January 25, 2008, Volume 8 Number 4
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Hafa adai, from chilly Houston! Yes, I'm "on the road again" and taking a short break from work (or am I?)...hummm. The idea is to visit family here and in Idaho. Some of you may have noticed me running around the island picking up Guam souvenir items that I needed for gift baskets that are to be part of a Silent Auction fundraiser at an upcoming reunion party for former Continental Air Mike employees and families on April 13 in Texas. There are so many items from Guam that rekindle the memories of our region..too bad I couldn't bring any tangan tangan!
I did get some Pacific Red Hot Donne Pepper, Rosketti, Guyuria, Achote Powder, Lemon Powder, a Johnny Sablan CD, a pair of zories, Annette Donner's Guam Liberation documentary, Sam Ragan's "Biba Chamoru", Pika Jelly, Chamorro Chip Cookies, and plenty more, including a copy of our book, Let's Eat! A Guide to Dining on Guam. This party is looking to host a couple of thousand guests; a number that just boggles the mind, don't you think?
Continuing with this concept of bringing Guam to Texas, I had the pleasure of finding a part of Guam in Houston, and that part was in the persons of Jon & Mahie Anderson, who are staying with Don & Judy Breeding. The Andersons came to my brother Carl's house earlier today to pick up the souvenir items for Judy since she is organizing the assembly of these baskets. Don't be surprised if you seen Judy and Don on Guam sometime soon looking for even more items for this silent auction event. As for me, I'm looking forward to flying to Portland, Oregon and driving to Lewiston, Idaho to visit family and my 7-year old grandson, Carl Allan. That's what I'll be doing by the time you get this newsletter. Isn't life a grand adventure? You better believe it!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Old Hagatna Grill - Bringing Back Breakfast
Yes, it's true. Due to popular demand, the Old Hag is now back in the breakfast business! Chef Mark Quenga has been working diligently to put together a basic menu of breakfast classics, including Eggs Benedict, which they claim will be Guam's best, Smoked Salmon Bagel Lox, OHG Quiche, Old Hag Omelet, and a Vegetarian Omelet. See the menu online for hours, prices, and beverage selections. I think it's about time! I remember when they had breakfasts several years ago. It's something I'm certainly going to check out just as I get back. The move to breakfast seems to be fueled by the trend of people are getting back into breakfast for social and business events. Event planners will want to note that OHG has a private function room as well as Wi-Fi. Their coffee is getting some fairly high raves too, since they are grinding it fresh and brewing it using a French press. That's how I do mine at home and it's hard to beat for taste and for getting that caffeine kick!
United Seamans Service
The Seamen's Club has long been the ideal spot for a relaxing and super-casual Sunday breakfast. By ideal, I mean it's away from the hustle and bustle of town, it enjoys a fabulous ocean view...sitting in the back dining room is like being on a deck on the waterfront. It's a great gathering place for groups...here you'll find Bill Nielson and the Harley gang some Sundays as well as the Steffy's.
It had been a few months since our last visit, but this time we found notable improvements in food quality and menu selections. The French Toast Slam ($8.50) features two slices of French toast with two eggs, two strips of bacon, and two sausage links. The cinnamon wafts aromatically, enticing other diners to eat (it lured us). The sausage on this was pretty decent, unlike others I've had that taste like greased cardboard. The eggs were made into an omelet.
I opted for the Chamorro Scramble done spicy ($7.75) served with home fries, your choice of hash browns or fried rice, and toast. They keep the coffee coming, too. It's an interesting meeting place...I even ran into my old friends Tony & Millie Artero, and Dave Terlaje, some folks I've known since the early 70's. That's the kind of place this is...a meeting place for friends, who also want to eat a casual and satisfying breakfast!
Ruby Tuesday Reunion Rendezvous
Our Ruby Tuesday Reunion Rendezvous dinner was a hit, with Ruby Tuesday's contemporary American casual charm and American cuisine winning over our returning friends from Japan, sisters Junko and Kunie Shimizu. We were also joined by our neighbor and long-time friend, Toshie Ito. We first met the Shimizu sisters in August when we had a "blind date" of sorts with them at Se Somjai Thai Restaurant. We recently heard they were coming to Guam again and wanted our recommendation on where to meet. Ruby Tuesday was the preferred choice. Aside from all the excitement and giddiness that comes with gift-giving and communication exchanges, I can honestly say that the food we ordered and the service we received from Stanley made the grade. We had their signature appetizer, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($10.99), Spinach Artichoke Dip ($9.49), and our final appetizer selection was the Grand Sampler ($13.99), which has Fire Wings (mild), Southwestern Spring Rolls, Fried Mozzarella, and Chicken Tenders. That was more than adequate! Everyone loved the Crab Cakes with the sweet chili sauce that had a little kick. The Artichoke Dip was also popular but I found it needed a little salt to bring out the taste
For main entrees, Junko & Kunie both had the Petite Sirloin ($13.99), Zee had the Veggie Burger ($9.49), Toshie had the Louisiana Fried Shrimp ($15.99) and I ordered the Premium Baby Back Ribs ($21.99) primarily since I was curious about the Mango Kiawe Barbecue sauce. I was told it wasn't available yet. So I had the Classic BBQ version which is their signature sauce.
Since our whole evening was about sharing, we cross-tasted and the consensus was that the ribs were a hit as were the shrimp. The sisters dutifully ate their steaks. Nobody else had room to try the Veggie Burger so Zee had it to herself. I will have to return for the Rib Eye to see how it tastes since I wasn't impressed with the girls' lackluster sirloins. We should have asked for finadene! The meat on the baby backs was slow-cooked to a fall-off-the-bone tenderness, and though the classic sauce pleased everyone else, I really wanted to try the Mango Kiawe or the Spicy Honey, both of which are available in Hawaii, and soon to be on Guam. The Memphis Dry Rub would be another choice available now. It's a humongous full rack of ribs that I wouldn't have finished on my own.
We all had a grand time at our Ruby Tuesday Reunion Rendezvous and took plenty of photos to capture the moment. Ruby Tuesday got our vote that night, just as it has done for the hundreds of guests who still line up for a seat! After all, it's only simple, fresh, American Dining, and Guam is where "America's Day Begins...."!
Chili's Grill & Bar
For those who have been following my great wing adventure, you know that I compare every other establishments' Buffalo Wings to those at Chili's - my current "gold standard" of wings. What makes Chili's wings superior is not clear - it may be how they fry them or soak them in the hot sauce and melted butter. Regardless, the wings come out crisp, flavorful and have the right amount of hot sauce...though there are folks who ask for some extra sauce on the side.
The appetizer basket of wings, called "Wings over Buffalo", has nine drumettes, along with celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing. The first batch of the dressing didn't have quite the "bleu cheese" impact I was expecting so I brought this to one of the server's attention, who promptly brought me another from the kitchen that had been "stirred" better. It made all the difference in the world.
Wings are an obsession for me, and the only Buffalo Wings that have come close to Chili's were the wings made by Rudolfo's in Saipan which is long since closed. That's why I eagerly await the opening of Chili's on Guam by Brian Artero and his team. As a quick note of comparison, I wasn't happy with Ruby Tuesday's Fire Wings. The wings they use are probably too big which makes them mushy and hard to crisp. However, Ruby's Blue Cheese dressing is fantastic and full of chunky bits of 'fromage bleu'.
The other item I ate while at Chili's in Texas was the BBQ Ranch Burger which had all the elements of a great burger - they even call them "Big Mouth Burgers" - starting with the sesame seed bun. It had a ranch dressing and a piquant, smoky bbq sauce, with tasty slices of Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. The meal comes with homestyle fries. Chili's is a place I'll return to again and again for those Buffalo Wings...I just hope it can be sooner than later for Guam's Chili's...we'll see!
Ken, On the Go in Idaho!
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