April 24 , 2009, Volume 9 Number 9
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Alas, "parting is such sweet sorrow"! Both Wordsworth and Shakespeare used this phrase in poems to describe the sadness of loss, and if I may take poetic license, the same applies to the loss of a great restaurant. Le Tasi Bistro, an island favorite, ended its 10 year run on Friday, April 18. I did have "the pleasure of a fine table" on the preceding Wednesday, when I had my favorite special, the Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes. Although the restaurant as we know it will be no more, we will still have the opportunity to enjoy Chef Bertrand Haurillon's fabulous cooking as Le Tasi Bistro will still offer catering.
Chef Bertrand plans to open a wholesale bakery, too, in Yigo, so you will soon be seeing Le Tasi Bistro's famous logo on pies, cakes, breads, and other desserts that would be served at various island restaurants. For catering, you can call 653-0448.
Finally, I am reminded of George Harrison's poignant song, "All Things Must Pass" by the recent news that Veronica Calvo-Perez will be closing her Firefly Bistro in Hagatna on April 30. This is yet another significant loss of a high quality dining experience. Fortunately, it will still be available for private functions and parties, and she will be moving some of her salads, crepes and other items to her Cup & Saucer eatery next door. I'm just glad that we were able to experience the wonderful lunches and dinners at Firefly and Le Tasi Bistro. Both restaurants were prominently and continuously featured in all of the Guam Food Guy's Top Picks articles. The memories will live on forever.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday April 25, 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 guest will be Peter Duenas, Executive Chef/owner of newly-opened Meskla Chamorro Fusion Bistro. Our second hour guest will include Lennie Anderson of Jungle Java Cafe, one of the island's original coffee houses.
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.
Guam Women's Club's Annual Cinco de Mayo Event
Tuesday, May 5
Outrigger Guam Resort Lobby
On Tuesday May 5, the Guam Women's Club will host a Cinco de Mayo Event at the Outrigger Guam's main lobby. Funds raised from this event will support the Habitat for Humanity and the Guam Women's Club Philanthropic Fund.
Enjoy a great night filled with Mexican food, a welcome drink, and the Latin rhythms of Caliente. Oh, let's not forget the TREASURE CHEST! A unique raffle will take place giving multiple winners an opportunity to pick a prize from the treasure chest. GOOD FOOD! GOOD MUSIC! GOOD FUN! GREAT CAUSE!
Tickets are $40 and are on sale now at Salon Paradis and Pop and Pour. For more information, please call Claudia Davis at 565-9250.
7th Annual Reunion Dinner
Izakaya Katsu Restaurant aka "The Green Door"
3rd Floor Central Building
Has it been another year already?!! Yes, it was time for our annual reunion at the Green Door with Dr. Jonathon Morris of Portland, Maine. Dr. Morris is a psychiatrist who has spent two weeks every year since 1994 on Guam working with the Department of Mental Health. I had met Jon and his lovely wife, Suzan, (who didn't make this trip) back in 2002, after she and I connected over the Internet and arranged to rendezvous at the Green Door based on her reading my review of the restaurant. We've never been disappointed with the food at Katsu - it is one of Guam's best Japanese Izakayas without question.
Our dinner started out with a "welcome back" appetizer prepared by Chef Takeshi Sohma which had shrimp marinated in a vinaigrette with capers and fresh basil on a bed of bean sprouts. This was an unexpected surprise treat. Domo, Sohma-san! We never to fail to order (and who can resist the lure) of our favorite Tofu Steak ($7). Just looking at it makes your mouth water with anticipation! The combination of garlic, green onions, pepper, ginger, bonito flakes, and mirin is edifying.
The Chicken Salad ($12) is a regular on our line-up as well. This stylized salad demonstrates the culinary creativity of Chef Sohma, with each bite delivering a balance of taste, texture and freshness. We ordered a dish of Fried Garlic ($5) and it nicely complemented practically every course we ordered.
The Hokke (Atka Mackerel, $12) was suggested by Yokho (Takeshi's wife and Katsu's manager). It came with local lemon and was perfectly grilled. It's a strong-flavored fish that is best prepared grilled like this!
We varied our usual ordering and had the Mixed Fry (Panko-breaded Pork, Shrimp, Oysters, and Crab Croquette, $12) instead of our usual Fried Shrimp. All were great, especially with Katsu's tartar salad.
What we didn't eat this night but I enjoyed just a few weeks earlier was Katsu's other "famous" steak, the Ribeye Steak ($25), a great piece of beef flavored with soy sauce that has been infused with garlic. This is a favorite of many!
One thing I want to mention here is that I brought a Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator with me to show Jon and Yokho (almost sounds Beatle-like, no?). This amazing device is able to enhance wine immediately by aerating the wine as it pours through it into a glass. It "breathes" the wine so that it can be enjoyed without delay. Jon had a digital Hi-Def cam corder and recorded a video of me promoting the Vinturi, which he posted on YouTube. Our company, Tools of the Trade, is introducing the Vinturi to the Guam market and I am very excited about sharing this great wine accessory to all wine drinkers. Check out Jon's movie of me on You Tube. Call 649-8190 for information on buying the Vinturi locally.
Chung Gi Wa Korean Restaurant
Star Building (next to Sugar & Spice)
I'm always happy to find a new eating experience, especially if the food's really good. In Chung Gi Wa's case, the food is better than good - it's great! I'd been meaning to get to Chung Gi Wa ever since I was told by friend Keiko Nishida that this was a popular restaurant for many local Japanese business people. When I did finally walk through the doors of Chung Gi Wa for dinner, I could see that this was a popular place for local Koreans and local everybody else.
We ordered three dishes from Chung Gi Wa's picture-filled menu of some thirty items consisting primarily of popular main dishes and soups. As most Westerners elect to have the Kalbi (Marinated BBQ Beef Rib Grilled, $17), this was my first choice. Zee had the Bibimbab Hot Stone Pot ($13) since her first choice of Spicy Noodles and Mixed Vegetables ($25) was enough for two and not available in a single serving. I also wanted the Pork Belly ($15) which is grilled at the table.
You can have the Kalbi grilled in the kitchen or at the table and since we were doing the pork belly already, we opted to grill both at our table. Our server started the grill, placed a few pieces of the pork on the grill and went on her way. I picked up the tongs and went to work, turning the pork as it cooked and placing garlic bulbs on the grill.
The Bibimbab was delivered and Zee mixed it up so it could continue cooking against the sides of the ceramic bowl. As the pork was finishing I put the strips of kalbi beef (bone-in) on the grill. When these were close to done, I used the scissors to free them from the bones and then sliced the meat just prior to serving it.
Eating Korean BBQ this way is so much fun because you can control your portions and cook the food to your own liking and at your own pace. We like to wrap the meat (after dipping in seasoned sesame oil) in lettuce leaves and add garlic, fermented soybean paste (doenjang), kimchi, and red chili sauce - it's rather like a Korean "taco".
The assortment of panchan was also a pleasant surprise, with pieces of seafood griddle cake, potatoes, stewed eggplant, bean sprouts, spiced cucumbers, anchovies, and a very fresh and spicy kimchi. As much as I enjoyed all of this cooking and eating, I would have been happier if they had Korean beer (OB or Hite), which go much better with Korean BBQ than the standard American beers. I definitely will make it a point to return to Chung Gi Wa to sample more from their extensive menu. They are open for lunch and dinner.
Shioti Eurasian Restaurant
Tumon Golf Driving Range
I was extremely delighted with my recent visit to Shioti Eurasian Restaurant, a stylishly intimate bistro located adjacent to the Tumon Golf Driving Range. Owners Noriko and Cencio have been diligently working to fine-tune Shioti's menu and service, and I can honestly say that things have improved significantly from the time of their initial opening, when things seem to be in a hit-or-miss state. Based on my dinner experience this past Wednesday, I can definitely vouch that Shioti's "got their game on"!
I had been craving salmon for most of the day and when I saw Shioti's menu, I was tempted to try some of their CAB Steaks, or their Ramen with Pork Chop, or a pasta dish. I decided to have the Skewered Bacon Wrapped Scallops ($9.95), which are oven-baked and lightly basted in a special sauce for my appetizer. This is a version of the classic Japanese dish, Rumaki, which I've had previously with liver and water chestnuts. The scallops were huge and the bacon added loads of smoky flavor to them. I had a House Chardonnay (Shioti has an impressive wine list and they keep their wines chilled at the correct temperatures in a large wine cooler visible from the dining room).
My main course of Shioti's Cajun Salmon ($17) came with a house salad, which I had with Japanese dressing. This was a very flavorful and fresh salad, with the home-made dressing adding a richness to each crispy bite. The local cherry tomatoes were awesome. The service staff at Shioti are attentive and courteous - they've been well trained to serve!
The salmon itself surpassed my expectations. It is a baked Norwegian salmon lightly seasoned with Cajun spice and served with a mild spicy ginger aioli. Placed on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes (which were delicious on their own), it is accompanied by steamed bok choy, carrots, and sauteed tofu with was a nice touch and presentation. I asked for the salmon to be cooked medium rare and it came out as close to that as possible. It was so flavorful and moist that I had a hard time putting my fork down! The chef, Jamaica, did an outstanding job with this salmon.
A little later while we were enjoying a Cabernet using my Vinturi Wine Aerator, Chef Jamaica surprised us (or at least me) with a Seafood Pizza ($13.50), which really is a homemade pizza with layers of great flavors. They make their own marinara sauce from scratch and with their own garden-grown fresh basil. The crust is semi-thick and holds the top ingredients securely in place. Along with the marinara, they have an Alfredo sauce, so you have this rich savory blend thing happening here. There's a generous amount of mozzarella as well as chopped shrimp pieces and smoked salmon, which really permeates the overall taste of the pizza. Shioti will be adding some new menu items in May. I'm sure looking forward to trying these out as well. At Shioti, things have only gotten better!
Meskla Chamorro Fusion Bistro - A 'Divine' Mix of Modern & Traditional Flavors
Although it's easy to view restaurants as businesses that serve food, it's refreshing to find those special places where the food is not just a franchised commodity, but where it is created as art. Meskla is one of those divine places and may I just say "Hallelujah!". Conceived by Guam's own "Outdoor Chef", Peter Duenas, Meskla is a fulfilled vision providing the island's residents and visitors with a stimulating dining experience that promotes and celebrates Guam's cuisine with unique fusion recreations of traditional local favorites. At Meskla, which translates from Chamorro as "mix or blend", Chef Peter demonstrates his culinary artistry with a palette of sensational menu items that compel diners to return to try the numerous items they wanted to eat the first time!
For this review, we had dinner on two different nights in order to try a number of dishes. (I did have lunch one day as well, but will do a lunch write-up at some future time) Meskla has quickly become a destination restaurant which is understandable because of Chef Peter's loyal following from his days serving as Executive Chef at Sam Choy's, which was added to by his weekly TV culinary adventure series, the "Outdoor Chef". Some of Peter's kitchen team have followed him to Meskla as well.
The other element that makes Meskla a destination restaurant is the decor and ambiance, with its dark wood tones, hanging lamps that seem to be orbs floating about the high ceiling, and the very structure and layout of the dining room and adjoining bar lounge. Murals and pictures depicting ancient Chamorro life and culture are showcased along one of the dining room walls. And while the interior design has a contemporary feel, there is an emphasis on comfort.
It is easy to see how one can become enamored with Meskla, especially if you like wine(Meskla has a well-crafted wine selection), or if you have an adventurous palette with money to spend. Some have called Meskla "pricey", however, as with anything of value, you get what you pay for!
Let's get on to the food we enjoyed! One of the first appetizers we had was the Chamoru Chesa Platter ($16.95 ) which has Kelaguen, Tinala Katne, and Hinetnon Tapon which is a delicious blend of chopped surf clams, hearts of palm, banana flowers, spinach and cream cheese, baked and served with Garlic Chamoru Flatbread. On this night, the kelaguen was shrimp and it was as good as it gets. Fried Titiyas are on the plate along with flatbread made with olives and donne dinanche. There's nothing better than dipping your Tinala Katne (Chamoru-style dried beef) in the spicy donne! Another appetizer we had was the Curried Hot Wings Chamoru Style ($7.95). The menu describes these as deep fried chicken wings tossed in a fresh local tumeric ginger curry sauce. I was intrigued by the taste of these and wanted more!
On the first night, we tried the Pika Prawn Salad ($14.95). These were head-on tiger prawns dusted with a spicy dry rub, pan-seared and served with mixed greens topped with a fruit salsa. This was refreshing on the palate, though I expected more flavor from the salsa. On the second visit, we had the Calamari Salad ($12.95) with featured crispy fried calamari rings served over a zesty avocado salad and mixed greens which was fabulous! The avocado, cherry tomatoes, red onion slices and vinaigrette filled your mouth with flavors. The calamari was tender and well-seasoned.
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