Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Happy Fourth of July!! This is a grand day to celebrate our country's birthday! Known for fireworks displays and feasting on all-American fare like hot dogs, BBQ ribs, hamburgers, baked beans and apple pie, I sometimes wonder if over time we've lost sight of the original intent and reasons for celebrating this day when those 56 brave "rebel" colonials signed their names on the Declaration of Independence as an act of defiance to an indifferent though antagonistic monarch. We don't need to go too deep into this since many of us remember the many brave acts by heroes during that glorious birthing time of our country as it pursued armed rebellion against the British tyranny. Fortunately, our politics have changed significantly, with Britain being America's #1 ally.
Our tradition of celebrating the Fourth of July was aptly foretold and proclaimed by one of the Declaration's signatories, John Adams, who wrote the following to his wife Abigail:
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore."
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
(referring to the day before, when the resolution for independence was passed)
Although he was off by a couple of days, the celebrations have pretty much remained consistent with John Adam's prescient vision though we probably put more energy and emphasis in eating loads of food than we do in offering thanks to God. Be sure to give extra blessings when saying grace before dining this Fourth of July, with special prayers given to our brave soldiers who are performing arduous duty on foreign soils in defense of our country.
An interesting coincident anniversary event that I'll be attending will be the July 4th Liberation Day celebration in Saipan. I've never celebrated the 4th of July in Saipan and am looking forward to seeing the Beach Road parade. I'm sure I'll have no problem in finding some really good dining spots to celebrate both occasions!
Happy Independence Day!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Boston Pizza Opens in Yigo
Yigo Shopping Center (next to Pay-Less Market)
Well, the waiting is over! Boston Pizza aficionados can travel all the way up to Yigo (or down to Yigo if you live on the Northern end) to get their Boston Pizza fix! I got mine last Saturday a couple of days after they'd opened in their new location which makes the original 19" super size thin crust pizza. Ever since they closed their original store in Tumon, we've had to settle for take-out fast food versions at Home Depot and at their Cost-U-Less Harmon locations. There's also the franchise location in the Century Plaza, but for some reason it's not as good at the original company-operated shops. I do want to congratulate Bob "the cookie man" (known for his Chamorro Chip Cookies) McLaughlin on his new store where you can sit down in air-conditioned comfort and eat all your Boston Pizza favorites, whether it be a single slice, 9" Pizette, or 19" whole pizza. I ordered the 19" Pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage, and Black Olives ($19 + $2 each additional topping, total price $23), and drove it home to enjoy while watching a DVD.
It was as good as I remembered, with a savory marinara with melted mozzarella. The pepperoni and sausage are both good quality and bring lots of flavor to this grand pie. His big boxes are specially vented to retain the crispness for the pizza crust. [Photo: Bob McLaughlin, Robbie Angeles and MJ Unpingco]
Boston Pizza was my first ever review in January 2000. That's a lot of history and certainly something I'm still proud to support by patronizing. (FYI: Guam's Boston Pizza is not related to the Western Canadian-based Boston Pizza chain)
The Lemai Cafe & Restaurant
It's still amazing to me that people are following their dreams to open up new restaurants especially when the survival odds are not that encouraging. Regardless of this sobering reality, it's just the nature of restaurants so I'm glad that there are those brave souls who continue to dream about sharing their culinary passions with us.
The latest to join Guam's ranks is The Lemai Cafe & Restaurant, on Rte 8 in Maite, between Cars Plus and the Gov Guam Credit Union, which opened this past Tuesday, July 1. It is owned by Arlene Bordallo and is what I consider a charming and unique addition to our restaurant repertoire. Housed in a re-built quonset hut, with a fixed canopied outdoor dining area, along with several parasoled tables on the grounds, The Lemai Cafe serves breakfast from 7-10am (soup, sandwiches, sushi rolls, plus an a la carte menu and set-price breakfast trays), and fast food lunch service from 11am-2 pm with dine-in specials, which feature a 3-choice meal w/iced tea for $8 and a 2-choice meal with iced tea for $7. These meals include 1 bar-b-q stick (chicken or pork), and free ice tea refills. Take-out delivery is available for 4 or more orders. The lunch menu changes daily, with Wednesday's menu including Pork Adobo, Garlic Crispy Fried Chicken, Beef Stir Fry, Chicken or Pork BBQ sticks, Rice, Lemai (breadfruit) and salad of the day. They offer discounts to senior citizens, veterans, military personnel, and GPD officers in uniform are accorded a discount.
I'm looking forward to eating here some day soon, but thought it would be nice to give you a little sneak peak at this charming, innovative cafe tastefully decorated with local art pieces and serving illy Cafe espresso beverages. This used to be the site of the Micronesian Motel, which is why the quonset concept looks familiar. Lemai is Chamorro for breadfruit and I sure pray that Arlene's bread bears a lot of fruit!
Time Inn Restaurant & Karaoke Lounge
In this day of increasing costs, people are looking for value for their money. I have discovered one of Guam's "best-kept" secrets. It's not really a secret since it was covered in a PDN article by my friend Jojo Santo Tomas a few years back, however, I hadn't made it here until last Friday and was so impressed with the food that I had to return this past Monday for lunch. They are only open Mon-Fri from 11am-2pm, and offer a daily special lunch buffet, with two major meat items. (Sorry, Time Inn is definitely not a hang-out for vegetarians.)
Time Inn is basically a no-frills bar that becomes a lunch time eatery and the food served is some of the best local favorites I've had in a long, long time. Friday's menu features Fried Chicken (a truly fabulous fried chicken - if you like fried chicken, just check this place out!). Also featured on Friday is Barbecued Steak. The lunch buffet has soup, salad and a dessert. The price for this all-you-can-eat bonanza is $8, and iced tea, soda, and water are $1. This past Friday had an excellent corn chowder.
On Monday, which features Pork Adobo and Kadon Manok (chicken soup), Zee and we both agreed on the quality of both entrees - pork ribs stewed in vinegar, onions, and soy sauce until the meat literally falls off the bones, and tender tasty chicken in a comforting broth that answered my prayers for a curative katdu (soup). I'm sure those of you local food lovers can appreciate how this wonderful this tastes when you add finadene and Tabasco. The damage I did was evident in the pile of bones remaining. Great chow!!
Owned and operated by Lani Hui Hui with the cooking performed mainly by Tom Perez (whom i've not yet met), Time Inn's other weekly menu offerings are Ham Hocks with Mongo and Pepper Steak on Tuesdays; Chicken Estafau and Kadon Beef Shank on Wednesdays; and Fried Pork Chop and Salisbury Steak on Thursdays.
I had the pleasure of talking with Lani about her restaurant and she explained that she wanted to offer people a quality meal in her buffet. Not a lot of variety, but excellent entrees, and as much of that as you can eat...just like home cooking and eating. What good is a large buffet filled with a variety of items (some palatable and some mediocre) when you pay 2 to 3 times Lani's price? Especially when Lani's entrees are purported to be and validated as "the best"? All I can say as a word of caution to you to try and to keep yourself in check and avoid "over-eating"! I was full for two days! Gof Mangge!
Hagatna (next two Bank of Hawaii and near Gabriel's House of Pasta)
Thuy's Cafe serves one of the island's largest menu selections of Vietnamese and Thai food. In fact, the menu is overwhelming, however, once you try any thing listed, you'll soon start exploring more. That's what owners David and Helen are banking on, people coming back to eat again and again and people are doing just that. I don't think any other Asian restaurant has the moxie that Thuys Cafe has in self-promotion, especially with color photos of their food plastered all over the walls and even the windows facing outside. Helen Thuy is no stranger to food service...she operated Thuy's in Anigua as well as Agat a few years back. Open daily from 9am-11:30pm, Thuy's menu proudly states "Where quality and taste speaks for itself"! Okay, there's nothing wrong with thinking highly of oneself, and if it's possible to prepare over 150 dishes, more power to them!
We had the Chicken Curry ($10), which was a red curry that offered lots of flavor without the heat. Filled with chicken, long beans, eggplant, and mushroom, the curry is an interesting and tasty variation of the traditional Thai. We also ordered the Crispy Fried Egg Noodles ($10) with chicken and shrimp. This had fried garlic chips piled on top of the vegetable medley of broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, celery, and onion. We were delivered a Garlic Fried Rice appetizer (we hadn't ordered this) and were told that it was cooked without grease, as is nearly all of their fried foods. Their cooking technology using Saladmaster and Silverstone non-stick pans allows them to eliminate cooking in oil and grease.
We ordered the Fried Pork Chops ($8) to demonstrate this greaseless frying. The chops were moist, not burned, yet thoroughly cooked without grease. The natural fat on the chop is used to cook the meat without adding any frying oil in the pan. The same applies to their fried chicken according to Helen.
I also had the Vietnamese Ice Coffee ($3) after having been sold on the boast that they made the best on island. Despite the huge tubular ice pieces that crowd the mug, there is no doubt that they have the authentic coffee and condensed cream ingredients combined to create that memorable coffee experience you get from drinking "the real deal", and not the imitations served at some other Vietnamese restaurants.
I'll be back for more of Thuy's Cafe's menu creations. What we had was very good and certainly didn't stuff us nor left us feeling "greasy" or smelling like fried lumpia as is the case with some Vietnamese restaurants. I want to try the Sinigang, Thuy Beef Shank (both regular and with Coconut Milk) and Pho. It's great having something to look forward to on my next adventure at Thuy's.