January 11, 2008, Volume 8 Number 2
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
The word "change" seems to resonate more and more as people search the horizon for new possibilities and "change" in their lives. Beware though, because the "grass is not always greener" on the other side of the fence, and if it is, it could be astro turf! I believe that change is constantly happening, and that this change is actually more of an evolution. An example of this is your very existence. When you were first given your name you were a baby. You kept that same name all during your childhood and during your teens and young adulthood all the way to the present, and yet, you continued to grow and change and become someone totally different than you were as the baby who had the same name. In short, you can stand still but you will continue to change.
There are lessons here that also apply to our island. Guam is still "Guam", however, it has evolved over the last 40 years to become a thriving economic powerhouse in comparison to most of our neighboring island countries. Would you believe that our Gross Domestic Product is $3.7 Billion, which is the same as Fiji's? They have a population of 827,900 and a land area of 18,333 sg. km., while Guam's population is 167,371 with a land area of 541.3 sg. km. When you stop and look at the visible progress in the form of new restaurants, facilities, vehicles, and communications technology (which is constantly improving almost by the minute!), this island has come a very long way in a relatively short time
One way I notice changes is in reading my past newsletters. Sometimes I'll mention a name like Nina's Papagayo, Jim's Island House, Latino's, or Istimewa and many folks don't have a clue about these past "institutions" that were thriving in their day. Those restaurants had the benefit of longevity, whereas today's restaurant scene appears to experience change more rapidly, with young eateries like Y-Kusina, Jojo's Adobo, Padrino's, Caspian Grill, The Whole Enchilada, Latte Stone Cafe, Sichuan Kitchen, and most recently, The Blue Plate, silently passing away. My memory of them is archived in the photographs I've taken and the words I've written. It is, indeed, a veritable testament to change. So, now that we've gotten that out of the way, what's new?
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Dolce Frutti Gelateria
The newest place to open its doors (just this week) is Dolce Frutti Gelateria, located between SandCastle and Pearl Cafe in The Plaza which is across from DFS Galleria. It's an adorable little cafe that offers genuine freshly-made Italian ice gelato, which is Italy's version of ice cream. Gelato has a lower butterfat content than ice cream and is more dense. It also can be served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream so you can taste the flavors better since the gelato melts faster. With less air in the mix, the flavors are more concentrated.
I had a small scoop of Pistachio in a cup ($3, you can have a waffle cone too at this price), and it evoked memories of gelato I had in Hong Kong. This is the real deal and there are a number of flavors using 100% natural ingredients, including Wild Berries, Mango, Lychee, and Ferrero-Rocher along with many more. Dolce Frutti is owned by Tina Verove and in addition to delicious premium gelato desserts, they offer illy cafe espresso creations, San Pellegrino waters and fruit juices, and China Mist Tea. It's a perfect place to sit down, enjoy a gelato and cappuccino, and people watch. What more can you ask for? Ciao!
ITC Bldg. Ground Floor
482-8880 (call for appt.)
This is not about food in the literal sense, but it is about "food for the soul" and in this case, it is about art and beauty. You may remember the Nature Gallery in the Hilton, then in the Hyatt, then at Pacific Place, and later in the Acanta Mall. I want to tell you that for a very limited time in these next few weeks you will have an opportunity to acquire fine paintings and art pieces at incredible values. Just call Judy at 482-8880 and she can arrange to have someone assist you at their temporary location in the ITC Bldg. Everything is available for purchase, including clothing, music CD's, art books, paintings, sculptures, gift items, lighting, mannequins, and fixtures. You will be amazed at the quality and selection of these fabulous art creations. Email inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda's Snack Bar (aka Linda's Cafe)
You've heard of the proverbial "greasy spoon" kind of joint, right? Well, Guam has a place that more than fits this bill in Linda's Snack Bar (though it is better know as Linda's Cafe), located on the ocean side of East Hagatna. Open 24 hours, Linda's prides itself on having the "Best Cup of Coffee on Guam", and I guess that's probably what most late night, early morning diners state as they work on regaining their sobriety!
We recently stopped in for a Sunday morning breakfast (after finding out the Blue Plate had closed in December) and ordered the Steak & Eggs Ranchers Breakfast ($9) , which had a piece of sirloin steak, two eggs, hash browns, two pancakes, and toast.This is a pretty fair-sized portion of food and will definitely fill you up. It's not gourmet cuisine, but it meets the basic criteria.
Another breakfast entree is the Cheese Omelet ($6.50). In the photo are two veggie patties Zee brought along to have them cook for her. The omelet was okay, too.
What I really liked was the finadene...it did wonders for that steak! I did have the opportunity to chat with owner Bob De Lodge, who has been running this place since 1957. Talk about longevity! If you've not been to Linda's, they've added a new extension, which is an ideal place for holding a meeting or private function. The best thing is the all-day dining, with weekday lunch specials like Meat Loaf, Oxtail Stew, Ham Hocks, Kadon Pika, and Pork Chops. We saw a BLT that seemed bizarrely huge - protruding well beyond the hands of the man eating it! Hmmmm, I'm going to have to try that one on for size!
Gabriel's House of Pasta
Hagatna (facing Chief Quipuha)
"Psssssst! Hey buddy, wanna hear the latest? Lemme give youse soma advisa, eh? Cappiche? Do the specials at Gabriel's!" Well, I took that burly Italian's advice and had the daily special at Gabriel's the other day. The first was the Mussels Bianco ($8.75), which is a huge bowlful of large mussels steamed in white wine. This appetizer is nearly a meal in itself, especially when combined with Gabriel's famous garlic bread. This popular special will soon find a permanent place on Gabriel's new menu. The garlic, butter, and wine combine for a hearty blend in this delightful seafood feast.
The other special on the menu that day was the Carbonara ($10.50). I don't know how many more times I'll be allowed to eat this richly, but you'll have to search far and wide for a cheesier, creamier, thicker sauce than what Chef Joe Borja's slathered his noodles with...it's got meaty bits of bacon strewn throughout. I doubt that the photo will show the full extent of this meal, but it was more than I could finish. I think that Gabriel's should issue gym passes to its diners since the food they serve is so rich and irresistible that a gym workout is a requisite way to compensate! Another way is to share it with four other people...but where's the fun in that? "Fo' getta 'boud it!"
Monticello Plaza (Near Cost-U-Less)
Last year we featured a newsletter devoted to "comfort soups that cured life's aches & pains", wherein we listed several restaurants that made exceptional soups. Well, we mean to add to this list yet another one, and it's a soup I had just this week at Andaman called "Guay Tiow Naam" or easier said, "Thai Noodle Soup"! The price for this is $9 when served with Beef, Chicken or Pork, and $12.50 when adding shrimp. I had the shrimp and there were plenty to savor. This is a popular noodle soup found in any village in Thailand. It is flavored with scallions and fresh coriander (cilantro). The broth also has that rich roasted garlic flavor. The noodles are comparatively bland but are perfectly matched by the robust flavor of the soup broth. The taste is immediate and distinct, and truly one doesn't need to add any condiments. I did put a little vinegar spiced with red peppers and fish sauce with peppers to kick it up a bit. It wasn't necessary though. This soup's a clear winner and it's easy to see why so many This enjoy it!
My other new dish was "Cai Jiaw", which is a Thai egg pancake ($7.50, $8.50 w/pork or chicken, $9.50 with shrimps). This reminds me of Egg Foo Yung as it's made with mushrooms and shallots. This appetizer is served with a red chili sauce that looks like catsup but comes with a Tabasco kick. It works best with little dabs on parts of the egg which you eat with rice. This can be a meal for some, especially when adding meat. I had it with the pork.
Andaman makes an excellent parting impression with its desserts. One of the tables had ordered the Baked Pumpkin Custard ($4.75), which comes with coconut sweet rice, ice cream and fresh fruit. They asked me to take its picture so others could see how magnificent it looked. Too bad I couldn't photograph its taste - I'm sure you can imagine how delicious this is!
Ebisu Sushi Japanese Restaurant
There was a reason why Ebisu Sushi Japanese Restaurant made the Top 10 Newsletter Reviews for 2007, as well as the Food Guy Top Picks in Directions Magazine's October issue. It's because this is one of the island's best restaurants for capturing authentic Japanese tastes. I've heard complaints about the service here, especially when it's busy. Well, if you know chef/owner Fumi-san, who hand rolls every sushi creation and carves all the sashimi dishes, you know he's a perfectionist, an artist, and a magician, since one can only describe his food as "magical"! That's why you'll find me sitting at the sushi bar eating, and rarely at a table. Besides, we love to chat with Fumi-san when he's able to break for a little commentary. He listens though, and smiles often. I call him "the master"!
For starters, I had something new, the Torikushi ($4.50/2 pcs) which is grilled skewered chicken with either teriyaki or salt. I liked this better than the pork version (butakushi), which was a bit dry. Even Ebisu's Edamame ($4) is better tasting than most!
I also ordered the Sashimi Set Meal ($18), which comes with rice, salad, and miso soup. It has maguro tuna, tako (octopus), ika (squid), sake( salmon), a very tasty smoky salmon that melts in your mouth! and hamachi (yellowtail). Of course, the watercress and perilla leaf are edible art!
Zee had the Yasai Sushi ($12), which is an off-menu special request. The vegetarian sushi elements include cucumber, avocado, salty plum and cooked gourd.
I had left just enough room to order one of my favorites, the Rainbow ($10), which is sliced shrimp, tuna, salmon, and avocado atop a crab-filled California. It is sooo good! Each bite's an explosion of fresh flavors - truly edifying! There are other sushi rolls that people also enjoy one is the Spicy Tuna ($7.50). Another of my favorites is the Spider, made with soft shell crab. I can't say enough about the pleasure I experience when dining at Ebisu. They are open for lunch (with reasonable lunch specials), but I prefer dinner time when I can relax and enjoy my dinner.
You can find Guam Food Guy links and reviews at the following sites:
Also available on Your GUAMCELL web-enabled phone