September 25, 2009, Volume 9 Number 20
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
The month of September has nearly past and we're still trying to catch our breath...such has been the speed of things as we try to stay on top of so many happenings! This past Monday night I had the honor and privilege of making a presentation to the AOSC (Andersen Officers' Spouses' Club) about dining on Guam and some of my favorite restaurants. There may have been 50 to 60 members in attendance. The other guest speaker was Becky Chargualaf of Pop n Pour, and two other wine industry representatives, Sheila Peebles (Ambros) and Mariflor Herrero (L'Orea Industries), were there as well.
Although most of the ladies knew something about the Guam Food Guy and the Guam Diner website, they learned a whole lot more during my 25 minutes of non-stop food talk. I really opened their eyes up to the fact that the most current and updated restaurant news and reviews could be found in our GuamDiner Bytes newsletters (it surprised me to know that maybe only 10% had seen a newsletter and were only reading the posted reviews). I had selected some magnificent food photos from among such favorites as Sushi Ebisu, Kai Restaurant, Bistro, Izakaya Katsu (the Green Door), Shioti Eurasian, PROA, Urijip Korean, Manhattan Steakhouse, and Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro. I really appreciated their keen and avid interest in exploring Guam's restaurants and they said they would contact me to get recommendations on places for them to make small group luncheons.
Their interest in food was accented by their desire to learn more about wines and I was glad to see the use of the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator by Sheila aka "The Wine Lady" Peebles during her demonstrations. The Vinturis can be purchased at Pop N Pour, Tools of the Trade, Shioti Eurasian Restaurant, Tropical Living, and the Deli at the Hyatt. They are available in Saipan at Expressions and DJ's Corner at the Hyatt. It really thrills me to see how many people are enjoying their Vinturis ever since I acquired mine during my Napa visit in January and introduced them to Guam and Saipan in April. It's a small contribution towards improving the quality of life for us food and wine lovers!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
We are saddened by the news of the passing this week of our friend, Stanley Miller, founder and proprietor of Stanlee's Liquor Store and Deli in Tumon. There has been an outpouring of sympathy since we announced the closing of Stanlee's and his leaving for his homeland, Australia, in our last newsletter.
We don't yet know of any arrangements for any memorial services on Guam for Stanley, however we do know that his funeral in Melbourne will be on Wednesday, September 30. It will be at Springvale Crematorium, Princess Highway, Springvale 3171, Victoria, Australia.
We will truly miss our dear friend Stanley, who touched us with his lively personality and good spirits - most of which we imbibed! Here's toasting to you, Stanley! May we meet again in that great brew pub in the sky!
Burger King Opens in Tumon
This past Wednesday the island welcomed its newest restaurant addition when Burger King opened the doors to its new home in the Tumon Bay Center on San Vitores Road across from the Tumon Sands Plaza. We stopped by on Thursday night and were impressed by the spacious facility with its stylish new modern look and functional design. There is drive thru and plenty of parking.
We stood in line and were served by Kathy, who really knew how to handle my humorous antics. With her personality, she'll do very well in hospitality. We ordered some Whoppers and walked away satisfied by having them our way! For me, it was no mayo and no onions on a Double Whopper. I don't frequent Burger King but now that they're so close to our Tumon walking trail we may be stopping by a lot more.
Congratulations to the Baba Corporation and the management team at Burger King, who are celebrating their 20th year on Guam. Here's a bit of trivia you may not know. Do you know where the first Burger King was located? Look for the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.
Thapanee Thai Cuisine
Hafa Adai Exchange
If you've got a craving for Thai food, you'll get your taste buds sated at Thapanee Thai Cuisine in the Hafa Adai Exchange, located at the opposite end of the same building where Curry Kebab is. Of all the Thai restaurants on Guam, this one is the most atmospheric with tables and chairs of heavy wood and you really get a strong sense of authenticity (so long as you don't get caught up in CNN's broadcast on the big plasma TV).
A word of advice - if you can't handle too much heat or really spicy food, order the mild versions. This is one place where they do not down-play the heat. We were adventurous and tried the medium heat on our entrees. We ordered the Combination Stir Fry Noodles w/Ka Prau ($8.50). This has wide noodles cooked with egg, cabbage, onion, carrots, broccoli, celery, bell pepper and sweet soy sauce. If you love heat, then this dish may be just right for you since we were eating and laughing to keep from crying, though tears did well up a lot from the profusion of pepper seeds. We should have known we would be in for this "heat treat" when we got a whiff of the spicy aroma that perked our noses - you know how pepper in the air causes you to cough or sneeze? That was a preview. The taste of the ingredients - shrimp, lots of chicken, and plenty of vegetables and noodles - was superb and we had to take more than half of this home for leftovers.
Our second entree was the Combination Noodle Soup ($9), which comes in a large bowl filled with noodles, green onions, large shrimp, chicken, cilantro and Thai basil, all blended together in a very rich soup stock. This was a savory and intensely flavorful soup that seemed to radiate heat. These are large portions and half of this soup went home for leftovers, too. Next time, we're going to bring some friends so we can order a few more items from owner Kim Screeton's extensive menu to share.
2nd Floor Pacific Place (between Capricciosa & Outback)
Thank goodness Gyoza-Yatai offers all day dining! I was hungry and facing limited sit-down dining options when I remembered that Gyoza-Yatai was still open at 3pm.
I went in with a craving for their Yurinichi Chicken however I wasn't sure if I needed to eat a whole chicken. I was delighted to learn that they had just modified their menu and were now offering half-size portions of some of their most popular dishes. The smaller portions also allow diners to enjoy more selections from their menu. So, I told GM Frank Toves that I'd have the Yurinichi Chicken Half-Size ($9.99), which is still a lot of chicken. It takes about 15 minutes for this to cook so I spent a few minutes going over the menu looking for some other things to eat. That's when I saw the Chinese-American Egg Foo Young ($9.95), which is described as a crab omelet covered in a light crab sauce. Since I'm partial to Egg Foo Young, I wanted to try this one.
I also needed to get some rice so I ordered the Yatai Char-Siu Pork Rice ($8.99) to accompany my chicken. Then, I was informed that the gyoza menu selections now featured half-size orders, which was great since their gyoza are so big that having a dozen (like their previous menu) would make a meal of just this one appetizer. So, I ordered Traditional House Gyoza (5 pcs/$5.99).
The first item delivered was the Egg Foo Young. My eyes nearly popped out when I saw the enormous size of this dish. It looked like a mountain of eggs topped with green onions in a puddle of gravy. Thank goodness I eventually found out that the eggs were on top of a bed of shredded cabbage! I really liked the taste of this - it was fresh, did have hints of crab flavor with flecks of crab meat.
The next arrival was the Yatai Char-Siu Pork Fried Rice, which also seemed to be a super-sized dish. Actually, this was all rice with no filler and definitely destined for take-out.
When the Yurinichi Chicken was served, I was already half-way through my Egg Foo Young. The chicken was fabulous. I just added a little dribble of their sauce, which can be overwhelming if it's all poured over the chicken. I could only eat about a fourth of this and took the remainder home for dinner.
The Gyoza was the last to come out. Though they should have been first, I did order them after I'd put in the other items. They are made to order so these came out really hot and I let them cool down. I used the vinegar, soy and red chili paste to make a dipping sauce. So good! Two of these made it home, as well.
As you can see, there's still a lot of food left on the plate at Gyoza Yatai. Come check out their new half-size orders. I think it's a smart idea and should improve their business.
La Mirenda Debuts All-Day Dining Treats
Hyatt Regency Guam
There's a lot of culinary innovation targeting the international business traveler at the Hyatt Regency Guam's La Mirenda Restaurant. A recent All-Day Menu has been unveiled by Executive Chef Hermann Grossbichler and we were invited to take a test drive of some of the 26-odd items.
Among the dishes we ordered were the Garden Fresh Salad Medley ($13), Buckwheat Pancakes ($18), Classic Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwich ($13), Tortellini ($18), Shrimp Pad Thai ($17) and Southern Fried Chicken ($22). I was joined in this dining extravaganza by my colleague, Orleyene T. and Hyatt's newly-arrived Executive Sous Chef, Matthias Kraemer, who spent the last 11 years with the Hyatt Regency Auckland in New Zealand.
Though we ate our way through a procession of dishes, some stand-outs included the Buckwheat Pancakes, which are made with Tasmanian smoked salmon, salmon caviar and creme fraiche. These are a surprise since most look at buckwheat pancakes (or any pancakes) as a breakfast item. This is one of those appetizers designed for the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and now available to the residents of Guam!
The Classic Grilled Ham & Cheese sandwich was another notable dish, made with Spanish Manchego cheese, smoked ham, and rocket salad and cooked Panini-style. You'd have to taste this to understand why it's not just your ordinary ham & cheese sandwich!
The Tortellini was a tri-color pasta with a cheese filling. The Alfredo sauce was awesome and parmesan just added to the rich luster of this amazing dish. I'm glad we were sharing!
The Shrimp Pad Thai looked compelling and I was impressed with the range of ingredients. It didn't taste like the pad thai I'm familiar with eating so for me the jury's still out on this one.
The Southern Fried Chicken came with real mashed potatoes, country gravy, and a darned good coleslaw. The fried chicken pieces were excellent and I have no qualms endorsing this as a great American meal!
There are many other items you can get from this menu such as Grilled Prime Beef Tenderloin, Herb Grilled Chicken Panini, Warm Prime Beef Steak Sandwich, Japanese Chicken Curry, Crispy Vegetarian Spring Rolls (five per order), and Grilled Tasmanian Salmon.
Manhattan Steakhouse's Dine & Ride IV Dinner
Guam Marriott Resort
Prepare to indulge yourself with an unforgettable dining experience at the Manhattan Steakhouse. The food is outstanding, and the fact that it is all for a good cause and you could be the winner of a spanking new Harley Davidson Motorcycle makes it just that much better! Yes, Dine & Ride IV is well underway from now through November 9, with proceeds shared among Habitat for Humanity, Rainbows for All Children, and the Autism Community Together. We had the opportunity to try some of the menu items, all of which qualify you to enter in the drawing for the contest's key draw and were really delighted with some of the new menu additions as well as the traditional entrees.
A new cold appetizer is the Tataki Beef ($18), a seared rare and sliced CAB (certified Angus beef) Prime Sirloin Steak. This came with a wasabi aioli that really enhanced the beef. The menu lists a ponzu sauce, but this proved to be a successful substitution.
A new hot appetizer we tried was the Grilled Scallops ($16), served with salmon caviar and Chardonnay butter sauce. These were delicate, delicious and ideal for jump starting your palate.
Of course, I should remember to mention that the Manhattan is known for its selection of martinis as well as quality wines. The service at Manhattan is ultra-attentive and very courteous.
A real big hit for Zee was the New England Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl. This was and is a meal on its own and was, in her opinion, the best one she's had on island. The clam chowder is traditional - thick and hearty, and will get you safely through winter storms. (Though we think it's a good thing we don't have any of those.) You'll feel more secure after eating this!
My Caesar salad featured really fresh ingredients, and lots of parmesan. However, the dressing was a little weak and didn't have the "bite" I'm used to and prefer in a Caesar dressing.
For her main course, Zee had one of Manhattan's Signature Dishes, "One if by Land,Two if by Sea" ($38), a surf 'n turf offering of Grilled Filet Mignon with Bacon Wrapped Shrimp or, if you prefer, the other option is skewered Bacon Wrapped Scallops. The large prawns are sauteed in garlic, onions, and tomatoes, and they really explode with flavor. The filet is best prepared with a medium rare temperature and not the medium she ordered. It was still quite good.
If you've never eaten at Manhattan, you'll be impressed with the presentation of the entrees, which are served on large platters with polished steel steer head handles on each side. Also, Manhattan serves a four-item side selection of dishes which include Straw Onions, Sauteed Mushrooms, Vegetable Lasagna, and Mashed Potatoes.
My choice was a traditional one - the CAB Prime New York Steak, 12 oz. You can tell the quality of a steak from the first bite and mine brought waves of joy and ecstasy, as this steak is the top of the line in quality, grain, flavor, and taste. It was topped by a pad of garlic butter and a light pepper sauce. I ordered it medium rare which I really recommend to anyone ordering beef of this quality. One of these days I'm going to try the Porterhouse, which is nearly twice the size.
Be sure to save room for one of several desserts and specialty aperitifs that are available for your after-dinner enjoyment. Though the Baked Alaska, New York Style Cheesecake, and Chocolate, Chocolate Cake are superb, we focused on choosing between two new items, a Banana & Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding ($8) and A Sweet Taste of Micronesia ($(9) which is vanilla ice cream smothered with sweet red beans, young coconut and jackfruit, in a crisp (just baked) pastry shell topped with tropical fruits. We selected this and it was an amazing dessert, delicious and of a size that it must be shared. We accompanied this sweet delight with one of the new after-dinner drinks, a Spanish Side Car ($8), which has a blend of Kahlua, Tia Maria, Illy Coffee, and fresh whipped cream. What a glorious ending to a magnificent meal!
For white tablecloth fine dining in a relaxed and comfortable ambiance, it's hard to match the experience at the Manhattan Steakhouse.
Trivia Question: Do you know where the first Burger King on Guam was located?
Answer: It was next to Atkins Kroll, in the building that now houses Denny's.
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