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September 11, 2009, Volume 9 Number 19


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

I continue to be amazed by the sheer power and seemingly infinite dimensions of the Internet! Can you remember your first e-mail or even your method of communication prior to email? We thought faxes were a big deal (they certainly were a far sight better and easier to read and receive than telexes!). I bring this up because I've just reconnected with a former Guam resident, Gordon Macaraeg, who now resides in San Diego with his family. "Gordy" used to have a cute little restaurant called Belladonna, which closed in 1994. It was located in Pacifica Plaza, where Sakura's Kitchen is today, across Marine Corps Drive from GTA. I was able to get in touch with Gordy via Facebook after doing a Google search. (Just think that Facebook was non-existent and Google was just a start-up 10 years ago!) I began sharing old restaurant news with Gordy and, in keeping with our recent forays into the past, he sent me this message that should really test the memories of some of our long-time residents:

"Ken, do you remember these restaurants? Hong Kong Garden, Panciteria, House of Chin Fee, Iglesius House in Yigo (original Yakitori), Doc Frazier's pharmacy and also Doc Frazier's Pala Pala, The Office, House of Wong, Piggy Bank Cafe, American Cafe. These were some neat little places, had good food but better known for places to congregate and catch up on island news and gossip."

"Here's a little known tidbit of Guam restaurant history. When my parents first came to Guam in 1959, to help supplement my father's fledgling medical practice, my mom opened up one of Guam's first pizzerias in the Guam Academy of Arts building in Agana. The kids from the Cathedral grade school would come by in droves for pizza. The nuns were so upset because the kids were spending their lunch money at her place, so the nuns forbade the kids from crossing the street. Not even Dorothy knew that."

There you have it! Another GuamDiner exclusive! If you have any recollections of past local restaurants you'd like to share, please send us an email recounting your experiences.

And, in an important remembrance to those who died in the horrific terrorist attacks 8 years ago, we take a moment to offer a prayer for them and for their loved ones who lost someone dear on September 11, 2001.

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

Breaking News - Stanlee's Closes!

Yet another landmark Tumon establishment has closed its doors. Stanlee's Deli and Walkabout Pub was the latest concept created by that spirited pioneering Australian entrepreneur, Stanley Miller, whose business over a 12-year span operated as a deli, restaurant, and pizzeria, as well as a stand-alone liquor store selling wine, imported beers, and Australian groceries and specialty gourmet food items.

We are saddened to report that our good friend Stanley was in declining health, and had to leave his adopted island for Australia this past Wednesday, September 9. I have countless fond memories of this feisty, irascible gentleman from down under who loved to make people happy with his sangers (that's Aussie for sandwich) which he made with homemade breads like my favorite mulit-grain and the unique flavor of beet root and pickled onions. The Australian Meat Pies, Shepherd's Pie, and his signature Stanlee's Burger pleased many a customer over the years.

I had my first Bunderberg Ginger Beer at Stanlee's as well as my first encounter with Berocca, that glorious cure-all for hangovers!

We are all praying for his well-being and that he find peace in spending his remaining days with family in his homeland. I'm sure there are many of us who would like to wish him well. We'll see if we can provide some way of getting messages sent to him.

This is the most recent photo I have with my mate Stanley taken on August 14. God Bless you, Edward Stanley Miller! Thank you for making Guam a better and tastier place for thousands and thousands of people!

CoCo Restaurant
$10 Lunch Special
Garapan, Saipan
670-233-2626

On my last trip to Saipan I was able to appease my curiosity about a restaurant I'd seen covered in all of the Saipan travel guides and magazines. It is CoCo Restaurant, famous for their steak and seafood. One of their distinguishing features is that they grill their steaks over charcoal in a built-in stone broiler, sort of a fireplace on steroids!

It's also remarkable that they offer a very reasonably priced lunch special, where for $10 you can choose one of six specials. They offer a Steak Lunch, Saikoro Steak, Chicken Grilled with Mushroom Sauce, Hamburger Steak Lunch, Today's Fish Lunch, and the Variety Set (Saikoro Steak, Hamburger, Egg). All of these include the salad bar, soup, bread or rice.

Looking for a little diversity, I had the Variety Set. One of the great things about Saipan is that they've got some really fresh produce. Their tomatoes were bright red, juicy and sweet! I could have had salad all day.

When my platter arrived, I noted that each item seemed to have its place. Both the hamburger and Saikoro steak were drizzled with a savory mushroom gravy. The Saikoro steak is a chopped, marinated steak. Both meats were tasty and promised that you'd enjoy the larger portion if you ordered it alone. The egg is served sunny side up. There was corn, broccoli and a carrot slice (they want to make sure you get your vegetables!). Actually, I think the rice portion is one of the best I've seen being "right-sized". We asked our server for garlic bread which we were able to get in addition to the rice.

The Steak Lunch is served on a sizzling platter and offers a rather large portion of grilled steak. It also has a baked potato with corn, broccoli and carrot.

CoCo Restaurant has a bar and plenty of seating, and is probably a place to visit for dinner when you can open a bottle of wine and enjoy a steak and lobster dinner for $48. That's the price prominently advertised on the menu board at the outside entrance of the restaurant. I like a restaurant that puts its prices outside before you enter so at least you know what you're going to be paying.

Coco's is open daily from 11am-2pm for lunch and from 5:30-10pm for dinner.

Palms Resort Saipan
Hot & Spicy Wednesday Nights
Saipan
670-322-3311

Wonders never cease to amaze me! That's the impression I had when I discovered the Hot & Spicy dinner buffet last Wednesday night at the Palms Resort Saipan's Pau Pau Bar's "kitchen stadium". This is a description I'd read describing this layout and seeing it really explained why. There were cooking and food prep stations throughout the whole terrace outside the Pau Pau Bar, which also was the location for the majority of diners. The view, even though it was night when I'd arrived, is still breathtaking. I could only imagine the sunsets. I had first been told that it was a Mexican night that also included Indian and Mediterranean cuisines which is why it is called "hot & spicy", because you get to try out all three of these cuisines noted for such tastes.

When I arrived I saw my friend Executive Sous Chef Habib Akbar, who was busy carving beef in the upright broiler. He prepared some plates for me to sample - there was so much food! There were Mexican treats like burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, refried beans, salsas, guacamole, and tostadas. Amongst the numerous samples he brought me, was shawarma made from carved beef. Shawarmas are nick-named "Arabian tacos", and usually made with lamb. He mixed the meat with hot & spicy sauces and vegetables and placed them inside of pita pockets. He also gave me some of his fresh-baked naan bread cooked in a genuine tandoori oven from Pakistan. On this plate there was also tandoori chicken, skewered marinated pork, and raita.

A second plate had an enchilada, burrito, salsa, and beans,and another plate had samosas.

Had I more time I would have explored more of the food offerings in their elaborate and extensive buffet display. Suffice it to say that it was absolutely unique and fun, and for $25, you can't go wrong!

The staff are dressed up in Mexican garb and the tables and displays are decorated with Mexican posters and banners. It really puts one in the mood for a cold cerveza or a margarita! Kudos to Executive Chef David Jones, Chef Habib, and hotel G.M. Mustafa Issa, along with the resort's staff, for doing an awesome job in creating a new destination dining experience for the residents and guests of Saipan.

Fruits 'n Fashion
Chamorro Village Unit 101 &102 (near Lighthouse)
Hagatna
488-2094

Speaking of ingenuity!! If you've not yet been down to Fruits 'n Fashion in the Chamorro Village, you will really be impressed when you do go. Their advertised tagline says it all : "A healthy way to say "I Love You', 'Congratulations', or 'Just Because' - A gift that will surely bring a SMILE to everyone!"

Fruits 'n Fashion creates fresh fruit bouquets and gift boxes that can be ordered for just about any occasion. These high quality artistically-designed bouquets are a novel and unique gift alternative to traditional floral arrangements. These are fresh and edible, and also have nutritional value, since they are made with strawberries, watermelon, bananas, cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes, honeydew melons, oranges, and apples.

Read these comments from some satisfied customers:

"This has been the BEST BUY I have ever done! There was so much fruit I had to share it with 20 small preschoolers, whose eyes popped out of their heads when they saw it!"

"What a wonderful, original, amazing idea. My mum thinks it was the greatest present she has ever had and ever seen!"

"These are pretty awesome! I don't know if I'll ever buy flowers again. Such a great idea; and the nurses that we gave them too were VERY impressed. Thank you very much, they were AWESOME!"

Zee came across this little shop recently and brought back one of their order books. She also placed an order for Dipped Bananas in a Box ($25). These fresh banana slices are hand dipped in a combination of white and dark chocolate topped with sliced almonds and grated coconut. They are absolutely delicious and worth the investment. When we stopped by to pick them up (they do have delivery service available, too), we were given a chocolate dipped strawberry to sample which was truly awesome! Fruits n' Fashion is operated by Anna Orbe and her step-father, Allan Guzman. You can email Anna for more information at fruitsinfashion@gmail.com

Kai Restaurant
Blue Lagoon Plaza
Tumon
646-0222

This past Saturday night we organized a rendezvous of sorts at Kai Restaurant for the cabal that attended the closing night of Andaman Thai Cuisine. This group included Derek & Sharon Maurer, Michael Uva, Toshie Ito, Zee & myself.

My mission was to introduce them to a fun dining experience with exceptional food. By the end of the night, the mission was accomplished! As I've said before, Kai Restaurant offers the best all around food, ambiance, and entertainment that you'll get at any Japanese restaurant, so if you want laughter and singing, you can get it here - it just depends on how late you stay or what song you'll want to sing or instrument you choose to play.

Among our menu selections, we had two orders of the Sashimi Plate ($25), which had yellowtail, maguro, salmon, octopus, squid, mackerel, and uni (sea urchin roe) - which drove everyone crazy it was so good!

The Shrimp Salad ($8) was another smart choice, as there was plenty to share with two plates and hungry eaters who appreciated the cool, sweet shrimp with that special Kai salad dressing lining up the top.

We were lucky to get the last two orders of Kai's fabulous Teriyaki Ribs ($8), which seem to always change in shape and quantity. The taste is still the same though and everyone chowed down on these succulent, tender, flavorful ribs.

We also had an order of the Grilled Eggplant ($6) that went fast, two orders of Asparagus Bacon ($7), two orders of the Chicken Wings ($6 ea) that also flew away, and two Kai Rolls ($8), that were enjoyed with relish.

Derek had seen the Grilled Salmon ($9) on one of my previous write-ups on Kai so we ordered one of those, too. Our last order was a Tuna Salt & Pepper ($9), which I figured would tap out everyone's appetite and leave no room for dessert!

Kai Restaurant is gaining in reputation as one of the best places to go to get your Japanese inn (izakaya) fix. It's fun! Domo arigato, Pancho, Sue & Sean Yanase!

Ita dake masu!

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