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December 14 , 2007, Volume 7 Number 49

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It's the holiday season and everything seems well and fine, since after all, it is "the season to be jolly"! Unfortunately, I'm sorry to have to start off with some rather disappointing news, but the island's restaurant scene will be suffering the loss of two fine establishments - Latte Stone Cafe in Tumon's Acanta Mall, which officially closed on December 13, and Tamuning's Sichuan Kitchen, which will serve its last dinner on Saturday, December 15. Alas, although there won't be any wringing of hands in despair or beating of breasts in anguish, there is no question that both restaurants will be missed by fans and devotees. Liz Gerber's Latte Stone Cafe was a mesmerizingly beautiful and stylish destination for the cafe crowd, and was a popular hangout on Sunday mornings for many of Tumon's elite who wanted simple and tasty brunch fare sans buffet lines. Her abrupt closure has left many baffled and a few irate.

Yang Lawlor's pioneering use of authentic Sichuan peppercorn in their Chongquing Hot Pot specialty meal experience was unable to draw the island's masses in sufficient numbers to make it work, despite the arduous efforts of many advocates (myself included) who tried to convince people that not all Chinese food is the same. This unique dining adventure represents an immense loss to the island in terms of an authentic ethnic Chinese culinary tradition. I believe that Sichuan Kitchen was ahead of its time - Guam is not yet ready for this sophisticated cuisine. Hopefully, the new owner, Chef Wu, will be successful in the re-branding of this restaurant's location to a new Pan-Asian format. We'll see!

In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that the new Ruby Tuesday in the GPO Complex will open at 4:30pm this coming Tuesday, December 18. Initially they will be offering dinner only. Lunch service will start a few days later. There should be no difficulty for them in appealing to Guam's dining public. It's going to be a significant addition to our base of national and international name-brand eateries.

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

In Today's Issue:

  • GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show - Sat. Dec 15, 10 am-Noon
  • UOGEF Presents MCA 2K Donation from Chef's Cup Event
  • Choi's Korean Restaurant - A "New Kid" on the Block in Tamuning
  • PROA Restaurant's Awesome Lunch Specials & Holiday Desserts
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
  • King & I Thai Cuisine - The Qualities of Extravagance

GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show - Sat. Dec 15, 10 am - Noon

Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy's segment of K57's "Tourism & You"Show, from 10am-Noon. This week's first hour guest will be Hank Rice, Marketing Director, Archway Inc., dba The Beverage Source/I Love Guam Co. Our second hour guest will be Sue Richardson, owner of Tumon's sensational new Thai experience, The King & I Thai Cuisine.

These interviews will 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.

UOGEF Presents MCA 2K Donation from Chef's Cup Event

A $2,000 donation was made by the University of Guam Endowment Foundation's Executive Director, Ms. Flora Baza Quan, to the Micronesian Chefs' Association at this past Tuesday (Dec 11) night's MCA General Membership Meeting at Le Tasi Bistro. This donation was made as part of the proceeds from the 5th Annual Chef's Cup Competition held at the SandCastle earlier this year, and will assist the MCA in providing scholarships and financial support to those seeking an education in the culinary arts. Receiving the check from Flora Baza is Peter Duenas, MCA President and Executive Chef of Sam Choy's Guam USA.

Choi's Korean Restaurant - A "New Kid" on the Block in Tamuning

You know the saying..."build it and they will come!" Well, by golly, that's certainly the truth, especially if it's within walking distance. Choi's Korean Restaurant just opened this week in a place near what some old-timers might remember where the damaged Statue of Liberty was stored. It's in Tamuning, near the new AES Energy Services offices, behind Club Zu, and across Marine Corps Drive from the Airport Inn. It's just down from the United Tire/AC Delco Auto Repair Shop, and just a two-minute stroll from my office in the Airport Industrial Center. Choi's is a large and spacious restaurant, with industrial ventilation which is needed for the table top bbq served during dinners.

I stopped by for lunch the other day and ordered two lunch specials, Stir-Fried Pork ($8.95) and Beef Rib Soup ($8.95). I was later joined by Vivian B., my Asian food taste specialist. (If you know Vivian, you know she knows her tastes!) The banchan (side dishes) served for lunch are light, but you can re-order as needed. The kimchi is fresh and full-flavored, and made by owner Choi, whose family has a tradition of cooking. The Stir-Fried Pork is a generous portion of well-seasoned pork topped with inoki mushrooms and blended with onions, carrots, and spring onions. It tasted quite good and was laced with sesame seeds.

The Beef Rib Soup was served in a piping hot cauldron. This dish is meant to be relatively mild, and Choi's provides diners with fresh chopped peppers and red chili paste to season as you deem fit, which as a lot in my case - enough to break out a sweat! The soup is filled with plenty of chunks of tender beef, cooked for hours so that it just loosely falls off the bones. There's cabbage and a few other veggies in this delicious soup, but no MSG. Both Vivian and I gave them our nod of approval. I have to come back for dinner and try the Pork Rib Soup with Potatoes, Charcoal Beef Short Ribs, Charcoal Beef Sirloin, Stir-Fried Octopus, and Spicy Roasted Rice Cake with Vegetables.

They will be open for lunch and dinner, serving late night past 1am. I will tell you that this is no ordinary Korean eatery...they have a very focused and deliberate plan of operation and a clarity you'll find reassuring. Give them a try and let us know what you think. Call 649-7942 for more information.

PROA Restaurant's Awesome Lunch Specials & Holiday Desserts

Recently voted "Best New Restaurant" and "Best Dessert" in GU Magazine's Best of Guam Survey, PROA Restaurant has a lot for which to be proud. I thought the Fried Parrot Fish I had for the lunch special was "off the hook"! I was equally impressed with the lunch I had this past week, which started out with a Southwest Chowder with baked tortilla strips that was as savory as it was warming "in a chicken soup for the soul" sort of way.

The main attraction was the $16.95 lunch special - a fabulous Sesame Seared Reef Fish with a Pan Asian Sauce. The sauce was lovely (more like divine) and made with a sesame butter rendering. The fish fillets were melt in your mouth delicious and vibrantly fresh. With food this good it's hard not to succeed, but it's still a tough go for restaurants to make it with lots of competition out there.

During the holidays, you have to make time to go to PROA and try their holiday desserts. I was delighted to be able to try their sampler featuring some special holiday desserts. The sampler comes with Spiced Panna Cotta with Fresh Cranberries, two Orange Oatmeal Cookies, Pumpkin Cheese Cake with a Praline Crumble, and their Signature Coconut Banana Fritter stylishly adorned with Creme Anglaise.

PROA's menu is available online at Call 646-7762 for reservations...this place fills quickly at lunch, and with their reputation for excellence growing, you can expect even more people lining up to eat their awesome cuisine!

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

December 15, 2006, Vol 6 No 49

Restaurants Reviewed: Denny's Guam, Turnjai Thai Restaurant, Sam Choy's Guam

"Tova Harel Bornovski's "Taste of Rainbow's End"
Jamaican Grill Re-opens Renovated Chamorro Village Location
The Blue Plate Soft Opening
Musashi Restaurant Opens

King & I Thai Cuisine - The Qualities of Extravagance

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree...."

Thus begins the timeless verse from poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem about a fantastic and opulent vision of the Khan's great power and unimaginable wealth. It is fitting to conjure up this phrase and vision when one enters King & I Thai Cuisine's new palatial premises in the Blue Lagoon Plaza. It is, in one word, "breathtaking!"

King & I Thai Cuisine is not a new restaurant - this Tumon location is the expanded and upgraded version of a much smaller restaurant we'd reviewed favorably a few years ago in its former Ipao Road location behind the Tower of London. This is a totally new restaurant from its immaculate stainless steel kitchen to the elaborate furnishings and china. It is also a labor of love for owner Sue Richardson and her family, including daughter Angie Chang. The labor has also been an ordeal since they encountered unexpected delays and setbacks in opening. They are to be commended for their determination and persistence in opening up a first-class facility that is also an entertainment destination during dinner for both local residents and visitors to our island. Once you've seen the young dancers perform their authentic Thai dance routines in their elegant and colorful native garments, you'll appreciate how visitors will see something different from anything else presently available. The dancers will have you applauding their graceful movements on a raised stage in cadence to the enchanting Thai music.

Although there were skeptics and nay sayers commenting from the sidelines while King & I was being built, no one can deny the sheer beauty and magnificence of the interior decor and authentic art pieces that adorn this grandiose establishment. From the brilliantly colored parasols hanging upside down from the main dining room's ceiling to the huge solid one-piece elephant head weighing nearly half a ton carved from a tree trunk, King & I is a remarkable achievement and represents a significant investment. As a newly-opened restaurant, it has taken some time to smooth out service and food issues, and by rights, one should give new places some time before reviewing. I can say that I've noticed improvements from their initial opening to the present, and that the lunch buffet I had today offered an impressive selection of tasty entrees for an amazing $8.99! The Vegetarian Fried Lumpia ($7) on the menu and available on the buffet line was as good as any I've had.

For dinner, I had the King & I Appetizer, Chicken Sa-te (satay, $9), which are tender pieces of white meat marinated with curry powder, other seasonings and served with a peanut sauce. This was followed by the Bangkok Stuffing Chicken Wings ($10), which are a nice combination of chicken, pork, shrimp, water chestnuts, carrots, and mung bean noodle, blended into a stuffing that fills part of the fried wing. This dish has a savory chili sauce for dipping.

For soup service, the King & I goes the extra distance to make this much more than just delivering a tasty soup. A stunning hot pot presentation is placed on the table, with a fire burning to keep the broth hot. Tom Yum Gai ($14/sm, $20/lrg) has a hearty soup stock filled with straw mushrooms, kaffir leaf, lemon grass, tomatoes, lemon juice, fish sauce, cilantro, and green onion, along with tender pieces of chicken. This nourishing soup is known for its relief of colds and the clearing of air passages!

I ordered the Shrimp Green Curry ($14). It is an ingredient-laden dish, made with green curry paste, bamboo, eggplant, string bean, basil leaf and red bell peppers cooked in a rich coconut milk. This comes with rice, as does the Tom Yum. I recall that I didn't specify how I wanted this dish and it came out mild and I could have used more spice. It did enable me to get a sense of ingredient balance though. The shrimps were huge and the beans cooked just right. There was more than enough for leftovers.

King & I Cuisine's extensive menu has more than 98 appetizers and entrees, and it would be impossible to order everything at one sitting. The last dish I had was the Combo Pad Thai (Shrimp & Chicken, $14). This popular Thai dish is a standard everywhere and everyone makes their own version of it. The noodles are stir-fried in Pad Thai sauce then combined with egg, bean sprouts and Chinese leek. Lemon wedges and peanuts are served on the side. This Pad Thai was pretty good. I do recommend telling your server if you prefer a spicy preparation as they will default to mild unless you tell them otherwise. For non-meat eaters, King & I has a few dishes like Stir Fried Kang Kong ($9/sm, $15/lrg), which I also had during the lunch buffet. It was really good. Others include Stir Fried Eggplant with Soybeans, Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables, Vegetable Curry, Eggplant Curry, and Stir Fried Tofu with Bean Sprouts.

Thai Tea is available along with Iced Tea ($2, with free refills), along with a selection of domestic and imported beers, wines, and tropical drinks. King & I Cuisine has a large lounge with comfortable Thai-style seating and an attractive bar.

Of course, be sure to save room for dessert. The house specialty is a doozy! Fried Banana with Ice Cream Topped with Chocolate ($4.50). Talk about delicious! The bananas are served hot and help in melting the ice cream. The chocolate topping is just a fantasy fulfilled! Other desserts are the Tapioca with Young Coconuts ($3), which I had, too. The lunch buffet featured the fried bananas with sesame seeds blended in with the batter.

The King & I Thai Cuisine is open for lunch Monday - Friday from 11am-2pm, and for dinner daily from 5-10pm. The authentic Thai folk dances are performed between 7:30-9:30pm. Sunday Brunch is served from 11am -2pm, and is priced at $12.99. A 10% service charge is applied to menu orders. Call 646-2247 for reservations and for booking private parties.

King & I Thai Cuisine is a triumph of spirit and will, and for owner Sue, it is a celebration of life. After all, she only wants to serve people good food that's healthy and wants people to have a great time dining at her restaurant. Her heart is true and passion is great. The building with its elaborate decor is a monument to extravagance, a gift to the people of Guam!

Bon appetit!

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