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January 4, 2008, Volume 8 Number 1

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It's 2008 and just as Guam recognized the first-born baby of the new year for Guam and the U.S., we also have to recognize Guam's newest restaurant that opened on January 3, Tomato Bento Express, located just outside the Bank of Hawaii in Hagatna. Some of you may remember when this used to be Sundance Restaurant and for some really old-timers, the same location housed Take 5 Coffee Shop. [Editor's Note: Anyone remember the small cubes of pork fried with donne peppers and served as a breakfast meat at Take 5? Yum...]

Tomato Bento Express is offering a Grand Opening Promotion featuring $3.75 Daily Lunch Specials. They also have Bento Bowls priced from $5 - $6.95. These include such favorites as Unagi Bowl, Stew Pork Bowl, Pork Chop Bowl, Fish Fillet Bowl, Chicken Teriyaki Bowl, Tempura Bowl, and Smoke Chicken Bowl. Tomato Bento Express offers take-out and delivery. Their number is 472-3688.

Another restaurant that's looking to open soon is the Asia One Restaurant in Tamuning, located in Dhonson Plaza (previously home of Sichuan Kitchen). Asia One will feature oriental and seafood cuisines. We will let you know once we find out their opening date. And last, but not least, Yellow Cab Pizza is slated to open soon in Tumon's Fountain Plaza. This is a popular eatery out of the Philippines and serves a full menu of pizzas, subs, and a few other Italian dishes. As I've said many times over the past seven years, there will always be new restaurants coming to Guam. It'll certainly keep this food guy busy!

Ken, The Guam Food Guy

In Today's Issue:

  • Newsletter Brief - Not Receiving Your Newsletter? How to Re-Subscribe
  • This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter
  • Around the Island - Lone Star Favorites and Vitale's
  • This Week's Review - Choi's Korean Restaurant - Simple Food with Big Tastes

Newsletter Brief - Not Receiving Your Newsletter? How to Re-Subscribe

You may already know this, but in the event you don't receive your weekly GuamDiner newsletter on Friday, you can go to the site and see This Week's newsletter linked on the front page. You can also re-subscribe yourself by going to the Newsletters Menu. I am still hearing directly from former subscribers that they stop getting our weekly newsletter. This can happen for a number of reasons. You could have changed email addresses, ISP's, or even have installed new spam-blockers or anti-virus software that may block "junk-mail". You have to provide permission for the newsletter to be received in your mailbox as we comply with the recommended standard called "double opt in" that requires you to subscribe and then approve the subscription when you receive an email asking you to acknowledge that you did indeed subscribe. We have not stopped publishing our newsletters and you can also see entire past editions of archived newsletters going back to 2001!

This Time Last Year - Highlights from the GuamDiner Newsletter

January 5, 2007 Vol 7 No 1

Featured Diner Byte Reviews:
Gabriel's House of Pasta
Jan Z's
Cafe Kalachucha Lunch Buffet
Old Town Chinese II

Around the Island - Lone Star Favorite Steaks and Vitale's

When I'm asked by many people where to get a good steak, I typically name a few restaurants known for the quality of their steaks. I also have to go back and try out these steak restaurants to see whether they still "make the grade". But in Lone Star's case, there are two steaks that I can attest to making the grade and with flying colors! The first is the T-Bone (20 oz., $32.99) This is a Mesquite Grilled Steak which I like grilled to just between medium and medium rare. This steak has enough natural flavor not to require any steak sauce, but if you like steak sauce, you can get it. The great thing about this steak is that I can eat part of it and take the remaining steak home for later.

On this occasion we ordered the Sauteed Mushrooms ($6.99) as a side dish since these are the perfect companion to a robust succulent steak.

A different preparation I had on a separate occasion was the Chopped Steak ($16.50). This 12 oz. dream is made with fresh, juicy ground beef (sirloin and other cuts) and is topped with either sauteed mushrooms or onions. I asked for both. This is the best chopped steak I've had on island. It's not to be confused with the local version of "chopped steak" which uses chunks of meat stir-fried with onions, bell peppers and carrots. I ordered the Lone Star Chopped Steak for lunch and recall my first was a grand reunion and brought back tasty memories of my many great steak experiences at Lone Star.

Seafood lovers will be happy to know that Lone Star now offers Steamed King Crab Legs on the menu, which you can order separately or as part of a combo add-on. They have also introduced a new Queso Dip, which has creamy Velveeta cheese, diced tomatoes, green chile, and jalapenos served with warm corn tortilla chips and a side of salsa.

We went to Vitale's Italian Restaurant the other night. I was on a mission to have dish of spaghetti and some of Vitale's famous home-made Italian sausage. Vitale's new menu actually features an entree that lists this. It is the Spaghetti with Sausage and Meat Sauce ($12.95). Of course, this includes a basket of fresh-baked garlic bread!

We also had one of Vitale's's pizzas, the No. 6 Deluxe (small, ($17). This thick crust pizza is topped with cheese, ham, onions, pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, and mushrooms. I succeeded in satisfying a craving I've had for home-made Italian food and the spaghetti with Vitale's awesome sausage really hit the spot!

Choi's Korean Restaurant - Simple Food with Big Tastes

Choi's Korean Restaurant opened this past November near Tamuning's Airport Industrial Center, behind the Zu Bar and adjacent to AES Energy Services. If you know where United Tire is or Tanks-A-Lot, you're in the neighborhood. Another way to get there is taking the first right turn on Marine Corps Drive after passing American Music.

Though I wrote about Choi's Lunch Specials in our December 14 newsletter, I finally had the opportunity to visit Choi's for dinner where I was able to enjoy some of Choi's Charcoal BBQ menu selections. I had been looking forward to this experience for a number of weeks after having Choi's Beef Rib Soup ($8.95), Stir-Fried Pork ($8.95), and, on a separate visit, Choi's Beef Short Ribs ($10.95). The Beef Short Rib Lunch Special had a fair-sized portion of cut grilled beef. Choi's is open for lunch Mon-Sat from 10am-2pm, and serves dinner every daily, starting at 5pm and closing at Midnight, though they have been known to stay open until 2am.

On to dinner! The self-cook charcoal bbq is available only at dinner time, and you need to order a minimum of two portions. You can order a single portion, but it will be prepared in the kitchen on a gas broiler. For the purposes of this review, I ordered the Charcoal Beef Short Ribs( Kalbi, $18/portion) and the Charcoal Beef Sirloin ($15/portion). We also ordered the Spicy Roasted Rice Cake with Vegetables ($10), which is known as dduk bokki in Korean.

Although I've been reviewing restaurants for a number of years, I still find myself learning new things about the protocols of eating food, especially the ethnic foods outside of typical Western cuisine, which is typically straightforward. Many Asian foods have a process of eating, an example of which is sushi or sashimi, which is usually eaten with wasabi and soy sauce and gari (picked ginger). Every time I eat Korean, I seem to learn a new way to eat their bbq meats. If you are not fully experienced, don't be afraid to ask for some help or direction on how best to enjoy this dining experience. You'll discover that everything tastes best when you eat the food the way the Koreans do.

The coals used at Choi's are a special type of wood that has a lot of heat and imparts a certain flavor to the grilled meats. The coals are carried your table and placed beneath the stainless steel grill on which your food is cooked. There are several ban chan (kimchis and other vegetables) that are brought to your table along with the meats to be cooked. The kalbi is pre-marinated while the sirloin is cut into little rectangular strips that can be easily laid atop the grill. Both entrees come with sliced potatoes, garlic, and onions that are grilled as well.

There are some condiments that you can put on the cooked meat prior to wrapping it in a butter lettuce leaf, along with a piece of perilla leaf for added flavor. One of these is a chili pepper soybean paste known as gochujang. Another step in the process is to put a piece of garlic as well as onion in the leaf along with the meat. The lettuce is then bunched up into a little pocket pouch that you pop into your mouth. I found myself enjoying both meats using this process. [Editor's Note: Around here we call those "Korean tacos!"]

The Spicy Roasted Rice Cake with Vegetables is a traditional Korean dish with a distinct red sauce made with gochujang, lengths of firm rice cake (dduk), and vegetables. Choi's version (which is soupier than others I've had) also featured a boiled egg along with tofu skin. It is a good vegetarian selection, with green and white onions and carrots with sesame seeds on top.

After dinner, we were treated to a traditional Korean aperitif known as Sujeonggwa, delightful beverage served chilled that is made using dried persimmon's, ginger, cinammon, sugar and pine nuts.

Other dishes I really want to try here at Choi's are the Pork Rib Soup with Potatoes ($30), which I'm told feeds four people; Chicken Hot Pot ($25), Charcoal Bulgogi ($13), and Charcoal Pork Loin ($13).

Choi's Restaurant is a spacious and clean eatery, and is able to accommodate small groups. There are two traditional Korean-style on-floor dining sections where you take your shoes off and sit on cushions. Choi's is named for the owner (and cook), who along with her husband, John Cho, have been successful in gaining new customers who enjoy the natural and traditional Korean tastes that are made without the use of MSG. This is one restaurant where non-Koreans can feel very comfortable because the staff is quite helpful and will fetch John to come and explain things for you, if you have any questions about ordering food or cooking it. As you will discover, Choi's has a distinct personality that's refreshing. It is still new (they are awaiting the delivery of a container of art work to help decorate this large dining space). If you want to order any take-out or to make reservations, call 649-7942.

I hope you are able to enjoy the delightful process of eating Korean BBQ as I did while dining at Choi's Korean Restaurant. I'm sure once you meet this happy, hard-working couple, you'll feel as welcome to their family as I did.

Chal Mokkeisumnida!

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