October 10, 2008, Volume 8 Number 27
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (English novelist (1812 - 1870)
Doesn't this sound oddly familiar? Charles Dickens could have been writing about the condition of the world today, especially in view of the current global economic crisis. I don't want to go too deep into this now since there is so much to cover, however, we need to stay positive and keep our eyes on the horizon. You may feel the need to "batten down the hatches" and stop all unnecessary spending by not dining out.
That may be one solution, but it would create a lot of panic and problems if everyone followed suit. You should continue dining out, maybe cut down on the frequency or adjust your menu selections, but continue to support our local restaurants as they are vital to our community.
Our local banks are financially secure, so that's reassuring. We don't expect to see any direct job losses, however, things could eventually change if conditions deteriorate. The major impact initially is on the value of investment portfolios, such as holdings in pension plans and retirement funds. Everyone is seriously watching the impact of the "bailout" and its effect on the major markets. On the bright side, the price of gas continues to decline.
While all of this is going on, we still need to eat, so let's look for new places to try out and continue to visit your favorite eateries. After all, many of them employ our family members, friends and fellow citizens.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Tuesday, October 14
Girl Scout Benefit All-You-Can-Eat Dessert!
An-all-you-can-eat dessert tasting, wine and coffee pairing & tasting
featuring Chef Raul's Decadent Desserts
Proceeds to benefit the Guam Girl Scouts.
Tickets $35 for Unlimited Desserts, $55 for Unlimited Desserts, Coffee, and Wine
Call 646-5652 for tickets and information
Wednesday, October 15
Flamboyan Restaurant re-opens at the Guam Aurora Resort Villa & Spa
Fine French Dining
Call 646-6811 for reservations
Friday, October 17
Guam Women's Club Sugar Plum Auction and Wine Tasting Fundraiser
Westin Resort Guam
Call Kathy Kernaghan at 477-0496 or 687-3072 for tickets and information
Saturday, October 18
Pastries in Paradise "Halloween Treat"
Hyatt Regency Guam
Tickets are $30 per person, $15 per child (6-11 yrs) and are available at the Pacific Daily News, the Hyatt Regency Guam and from the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association
Battle of the Sous Chefs Winners
Congratulations to all the chef teams who participated in last week's first "Battle of the Sous Chefs" event held at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. The overall winner was Team Firefly, headed up by Chef Carlton Olkeril. His winning entree was the main course, which featured Lacquered Braised Short Ribs that were served with Sweet Roasted Lemai (breadfruit) Mash, Balsamic-Soy Reduction, a trio of Hollandaise and Twisted Salad. Team Firefly also garnered the People's Choice award for Best Video. [Photo: Chef Olkeril in green chef jacket]
The winner of the People's Choice for best entree was Team Sheraton, headed up by Chef Bernard Manansala, who created a Lobster Bisque en Croute.
PTC Bar & Grill
Agana Shopping Center
If you've not been to the PTC Bar & Grill in a while, you will be pleasantly surprised by the infusion of new talent in the management and culinary ability of the chef team there, headed up by Marty Leon Guerrero, formerly of Padrino's. When I heard that the Muna family had taken the reins of this establishment that I reviewed in May 2005, I was encouraged since I know this family has a long-held tradition of preparing unforgettable meals. Regardless of whether you know the Munas or Marty, you will definitely notice the food being served.
We started out with a Mango Salad ($8.95), which was a staple on the original menu. Unfortunately, this salad is held hostage by the quality of the mango. If the mango is sweet, it's a winner. If it's not sweet, then you have to make up the taste with a flavorful dressing. The greens were fresh and plentiful, with lots of chopped red cabbage leaf which gave each mouthful added crunch. It was more than the two of us could eat. Though the big mango cubes looked appealing, they fell short of the flavor goal. I'd rather wait for mango season. Other salads are the Caesar, Hummus, and Asian Chicken Salad.
We sampled the Salt & Pepper Wings ($8). These were definitely a "Home Run!" The chicken was fresh and of a good quality so unlike the cheap gamey chicken wings some places serve to save on cost. The wings are served with a tangy barbecue sauce that works well with other meats too. We tried some on one of our main dishes, the Marinated Shortribs ($12). This was another "Home Run"; I would even describe it as a triple hitter! True to the menu's promise, these are the "tastiest shortribs downtown. You can't go wrong"! They are boneless and cooked to your liking and we ordered them medium well and they were still nice and juicy. Moreover, this entree comes with your choice of rice - trust me, you don't want the rice - you want the garlic-mashed potatoes which are fabulous! To round out this feast, they saute a medley of red and green cabbage ,onion, and carrots as a side. It was something we couldn't' resist eating! Just like down-home cooking!
This vegetable medley was also served with our second entree, the Grilled Ahi Plate ($12.50). This was also a winner, with fresh tender tuna grilled with a light rub. I was duly impressed. Now I want to come back and try the Loco Moco, Teriyaki Chicken Bowl, Huli Chicken Plate, and some of their burgers and sandwiches. Next time!
Hot Diggety Dog
The Plaza Arcade (between Dolce Frutti and Pearl Cafe)
We mentioned this place before it opened and I was definitely delighted to drop by on Tuesday (they just opened on Monday) to try out a couple of dogs. At the time, they were still making some finishing touches on construction so their fryer wasn't working to make fries & onion rings (it's working now). However, I didn't need them - just the dogs.
This is a great little place just the right concept for Tumon. I'm sure they'll do well as you don't need a full-size restaurant for hot dogs. Hot Diggety Dog's hot dogs are described as "gourmet dogs". They have lots of flavor and are substantial - in no way can you describe these dogs as "weenies"!
The menu says it all. It's called "The Doggy Menu" and has hot dogs named after, well, you know, different types of dogs, almost like a personality thing! I ordered the Rottweiler( $6), a Polish sausage topped with a special chili, melted cheddar cheese, and green jalapenos. I also ordered the German Shepherd ($4.50), which was a Polish sausage topped with sauerkraut in a crispy bun with mayo which we traded out for mustard, and not just any mustard, thank you, it was "Grey Poupon"!
Other dogs are the Bulldog, Golden Retriever, Purebred, Hound Dog, Chihuahua, and Pitbull. Toppings can include jalapenos, caramelized onions, grilled red and green peppers, and chili. They have sides such as corn on the cob and a cold juicy apple. The dogs were terrific, which is why I decided to write about this new place which is still in the process of opening. It's a fun place and when they've got everything down pat (buns, menu, service, etc), it'll be one of Tumon's happening spots!
Tsukiji Night Returns to Islander Terrace
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
On Wednesday nights you can once again be treated to the culinary splendors of Japan at the Islander Terrace, where the buffet offers a delectable selection of Japanese favorites including fresh sashimi, sushi hand-rolled just for you, tempura, teppan beef, fish, shrimp, and chicken, yakisoba, hot udon noodles, kakiage and more.
Enjoy a toast of Okuden Katsukiri sake on ice to start things off before you begin your gastronomic odyssey.
A popular favorite is Bai Gai (sea snails), along with other appealing appetizers. The Kaisen Nabe (seafood stew) is delicious, and filled with white fish, scallops, mussels, shrimp and vegetables. The Unagi (grilled eel), Hamachi Kama, Katsudon, and stewed Yakisoba maintained their quality and taste, which is a credit to the induction warmers used in the buffet station. These items are usually served a la carte and I was pleased with the outcome when served in a buffet. The price of this fantastic spread is $39 per person (10% s.c. with some discounts available, inquire when you make reservations, which are highly recommended.)
Papa G's Noodles Station
East Hagatna (next to Feather's & Fins, below Duenas & Bordallo)
Wonders never cease to amaze me! The owners of Papa G's Noodles Station made a significant investment in this eatery that's an unlikely neighbor to a pet store. Somehow the concept of a restaurant adjoining a pet store seems incongruous, but then again, this is America in Asia!
This place is larger than it looks, is cooled by lots of A/C, has plasma TV, over-sized wooden booths with a section that resembles a head-board for a hotel bed, and a very unusual take on ramen and noodles. Most importantly, the menu prices are very affordable, especially in view of the portions you get.
We stopped in one night when they were moderately busy. We ordered Spicy Miso Ramen ($8), Shrimp Fried Noodles ($9) , Fried Chicken ($6) and Gyoza ($6). The Spicy Miso Ramen comes in a very large bowl, has half a boiled egg, three big chunks of pork belly (which I found interesting, since I thought it could pass for Cha Shu Ramen), bok choy, bamboo shoots, green onions, and egg noodles. It was okay, not great, and also very filling.
The Shrimp Fried Noodles were also voluminous, but the noodles came out on the dry side. The shrimp were big, though, and sauteed nicely with green onions and garlic. This also could have been a "Bird's Nest" dish.
The Gyoza wasn't impressive, at best it was so-so.
The Fried Chicken was a bargain for $6. You get a lot of breaded fried chicken pieces with lots of rice.
The menu is limited to mostly noodle dishes (as the name describes) and features Wonton Noodles, Whole Wheat Noodles, Seafood Squid Ink Noodles, Tonkatsu Ramen, Kim Chee Ramen, Beef Noodles, Green Curry Noodles, Red Curry Noodles, Chamorro Fried Noodles, and Singapore Seafood Laksa Noodles which at $12 are the most expensive menu item.
I think this is will be a very popular place for families; it has an inviting ambiance with unique decor. You'll have to see this place to understand the entire effect. It's painstakingly clean.
Chef Kanda's Corner
The Plaza Bayview
Looking for a special lunch time treat? Try one of the lunch specials at Chef Kanda's Corner, located on the 2nd floor of the Bayview Plaza just at the entrance to the food court. Chef Kanda is a long-time resident of Guam and a noted veteran of such great Japanese restaurants as Utage at the Palace, Aji Hey, and Kai Restaurant.
Kanda has lunch set menus, and I had the Tendon Set ($9.50), which is promoted as Guam's #1 Tendon (tempura rice bowl). It has two pieces of shrimp, a piece of fish, three pieces of vegetable (local eggplant, bell pepper, and breadfruit), accompanied by miso soup and a side dish of homemade tsukemono (pickles which happened to be papaya). This was one of the best Tendon's I've had on island. I really appreciate the use of local produce and Chef Kanda's awesome shredded pickled papaya! Other set specials are Hanamaki Udon ($9.75) and the Tempura Lunch Special ($11).
Since I wanted more than just the Tendon, I ordered the Sunagimo Yakitori ($4), which are grilled chicken gizzards skewers and they were soooo good. I also ordered the Hotate (scallop) Shumai ($6). This shumai was hand-made with corn kernels on top and really quite good. It came with a mustard dipping sauce.
All this was so tasty I asked Chef Kanda if he made any other yakitori, and he said yes, he had chicken thighs. He said "salt" or "teriyaki" and since I prefer the simple salt version, I ordered that style. Again, it was excellent ($4) and something I'll definitely return to have again.
Kanda's Corner is open from 11:30am-2pm, and from 5:30-10pm. Chef Kanda will definitely amaze and impress you with his experience and passion.
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