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August 14 , 2009, Volume 9 Number 17

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It's mid-August and the school bells are ringing, which officially signals the end of our summer vacation! Time marches on inexorably. I was recently urged to write about some of the restaurants of our past and was able to find a good listing in our August 17, 2007 GuamDiner Newsletter. I'm excerpting the following segment for today's newsletter's opening commentary:

"Just for some fun, let's take a short trip down memory lane, and see if you can recall any of the following restaurants that used to grace our island: Jim's Island House, Surgose's Italian Kitchen, Istimewa, Kimchi Cabana, Latte Restaurant, M's Steak House, Crow's Nest, Captain's Table, Azuma Restaurant, China House, Malesso Inn, Yakitori House, The Panciteria, Salzburg Chalet, Joe & Flo's Mexican Restaurant, Rocco's Italian Restaurant, Tina Marie's, The Tapa Room, Galleon Grill, Kurumaya Restaurant, Ivory Gourmet Cuisine, J&K Hong Kong Restaurant, Latino's Italian Restaurant, Signature Lounge, American Cafe, Andok's Fast Food, Cool Spot, Mongolian BBQ, Pim's Place, I Natibu, Epicure, Furusato, Papa John's, Greek Freak, The Brig, Ocean Bay Chinese, Sobroso's, Shanghai, Melanzanne, Yakitori Grill, The Pill Box, College Cafe, Joyful Chinese, La Mesa's, Chianti, Planet Noodle & Cafe, Downtown Deli, Bolsa, Wing's, Josephine's Chamorro Kitchen, Wet Willie's, Isabel's Cafe Nouveau, Mini Cafe, Coral Palace, Shiranami, Lotus Garden, Mimi Ramen, Hale Kai Seafood, Korean BBQ, Le Creole, Claret, Pacific Grill, Y Kusina, Shakey's, and Amantes. Do you remember their locations?"

"This clearly shows you how more than 60 restaurants have come and gone (there are many more) over the years, with some leaving this past year. My career in food service on Guam has given me a unique perspective on and a direct involvement with most of these restaurants. Many are like long lost friends and old acquaintances."

What puts this two year-old listing in closer proximity is the addition of Andaman, Le Tasi Bistro, Firefly, Marty's, Pacific Trading Club, Sunflower Coffee Shop, The King & I Thai Cuisine, and Chuck's Steakhouse. Although we don't have rosaries or graveyards for restaurants, we do have memories and are doing our best to chronicle them in our archives. If you have any memories of your favorite restaurant experiences from the past, we'd like to share them in future newsletters. Send your thoughts and contributions to This will be our way of paying tribute to some of the great (and not-so-great) eateries of our past!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday August 18

Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-Noon. Guests will be announced on Travis Coffman's Afternoon Big Show this Friday afternoon during my in-studio visit after the 3:30pm news break.

Palau's DIVErsity Fiesta
September 16 - 30

Fish 'n Fins Palau is hosting Diversity Fiesta 2009, celebrating the uniqueness and diversity of Palau's diving. The Diversity Fiesta offers a full week's menu of daily diving experiences, and you can join at any day and complete your full week program. The Diversity Fiesta Schedule is outlined below:

Day 1 Dancing Sharks - Dive Palau's Blue Corners and Sheer Walls
Day 2 Forlorn WWII Wrecks - Explore more than 30 Japanese WWII wrecks
Day 3 Mysterious Caves - Temple of Doom and Chandelier Cave
Day 4 Colorful Coral Gardens - Macro Heaven and Jelly Fish Lake
Day 5 Majestic Blue Holes - Our Famous Blue Holes

Evening events will include three nights offering the opportunity to taste wines and foods from around the Pacific Rim. Fish 'n Fins is joined by Palau Pacific Resort, Landmark Marina, and Bar-ra-cuda Restaurant, along with Shimbros in this special wine and dine extravaganza designed to tantalize your palate. For information, contact A colorful PDF flyer detailing the Diversity Fiesta is available.

Sugar + Spice Sunday Breakfast
Star Bldg
Upper Tumon

Sugar + Spice is one of a handful of places on Guam( outside the hotels) where you can get decent Eggs Benedict and real waffles on a Sunday morning. Actually, it is probably the only place to get both and I mean waffles with real whipped cream! Sugar + Spice is a self-described "Pacific Style Bistro" where diners can enjoy a leisurely respite from the rigors of the week and jump start your Sunday day of rest.

I ordered the Classic Eggs Benedict ($12), which is their take on the classic, served with two poached eggs, Chamoru sausage, and English muffin topped with hollandaise. It comes with Bistro Hash, diced fried potatoes with parsley and seasoning. I really like what the Chamoru sausage brings to the blend - a spicy flavor you can't get with Canadian Bacon. The fruit garnish of banana, black and green grapes and fresh orange slices are nice edible add-ons and not just decoration. If you want to add more hollandaise sauce, just ask your server.

I also wanted to try one of their signature waffles, preferring it "My Way", which allows me to have two add-ins and choice of either maple or coconut syrup. I opted for the bananas and whipped cream. The waffle, dusted with confectioner's sugar, tasted great, and the freshly-made whipped cream topped it off with splendor. I would have liked my waffle a bit warmer (it cooled while Zee's was cooking). She had a plain waffle resisting the temptation to indulge in toppings like Nutella, chocolate chips, peanut butter, banana syrup, and macadamia nuts.

Zee also had a My Way Omelet ($11), which is a three-egg omelet stuffed with your choice of one meat and one vegetable item. I think she only wanted cheese and had the Chamorro sausage served on a separate plate. We both had Americano's ($2.50 ea.) which were refilled once into the huge mugs they use!

All in all, a positive experience and certainly merits a return to try other menu items like the Classic Shrimp or Spinach Eggs Benedict ($13) or the Breakfast Panini ($8).

Nana's Cafe Lunch
Guam Plaza Hotel

It was great to get back to Nana's Cafe for lunch. It is really one of those places where time seems to stand still, or at the very least takes a pause so you can soak in gorgeous Tumon Bay beach view just outside the broad expanse of windows. This was a nice treat for me to get away at noon and "go to the beach" while dining indoors in air-conditioned comfort. I was also delighted by the background music which happened to include the Beatles, Sting, and the Doobies.

Nana's has their weekly lunch specials posted on the GuamDiner lunch menu board and prior to stopping by, I perused it and decided on the Executive Chef Kishimoto's Hamburger Steak Italiano w/Garlic Bread ($12.95) which includes salad bar, rice & iced tea. The salad bar is filled with a generous sampling of fresh ingredients (the macaroni salad with pineapple is quite tasty) and I was happy to have the choice of red onion slices which I prefer in my salads. I opted for the Cream of Potato soup and put some croutons in for good measure.

The Hamburger Steak was a tender all-beef topped with tempura battered onion rings, sliced boiled egg, slivers of basil, and a sweet marinara sauce, all on a bed of steamed white rice. The garlic toast was actually my preferred starch. I have to say that my basis for trying this dish was my love of Kishimoto's signature "Nana's Hamburger Steak" ($13), something I've promised to treat myself to again in the very near future.

The other dish I wanted to try out was on their regular a la carte menu. It was the Fried Seafood Combination ($13). This includes salad bar and rice. I wasn't sure what type of seafood would be included, however, when it came out, I was pleased that it wasn't a little bit of everything, rather, it had some really good mahi mahi in a panko coating and long shrimp, completely shelled save for the tail. Chef Kishimito has made a fresh tartar sauce for dipping the seafood. It was wonderful. This dish had a Caesar salad on the plate, a delicious cold angel hair pasta flavored with curry powder, and the ubiquitous plate of steamed white rice - I think rice eaters will love this place! (Did I mention this entree also includes a trip to the salad bar?) Lunch is served Monday through Saturday from 11am-2pm.


Merloj Seafood & Grill Soft Opens
International Lunch Buffet - $9.95
Upper Tumon, located across from St. John's Cliffside Parking Lot

You've heard the saying, "nothing ventured, nothing gained" right? Well, that holds true and must be the credo of Mert Uy, who with his partners has done it again with a new venture - a second Merloj location, this time in Upper Tumon just past the Star Building prior to turning to Corridos and Shioti. This is a much larger facility than their fine dining steakhouse in the Ramada Suites hotel on Ipao Road, and is will allow them to service private functions of 50 to 80 guests, something they couldn't do easily before.

Merloj Seafood and Grill is soft opening mode and offering guests an all-you-can-eat international buffet for the amazing price of $9.95 which includes Iced Tea. Merloj Seafood and Grill is presently open only for lunch and still awaiting a liquor license so they can offer beer and wine during happy hour at their bar and later for dinner. For the time being, however, the lunch is a good enough reason to come to get your money's worth!

The buffet has local eggplant, Chicken Kelaguen, marinated mussels, and several cold salad creations, including seafood and mixed Mediterranean with tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, and feta. It also has regular salad ingredients and a choice of three dressings. The hot line includes both steamed white rice and brown rice, which is a fantastic discovery for the health conscious. They also feature a hot soup, with today's being Egg Drop, which was a bit too salty for my taste and it was easily corrected when I brought it to their attention.

Although they may vary the selection of hot ingredients, they'll always feature a beef, pork or chicken, and seafood dish. Today's beef was sirloin sliced and covered in a peppercorn sauce. The grilled pork had a tangy barbecue sauce on it, which brought me back for seconds. The fish was a basa fillet breaded and sauteed in a lemon butter sauce with capers. Quite good! One of the secrets to this buffet lies in the fact that Chef Larry Domondon(formerly of SandCastle and PIC) is back from Hawaii.

For dessert, I helped myself to some watermelon and cubed honeydew melon. Did I say "cubed"? Yessiree I did, and for a good reason. They have a Chocolate Fountain, a cute little one, but chocolate fountain nonetheless, and you can dip marshmallows, cantaloupe, orange, and watermelon in the molten chocolate, taking as much as you can eat. There were also some pastries and cheesecake on the dessert display.

Merloj Seafood and Grill is still being decorated during this soft opening phase. The special relationship they formed with Ariel Dimilanta at the original Merloj where they display an assortment from his eclectic collection of sundry period antique items including classic cameras, typewriters, posters, luggage, etc. is continued here though with a different theme. For this restaurant, Ariel has brought in his treated driftwood to serve as legs for table bases, bamboo sculpture and other decorative art and furniture pieces, which were still being assembled as we speak. When finished, this will be an awesome little hang out for happy hour during the rush hour traffic. There's also an ocean view, which brings more value to the mix. Congrats to Mert and his team on this new venture. We wish them every success!

Bon appetit!

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