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January 2, 2009, Volume 9 Number 1

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

2009 is here with a really loud bang! It looks like 2009 is going to be one of those years to remember, as we will see the opening of Chili's at GPO, Chili's Too in the Micronesia Mall, Meskla Chamorro Fusion in Hagatna, Main Street Delicatessen & Bakery in Hagatna (near Mandarin Restaurant), and Hooter's in the Acanta Mall (in the former Fishbowl space) all in the first and second quarters of the year. In today's newsletter, we have the dual task of welcoming the New Year and closing out 2008 by listing our top reviews for the year. So this edition of Diner Bytes will also include a few restaurant visits along with the Top 10 main feature.

We spent the last night of the year overlooking the bright lights of Pleasure Island from our 20th floor room at the Westin Resort Guam. The first day of the year was bright and shiny, with gentle breezes and blue skies over the azure waters of Tumon Bay. 2009 will be a year of major construction, with several large condominium projects underway in anticipation of the planned military build-up. Despite the global economic challenges, Guam appears to be one of the rare, insulated places that will have some protection against the grim realities affecting the Mainland. Time will tell. Whatever happens, we know we will always have wonderful places to eat

Ken, The "Guam Food Guy"

New Year's Day Lunch at Issin Japanese Restaurant
Westin Resort Guam

In keeping with a Japanese custom started centuries ago, we welcomed the New Year with a bowl of Ozoni, the traditional mochi soup garnished with yuzu peel and mitsuba served on New Year's Day, usually after a sake toast. We missed the toast and I settled for bottle of Sapporo lager. Ozoni is also known as "mochi soup", since it has the sweet rice cakes in the soup stock(dashi) along with mushrooms, carrots, onions, and chicken. The mochi was grilled in an over-fired broiler to soften it up and brown the outside much like frying would. The soup stock was clear and quite savory - our first real pleasurable culinary experience of 2009! It was priced as a special feature at Issin for $6.50.

We also had the Assorted Sashimi ($25) and celebrated 2009 with Issin's Tenderloin Steak Teppanyaki ($35). Issin is one of the island's best Japanese Restaurants and one of the longest lasting. I've known Issin owner, Tom Iizuka for more than 30 years!

Our teppan cook, Jesse Borja, kept us entertained throughout the meal. It was an auspicious occasion since we were his first teppan customers of the year. His Garlic Fried Rice ($2) was divine and well worth the discomfort of over stuffing ourselves!

Ehwa Korean & Japanese Restaurant
Baltej Pavilion

Ehwa Restaurant's owner, Sohyun "Jean" Chong, is one confident lady who knows what makes for a good restaurant - quality food and quality service. Her 25 years of dining experiences on Guam has given her a reservoir of knowledge which has equipped her to create a restaurant outside of Tumon that offers the best of two popular Asian cuisines, Korean & Japanese.

Only open for a bit more than two weeks, Ehwa is a beautifully constructed, artistically decorated restaurant sporting a full service sushi counter manned by long-time sushi chef, Charlie Venezuela, previously of Niji. It also has a full service kitchen with a Korean chef.

For lunch which is served 7 days a week from 11am-2pm, Ehwa offers a buffet that changes each day of Korean and Japanese foods for $16.50. Lunch includes salad (you really must try the creamy apple dressing - it's awesome!), appetizers, sashimi, sushi, steamed fish, hot pot, tempura, grilled meat, and dessert. There are Japanese and Korean soups, noodles, chawanmushi, and specially marinated barbecue spare-ribs.

Dinner is a la carte and served from 6-10pm daily. The menu is quite extensive and offers set menus for Korean dining with a la carte options, including the unique choice of single item ordering, like kalbi without ban chan or rice though these can be ordered separately. This avoids wasting food and catering to customer's preferences. I've heard a lot of good things from people about Ehwa and my lunch there this past week was another endorsement. I'm looking forward to having dinner here one of these nights in the very near future.

Guam Food Guy's Top 10 Reviews for 2008

The useful thing about lists is that they give people an easy-to-follow guide of places to try especially if they haven't been there yet or are new to Guam. Unfortunately, lists are by nature limited, and don't give a full representation of the numerous excellent options not on the list.

The reviews and/or newsletters are listed in chronological order so their placement is not based on any particular ranking. I hope you have an opportunity to experience these places and that you like them as much as I did!

Firefly Bistro Celebrates Ten Years of Culinary Excellence
January 18th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 3

Guam DinerBytes for February 8, 2008 - Dim Sum Delights at Marriott Cafe for the Lunar New Year, Hawaii Dining Tour of Nico's, Hank's, Mama's and Michel's
February 8th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 6

The Taj - A Taste of India in Palau
March 28th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 12

GuamDiner Bytes for June 27, 2008 - The GFG is Back!, Restaurant News, Manhattan Bar Vietnamese Happy Hour, Issin Japanese, PROA Lunch Rules and Westin Launches Hot New Spot -The Mix@cha cha cha
June 27th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 19

GuamDiner Bytes for July 18, 2008 - Restaurant Closings Musings, Eat n Joy Rotary Sushi, Southern Style in Agat, Cafe K Seafood Bounty, Kai Japanese and First Peek at Cafe Havana
July 18th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 21

GuamDiner Bytes for August 1, 2008 - Taste Guam Event, Farewell to Manfred Pieper, Toh Lee Opens for Lunch, Mama Gyros, OHG Blueberry Pancakes, Lone Star Steak, Seoul Jung
August 1st, 2008, Volume 8 Number 22

GuamDiner Bytes for August 29, 2008 - Happy Birthday Toni!, Sushi Ebisu Lunch Specials, PROA Dinner with Junko, Firefly, Shioto and Sunset Grill
August 29th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 24

GuamDiner Bytes for September 26, 2008 - September Hot Month for Openings, Sous Chef Competition, CPK Opening, New Coffee Places, Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill, Margarita's Taco Buffet Lunch Special
September 26th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 26

GuamDiner Bytes for December 5, 2008 - Fiesta Resort, Guam Plaza Transformation, Wine Dinner at Hyatt, Lone Star Steak & Seafood, Flamboyan and Cham's Cuisine (Awesome Thai!)
December 5th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 31

GuamDiner Bytes for December 19, 2008 - Restaurant News, Vitale's, Kusinan Guahan, Downtown Kieu's, Shioti Eurasian, Yummy Tummy, Merloj Prime Steakhouse and Lolah's
December 19th, 2008, Volume 8 Number 32

Bon Appetit and see you in 2009!

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