September 7 , 2007, Volume 7 Number 36
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
If there were any people on Guam who didn't know about our recent book, "Let's Eat - A Guide To Dining on Guam, 2007", I'm sure there are a lot less of them today, thanks to PDN's Lifestyle reporter Sun Kang's cool write up on me and the launch of Let's Eat! I can say this with certainty since I was lauded by TSA personnel at the airport early this morning who had read the article.
Now that I'm in Saipan, I'm sure my day will be met with acknowledgements from those who read the PDN. I'm scheduled to be interviewed by my friend, Chris Nelson, anchor for KSPN-2 later today, so I'll definitely be more "popular" by this time tomorrow.
There's no question that this public recognition brings me great joy...it also brings humility, since the work that I've been doing is a shared effort with some truly talented and intelligent people who support me with GuamDiner.com, as well as the fine team over at Directions and Promo Infomedia, who collaborated on creating "Let's Eat".
My greatest satisfaction comes from hearing from grateful restaurant owners and consumers who thank me for my recommendations. One really gets a sense of being genuinely welcome when walking into a small eatery and the owners gush about how busy they've been because of my reviews. I'm not the island's first reviewer, nor am I the only food writer. I've been an active promoter of great dining experiences and especially do my best to introduce unique places to other media outlets, both broadcast and publishing. We are a small, close-knit community, and all of us need to work together to improve the quality of our lives by promoting positive experiences.
More than anything else, we want to thank you, our readers, along with our Guam Diner restaurant subscribers and partners, who have continued to support us and encourage us to "keep on keeping on", no matter how tough the times have been (and believe, me, it's not been easy at all!). It is our culture and nature to love food and share the joys and pleasures of our myriad dining options. Our success is only possible by your belief. This we deeply appreciate.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Hard Rock Cafe
It's been a while since we'd been to Hard Rock Cafe, and in this case, absence did make the heart and appetite grow fonder! We actually went on a "burger mission"...to try the Veggie Burger ($11.95) and the Legendary 10 oz. Burger ($13.90).
Obviously, these prices may seem deterrents to a lot of folks who don't want to shell out that much money for burgers, but the truth is, you are getting a lot more than just food here at Hard Rock. You are getting a highly-energized (and musical) dining experience, and since I used to be a rock musician in my youth, there's a lot about Hard Rock to which I can relate. Eating here is like eating in a rock museum.
We started off with the Classic Chicken Wings ($9.95), which we had with the "heavy metal" sauce, celery, and blue cheese dressing that makes double dipping a virtue. Other sauces are classic rock or tangy bar-b-que. The wings were abundant and large, with a quality I could appreciate and definitely not gamey like the cheap wings some places are serving.
Zee wanted the Veggie Burger, which is a hefty patty made with vegetables and spices, served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and a savory Cajun mustard-mayonnaise with Swiss cheese. It's usually served with coleslaw. In lieu of fries, she had a side salad and removed the cheese before enjoying the sandwich. I had a bite and was surprised by the texture and flavor, which was fresh and actually satisfying. I could see ordering this on my own in a future visit.
It was my first time having the Legendary 10 oz Burger, which, as the menu says, is "Famous the world over". The new owners of Hard Rock Cafe are the Seminole Indian Tribe, and one thing they've done is really raised the quality standards and consistency of all the HRC locations. This sandwich is quite good, with 10 oz of fresh Angus beef formed into a thick patty that's lightly seasoned. It is topped with bacon and two slices of cheddar cheese and a fried onion ring.
Unlike the other burgers and sandwiches, this is the only one that's served on a toasted malt bun. It is specifically this bun that gives this burger its uniqueness, since the bun really holds up to the size of this burger and doesn't fall apart. It has a good, fresh-baked flavor, too. A lot of us burger lovers put a lot of weight in the quality of the bun. All the other ingredients (onion, lettuce and tomato) were fresh, and the onion ring was just the right size not to overwhelm. Service at Hard Rock was faultless...they really stay on top of the customers.
For this dinner, we were especially honored to share Ebisu with our good friend and neighbor, Toshie Ito, in what was her first visit, but definitely not her last! I draw tremendous satisfaction when someone I really admire and respect enjoys the food at a restaurant just as much as I do, and Toshie LOVED Ebisu's food, taste, and quality.
The portions were surprisingly large to her. From the sushi roll selection, she ordered the Cranchy ($11), which has shrimp tempura and cucumber, which we shared along with the Rainbow ($10) and Spider ($12), that I'd ordered. (The Spider has to be one of my favorites, with its deep-fried soft shell crab inserted into a California Roll.) We also ordered the Yasai Curry ($10), an assorted vegetable curry.
Zee ordered a special vegetarian sushi offering, the Yasai Sushi plate, made with cucumbers, burdock root, and other vegetables
Owner Fumi Nakamura is a master sushi chef...he makes these flavorful varieties with a love and passion rarely seen, and once you take the first bite, you are hooked!
This night we were entertained by New Orleans jazz music playing in the background. Imagine, sitting on Guam at a sushi counter listening to Louis Armstrong - that's living large!
The curry is unique and not at all what you'd expect at a Japanese restaurant. It's spicy with a fresh richness that has you yearning for more.
Fumi made us a special Philadelphia Roll ($8), made with Philadelphia cream cheese, fresh salmon chunks, and cucumber. I have a Japanese friend who later told me that Ebisu uses a high-grade salmon for their sushi and it really makes a difference.
As with all the sushi dishes, a variety of solid-colored plates are used to showcase each one. The Rainbow's black plate makes the rainbow colors more vivid, as the Philadelphia's yellow plate highlights the salmon and cream cheese rolls. These are just awesome presentations, wouldn't you agree?
If you've not yet been to Ebisu, please go for lunch or dinner. I'm quite sure you will be rewarded for your sense of adventure.
Jeff's Pirates Cove
How far would you go to satisfy a craving? Fortunately, the drive from Tamuning to scenic Ipan is a breeze, and the half-hour on the road only sharpens the appetite! This past Sunday was a perfect time to go to Jeff's, even though it rained in torrents while we were there. We sat comfortably eating a few delicious appetizers and entrees from Sara's Greek Menu, unperturbed by the falling sky just beyond the shelter of Jeff's bar. The Hummus Dip ($7) is made with freshly ground garbanzo beans mixed with garlic and olive oil. We also had a lot of warm pita bread and heaven knows there's never too much pita bread!
I went on to have the Gyro Platter entree, which had plenty of Greek-style lamb covered with fresh veggies (tomatoes, cucumber and red onion) and creamy tatziki, that wonderful savory concoction of yogurt, cucumbers and garlic. The combination of yogurt and cucumbers has a welcome cooling effect on the palate, with the flavor bumped up with garlic. The platter also has servings of hummus, baba ghanouge (a dip made with grilled eggplant and ground sesame paste), Feta cheese and a fresh garden salad and pita bread. For the price, it's a phenomenal value and rates high on my ultimate satisfaction list!
The Garlic House
Ground Floor Capital Hotel
There's no place on Guam where garlic is featured on the menu in as many ways as at The Garlic House, which is a charming little eatery located just above the entrance to the Tarza Water Park. Open only for dinner, Garlic House is always tweaking their menu, bringing in new items and experimenting with others.
One plus of the evening hours is the chance to watch the sunset. This evening the skyline was saturated in an amazing display of purple, blue, and orange colors when we arrived.
One of the specials not on the menu was a Spinach Salad ($7.50), which had a lot of bacon atop the fresh spinach. It was a little saltier than I'm accustomed to and I later found out it had to do with a method of preparation that uses soy sauce. Other than that, it was okay.
Zee ordered the Peperoncino, half portion ($6.98), which is spaghetti in a garlic oil base with a red chili pepper on the top with some green peppers, too. We noted that the pasta used to have red chili pepper flakes mixed throughout, making each bite deliciously fiery.
One new entree I just had to try was Chicken Wings w/Garlic Sauce ($8.98), you may notice that I'm on a chicken wing kick! The wings came out and looked like spicy fried wings...though, I didn't see any garlic sauce. It did eventually materialize after eating a few to determine if the garlic sauce had already been applied. Once I dipped my wings into the new sauce, it made an appreciable difference, and the wings took on a new "Garlic House" identity. The current Garlic House menu can be viewed at GuamDiner.com.
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