April 25, 2008, Volume 8 Number 15
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Welcome to the premier bi-weekly edition of our GuamDiner.com newsletter! Much has transpired in the two weeks since our last newsletter and we will briefly touch on the highlights of our food experiences. In keeping with the adage that a "picture is worth a thousand words", we're going to use more photographs to tell our stories at the expense of more words.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
PHARE 2008 Competition Winners - Congratulations to All!
Professional Culinary Competition Winners
Michael Angelo F. Del Rosario [Top right] of the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort captured first in the Professional Culinary Competition on April 11 which utilized the deliciousness that is Pork Butt as the primary ingredient. The judges determined that Del Rosario's entree, "Pork Sweet Treasure", essentially a sesame seed pork ball dim sum creation, was the most creative and best-tasting dish from a field of ten contenders. Finishing in 2nd place was the offering from the GCC apprentices who prepared a "Pate Maison", the classic French meat spread redolent of wine, followed by Hilton Guam Resort & Spa's Antonio Benitez for his visually dynamic "Steam Pork Dumplings with Essence of Sesame & Yamasa Sweet Soy Sauce & Chili Oil". In the People's Choice category there was a tie between Pacific Islands Club chef Sandy Santiago's delicious "Herb Crusted Pork Butt with Fruit Compote and Pink Peppercorn Cream Sauce" and Hyatt Regency Guam's Michael Megofna's imaginative "The Pork Butt Duet", an Acapulco-style housemade chorizo empanada with a tomatillo salsa verde.
Student Culinary Competition Winners
Congratulations to the George Washington High School Team who walked away with both the Judges' Cup and People's Choice Award for their tantalizing Asian Beef Roll. This fabulous entree which featured beef as the primary ingredient. The students used asparagus spears, tiger shrimp, egg crepes, and C.A.B. Ground Chuck with a mushroom wine reduction. Team GCC's Dat's It came in 2nd and Team GCC's The Kids placed third.
In my book, all of the contestants participating in these competitions were winners for using their imaginations to create dishes from the sponsored ingredients.
Jan Z's By the Sea
A recent excursion down the southern coast brought us to Jan Z's for a Sunday feast! Once I heard that the fresh catch was mahi mahi, I had it prepared Cajun-style with two eggs and served with hash browns and a pancake, for $12. My companion had The Hobo ($9), which has just about everything under the sun thrown together - potatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bacon, ham, sausage, American cheese, and mushrooms!
The Fresh Catch Cajun has plenty of tender fresh pieces of cajun-spiced mahi pan-fried to perfection. Choose either tartar sauce or finadene (or both!) for dipping and two generous scoops of rice. Of course, I could only eat half the pancake, and took the rest home.
The marina view at Jan Z's is dreamy. They do need to repair the floor of their patio deck.
Gabriel's House of Pasta - Sunday Brunch "Chica-Wow-Wow"
Hey, it's "Brunch-Chica Wow-Wow" on Sundays from 10am-1pm at Gabriel's House of Pasta!This is just somethin' you gotta do! Chef Joe Borja made what I consider to be one of the best tasting omelettes I've had on island. It was a Crab & Asparagus Omelette ($9.50) that was truly sensational. (Other tables concurred). It was filled with big chunks of crab meat buttressed by asparagus spears cooked with just enough crisp left to be alive. It came with seasoned hash browns that were appreciated bite after bite.
Our second selection was the French Toast ($8), which was another surpassing surprise! Thick French Bread grilled to perfection and dusted with confectioner's sugar and adorned by raisins. Now this is what I call "breakfast!" I had a side of savory Italian Sausage ($2) to accompany the toast - it was the only reminder that this was, after all, an Italian restaurant. I did have San Pellegrino to wash down the strong coffee. Breakfast menus vary each Sunday, with such interesting creations as White Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Strawberry Shortcake Bagels, and the Muffelata sandwich. You go, Joe!
Ebisu Sushi & Japanese Restaurant
Ebisu is my favorite sushi place. During this particular dinner which included my friend, Yoko Nishio, visiting Guam from Yokohama and who I'd met during my original Ebisu review in May 2007. This time I ate more than just sushi, and even tried natto (fermented soy beans) for the first time, a very popular Japanese favorite that is an acquired taste for most non-Japanese due to its pungent odor and gooey, chewy texture. Ebisu's menu has Ika-Natto ($8) and describes it as squid mixed with Fermented Soy Beans. Once you taste it after blending in lemon, wasabi, and green onions, it becomes more palatable though I'm not sure this will become a favorite of mine.
I had Ebisu's Tori Karaage ($6) for the first time. Their version of Japanese-style fried chicken was simply delicious, with no fat and not overly battered - just juicy, boneless dark meat. Another treat was the Butakushi with Salt ($4.50), which is grilled skewered pork...you have to try it with a touch of the hot mustard - it's a cousin of wasabi!
The Spicy Hamachi (yellow tail, $9) was a hit, and Yoko claimed she doesn't normally like hamachi as sushi, but that Fumie's (Ebisu's chef/owner) was really good. We shared my two other favorites, the Spider Roll, soft-shell crab and avocado ($12) and the Rainbow Roll ($10). Ebisu has become a preferred dining spot for many discerning palates. Go there and find out why. Itadakemasu!
This cozy establishment does as much business (if not more) as take-out than they do sit down. It could be the limited seating in this cozy establishment but I believe it's the food, which is MSG-free. We had the Yum Nua (Thai beef salad, $9) prepared to a Level 6, which is just above medium, on their spicy scale. This is one great way to get your protein! You can wrap up the marinated beef in a lettuce leaf and add long green bean and cucumber if you like. There are red and green onions in this, with a sauce concocted of fish sauce, lemon, cilantro and sugar.
Another dish was the Penang Curry ($9), with chicken simmered in coconut milk, curry paste, and Thai spices that deliver powerful flavors to the palate. It comes garnished with Thai basil and sliced red bell peppers. This was also prepared to Level 6 and you can see the red chili oils in the picture. This is generally a spicy dish so those of you who don't want so much heat should be conservative and order a Level 3 or below.
My favorite Thai dish is Pad Bai Kraproa ($9), which is ground pork stir-fried with garlic, long beans, mushroom, chili, and fresh basil. I also have it at Level 6 and served in the traditional way with a fried egg on top. The long beans are a wonderful component and offer a texture and taste that really fortifies this entree. I was given Thai "finadene" as a condiment. This has peppers, spices, and fish sauce. It enhances the flavor to the dish and permeates throughout the rice so that every bite explodes with spiced tastes! Go see Pim at Pattaya and tell her I sent you...maybe she'll give you an iced tea!
Guam Premier Outlets
Well I can finally say that I've tried Ruby Tuesday's much ballyhooed Salad Bar, and you know what, it's pretty darned good and well-maintained. I had it the other night as part of their Fresh Combination menu selections. We went with two of the Fresh Combos. One was the Fresh Garden Bar and Turkey Minis and the other was Fresh Garden Bar with Ruby Minis, both combos were priced at $12.99. These came with hot fries that are better than most, with the potato peel still intact on some pieces.
The Salad creations are fresh, colorful, and plentiful. I was delighted to see soy beans in one of the containers...it's easier eating this way without having to discard the shell. I didn't try every item in their extensive salad bar (no meats nor fruits), however, the pumpernickel croutons were sogged by the humidity.
I liked the Mini Turkey Burger better than the beef, which came with cheese and a little bit of bacon. The turkey had lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mayo. While eating these mini burgers and salad, I came to the realization that there's no way I could go back for more salad - I was full already, and hadn't even finished the fries. The salad bar is worth the visit by itself.
Margarita's Burritos & BBQ
I decided to go to Margarita's for a late lunch one day and was glad I did! They are open from 11am-10pm which accommodates all-day dining. I ordered the large Mango Tango ($2.95) which is a refreshing blend of mango and guava juice. I saw something on the special addition menu that caught my eye.Seared Mahi Mahi with Culantro Butter Sauce ($12.95). I also wanted to try the rotisserie chicken which is under the BBQ Plate Section of the menu. I ordered the Combo Plate (1/4 Rotisserie Chicken and 2-3 ribs) for $13.95. I even ordered a soft shell taco with carnitas, a succulent braised pork.
While waiting, my server brought me a glass filled with those addictive long tortilla strips and two salsas, one mild, the other pika, but nicely flavored. Both salsas are made fresh using local tomatoes and this cilantro substitute called "culantro" that executive chef Mike Moral highly regards. It is also locally grown.
The Soft Taco ($3.95) was alright, and it could have just been me, but the cumin flavor seemed to overwhelm the pork. A little lighter and it would have been fine.
The Seared Mahi was totally awesome. The six-ounce fillet was perfectly seared to keep the juices inside and was served with red rice and a house salad. The white butter sauce was ideally suited to maximize the taste of this satisfying dish. I don't usually like red rice (or a lot of rice) but the rice worked well with the mahi. I'd have it again in a heartbeat. They'll have mahi on their menu for the foreseeable future.
The Rotisserie Chicken was not what I had been lead to believe by my server, though it wasn't his fault. Since the Rotisserie Chicken machine has been broken for a few months (they are waiting on parts), the chicken is actually roasted. However, to Chef Michael's credit, the chicken is still pretty good, and I'd be interested in ordering a whole one if it's possible (or as many pieces as they can put together to make a whole bird). This dish also has a house salad, and comes with red rice and homemade beans. The BBQ spareribs aren't the meatiest I've had, but they are dressed in a sauce that complements the meal. In truth, I'd pay a little more to have more meat on the ribs.
The additional menu has a Grilled Salmon Fillet with Mango Salsa ($12.95) that I'm going to have to dash back and try..these are the kinds of great creations that a chef can hang his hat on, and I find them a lot more satisfying and intriguing than the run-of-the-meal basic menu items served here. I also think it would be more fun to come at night when I can run through their margarita menu..that's a beverage tradition that needs to be observed whenever one does Mexican! Especially when it's prepared with Souza! Ole!
The "Guam Food Guy"
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