October 19, 2007, Volume 7 Number 42
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
"It's getting better all the time...!" Some of you may recall that Beatles song about things improving. It's a positive song and brings to mind the many improvements taking place on our island, right now, and especially with restaurants. Today's Diner Bytes introduces two new establishments that represent what I consider to be improvements and enhancements to our restaurant options on Guam. You'll see, as I did, that there's a refreshing uniqueness in the food & experience provided by the new Java Hut Cafe in Tamuning and Hagatna's Caliente Mexican Taqueria
The operators of both of these restaurants have done their homework and have each created a niche position in the market, not by imitating, but rather by innovating. The island's consumers have become more sophisticated and are much more discriminating than they were 10 years ago. We are pleased to see these positive changes and enhancements to the culinary experiences available on our island. Hopefully you will be as impressed as I was in the fresh tastes and novel features represented in two totally different restaurant concepts that were envisioned by their hard-working owners to be "something new" to our island's rather crowded dining scene. "Yes, I admit it's getting better, getting better, since you've been mine. Getting so much better all the time!"
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
K57 Tourism & You
Saturday October 20
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show this Saturday and you won't want to miss any of our guests. This week's first hour guests will include Yang Lawlor, owner of Sichuan Kitchen, Guam's place for Chongquing Hot Pot. She will be joined by her husband, attorney Paul Lawlor, who is an avid Hot Pot enthusiast! Also, in the first hour will be Sheila Kobayashi and Geolyn Egurrola, co-owners of Java Hut Cafe, which has just opened a second outlet in Tamuning's Oka Plaza, just behind Pay-Less Supermarket.
Our second hour will feature a team from the Westin Resort Guam, including Executive Chef Andreas Lorenz, Prego Chef de Cuisine, Denis Schiavo, and Westin's PR Manager, Margaret Wong Mauro.
These interviews offer unique and interesting insights into the people behind the scenes at the island's restaurants. This will be an opportunity for you to hear compelling stories about their professions 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.
10th Annual Pastries in Paradise
And the Winners Are!
Congratulations to all of the competitors in last week's Pastries in Paradise event held at the Guam Hotel Okura. It seems that this event is increasing in popularity since the attendance just gets higher each year, and this year it was extremely well-attended!
The booth displays and designs are also taking on a life of their own as each property seems to be outdoing themselves in an attempt to win the best booth design and best dessert presentation awards.
By category this year's winners (name, property represented and name of dessert) are:
1st Place -Takeshi Sato, Guam Hotel Okura, "Sky High" [pictured above]
2nd Place - Ernest Chonggum, Planet Hollywood, "Sour Sop Cheesecake Egg Roll"
3rd Place (a tie) - Gary Cruz, Hotel Nikko Guam, "The Apprentice II"
AND Sammy Fellone and Rick Valdez, Guam Reef Hotel, for "Sour Sop Mousse/Sour Sop Cheesecake"
Bailey's Challenge (sponsored by ST Corporation)
1st Place - Chef Suharto, Hyatt Regency Guam, "Bailey's Dessert Sampler"
2nd Place - Robert Rhoden, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, "Bailey's Double Baked Almond Croissant"
3rd Place - Brandon Sanchez, Sam Choy's Guam, "Chocolate Mousse"
Torani's Sugar-Free Beverage Challenge (sponsored by Archway, Inc.)
1st Place - Peter Miranda, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, "Eazy Breezy"
2nd Place - Karla Kaneshiro, Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort, "Fizzy Playful in your Mouth"
People's Choice Awards
Best Tasting Dessert - Hyatt Regency Guam
Best Dessert Presentation - Guam Reef Hotel
Most Creative Dessert - Guam Reef Hotel
Best Booth Design - Guam Reef Hotel [Ratatouille-theme as shown in photos]
Java Hut Cafe II
Oka Plaza, Behind Pay-Less Supermarket
We were extremely delighted and impressed by this brand new coffee house that finally opened up just over a week ago in Oka Plaza next to Oka Video. We weren't the only ones impressed! The tenants and workers at the neighboring Guam Medical Complex and GMH are pretty happy, too, especially since they've got a conveniently located space that opens everyday at 6am.and serves breakfast all day long.
We've been observing the construction activity for Java Hut Cafe for a number of months and realized during this time that the owners were paying a lot of attention to detail and clearly wanted to open a first class operation. Java Hut Cafe is owned by Sheila Kobayashi and Geolyn Egurrola. It is their 2nd location with the first Java Hut Cafe in the Star Building in Upper Tumon, across from St. John's.
We had breakfast on a Saturday, and had the Scrambled Eggs Bagel ($5.95), French Toast ($4.95), and a Bagel with Cream Cheese ($2.50). I was completely impressed by the Scrambled Eggs Bagel, which was served on a toasted bagel (of an easy-to-manage size) that was called the "Everything Bagel" since it was encrusted with onions, garlic, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. They also spread a layer of cream cheese on the toasted inside surfaces of the bagel, making it easier to chew. The eggs and ham were well-prepared and even the presentation was nice with a garnish of fresh orange slices.
The French Toast was made with whole wheat bread and were sprinkled with powdered confectioner's sugar. This plate's presentation had sweet grapes in addition to the orange slices as garnish. The coffees served at Java Hut Cafe are Lavazza and Marianas Coffee (roasted on Saipan).
Java Hut Cafe has lunch items including salads, wraps and sandwiches, as well as a wide variety of hot & cold beverages. Wi-fi is available, along with a computer station that has high-speed Internet. There is also a children's play area, which makes this a great place for parents who want to enjoy a great cappuccino while their little ones play. One unique offering at Java Hut Cafe's Cafe Hour, which offers 50% off food and beverages from 5 – 6 p.m. 5-6pm.
Java Hut Cafe's hours are Mon-Fri from 6am-7pm and Sat & Sun from 6am-6pm.
Caliente Mexican Taqueria
Behind Alpha Insurer's and Bank of Hawaii
Caliente Mexican Taqueria just opened this past week, and quite frankly, it's good enough to recommend even though they are still in that "new restaurant that's working out the kinks" stage. Based on my informal survey of a group of local guys who've been to Southern California, the words that apply to this eatery's food are "fresh"and "tasty"!
Aside from just taking their word for it, we went and tried it out for ourselves on Tuesday night. We actually went for a Margarita because that's one way to gauge whether a Mexican eatery is "worth its salt". Well, we were disappointed since the bartender wasn't there and we'd have to wait one more night to apply the "Margarita Test". We had some Mexican cervezas instead from a selection of Modelo, Dos Equis, and Corona.
Since we came at dinner, we weren't quite sure of the protocols here since at lunch time (Caliente is open from 11am-9pm daily) you order your meal at the counter and pay for it, pick it up when it's ready, and add your own salsas to your entrees at the salsa station. So, not being familiar, we just bellied up to the long bar and ordered there from Im, who is a personable and fun lady full of warm hospitality. We also had a chance to talk with Nancy Normand, who is the sister of chef/owner, Tommy Normand, whom (as of this writing) I've yet to meet since I've missed him on two visits. Nancy is also a professionally trained chef. [Photo: Im and Nancy]
The ambiance and atmosphere are pleasant and there are probably a few things they'll need to add to spruce up a bit more. What they've got down pat is the FLAVOR of their food! We ordered a variety of items to better assess their menu, which starts out with Caliente's selection of "Carnes" (meats) that are served in burritos.
I ordered the Carne Asada (grilled steak $8.50), two Soft Tacos, one with Pollo Asada (grilled chicken) and the other with Carnitas (roast pork), at $2.75 each. Zee had the Veggie Burrito (w/o cheese $7.50). I also ordered the Regular Quesadilla ($5.75).
The Carne Asada was huge so big, in fact, that I was wondering if I'd be able to finish it all. It comes with beans, rice, pico de gallo, and salsa. Warm tortilla chips are also served along with a guacamole sauce that is just darned delicious! The beef in the burrito was well-marinated and blended perfectly with the rice, beans, and pico de gallo inside. The flour tortilla wrapper has been grilled and has that great taste and chewability I appreciate in a great burrito.
The tacos were a perfect size and had a zesty salsa and homemade pico de gallo on top along with cilantro leaves. The grilled corn tortillas were magical. I loved the carnitas especially - the pork had been slow cooked for a long time and was quite tender and juicy. The chicken was good, too, but you know how much better pork carries flavor!
The Quesadilla had a unique presentation in that they were sprinkled with garlic and cabbage which had been diced into small, confetti-like bits. It tasted like a quesadilla, but was enhanced by this interesting presentation that added both taste and texture. Next time I'll try a Super Quesadilla with my choice of meat!
The menu is reasonable and not overly ambitious. I am already planning my next visit's order. I'll try the Pura Carne ($8.50) which is all meat with pico de gallo and salsa in a burrito. I'll also try a Tostada de Ceviche ($4.50) which is a crisp flat tortilla topped with mahi marinated in lime sauce, mixed with spices and topped with slices of avocado!
The Super Nachos look pretty tempting and I've heard that one of the house specialties will be the Live Guacamole & Chips ($6.50), made tableside fresh when you order! For you seafood lovers, there will be Pescado (fish) tacos, grilled or crispy shells, for $3.25 each.
Caliente's salsas (they have a salsa verde, too) are quite good and flavorful, however, to meet the local demand for hot and spicy, they've created pika salsa using boonie peppers!
Caliente Mexican Taqueria has already made a good impression on those who've come in based on word of mouth and curiosity. I am glad to recommend this brand new eatery for you to explore and hopefully satisfy your craving for a new and fresh taste of Mexico!
You can find Guam Food Guy links and reviews at the following sites:
Also available on Your GUAMCELL web-enabled phone