July 17, 2009, Volume 9 Number 15
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
There's a lot of ground to cover in this week's newsletter so I'll keep this intro brief to allow more room for food photos, some of which are just magnificent! We want to welcome back Guangzhou Restaurant in Tamuning, located in Dhonson Plaza, which was severely vandalized forcing them to close for nearly 3 months! This place serves exceptional Chinese!
Happy Liberation Day, Guam!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday July 18, 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 include Ruthe Paeste of Cafe Havana and Sanjay "Jay" Dewan, owner of Port of Mocha Cafe at the Acanta Mall.
Our second hour guests will include Hideto "Pancho" Yanase, Chef/Owner of Kai Restaurant, located in Tumon's Blue Lagoon Plaza, who will be joined by his lovely wife and restaurant manager, Sue.
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.
Ebisu Lobster Night
Sushi Ebisu Japanese Restaurant
Before I go any further, this is not a regular menu item so don't be surprised if you can't find fresh lobster at Ebisu. We were there one night and Chef Fumi-san was holding lobsters, which was a first for me here, so I asked him about them. He said he was making lobster sashimi and sushi. Somehow, he got the impression that this is what I wanted so he grabbed one of the biggest ones. A plus was that these had been brought to him earlier in the day by a fisherman friend and they were caught in nets, rather than speared so the lobsters were in pristine condition.
I don't know what Fumi would charge normally, but he gave me a special price of $45 (an incredible bargain)! The platter of the lobster sashimi and sushi was magnificent! There was a bowl with rock salt and lemon wedges to squeeze over the sashimi that was then dipped in the salt before eating. The texture and flavor of the lobster was extraordinary - just perfect. The lobster sushi was also a delicious treat. Fumi then took the head of the lobster and cooked it in miso broth, which he brought out after we finished the fresh lobster. It was fantastic, both in presentation and in taste, with a fresh, mildly seasoned broth that was reminiscent of lobster bisque, sans creme. As I said, this was not an ordinary dinner here...the lobster was a rare treat!
The Mermaid Tavern and Grille
There's no place better for fresh-brewed beer and great grub (especially Greek food) than the Mermaid Tavern and Grille in Central Hagatna, just down the block from the Post Office and across from BankPacific. I attended a lunch meeting with committee members from our Girl Scout Auction & Wine-Tasting fund-raiser and was glad we decided to do this luncheon at the Tavern because I'd been craving their Greek Salad.
Before I received my salad, we shared one of the Tavern's Gourmet Pizzas, a Shrimp, Pine Nut and Goat Cheese ($14.95). This is their most popular pizza (with good reason) and features pesto sauce in lieu of marinara. There are sun-dried tomatoes in addition to the shrimp, pine nuts, and goat cheese, all topped with mozzarella.
The Greek Salad ($13.50) is one of my favorites and has fresh greens with feta cheese, cucumber, red onion, and tomato drizzled with their creamy house dressing. It has four pita bread wedges perched on the rim of the large white bowl. I requested a combination of both chicken and lamb. This salad was eaten!
One of our members had another of my regular items, the Lamb Gyro ($9.75). This is full of seasoned lamb, tomatoes, red onions and tatziki sauce, and is served with a salad.
I've got to get back to the Tavern and Grille to do some of their locally-made beers as well as explore some of the items on their dinner menu.
Haagen-Dazs Cafe - Fondue Extravaganza!
Fiesta Resort Guam
Talk about indulging one's senses! If you really want to impress someone's sweet tooth, there's no better place than at the Haagen-Dazs Cafe in the Fiesta Resort, where you can order a personal ice cream fondue at your table. Imagine, a molten bowl of deep rich milk chocolate that's awaiting one of 16 assorted mini-scoops of Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream for dipping in this gloriously decadent chocolate. This special dessert treat comes with cut fruit pieces of bananas, strawberries, kiwi, and apples. There is also pound cake (or cookies) as well as marshmallows. This is more than enough for two people and could easily be shared by three, but that's not really romantic, is it? The regular price for this elaborately presented indulgence is $28, however, there is a special promo going on now for $24.
Another promo that the Haagen-Dazs Cafe is offering is the $5 Weekly Specials. On the Monday we were there, the special is Mochi Monday, which has a scoop of ice cream served with mochi and azuki beans. The mochi is fresh made at the Fiesta. On Tuesday, you get TWO scoops of ice cream ; Wednesday is Waffle Cone Wednesday(ice cream with a specialty waffle cone); Thursday is Thirsty Thursday, where you can get any flavor of shake; and Friday is Affogato Friday, where you get a scoop of vanilla ice cream drenched in a steaming illy espresso shot! Sounds like something tantalizing is happening everyday at Haagen-Dazs, your home for ultra-premium ice cream!
Shioti Eurasian Restaurant
Tumon Golf Driving Range
I was happy to introduce Shioti to my visiting friend from Hawaii, Rick Davidson, whom I'd known for several decades during my years of selling Hobart food service equipment. Rick, who travels extensively throughout the Asia Pacific region, was quite impressed with Shioti's menu, which he said contained a number of appealing entrees he wanted to explore. We had come originally for just a sandwich, however, we ended up with two different entrees. I had something new that I'd actually wanted to try earlier, which was Shioti's Famous Pork Chops with Sauteed Onions ($12). This come with a salad and choice of starch - I had the steamed rice. The salad was fresh, crisp, and well-dressed with an Italian vinaigrette. The chops were thin cut and very well seasoned. The bok choy and tofu were nice touches, as were the grilled red onion slices that lay atop the chops.
Rick took owner Noriko's recommendation for Shioti's Cajun Salmon ($17), which has baked Norwegian Salmon seasoned with Cajun spices and served with a spicy ginger aioli that's drizzled on top. He had mashed potatoes and was very satisfied with his selection. Shioti continues to become more and more of an attraction to me - the food, the wine, and the ambiance are really compelling!
Giovanni's - Cibo e Vino
Hyatt Regency Saipan
There are times when I count my blessings and whenever I am in Saipan and have the opportunity to dine at Giovanni's, I count my blessings!
Giovanni's is currently running a special Cibo e Vino promotion, which is food and wine, as in pairing. The dinner offers an awesome selection of fresh pastas (you choose two of four offerings) and starts out with a Antipasti del giorno (appetizer of the day) which happened to be a superb plate of marinated shrimp, scallops, and organic greens bathed in a lemon dill dressing. You can opt for soup in lieu of the antipasti. The dinner runs $40 per person, and the wine buffet featuring Yellowtail (Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon) and Danzante (Pinot Grigio and Chianti) wines runs $18 for all-you-can-drink from these nice selections. I also had my Vinturi with me so we made sure that our wines were aerated and what a difference for these newly-opened bottles!
The pastas at Giovanni's are the best, and I couldn't decide on just two, so I had three.
The house made spinach fine noodles had shrimp, basil pesto, and pine nuts, and was one of my favorites. The fettuccine with gorgonzola cream, forest mushrooms, and fine herbs was a close second. Last, but not least, was the potato gnocchi with beef ragout, celery, carrot, red wine jus, all topped with shaved grana padono cheese. This was another exceptional dish - both in looks and taste.
Of course you must save room for dessert. They offer a glorious Coconut Parfait with wild berry compote and a crisp almond tuille cookie. Coffee or tea are also included at the end of the dinner. What better way to end the day than with an espresso or cappuccino!
Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro
Near Big Hook and Nissan Auto City
If you are looking for some place special to take an off-island visitor for dinner, I don't think you would go wrong in taking them to Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro since it showcases our island's cuisine with exciting and imaginative versions of traditional Chamoru favorites. Since our visiting friend Rick had just come from Korea, he didn't want any Asian food and didn't want typical American fare ala Outback, Chili's, Friday's etc, so I suggested Meskla. He wasn't disappointed! He was genuinely excited by and pleased with the entire dining experience. We sat in the lounge area which afforded more privacy and a ocean view through the window. Our server, Tina, asked if we wanted to Vinturi our wine and since I had my own, we did.
We started out with the Chamoru Chesa Platter ($16.95), which had Shrimp Kelaguen, Tinala Katne, and Hinetnon Tapon. The kelaguen on the corn titiyas was fabulous, as was the tinala katne with the donne dinanche. We all enjoyed the hinetnon tapon, which is a dreamy blend of chopped surf clams, hearts of palm, banana flowers, spinach and cream cheese, which also comes with Chamoru garlic flat bread.
We also had Tina bring us the Finadene Variety Tray so that Rick could taste each one. This sampler tray offers an explosion of flavors, starting with the soy finadene. The others are the Tuba Finadene (fermented coconut juice), Anchovy Finadene, Lemon Finadene, and Finadene Dinanche. Rick really took a liking to these since they reminded him of the condiments served in Vietnam and Thailand, where dipping sauces are part of the dining ritual.
I steered Rick (with a little help from Tina) in the direction of ordering the fresh Laggua (parrot fish $21.95) which he ordered Katdiyu-style which means it is deep-fried, then doused with coconut milk, eggplant, onions, and green beans. The anchovy, tuba, and lemon finadene went great with this fish. He was completely satisfied with his selection.
I had the Grilled Ribeye Steak ($23.95), which has a 12 oz USDA Choice Ribeye grilled to order and served with a red wine pugua (betelnut) reduction. I had the mushroom sticky rice as my starch. This meat was really well flavored, tender, succulent, and cooked to my temperature preference. The reduction seemed sweet and fruity, with notes of cherry.
Zee had the Vegetable and Tofu Curry ($16.95), which had fresh vegetables and tofu cooked in a local-style curry sauce. She was also pleased with her vegetarian option.
Meskla was quite busy on the night we visited and there were a lot of new faces there along with off-island visitors who were there like Rick, waiting to be impressed!
Hooray - GuangZhou Restaurant has reopened! This is really great news since Guangzhou was shut down after being vandalized for nearly three months (if not longer). Guangzhou has dimsum on their daily specials board and there were nine of the board this day. Since they just re-opened last Friday, hardly anyone knows that they are back in business and cooking so we're trying to get the word out.
We ordered Steamed Pork Dumplings (Shumai $4) and Grilled Pot Stickers ($4), along with Honey Walnut Shrimp ($10), Chinese Broccoli ($8), and Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Beef - $8. For the price, this food is more than reasonable!
The Honey Walnut came first and it was like before, not sweet, not overly mayonnaised, but meaty, and cooked to enhance the shrimp's natural flavor with the roasted glazed walnuts and peach slices.
The next surprise was the Chinese Broccoli, which was close to perfect. Greaseless, crunchy with life still coursing through the stalks and broccoli flower buds, and interlaced with garlic and ginger, Guangzhou's chef has the right sense of taste and texture.
The Shumai came next, and these were also a steaming surprise. Beware they are hot so be careful popping it in your mouth. The surprise inside the pork dumpling was a little piece of shrimp - it was blended in with the pork and really enhanced this dish for me especially since I had been craving Har gau (shrimp dumplings), which they didn't have tonight.
The potstickers were the only thing that could have been a bit tastier, however, they were crisp and not soggy.
The last dish was the Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Beef. This was yet another dish prepared with a high degree of skill by the chef in the kitchen. Everything was in balance, the green onions, the noodles, bean sprouts and beef. There was so much of this we had to take it home.
Guangzhou is open for lunch and dinner. I certainly hope the word gets out about this place. Based on our tasting experience, Guangzhou has some of the best Chinese on island.
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