May 22 , 2009, Volume 9 Number 11
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Would you believe that this is the 380th newsletter we've published since starting our virtual presence back in June 2001! That's quite a lot of reading and certainly a nearly inconceivable amount of eating! In looking back at our archived newsletters, it was interesting to note that the next three weekly newsletters after our first featured restaurants that are no longer in business, namely Mabuhay Express Fast Food, New Esmeralda, and Marty's Mexican Merienda. How would you tell someone new to the island that Marty's was one of Guam's hot spots when it was located in the Royal Lanes Bowling Alley in Tamuning, a place now occupied by the new First Hawaiian Bank branch?
Of course, it is understood that change is constant and that not every business is destined to remain in business, especially when economic downturns occur. This is especially true for restaurants, which are some of the first victims when the economy constricts. know that things will improve as we see more of the expected military build-up take place, however, until that time, there are many smaller, family-owned restaurants that need your business.
Think of a small place you've really enjoyed yet haven't been back to in a while. Maybe it's time for you to pay them a visit. For me, it's places like Menkui Ramen, Sushi Ebisu, Kai, Izakaya Katsu, Doraku, Choi's, Uri Jip, May's, Lolah's, Shioti, Flamingo, Thai Kitchen, Curry Kebab, Mary's Vietnamese, Thepanee Thai, Mermaid Tavern, Vitale's, and Gu's Shanghai Bistro.
You probably don't hear a lot from these places since they don't do much advertising. They depend mostly on word of mouth, and they need your patronage and support. Keep in mind that places like Andaman, Le Tasi Bistro, and Firefly Bistro were still open just two months ago!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
The President (Nippon)
Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort
It was my good fortune to return to The President (Nippon) for a business lunch with two colleagues. We all decided to pass on Chef Nakajima's special lunch set menu creations and treat ourselves to the thrill of the teppan grill. We all agreed on the Tsuru Course Lunch Menu ($40), which included a Salad, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, US Beef Steak (120 g), Teppanyaki Vegetables, Steamed White Rice or Garlic Rice (which we all had), Miso Soup and Oshinko (Japanese pickles).
Our teppan chef, Yamane-san, held up the yellow and blue platter with the uncooked shrimp, bacon, green onions,carrots, and lemon wedges for us to see as a preview of great things to come. The next plate held the raw onions, egg plant, and pechay which would all be methodically prepared. Last, but certainly not least, the beautifully-marbled strip loins appeared to be in their prime in the final preview of our feast.
The President (Nippon) prides itself in this leisurely appreciation of the art of teppanyaki. Watching each fresh ingredient transform on the griddle from raw to grilled, then displayed on a plate joined by a duo of dipping sauces is something we diners enjoy observing before taking the first bite. Every ingredient is cooked and served with its form intact, neatly layered, and sliced for bite size eating. It's more than just a food experience that makes The President (Nippon) special, it's the chef's performance and meticulous artistry that makes the dining experience memorable. Oh, did I forget to mention that everything we ate was exceptional?
Margarita's Burritos & BBQ Offers New Treats
Margarita's is determined to find a way to serve you what you want. Since my last visit when I had the "Build Your Own Tacos" All-You-Can-Eat lunch special (Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, $9.95), Margarita's has upgraded their menu to vividly showcase their beverages, appetizers and entrees, with some of the food pictures seeming to literally jump off the menu!
We went there this week to try out some of the new features, namely the Margarita's Steak and Shoestring Potatoes ($19.95) and Margarita's Fish Tacos (2 for $11.95). Before getting these main entrees we started off with a Super Nachos Platter ($6.95), that was a humongous pile of tortilla chips covered with nacho cheese, tomatoes, homemade beans, onions, black olives, sour cream, and cilantro. The tortilla chips here and cheese are not heavily salted like those you get in theatres and other places, which is a good thing for those who are on low-sodium diets.
I decided to splurge and have one of their special Margarita's, La Casa Azul ($6.95), which is made with Tarantula Azul Tequila and Blue Curacao. This one'll sneak up on you so carefully you'll never know what hit ya! They have some pretty funny names for other Margaritas, such as the "Dai Jou Bu" (made with lychee fruit and Cuervo Gold) and the "Todo Mauleg", (made with Sauza Hornitos Tequila and Grand Marnier). I think they've got the most extensive margarita menu on the island, and certainly the fruitiest with strawberry, mango, pineapple, and lychee.
The Steak and Shoestring Potatoes entree has an 8 oz. Rib-eye steak that's grilled to your liking and topped with chunks of "El Pueblo" culantro (aka cilantro) pesto butter which is a house made secret recipe. This is a pleasant surprise on the palate since the blending of culantro with herbs like cumin and garlic with the butter is certainly different. The seasoned fries have a little kick and are terrific. We also really liked the smoked flavor of the sauteed bell peppers, carrots, and baby corn cobs. I used a little of the hot salsa with local donne to bring up the taste of the steak a notch. The steak was tender and juicy. This entree comes with a salad that's also quite good owing to the dressing, which is a Soy Dijon Vinaigrette.
The Special Fish Tacos are made with seared mahi mahi with culantro butter sauce, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced onions, and shredded cheese. It also comes with red rice and home made beans. These tacos had a lot of ingredients and a creamy tartar-like sauce in addition to the culantro butter sauce. The fish was good but needed a little more seasoning and I added some of the donne salsa to get that heat kick.
We'll have to come back to Margarita's to try out more items on their new menu, especially the BBQ Shortribs that are made with a tequila teriyaki sauce.
One thing that I'd like to commend Margarita's owner, Wanjoo Kim, is for his generous hospitality to our visiting tourists. He has offered FREE use of his clean rest rooms and baby changing stations, something he has prominently promoted on the outside of his restaurant. Good for you, Wanjoo. Hopefully more will follow in your footsteps with this kind gesture of goodwill.
Not everybody knows about Sushi Ebisu's fantastic $10 lunch specials! I had the Pork Katsu (Tonkatsu) the other day. This comes with Miso Soup, Maguro Tuna on Rice, Salad, Oshinko, and Tonkatsu Sauce for dipping the pork. Other specials include Grilled Salmon, Grilled Mackerel, Chicken Cutlet, Ginger Chicken, and Fried Oysters.
You can also order one of Chef Fumi-san's famous American sushi rolls. I had the Spicy Hamachi ($9), which was as good as it gets!
Bring your friends for fantastic fun at Sushi Ebisu during dinner, when you can relax and enjoy the full menu selection along with premium beer, shochu, and sake, all with a background of smooth jazz music.
Creations By Roy Yamaguchi
March 20, 2009
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
[GFG Note: Even though this event happened back in March, I really wanted to highlight the very special experience it is when Roy Yamaguchi himself is in the restaurant. He comes at least once a year and believe me, it is a treat that I recommend every food lover take advantage of when he is here.]
It's always a distinct honor and pleasure to be in the presence of one of the "great ones", and that is what Roy Yamaguchi is, although he'd be the first to play down his celebrity. He's just a genuinely humble guy who loves to cook and his passion for exploring food combinations and marrying ingredients to create intriguing flavors has made him a household name amongst foodies.
I was able to attend a special wine dinner that unveiled some of Roy's new creations. Mid-Pacific Wine Distributors suggested wine pairings with the various courses and had specially-priced bottles of wine from Kendall Jackson, Matanza's Creek, Cambria Estate, Atalon, and Murphy Goode. The only downside was that I wasn't able to sample all of the wines they suggested. We had several people at our table who decided on a Mondavi Fume Blanc, a Chardonnay, and a Torres Cabernet for which I really needed my Vintrui!
The first course was a Sashimi of Scallops with Orange and Yama-Momo Vinaigrette. The yamamomo is known as the Mountain Peach in Japan, and is the size of a strawberry or cherry. It is sweet with a bit of acidity, which makes is quite refreshing on the palate. The Fume paired magnificently with this first dish. The scallops melted in your mouth.
Next we were treated to a Roulade of Duck with Yama Gobo and Ume Mesclun Salad. This was really nice since the duck was smoked and was rolled around the yamogobo (pickled burdock). The tang of the ume plum dressing was tart, yet was also balanced by the Fume Blanc.
My favorite dish was the Sous Vide of Salmon with Tomato and Bacon with White Wine Cream Sauce. I don't think the salmon could have been any better. It was vacuum-sealed and slowly cooked to retain all of its juices with concentrated flavors. It was topped with a tomato & bacon paste blend, however, it was the white wine cream sauce that really brought this dish to perfection. I could have had this dish more than once. Talk about addictive!
The Red Curry Marinated Fillet of Beef with Scallop Potatoes, Natural Cabernet Sauce was good and I was able to detect the curry which was surprisingly subtle. The cabernet sauce had a sweetness that I really liked. The inoki mushrooms were great and really picked up the flavors of the seasonings.
For dessert, Roy's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Souffle, with Vanilla Ice Cream provided the perfect ending for this dinner, though I found myself already satisfied from eating enough. I must have been really busy (or distracted) but didn't really get a peanut butter sensation. The fresh blackberries and fresh raspberries were really good with the vanilla ice cream. I may have to try that souffle again.
I am looking forward to the "Great One's" return visit to Guam next year. It would be great to see him at one of his restaurants in the States or Japan.
Flamingo Restaurant #2
Monticello Plaza (near Cost-U-Less)
It was 3:10pm the other day and I had not been able to eat lunch yet. I was going to stop by King's in Tamuning which was near my location but they were closed for refurbishment. So, I remembered that Dongman Chang's Flamingo Restaurant maintained afternoon hours so I went there and watched CNN on the big screen and ordered one of my favorite Flamingo dishes, the Spicy Chicken ($9).
This tasty chicken treat has a kalbi-inspired bbq baste that gives it a sensational flavor - in fact, you'll be feeling it on your palate after you've left! Every entree includes a good miso soup with lots of tofu and seaweed, and Flamingo's famous shredded cabbage with homemade dressing.
Flamingo has a very extensive menu of local-style Japanese favorites, like Fried Shrimp, Yakitori, Beef and Chicken Tatsuta, and other items, all served in generous portions. The prices are all pretty much below $10 so this is a place (along with its sister location in Anigua) that's keeping its doors open by meeting the market and giving good value for the money.
Royal Orchid Hotel 1F
I had a craving tonight for Tony Roma's Ribs. I can't explain it, I just had to have it. The new Tony Roma's in the Royal Orchid had to be the busiest restaurant on Guam this night with a large military group of 70.
We sat at the bar to order and watched a basketball playoff between the Cavs and the Orlando Magic. I went for the Star Studded Sampler ($23.99), which has a sample of the Original Baby Backs, the Carolina Honeys, Tony Roma's Red Hots, and Bountiful Beef Ribs. This came with a fully-loaded Baked Potato and Cole Slaw.
Zee had the Roma Rack Original Baby Backs ($19.99) with Corn on the Cob and Cole Slaw. I really think Tony Roma's does Cole Slaw better than most.
The ribs went quickly. I like the meatier St. Louis Style Ribs with the Carolina Honeys sauce better than the Baby Backs. The menu at Tony Roma's has expanded and diversified over the years. There are new items I've not yet tried, such as the Smoked Tri-Tip Salad, Chipotle Chicken Salad, TR's Tenderloin and Portobello Salad, the Grilled Chicken Spinach Stack, TR's Fish Grill, the Blue Cheese Burger, the Portobello Swiss Burger, and the Turkey Cheddar Melt! Guess I have my work cut out for me!!
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