March 20 , 2009, Volume 9 Number 6
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
March 2009 will probably go down in the books as the most active in terms of food service and culinary activity that the island has ever seen! We've seen the opening of Chili's Grill & Bar, Hooter's Guam, and Froots (opening today in the Agana Shopping Center).
The Skills USA Culinary & Baking Competition was held last Saturday at the Guam Community College, where I participated as one of the judges who tasted a trio of preparations (Caesar Salad, French Onion Soup, and Salmon & Linguine) made from scratch by 21 competitors! The baking component had rivals preparing Honey Whole Wheat Bread, Banana Bread, Chocolate Macaroons, and Choux Puffs, as well as decorating a cake.
This coming weekend I'll be judging the Chinese Gourmet Festival at the Sheraton, and on Wednesday we'll be involved in the UOGEF/MCA Chef's Cup Competition at the Hyatt. Of course, we expect to see Chef Peter Duenas' Meskla Chamorro Fusion Bistro opening before month's end, too.
This is all good news reflecting the progress of our island's eateries and culinary events, however, there is also some sad news to report. Rumors have been confirmed that one of our favorite places, Le Tasi Bistro, will cease operations as of April 30. It's not been an easy decision for the owners, however it's been made and you'll have the rest of March and all of April to stock up on your favorite dishes at LTB. Ahh, the "food life"on our tropical island paradise is a never-ending story that I feel obligated to write about, one byte at a time!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday March 21, 2009
Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy's segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-Noon. This week's first hour guests will be Edward David and Mert Uy, owners of Merloj Prime Steakhouse in Tamuning, followed by Margaret Wong Mauro, PR Manager of the Westin Resort Guam and Westin's award-winning Pastry Chef, Eddie Martinez, who will share the latest happenings at the Westin.
Our second hour guests will be Fong Wu and Alice Chou, representing the Guam Chinese Chamber of Commerce, who will talk about this Sunday's Chinese Gourmet Festival, followed by UOG Endowment Fund's Monica Winterle and Outrigger's Executive Chef Christopher Aguilar(defending champion), who will discuss the upcoming Celebrity Chef's Cup Competition gala event.
These interviews will offer unique and interesting insights into the people behind the scenes at the island's restaurants and hospitality businesses. This will be an opportunity for you to hear compelling stories about their professions and their passions, which are often synonymous in this industry for people of their caliber. Your phone calls are welcome at 477-5757 or *57 on your cell phone.
Chinese Gourmet Festival
Sunday March 22 6pm-8pm
Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort
Tickets $25/adult, $15/children (6-12)
This special fundraising event is hosted by the Chinese School Foundation of Guam in conjunction with the Guam Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It will feature an astonishing variety of Chinese dishes, between 90 and 100, and the entrance fee will entitle guests to sample these dishes. The admission includes one bottle of water with other beverages available for purchase by vendors who will have booths. Foods such as Bamboo Shoot Pork, Four Seasons Meatball, Fresh Shrimp Salad, Chinese Buns, Pork Lumpia Shanghai, Drunken Chicken Wings, Vegetarian Sweet & Sour Chicken, Duck with Beer Sauce, Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage, Shredded Pork Wrap, the ever-popular Honey Walnut Shrimp and Fish with Chili Sauce are just a few of the items featured. There will be entertainment, raffle prizes, and a car auction where attendees can bid on a Lexus RX350, BMW 535, Toyota Camry and a Subaru SUV.
The Big Easy - A Taste of New Orleans
Wednesday March 25, 2009
Hyatt Regency Grand Ballroom
Tickets $200 per person
Music by Orquesta Caliente
Call 735-2955 for tickets and information
This is the 8th Annual Celebrity Chefs Cup event hosted by the University of Guam Endowment Foundation in conjunction with the Micronesian Chefs' Association. Five competing chef teams representing major hotels and restaurants will each prepare one of five courses inspired by the cuisine of New Orleans. Executive Chef Chris Aguilar of the Outrigger Guam Resort's team will be defending his title against opponent teams lead by Executive Chef Hermann Grossbichler, Hyatt Regency Guam; Executive Sous Chef Daniel Lenherr, Westin Resort Guam; Executive Chef Michael Moral, Margarita's and Executive Chef Geoffrey Perez, PROA Restaurant.
Chili's Grill & Bar
Guam Premier Outlets
Well, Brian Artero & his Pacific Dining team finally did it! They made me the Chili's Buffalo Wings that I've craved and waited for so patiently all these years! If you've not heard yet, Chili's is officially open for business and they are doing "gang-busters"!
I was able to "taste-drive"a few items on their menu just before their opening and was pleased to see how well they've replicated Chili's popular appetizer and entree selections. The Big Mouth Burger lived up to its reputation in taste and stature. The Bacon Burger is topped with applewood smoked bacon and comes with aged Cheddar cheese, mayo, shredded lettuce, tomato and a pickle. A toasted sesame seed bun embraces all these goodies and is served with homestyle fries.
We also had the Grilled Baby Back Ribs (the Mix & Match) in two flavors, the Memphis Dry Rub Baby Backs and the Honey-Chipotle Baby Backs, a nice tangy addition to their original Classic and Honey BBQ sauces. This dish was packed with loaded mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli as sides.
We also had the Fajita Quesadillas, which have marinated steak or chicken(we had a mix) with grilled onions and jack cheese in buttery toasted tortillas. This came with rice, black beans, sour cream and pico de gallo. We had a ramekin with some tasty guacamole, which really reinforced the quality of this entree. It's a lot to eat so best to share.
Of course, no Chili's experience can be fully appreciated until you've been initiated with Chili's most famous signature margarita, the El Presidente Margarita, hand-shaken and made with Sauza Conmemorativo Tequila, Cointreau and Presidente Brandy. It's a delightful presentation when delivered in a shaker and colorful margarita glass.
I'm waiting for the crowds to diminish a bit before returning for my next experience, or better yet, I'll probably just call for take out and walk over since they are in my neighborhood and get myself some wings to go with another Big Mouth Burger! Hurray and Ole for Chili's!
Vibrant Living Food Tasting IV
Hyatt Regency Guam (former TJ's)
This is a special food event that happens once a month, so it's not a typical restaurant dining experience available every day. You will need to purchase tickets ($25 cash only) in advance at Healthy Hearts or use the following email contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org .
This Vibrant Living Food Tasting represents a growing trend among health-conscious diners who prefer to eat raw vegan food preparations that are both appealing to the palate and nutritious. If you are a vegetarian, this a feast beyond belief since nearly all the dishes served are vegan or vegetarian. The only non-vegetarian item was baked salmon, which is still quite healthy!
The menu for the night I attended (March 1) had a variety of tasty salads including Chop Chae, Kefir veggies, Seaweed Salad, organic Mixed Greens with local Cherry Tomatoes, local Cucumber, Sprouts and organic dressing. Starters such as Buko Crackers, Carrot Crackers, Pesto, Tapenade, Salsa, and assorted Canapes. Cooked dishes in addition to the baked salmon was Brown Eice and Quinoa; while other main dishes include "cleansing" soup, Thai Curry, Pizza by the Slice, Sushi and raw Tacos. The desserts featured local Banana Crepes, "cheesecake" and raw Fudge Bars.
Beverages such as Cherry Soda, Ginger Spritzer, Strawberry Kefir Shakes, and "Happy" Shakes of cacao & maca are available for $5. You can supercharge your dishes with the addition of "Superfoods" which is Goji Powder, Blue Green Algae, Revitiphi-SuperGreens for $1 extra. A bottle of coconut water kefir bottle can be purchased for $7-15, depending on the size. This drink was described to me as a microbiotic beverage. There is a new food awareness that you can now experience and become more educated about by attending the next Vibrant Living Food Tasting V, which will be held on Sunday, March 29, at 6:30pm. You must get your ticket in advance!
Merloj Prime Steakhouse
Ramada Hotel & Suites
Merloj Prime Steakhouse is one of those pleasant surprises you can appreciate more than one time! Still in its first few months of operations, Merloj has slowly evolved into a place for great-tasting steaks served by an attentive, experienced staff, paired with a range of quality wines, in a stately dining room with an ambiance created in a different era.
Before you even have a chance to peruse the menu you can't help but be drawn to the black & white and sepia wall posters and pictures from the early 20th century, as well as displays of leather trunks, suitcases, and old antique cameras, an old World Book Encyclopedia collection and an Underwood typewriter. The Kodak Brownie is here as well as a Speed Graphic and Spartus. Camera-buffs will love this place, along with anyone who has a fascination for things from the past. Merloj is really a destination, a museum of interesting curios and objects, an eclectic collection of someone richly involved in media and travel. Let's get on with the food part!
Merloj's owners, Edward David, and Mert Uy, have years of experience in hospitality and have parlayed that expertise into a restaurant that represents their vision and ideals for quality dining. While I already wrote about my lunch at Merloj, it wasn't until early March that I had dinner here. Merloj's name is a play on the name of the wine with the same pronunciation Merlot. Their impressive wine list features wines from around the world, with a heavy emphasis on established California wines and even a few wines from Washington State. Among the prerequisites for fine dining in addition to a strong fine wine selection, are white table linens, Caesar Salad, Oysters on the Half-Shell, French Onion Soup, Shrimp Cocktail, and Certified Angus Beef Steaks all of which (and more) are available at Merloj!
We started out with a Merloj's Caesar Salad ($10.50), which was an exceptional Caesar, crowned with a baked parmesan wedge, the right balance of anchovy, garlic & lemon - nicely tart, crisp, and dusted with parmesan. Mert's 20 years F&B work experience as a manager for Onward, Marriott, Pacific Star, PIC, Hy's and Guam Plaza have been an education in quality he's taken seriously and it shows in this seriously delicious Caesar.
Next came the golden brown Crab Cakes ($11), which were stacked nicely with a parsley garnish and aioli dip that seemed like a honey mustard with some red chili. These were also quite good being nice and meaty, with a crisp coconut panko crust. We had the Onion Soup ($6) and were again impressed. (I forgot to mention that before any of the dishes we ordered came, we were given a nice hot dinner roll with butter!)
For a main course I had Merloj's Signature NY Steak ($37, Prime New York Strip finished in Merloj's signature red wine sauce). This came with a baked potato plus a side plate with all the fixings, steamed broccoli, and carrots. The steak was awesome, tender, and cooked a perfect medium-rare. The red wine sauce complimented the flavor of the steak and didn't overwhelm it, though I think I'll try one of their other steaks without any sauce. They have Filet Mignon, Rib Eye Steak, Peppercorn, and T-Bone.
Zee had the Stuffed Chicken on Herb Noodles ($23) which was a baked spinach and mozzarella stuffed chicken breast on a bed of herb noodles. This was ok and not really their strong suit. I'd just stick to the steaks though the Lobster Florentine & Asparagus looks quite appealing!
We finished with the Tiramisu ($5), from their dessert selection. We had an Illy Cappuccino with this. The Tiramisu was simply divine, and the perfect way to end a really pleasant dinner.
Merloj also serves breakfasts seven days a week and has (what many are discovering) a popular Sunday Brunch, with live entertainment. We'll just have to make the time to do this one day. Try Merloj for a fine dining experience without the stuffiness.
Caliente Mexican Taqueria
Hagatna (behind Bank of Guam, near Alpha's Insurance)
There are times when I have a craving for south of the border flavors, and when I go to Caliente, I get some of those cravings satisfied. One recent visit really hit the mark when I ordered the Tostada de Ceviche ($5), which has a hard flat tortilla topped with mahi chunks marinated in lime juice, mixed with spices topped with avocado. There's so much mahi that they should give an extra shell! This could only be better with redder tomatoes, but it was awfully good nevertheless.
Of course, you must try one of Anna's Mango Margaritas. It's a cool and refreshing beverage that soothes and relaxes, with a taste that can be deceptively intoxicating if you get carried away. Just have one or two is my advice!
The other treat I had was the soft taco ($3.75), with carnitas (pulled pork). Oh was this ever delicious! I put a dab of hot salsa on top of the pile of shredded pork. This meat is so succulent and there's so much of it it could have made four tacos anywhere else! The chips and salsa here are also a hit with customers, who really enjoy getting up and going to the salsa bar to get their favorite salsa and anything else their that strikes their fancy.
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