food is splendid in both taste and presentation. The rolls and French baguette slices are sublime - something bread lovers will marvel over! The only thing you have to worry about being extravagant with is the time it takes to get there...but once you are there, you'll soon discover that you are worth it! Go ahead, pamper yourself!
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