July 3, 2009, Volume 9 Number 14
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
We need to be thankful for each day that we have, for one never knows if it will be the last. It has been a sad day for the island with the news of the sudden passing of Reina Leddy, President of the Guam Chamber of Commerce. Reina has been with the Chamber for nearly 20 years and became the dynamic leader in 2007 with the passing of former Chamber president, Eloise Baza. I was recently with her at the Agat Mango Festival where we were participating in the Chamber-sponsored awards ceremony. Reina was one of the most dedicated people I knew as well as one of the nicest. Our prayers and condolences to her husband, David, and to the family.
[Photo L-R: Reina Leddy, Sen. Tina Muna-Barnes, Meskla Chamorro Bistro Team]
Despite this sad news, we are excited to celebrate once again the Independence Day holiday. The Fourth of July is one of the happiest holidays of all filled with outdoor activities, wonderful food and a required dose of fireworks. We hope all of your enjoy your July 4th holiday weekend. Stay safe and celebrate the birth of the United States of America - now 233 years young!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Taste Guam II - A Resounding Success!!
Kudos to the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association and the many sponsors and participants for the 2nd Annual Taste Guam Food Festival and Beer Garden event held on June 20 at the Hyatt Regency Guam.
There was something for everyone at the well-attended event. One of the highlights was the Farmer's Market Display, just before the entrance to the ballroom. There was a cornucopia of fresh produce, including eggplant, breadfruit, watermelons, tomatoes, bananas, bitter melon, papaya, mango, green onions, taro and more.
I was happy to participate as the emcee for the Chef's Cooking Demonstrations. The first one had Hyatt Chef Hermann Grossbichler preparing one of his favorite dishes, Paella. This was an enormous crowd pleaser as you can see the excited faces of the onlookers as he made this classic Spanish dish from scratch!
There were two culinary competitions. One was sponsored by Budweiser and was won by Team GCC. The other was the People's Choice Award and that was garnered by Meskla Chamorro Fusion Bistro with Executive Chef/Owner Peter Duenas' savory creation, Shrimp Toast Lemmai. Lemmai (breadfruit) was the theme ingredient in this competition, which featured many creative entries. Next year promises to be even better!
3rd Annual Mango Festival Even Bigger than Before!
This past Saturday and Sunday were two busy days in Agat! They may even have to widen the road or build bigger parking lots for next year. If you've not yet attended one of the mango festivals that have been held in this beautiful seaside park at Nimitz Beach, you are missing something special. Not only are there more mangoes than you'd be able to eat in two lifetimes, there are demonstration booths where you can learn to make pickled mango, mango smoothies, and mango donuts.
There was a dessert competition (which was won by Meskla Chamorro Fusion Bistro), as well as a cook-off competition, in which the participants had to submit a beef, pork, chicken and fish entree. Meskla took first place honors along with the overall grand champion's trophy, and GCC placed second.
We'll have to spend more time next year at the various displays and booths. There was fun for the whole family and plenty to eat and drink! Congratulations to Agat Mayor Carol Tayama and the major sponsors for making this event a successful reality.
Carmen La Fata Returns for a Visit
This may not be major news to many, but to some, it's a pretty significant occurrence! Yes, former Guam resident Carmen La Fata recently made a return with his wife, Dr. Renee La Fata, to visit family and friends. They are residing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the Guantanamo Naval Station, where the famous GITMO detention facility is located. Carmen used to work with me at Atkins Kroll Commercial Division and he later ran the ECOLAB business for GMI. Renee was popularly known for her "Dear Renee" help column in the PDN. We were able to spend some time with Carmen and Renee at Jeff's Pirates Cove. Although their presence is missed, they are and will always remain, in a very special place in our hearts and minds. [Photo L-R: Jeff Pleadwell, Roseann Pleadwell, Carmen La Fata, Ken Stewart, GFG]
Urijip Korean Restaurant Lunch Special
Behind Tick Tock
Looking for great Korean at a price you don't mind paying? Look no further than Uri Jip Korean Restaurant, which is one of many locals favorite places. I was having dinner there one night when Mama Chang showed me her flyer for the upcoming $12 Kalbi lunch special. I didn't have my camera at the time however, I promised I'd come back. I did - twice in fact! The second time there were three Japanese executive chefs from three different restaurants having an enjoyable lunch together proving once again that as the old saying goes, go where chefs eat to find fantastic food!
The Kalbi set has several banchan dishes of pickled vegetables and kimchis. The cabbage kimchi is the freshest tasting I've had on Guam! The lunch has a generous portion of Kalbi rib meat that comes on a sizzling platter. The combination of flavors and spices can be overwhelming and it's really hard to maintain a conversation when you are trying to eat six different things at one time! This special runs Monday through Friday.
Shioti Eurasian Restaurant
Tumon Golf Driving Range
Shioti Eurasian Restaurant is an unexpected surprise to first time diners who can't get over the tasteful decor and quiet, sophisticated ambiance, especially at night when the wood-toned colors set the mood. The food is also a surprise, with a menu full of appealing and creative appetizers, salads, and entrees, which include C.A.B. steaks and original pasta creations. The biggest surprise for wine aficionados is the hefty selection of premium wines that are stored in Shioti's Wine Chiller, one of few being used commercially on island.
I stopped by one night to have dinner and some wine, which I was going to use with my Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator. The Cabernets we had were a St. Francis 2004 from Sonoma County, a 2005 Merryvale Starmont from Napa, and a 2005 Ferrari-Carano from the Alexander Valley.
Some of the food I had was Shioti's Beef Bites($5.95), which are just as advertised "flavorful & crunchy"! I also was privileged to receive Noriko's home-made pancit, which was the best I've ever had on Guam, so fresh that you could taste each of the vegetable ingredients with the celery, cabbage, and carrots still retaining an invigorating crunch. She had fresh pork, chicken, shrimp, green onions, and what I thought were Japanese maitake mushrooms. It was supremely delicious and difficult to stop eating! This is not on the menu and was made in honor of Philippine Independence Month.
Another "off the menu" trial I had was Shioti's Fried Frog Legs (looks like chicken, right?). Well, these were marinated and with lemon on, it was hard to tell the difference. They may be featured in the future according to Cencio, Nori's husband and co-owner.
It may seem hard to believe, but we still had room for some more and we switched to Raw Oysters on the Half Shell ($23.95/dozen). Shioti has refined a new direction for oysters away from the traditional red cocktail sauce and capers. Shioti uses fresh wasabi and their own ponzu sauce. You will be dazzled by this new taste and flavor sensation! We paired the oysters with a Francis Coppola Chardonnay (Monterrey County), and used my White Wine Vinturi Aerator. What an amazing difference these simple wine devices make.
Shioti Eurasian Restaurant is certainly a lifestyle experience you don't want to miss!
Cafe Havana Lunch Specials
Hyatt Regency Guam
Did you know that Cafe Havana has lunch specials? Even better, did you know that they are pretty good and affordable? I stopped by and was able to determine this for myself after receiving a few emails and getting a preview of some of their featured menu items at Taste Guam where they had a booth. I sampled the Roasted Drunken Chicken at the Taste Guam event. For the Lunch Specials, which are served from 11am- 2pm, the Roasted Drunken Chicken goes for $9.75 and includes a quarter chicken marinated in white wine and dark rum, served with Havana's black beans and rice. This is a dish I'll come back and eat, since the sample I tasted impressed me.
For today's lunch, I wanted to have the Thursday Special, which was Sparerib Estafao ($8.95, including Iced Tea). This local favorite has spare ribs that are marinated and cooked to very tender. It comes with white rice and a very good Chicken Kelaguen - somebody in the kitchen knows what they are doing with Kelaguen - it was blended perfectly with the right amount of lemon and peppers! The special also includes a tossed salad that is enhanced by Cafe Havana's spicy dressing. Other weekday specials (all $8.95) are Tinaktak (Monday); Pork Adobo (Tuesday), Kadon Pika (Wednesday); the aforementioned Sparerib Estafoa on Thursday and BBQ Plate on Friday.
My surprise of the meal was the Cuban Grilled Burger ($9.75) I ordered on the recommendation of Greg since I needed more than one dish to use for this review. This burger is awesome! It is "the perfect mixture of ground beef and chorizos seasoned to perfection," according to the menu. What is doesn't say is that the burger patty is topped sofrito-style by a blend of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and chorizo that are sauted to perfection - really kicking up the burger a few notches. Plus, this burger is served on toasted Pan Cubano Bread that is delicious all on its own and drizzled with mustard. The plate comes with lettuce, pickles, and French Fries. This really is a burger that stands out and one that has made my list of must-have burgers!
For vegans, Cafe Havana has a Creole Portobello Sandwich. You can also get a really fabulous Mojito for $4.50 if you are in the mood for celebrating. Cafe Havana's a great little hideaway with plenty of seating and large tv screens if you want to watch sports or news. Check it out!
PROA Restaurant Lunch
Across from GVB and Ipao Beach Park
This restaurant doesn't need much introduction. The culinary team here is constantly experimenting and pushing the envelope further. It's creative dining at its best. Zee and I had lunch with Carmen here and they both ordered the Tempura Soft Shell Crab with bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato and firecracker mayonnaise ($13.95). They both enjoyed their sandwiches, with the only comment being that the bottom was a bit soft from the heat of the crab. The top had the panini grill marks and it was crisp toasted.
I had one of the specials for the day, which was the Panko Breaded Ahi Sandwich ($16.95) with Pesto Flat Bread, tomato sauce, and parmesan cheese. It also had a cup of Cream of Mushroom Soup. My only complaint was that the sandwich was too big! I like the ahi...it was cooked perfectly though the bread was perhaps a bit too thick for my appetite.
Blue Lagoon Plaza
I didn't realize it, but Kai is open every night, 7 days a week! It's gotta be in the top 5 favorite Japanese restaurants for locals and local Japanese. Owned by multi-talented Chef Hideto Yanase and his lovely wife, Sue, Kai offers daily specials and daily local catch specials in addition to its regular a la carte menu selections.
I had a little of both at my recent visit. Since I was alone, I was limited in my eating!!! I ordered something I really have grown to appreciate, the Nira Tama ($6), which is the Chinese Chive Omelet. There's something in the blending of the omelet egg mix that I enjoy, especially with the strong flavor of the cooked chives.
I then had the Kai Roll ($8), which is made with tuna, shrimp, unagi, tobiko, avocado, cucumber, carrot, with a sweet sauce and spicy mayonnaise. Now these are big sushi rolls and while they are great eating they are best shared!
Then I sat myself to the task of eating the Local Catch Special - Tuna Salt & Pepper ($8). This was a delectable serving of slightly battered tuna chunks with lots of grilled yellow onions. These were sweet and the salt & pepper combo reminded me of the various Chinese "Salt & Pepper" dishes I love. Kai's dish had a purity with no MSG!
My next dish was the Sake Shio Yaki (grilled salmon, $9). I don't know how they manage to get that great grilling on the top so that the skin just burned to a crisp while leaving the middle of the filet just moist and gushing with flavor! (Also, Kai has introduced a new salad dressing, that has citrus notes. I like it - it's quite different.)
My final dish was another appetizer off the day's special menu board, Grilled Chicken Wings, ($6). They were yummy. marinated, then seasoned with salt and pepper and tender, juicy and hot on the inside. Squeezing calamansi on the top enhanced the taste even more!
After eating, I decided to do a Vinturi demonstration with some Yellowtail Cabernet. There were about seven guests in the restaurant, so I recruited all of them to sample the wine. Everyone was impressed! We even demonstrated the White Wine Vinturi. It was a classic product sales demo, with everyone wanting to buy one after I'd finished.
I found out also that Chef Yanase plays the ukulele and the guitar. He didn't know that I did a little string plucking too.We ended up having an "unplugged session" of great music and fun, playing Elvis, the Beatles, Stones, and a few other rock classic selections. It was a memorable performance! Look for more in the future. In the meantime, come to Kai and find out for yourself what a magnificent Japanese dining experience Kai is.
Ita dake masu!
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