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August 24, 2007, Volume 7 Number 34

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

We are pleased to officially announce the release and availability of "Let's Eat! A Guide to Dining on Guam, 2007"! As mentioned in a preview of the book, the reactions and response to the book have been enthusiastic and positive, with many commenting that this is the most comprehensive restaurant guide ever published on Guam. The quality of the book with its vivid food photographs, reviews, recipes, FAQ's (frequently asked questions), calendar of events, Food Guy Favorites, location maps, special offer coupons, and a glossary of some common ethnic food terms has been described as remarkable and impressive.

We have created an location listing of where you can buy Let's Eat, which has a suggested retail price of $7.95. We will keep you advised about future signing or promotion events for Let's Eat!

"Let's Eat! A Guide to Dining on Guam, 2007" is a collaboration between and Directions Magazine, and has been in development for a number of years. I want to personally thank all of those who were involved in producing "Let's Eat", and especially to the advertisers who had the faith (and patience!) to invest in a dream.

We are extremely thrilled and humbled by this first edition - it is truly an impressive work that showcases the vast selection of restaurants comprising our island's diverse culinary culture, arguably with some of the most authentic Asian tastes found outside of their native countries. Biba Guahan! Gof mannge! Itadake-masu! Chal Mokkeisumnida! Buon Appetito! Bon Appetit!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • Sesomjai Thai "Blind Date" Dinner with Japanese Tourists
  • Taste & Spirit of Guam Carnival a Success
  • Marriott's Manhattan Steakhouse Dine & Ride II Dinner Set Menu Delights
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
  • Maharani Indian Restaurant - Impressive New Eatery Filled with "Spice of Life"

Sesomjai Thai "Blind Date" Dinner with Japanese Tourists

Have you ever had a "blind date" with two Japanese sisters (one who'd never been to Guam before, the other a four-time veteran) that was arranged via e-mail? Well, it was a first for me and Zee. Last week we were honored to have a special rendezvous dinner with sisters Junko and Kunie Shimizu. Junko had contacted me via email after reading my review of Sesomjai Thai Restaurant. Seeing the review and recalling a newspaper ad promoting their Garlic Shrimp that she saw on previous visit, peaked her interest. She asked me for help in locating the restaurant in Hagatna. I sent her photographs and then suggested meeting her and her sister for dinner there at for dinner.

It was a night to remember! Despite the fact that we were not proficient in each other's language, we still communicated well and had fun learning different words and phrases, especially Zee. Junko works for an advertising agency, while her older sister, Kunie, works for a property and casualty insurance firm.

The Garlic Shrimp ($10) was so good we ordered two plates, that way Junko could eat to her heart's content!

We also enjoyed Sesomjai's signature Fried Pork ($10) appetizer with sweet chili sauce. These strips seem to be a favorite for a lot of folks. The Pad Thai with Chicken ($7.50) was also good, as was the Green Curry with Beef ($8).

We took a few photos, and even had taken some with owner Somjai V. As with any fun experience between people who've never met, we all overcame the initial shyness and became fast friends who exchanged gifts and gave farewell hugs, promising to rendezvous again during a future visit to Guam.

This is a wonderful example of direct interaction with our visitors - an experience that they'll be talking about for years! Wouldn't this be fun for you do as well? Sesomjai Thailand Cuisine's phone number is 477-5115.

Taste & Spirit of Guam Carnival a Success

Last weekend's Taste & Spirit of Guam Carnival was a resounding success for a first time event! The weather was absolutely picture perfect beautiful and the view from outside the Marianas Ballroom (where the carnival was held) was spectacular. The Carnival was sponsored by the Micronesia Chef's Association, who also sponsoring the Texas Hold Em' Tournament that ran on Saturday and Sunday.

Participating restaurants at the culinary carnival were PROA Restaurant, Old Hagatna Grill, Capriciossa, Jamaican Grill, Tunu BBQ Systems and Techniques, Sam Choy's, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, and students from the GCC Culinary Academy.

Among the food samplings were Chicken Wings, Calamari, Funnel Cakes, Ribs, Chamoru Bistek, Roast Beef, Pork Katne, Crepes, Triple Kelaguen & Shrimp Kelaguen Red Rice Sushi Rolls, Popcorn, Snocones, Corn Chowder, and Coconut Portabello Mushrooms with Roasted Habanero Aioli.

Proceeds from the weekend's fundraising activities will support scholarships for students attending the GCC Culinary Academy. A future carnival is scheduled to be held in November, so be sure to come and get Guam's best value for food tasting!

Marriott's Manhattan Steakhouse Dine & Ride II Dinner Set Menu Delights

If you've not gone down to the Manhattan Steakhouse at the Marriott for the special Dine & Ride II Dinner Set Menu, you should call for reservations and avail yourself with the fabulous line-up of savory choices Executive Chef Michael Devlin and his crew have conjured up for your dining pleasure.

The Dine & Ride Promotion offers a special bonus of being able to enter to win a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle! For me, though, it's the food that'll give you a ride through culinary country you won't soon forget.

To tease the palate, you need to try one of a family of special martinis. I had the Vanilla Sky, which is made with Smirnoff Vanilla Twist, orange juice, lime juice, and sugar. Talk about smooth with a slight tang!

The Set Menu is priced at $60 and starts you off with a flavorful bowl of Southwestern Shrimp and Corn Soup. This is the kind of taste you can only get by going on a road trip through the expansive Southwest...yummee!

The next treat is the Tijuana Classic Caesar Salad, made with crisp romaine lettuce, croutons, fresh shaved parmesan cheese and a chipotle dressing with a serious kick.

For the main course I had the Glazed BBQ Baby Back Ribs, which are served with a baked potato along with the Manhattan's signature Vegetable Board. These ribs are big and meaty (lots to eat) with a finger-licking, tangy bbq sauce that'll make you whistle! I was able to pair this with a glass of Camelot Cabernet, which held its own up against the piquant bbq sauce

For dessert - I still can't believe I had room for this! - I indulged myself in a heavenly Rum & Chocolate Bread Pudding that came with Vanilla Haagen Dazs Ice Cream, along with a superb butterscotch sauce and chocolate sauce.

I'll have to go back and try two of the other main course entrees, the Herb Crusted Certified Angus Beef Roast Prime Rib with Pan Gravy and the Grilled Local Ahi Tuna Cajun Style with Garlic and Tomato Butter. Now that's something worth looking forward to enjoying some night! Manhattan Steakhouse 648-1611.

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

Aug 25 2006 Vol 6 No 34

Diner Bytes on The Shrimp Shack, Lonestar Steakhouse's Awesome Pork Chops, Chef Peter's Backyard Kitchen Lunch Specials

Maharani Indian Restaurant - Impressive New Eatery Filled with "Spice of Life"

The newly-opened Maharani Indian Restaurant is a class act. I only do restaurant review on brand-new restaurant if I deem it unique and/or worthy and ready for diners. The Maharani may be new in name and location, but it has years of experience and taste that gives it the presence and stature of a restaurant with long-lasting appeal. Owned by veteran restaurateurs, Tom and Maggi Kalingal, Maharani is a seven-year dream that's finally been realized. It has transplanted the heart and soul of Kalingal's renowned Saipan eatery, Taste of India, to the more fertile soils of Guam, where I can assure you this new version will flourish and grow.

The Maharani Indian Restaurant is located on the 2nd Floor of Ocean Plaza, next to the Westin Resort Guam. There is parking in the back as well as in the basement. It is easy to access on foot and can't be missed with it's bright windows illuminating the top floor at night, and showcasing diners enjoying lunch during the day.

For this review, we tried the lunch buffet and a la carte dinner menu. Both experiences were extraordinary, not so much for the cuisine (which is really very good), but more so for the service, which sets a very high standard not seen before here for this type of cuisine. The service projects a native Indian hospitality with a palpable air of authenticity. This can be attributed to the teamwork of Pauly Vettiyadan, Maharani's Manager, and his able assistant, Joji Cheriya. When you talk to both of these noble gentlemen, you will appreciate the hospitable nature of capable Indian managers in the front of the house, which quite frankly, is what an Indian restaurant, with its complex menu and diverse spice preparations, needs.

The decor of Maharani is stately, with white tablecloths covered by glass tops and comfortable chairs. The dining room is large and spacious, with simple art pieces on walls and counters that lend credence to the Indian ambiance, which is further embellished by Indian music piped throughout. There is a large aquarium filled with colorful fish just behind a large, well-constructed, fully-stocked bar.

With Maharani, you get the sense this place is run by professionals. Again, this is where years in the business is critical, not just for the food quality, but ensuring a satisfying dining experience for patrons from start to finish. The lunch buffet varies each day, yet has both white steamed rice and saffron rice, as well as a salad bar section. The hot items in the chafing dishes for this day included Tandoori Chicken which still retained its juiciness though it looked dry-baked outside; Beef Masala; a really savory Pork Curry; an ingredient-laden Vegetable Curry; a Mushroom Pepper Fry that I couldn't get enough of; and, a Papaya Carrot Curry that was something never seen before here. We also ordered some Naan Bread from the a la carte menu ($2.50), which comes out piping hot and rich tasting. The Lunch Buffet is served from 11am-2pm daily and is $9.95/adults, $5/child. Again, I've heard from a number of people, some vegetarian, who have praised this restaurant and find it to be a welcome experience. The only suggestion is they should consider adding a dessert to the buffet; Indian cuisine has a number of exotic and delicious sweets that would be a welcome finishing touch.

For dinner, we ordered the Vegetable Pakoras ($3.95), a fair-sized portion of vegetable fritters, served with a piquant chili dipping sauce. This was followed by a Tomato Shorba ($2.50), a cumin-flavored, slightly-spiced, tomatoey broth that you'll have a hard time pausing from eating. It's a good tomato soup that's not at all overwhelmed by the spice infusion.

I had the Chicken Tikka ($11.95), which is boneless chicken chunks diced and marinated in tandoor sauce, then cooked on a skewer in the tandoor oven. I don't think we realized the size of the portions when ordering, otherwise, I would not have ordered the Lamb Masala ($14.95). The aromatic combination of garlic, onion, ginger and Indian masala, smothering tender pieces of lamb was pushing me to one of those ecstatic states. I did have a Kingfisher Beer, and we ordered Naan Bread along with some mouth-watering Lemon Pickle.

To sate Zee's vegetarian preference, we had the Aloogobi ($8.95), a combination of potato and cauliflower blended with a light Indian masala. Again, the portions are bigger than expected. (Pauly says they want their customers to be satisfied.) As I was eating, I realized I had another craving that wasn't quite satisfied. I needed some Raita, to cool my palate down. I asked Pauly and he said he would get some straightaway. In just a few minutes time, he returned with a freshly-made batch of a delicious cucumber, made with yogurt, cilantro, cumin, onion, and red pepper. This was where I found my "ecstasy"!

The Maharani offers a full range of meat, seafood, and vegetarian options for dinner. Dinner service is from 5:30-9:30pm daily. Since Maharani has been open for just over a week, there may still be a few details that are being tweaked by the management team, so there may some fine-tuning to the menu and/or lunch service. Nonetheless, this is definitely a worthwhile dining experience, offering Guam's diners another option for satisfying their appreciation for Indian cuisine, considered by this "foodie" to be "the spice of life"! Call them at 649-4308.

Bon appetit!

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