March 21, 2008, Volume 8 Number 11
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
One of the simple pleasures I enjoy is sharing some of our island's cuisine with first time visitors, and this week I've been able to indulge in that pleasure more than once! I've been busy this week working with a fine group of food service professionals who were on island to conduct the Scotsman Prodigy Technical Service School. Scotsman is a leading manufacturer of ice machines and they have created a technologically advanced cuber series that is designed to offer significant cost savings in energy and water consumption to businesses, while at the same time dramatically simplifying the work involved in servicing the units. In view of rising energy and water costs, it's a no brainer for business operators to do everything possible to reduce these variable expenses, which is why the revolutionary Prodigy series is enjoying phenomenal success. It amused me during the service school to hear a refrigeration service tech bemoan the fact that this new ice machine is so easy to repair that he would not be able to charge customers the typical multi-hour service fees, thus reducing his earnings
Let's get back to our food sharing experiences. During a dinner at Jamaican Grill's Tumon location, I made sure that first time visitors Joe Deckelman, Scotsman's Director of Sales - West; Robert Fernandez, Scotsman's Regional Service Manager and Mara-Wong Swenson, Scotsman Parts and Warranty Manager had a chance to enjoy the savory jerk-seasoned ribs and chicken, along with both red and Jamaican rice, enhanced by our famous local sauce, finadene. Joe Deckelman loved the finadene so much he used it again the following morning on his Corned Beef Fried Rice from Old Hagatna Grill. Mike Swenson, also here with Scotsman, had the opportunity to share a lunch with Joe and me consisting of fresh sashimi, shrimp kelaguen, fish kelaguen, poke and titiyas given to us by Mike Duenas of the Fishermen's Co-Op. I truly believe that our food is our culture, and sharing our culture with visitors is one sure way to make an indelible impression about the uniqueness of Guam. Just ask Joe D. if he wants some finadene! [Photo L-R: GFG Ken Stewart, Joe Palacios, Mike Swenson, Mara Kim-Swenson, Joe Deckelman, and Bob Fernandez]
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Journey to Belau
Bem Ermii Burgers - Love at First Bite
It was my first night in Koror and it had been a long evening that had started with a wine tasting at the Penthouse. As I'd not been in Belau for more than ten years, I really wasn't familiar with the various night spots and places the locals go to for late night meals. I was asked if I'd liked burgers, and being the ever adventurous Food Guy I said I never say no to a well-prepared hamburger. That was when I was introduced to Bem Ermii, which is a local hot spot for tasty burgers and fries, that is open from 9am-3am Mon-Thu, 9am-7am on Fridays and Saturdays and 10am-2am Sundays.
Bem Ermii resembles a mobile snack bar (it's in a trailer on wheels), but I think it stays in this location permanently. The menu has a family of burgers, singles and doubles, with and without cheese, and/or eggs. I ordered the Cheese and Bacon Burger ($4.25), which comes dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, mayo, and onions, on a toasted sesame bun. As all of the food here is take-out and comes wrapped in foil, I took a photo of this sizeable sandwich before it got packed. As you can see, it sure looked inviting! Then it came time to try it. WOW!Talk about love at first bite! This was just an awesome burger, and certainly well worth the price. For an additional $.75 you can add an egg. So the next time you go to Belau and you are out and about and looking for a burger during the wee hours of the morning, you can get your burger fix at Bem Ermii Burgers & Fries...they'll keep the lights on for ya!
Mesulang, Bem Ermii!!
Cafe Kalachucha - Saturday Night's "The Ocean's Bounty"
Westin Resort Guam
Of all the seafood buffets I've seen on island and anywhere else I've been in Micronesia and Hawaii, I've never seen one that displayed its seafood as "bountifully" as the Cafe Kalachucha's "The Ocean Bounty" held every Saturday night from 6-9:30pm. The main attraction is a large ice covered basin that has a variety of parrot fish, fresh and salt water prawns, lobster tails, oysters, shrimp, tuna filets, snow crab, and calamari. The beauty of this is that you can choose your seafood and have it prepared the way you like it, steamed, fried, grilled, or stewed in a pot of Thai Curry.
Although there is much more food at this buffet, such as roast beef, salads, hot and cold entrees(many of which are seafood inspired), I focused primarily on having a parrot fish fried to perfection and served with finadene, along with lobster tails and prawns cooked in green Thai curry, something you have to try to really appreciate. There were some who had their parrotfish cooked in this intensely-flavored curry and it was equally delicious. The price of this seafood fest is only $39.95 for adults ($20 for children) plus a 10% service charge. It includes free-flowing Heineken and wines and on this night we had Hardy's. This is one dining experience I whole-heartedly recommend...just look at the pictures!
Tumon, Next to Ypao Beach Park across GVB
When I was in Belau I had the wonderful pleasure of spending quality time with Tova Bornovski (author of A Taste of Rainbow's End, and co-owner of Fish 'n Fins). She is an accomplished gourmet chef who prepares edifying Mediterranean-influenced cuisine using local ingredients. She is, for all practical purposes and comparisons, the "ultimate foodie's foodie". However, when it comes to Guam restaurants, her favorite is PROA. There are many who would agree with her.
On my last few visits to PROA I have tried their specials, all of which are superbly prepared treats, using local produce and sometimes fish imported from Belau. On the day of my visit this past week, their lunch special was Beef Tinaktak ($10.95). This was, however, no ordinary beef tinaktak...it was tinaktak kicked up a notch! It had Kobocha squash, local eggplant, green beans, and tomatoes, with ground beef in an irresistibly seasoned broth. I don't think I put my fork down for the entire meal!! I was told this was sous chef Ivan's creation...that's what I like about these guys, they are always exploring culinary possibilities. Look at what they did to a local favorite. I can't wait to try their Kadon Pika, hint hint!
Old Hagatna Grill
Well, after having been off island for a spell, I was glad to be able to stop in and try out some of their new breakfast menu items. First of all, I think it's an excellent idea for OHG to be open for weekday breakfasts...they have all that great sunlight coming through their windows. There's also Wi-Fi. If you like coffee, they grind organic beans and use a French press to make a spot-on cup of fresh brewed java!
On my first visit I had the Eggs Benedict ($12.95). This is OHG's "tribute to a classic breakfast favorite" and is made with delicious Black Forest ham. Though a little pricier than what I'm used to seeing, these have a unique taste which could well be how they make their hollandaise. Whatever it is, the flavor is one that makes you want more. The ham is excellent. If you have a hearty appetite, though, you may want some more to eat.
I returned on a subsequent visit and had the Old Hag Omelette ($10.95), which is stuffed with smoked ham, cheddar, red onion, carrot and red bell pepper. I had this with toast and was only able to eat one slice along with the omelet. It was satisfying, though not a bell-ringer. My companions happened to have the Corned Beef Fried Rice ($12.95), which they really liked, especially Joe who poured a ramekin of finedene in his! He and Mike ordered some langunisa sausage, too, which they also loved. I observed some of my friends eating the Smoked Salmon Bagel Lox ($12.95), which looks like something I'm going to try next along with the waffle ($6.95).
Alas, there's just so much to eat and so little time! Ain't life grand!
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