September 12 , 2008, Volume 8 Number 25
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
If there's one thing you can count on in Guam's restaurant scene, it's change, and I don't mean the money kind, though oddly enough, money has a lot to do with why and how things change. For example, Genji has once again closed for renovation or perhaps reinvention - we don't know for sure - however, we do know that there will be a "Brand New Upscale Japanese Restaurant Opening April 2009" according to a sign posted outside of Genji.
A new Chamorro restaurant has opened in the Legacy Plaza in Mangilao. It's called Kusinan Guahan. Another place that's opening soon is Hot Diggety Dog in Tumon next to Dolce Frutti and Bully's. This is going to be Guam's first "gourmet build your own dogs" eatery. Can't wait to try this! The other place we're watching is the soon-to-open California Pizza Kitchen on the ground floor of the Holiday Resort Guam. Talk about a restaurant intensive location! You have Hy's Steakhouse, La Brasserie, Eat 'n Joy, and Seoul Jung Korean Cuisine all in the same building that's to house CPK!
I may not be the first to publish this news, but I've been told the name of Outdoor Chef's Peter Duenas' new Chamorro restaurant concept now in the planning stages. It's going to be called Meskla Restaurant. Meskla means "mix" in Chamorro and knowing Chef Peter, we're sure he'll definitely mix it up a bit and do it deliciously. Keep your eyes peeled for its opening in Hagatna sometime later this year!
know there's a few more new spots coming out there and will mention them as soon as I get more details. As I said, there's a lot of change going on here on sunny Guahan, and it looks like change for the better!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Salt Dream Realized At Westin MCA Meeting
At this past week's MCA (Micronesian Chefs' Association) membership meeting at the Westin, host chef Andreas Lorenz set up a wonderful display of natural salts and flavored salts as part of our dining experience. A rib roast was prepared for this tasting and we were able to try a variety of salts on the perfectly prepared beef. For me, it was a salt dream come true, since I had written an article on salt in our August 27, 2004 newsletter (A Bit About Salt - What Chefs Are Using to Enhance Taste). For the purpose of explanation, we're going to excerpt the opening paragraph:
"Did you know that the Greeks, Arabs, Tibetans and Romans bartered with salt several thousand years ago? This precious commodity was used as a currency in Ethiopia about a thousand years ago. We're not talking about common, iodized table salt here, but rather some varieties that are being now being used by chefs to enhance the dishes they create. Among these arcane varieties are French gray salt, Peruvian pink salt, Hawaiian red sea salt, Australian Murray River salt flakes, Hawaiian black lava salt, and Danish and French smoked salts. These salts are unprocessed and are gaining popularity for their textures, colors, and the special flavors they impart to particular dishes."
Coincidentally, among Chef Andreas' natural salt sampling were Fleur de Sel, Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt, Murray River Pink Flake Salt, Himalayan Salt, Grey Sea Salt, Cyprus Flake Salt, and Cyprus Black Lava Salt by Artisan. These were joined by a range of flavored salts including Black Truffle Salt, Chili Verde Salt, Chardonnay Oak Smoked Salt, Lime Fresco Salt, Alder Smoked Salt, Spicy Curry Salt, Thai Ginger Salt, and Aged Balsamic Salt. Each salt has its own personality and flavor profile, with intriguing origins, like the Himalayan salt, which is mined deep inside the Himalayan Mountains. These salt crystals range in color from sheer white to shades of pink and deep reds indicating a beneficial amount of 84 trace elements. The Murray River Salt is ideal for finishing, roasting and baking as the crystals melt rapidly and evenly making it ideally suited for finishing. It's easy to see why and how salt was used in the olden days as currency!
Alsace Cuisine (Sept 12 & 13 Dinner Buffet, Sept 14 Sunday Brunch)
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
If you would like to experience the fantastic flavors of Europe without paying the airfare to get there, you need to go to the Islander Terrace this week to try the Alsace Cuisine Buffet prepared under the capable guidance of Hilton Executive Chef Christophe Durliat, a native of the Alsace region of France. These dishes are prepared home-style, like his mother would make for him at home. And I can tell you that I sure wish I could have been one of his childhood pals visiting for dinner!
You'd better hurry, though, since you only have the Special Islander Dinner on Sept 12 & 13 ($39) and the Special Sunday Brunch on Sept 14 ($35) to try these foods.
An astonishing proliferation of foods awaits you, with such entrees at Cordon Bleu de Saumon Sauce Aromates; Baeckoffe, an oven baked lamb, beef and pork in white wine & vegetables; Lapin Grand Mere aka Granny's Rabbit Stew in Wine Sauce; Pain Au Noix Et Aux Lardons, a whole wheat walnut and bacon bread loaf; Chacuterie A L'alsacienne, a melange of sausages and pork belly, served with mustard, pickles, and sauerkraut; Braised Beef Tongue; Coq au Riesling which is simply, but deliciously, chicken in a white wine cream sauce; Spatzle, those famous Alsatian dumplings, and Mousseline De Poissons Fumes of smoked salmon and trout. As usual, there are a wide array of cheeses, salad offerings, soups, and other entrees as well.
The desserts will tempt you beyond your resistance with such delectable treats as the Wild Blueberry Tart, fresh made Crepes, Alsatian Cheesecake, Sommelia Chocolate Cake, Kougelhopf - a sweet loaf with almonds and raisins and a plum strudel called Strudel Aux Quetsches! Bring your appetite as the variety of foods available at the culinary fest is overwhelming!
Palms Resort Saipan (formerly Nikko)
During a recent visit to Saipan we had the chance to have lunch at Fresko, Palms Resort Saipan's fusion cuisine restaurant. Zee opted for the Congee Set ($13) and I had the Japanese Pork Cutlet Special set ($10). The Congee set had char gao dim sum (shrimp dumplings), a spring roll, and a very large bowl of congee, which is the ideal Chinese breakfast of a savory rice porridge. Several condiments accompanied this such as green onions, parsley, ginger, bamboo shoots, and shredded lotus root. This congee had chunks of chicken inside and she added a little soy sauce to enhance the flavor.
The Pork Cutlet was quite good, too, with an ample filet of pork coated in panko, then fried to a crisp finish. The entree has a choice of udon or somen. I had the udon. These noodles and the miso soup really filled me up along with the salad, rice, pickled veggies and meat. For the money it's a great value. Fresko also features Italian specialties. It is an impressive restaurant, with large windows and layered seating. We'll have to come back for dinner sometime.
Friday Seafood Night Buffet
Aqua Resort Club Saipan
670-322-1234 Ext 731
Timing is everything, and if you happen to be on Saipan on a Friday night, you can enjoy the culinary treat that is the fabulous seafood buffet at Aqua Resort Club Saipan's Costa Restaurant. Moreover, each Friday's seafood theme changes, so that on Sept 12, you can have Scandinavian Seafood Treats, and on Sept 19, you will journey to Indonesia's "Land of Spices". On Sept 26, the theme is With a British Touch", which I find interesting because I can only think of Fish 'n Chips!
For our dinner, we were delighted to have the Philippines''s Special, and since most of the cooking staff is from the Philippines, we don't think the food could have been prepared any better! Among the many dishes were Laing (a savory vegetable stew using taro leaves with coconut milk), Adobong Pusit (squid with coconut milk), Sinigang Na Hipon (a tartly sour and tasty shrimp tamarind soup), Diningding (sauteed vegetables with smoked fish), Kilawin Isda (marinated fish with papaya), and Fish & Shellfish Ihaw Ihaw (grilled seafood including squid, mussels, red snapper, and shrimp).
The seafood appetizers were awesome, including sushi, sashimi, oysters in a vegetable salsa, marinated soft shell crab, mussels, crab legs, and baby lobster tails. The buffet is served with free-flowing Carlsberg Beer and Miller Draft. There is even live entertainment provided by a guitar playing duo who went from table to table playing song requests.
Saipan's Aqua Resort Club is a premium resort experience located in a remote area of the island with pristine beaches. It is a favorite getaway destination spot for those who want to rest and relax. I consider it tropical perfection in a profuse garden setting. When you leave the Aqua Resort Saipan, you leave with a deep sense of calm and are completely refreshed. It is an amazing experience and definitely a treat for your senses!
Tasty Choice Restaurant
Tasty Choice Restaurant is not what it appears to be, however it is exactly what it is! How's that for a "hook"? Located across the street from the Alupang Beach Tower in the Cinema Arcade, Tasty Choice Restaurant is almost hidden from view by a forest of plants. In fact the sign is the only visible indicator that the restaurant is there. Owned by Tammy Shin (Geary), this Korean eatery specializes in something that everyone on Guam loves to eat, especially in cold weather, and that is soups! Before I talk about the soup, I want to credit Tammy's son Danny for his persistence and patience in calling me to drop by their little eatery, which I fear would have otherwise fallen off my radar screen. Another friend of Tammy's is a customer who really loves the food there, too, and had in passing talked to me about it. She had even suggested that they call me. This noble lady is Evelyn Akimoto, who by chance joined us later for dinner. Evelyn is a real sweetheart! What a great spirit! She and I have a lot of people we know throughout the islands and spent nearly two hours sharing stories after eating.
The top three specialties of the house are the first three on the menu. The Steamed Beef Blood Soup ($12), Beef Bones with Vegetables Soup ($12), and Bone Broth Vegetables Soup ($10). I only had the Beef Bones with Vegetables Soup and became convinced that this lady can definitely cook! The soups are prepared well in advance and she keeps cooking them - the broth was so rich and flavorful that I was able to enjoyed it literally to the last few spoonfuls. Even after I had finished all the goodies and it had cooled down, the broth was just fabulous to my palate and I didn't want a drop to go to waste! The vegetables in this soup really cook down, so they may not be visible or recognizable to the eye, but they leave an excellent flavor. I believe onions and cabbage are the main vegetables, though, and the beef short rib bones yield melt-in-your mouth chunks of meat that are sooooo good! I definitely will have this soup again!
The other dish we had was the KimChee Fried Rice ($10), which I called Korean "red rice", since that's what it looked like! Zee ate most of this since I hogged the soup. I did have a little of it and liked the crunchy texture of the sesame seeds and the tart bite of the kimchee cooked in the rice. It's a very interesting flavor. We wanted something different, and it was. Other fried rice specialties are Shrimp Fried Rice and Bulgogi Fried Rice.
Speaking of Bulgogi, we decided to try the Grilled Pork Bulgogi ($15), which is labeled as "spicy" on the menu. It was actually very good, and is served with onions, sliced carrots, and lots of thinly sliced seasoned pork in bite-size pieces. We liked it very much and were told that another house specialty is their Chicken Bulgogi which is something that Tammy created since it's not available anywhere else.
There are more than 44 items on the menu at Tasty Choice, and they are open daily from 7am to nearly 2am (talk about long hours), but it ensures that you can get that restorative bowl of soup before work or after a long night out! Both English and Korean are spoken here with fluency, so don't be deterred by your inability to speak Korean. Once you come here, you will be pleasantly surprised. In fact, once you taste Tammy's soups, you will be convinced that this lady can really cook. We said her food was truly "Seoul Food" and we meant soul food, since she learned Southern cooking in Texas and she applies the same principles to her Korean soups. You be the judge!
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
It had been a while since I'd been to Roy's and I was long overdue in trying some of Chef de Cuisine Dennis Salenga's preparations. This visit was a bit rushed since I was dining between meetings which is not recommended for leisurely dining, however I did manage to enjoy a few dishes.
If you've not tried this yet, I highly recommend Roy's Ahi Poketini with sweet onion, scallions and spicy sesame ogo ($12.25). Served in a martini glass, this is a dish where you literally mix all the ingredients together before eating. It really engages your taste buds and senses, and I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what all they put in this appetizer, however the ogo is a seaweed that's ubiquitous in Hawaii, and is considered a super-food high in nutritional value. It's an all-around winner!
The other appetizer I had was Roy's Classic Escargot with Shiitake Mushrooms and Garlic Spinach Mash ($11.25). This had great flavors and I really liked eating it, however, I think it's a bit too heavy as an appetizer with the mashed potatoes. It is almost a meal!!
Roy's has been featuring Certified Angus Beef steaks on their menu and I tried the Rustic Spice Grilled 16 oz Ribeye with Fingerling Potato Pancetta. This was a lot more food than I could eat though I did finish the beef! The price of this dish was in the $40 range and it's not on the current menu. However, there are some new items that Chef Dennis has added that I will probably return to eat. Among these are his Medley Peppercorn Crusted C.A.B. Filet Mignon Garlic Bleu Cheese Au Gratin & Griottines Cherry Port Wine Reduction ($40); the Chipotle-Honey Glazed and Fired Pepper Grilled 16 oz. C.A.B. Ribeye with Fingerling Potato , Bell Pepper Relish, w/Natural Essences ($43); and last, but not least, the Herb-Crusted C.A.B. Porterhouse Steak served with Mash of the Day, Oyster, Shitake and Enoki Mushrooms ($45).
I guess we'll just see you there!
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