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October 9, 2009, Volume 9 Number 21


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It was just a year ago when we wrote about the global economic crisis and all of the future uncertainties we all were facing. Well, the good news is that we've survived that dark and scary period, though we're by no means free from the challenge to remain viable. A recent announcement by Conde Nast that they were closing down some of their signature magazines (most notably the nearly 70 year-old Gourmet Magazine) underscores the point that no business or institution is impervious to the economic realities that have been changing the face and names of major business entities.

Do you remember the term "paradigm shift"? That's what we're experiencing. Things are changing as we speak, with old technologies giving way to new ones. People need to adapt to the new medias that are transforming how we communicate and share news and information. You don't have to have deep pockets or huge brick and mortar establishments to disseminate news...anyone with a Blackberry or iPhone can spread information instantly and make headlines globally if their message has compelling relevance. Take a look at the people around you and see who's "tweeting". If you aren't "tweeting" on Twitter, then you are on the other side of the paradigm shift [Eds. note: Or you're not completely self-absorbed!]. Something worth pondering, right?

We are seeing changes in our local restaurant scene, with new openings happening now through the next few weeks. Among them is Matsuri Japanese Restaurant in Tumon's Central Plaza Building, just above Chuan Fu Chinese, which opened this week. Wild Thai Cuisine, located in Tamuning's Monticello Plaza (near Cost-U-Less) will have its soft opening sometime near the end of next week. They are in the same place that housed Andaman Thai. Artista Caffe and Bistro will be opening next to the First Hawaiian Bank in Tamuning. Chopstix Japanese restaurant is relocating to Hagatna across from Pojo's and Cup & Saucer, and Cafe Dharma opened this week offering an extensive menu of healthy vegetarian and raw foods. They are located in Maite in the Synergy Studio, replacing Synergy Cafe. As you can see, we're going to have our work cut out for us trying to keep up with these new establishments. It's a tough job that somebody has to do!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

UPCOMING EVENTS

Fundraisers

12th Annual Pastries in Paradise "A Big Top Event"
Saturday October 10
Hyatt Regency Guam
6-10pm
Featured Competitions include the Bailey's Dessert Challenge, Torani Beverage Competition, Judge's Cup and People's Choice Awards
Tickets $30 per person (12 yrs and older) and $15 per person (6-11 yrs)
Tickets are available at GHRA Office in Harmon, and the Hyatt Gourmet Deli, and at the door

Guam Women's Club Sugar Plum Auction & Wine Tasting Fundraiser
Friday October 16
Hyatt Regency Guam
Tickets are $50 and available at Salon Paradis, Hyatt's Deli, and Pop n Pour
Contact Kathy Kernaghan at 477-0496 or 687-3072 for more information

Oktoberfest Celebrations

Oct 9-16
Hyatt Regency Guam
La Mirenda Restaurant
6-10pm
Traditional German Buffet

October 18
Jeff's Pirate's Cove - "Rocktoberfest"
3-9pm
Featuring 6 Bands and European Specialties

Oct 15,22, & 29
Sheraton Laguna Guam
La Cascata Restaurant
6-10pm
German Dinner Buffet and Spaten Beer

Bistro - Amazing Champagne Sunday Brunch
10:30am-2pm
Pacific Islands Club
Tumon
646-9171 Ext. 2989/3001

"Extraordinary!" "Extravagant! " "Overwhelming!" "Superb!" These are among some of the many superlatives used by customers to describe their experience at PIC's Champagne Sunday Brunch at the Bistro. We had the pleasure of dining there early last month and I have to concur with the glowing praise bestowed on them by others. There are so many food items at the various stations that it's not possible to try everything...you have to pick and choose your favorites. The seafood station has King crab legs, oysters in the half shell, shrimp cocktail, ahi tuna sashimi, smoked salmon and tuna poke.

The salad stations are replete with a variety of fresh greens, potato salad, kelaguen (chicken, shrimp & beef), Caesar salad, and grilled chicken penne salad. There is a gourmet cheese platter with assorted fresh baked breads and rolls. There is an Asian station with assorted sushi, Japanese pickles, dim sum, and soba. And, a ramen station replete with noodles, kamaboko fish cake, bamboo shoots, pork charsiu, seaweed, and bean sprouts can be combined for that perfect bowl of ramen! A Western breakfast can be had with omelets made to order, eggs benedict, waffles, and hot meats including bacon, sausage and longanisa.

The hot entrees change each Sunday, and this day featured an array of awesome dishes including Salmon Surimi Kimchi, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Roast Prime Rib of Beef with au jus, Garlic Rosemary Rubbed Rack of Lamb, and a breathtaking presentation of Seafood Paella you'd have to see to believe! They had a delicious home-made mashed potatoes and gravy dish, too, for those who need their meat & potatoes!

Of course, you need to save room for dessert since they've put so much effort into creating this magnificent spread of pastries, pies, cakes, tarts, bananas foster, ice cream, a fresh fruit medley, and a towering chocolate fountain.

The service is first rate, assuring that your champagne glass remains filled and your fresh-brewed coffee is delivered piping hot. The view from Bistro is inspiring and complemented by the musical performance of local celebrity pianist, Patrick Palomo.

Some folks claim this is their favorite Sunday brunch destination since it has awesome food served in a quieter, more relaxing ambiance without the hustle bustle found in the crowded Sunday brunches held at other major properties. There is certainly some merit to this perspective. Come to PIC's Champagne Sunday Brunch and judge for your self! It will be a very well spent $38 (per person plus 10% sc).

Nanay's House Restaurant
Behind Oka PayLess (next to Nuts & Grains)
Tamuning
647-6262

I really like it when I discover a new restaurant that's got a lot of family energy making things happen, and that's what you will find at Nanay's House Restaurant in Tamuning, which opened in September. With a menu selections changing each day (you can have them faxed to you), you can get 1-Choice ($5), 2-Choice ($6), or 3-Choice ($8) from items prepared that day. There are also house specialties available each day such as Palabok, Batchoy and Arroz Caldo. I've also seen Puto, Banana Lumpia, Cassava Cake and Leche Flan, which are traditional Filipino sweet treat favorites.

On my visit I was recognized by Javier Isidro, whose mom, Evangeline Isidro shares running the business with Elizabeth Cauley and her son, Brian, and other extended family members in the kitchen. I ordered the 3-choice lunch which had Kare Kare, Chicken Adobo, and Beef Sinigang. I had some Bagoong Alamang (dried shrimp paste) to go with my Kare Kare, which I thought was quite good. Everything was in a separate bowl and served on top of green leaf plate. I thought the portions were fair for the price. Javier insisted I try the melon juice which is made with cantaloupe and very refreshing.

Javier also wanted me to try some of their house specials, and he proceeded to bring me a bowl of Batchoy ($3.50), a noodle soup with chicken, green onions, garlic, and boiled egg slices. The broth is flavorful...this is definitely a "chicken soup for the soul" dish that I highly recommend.

Another dish he wanted me to try was the Palabok (Small/$3.75, Large/$7.50), which is a pancit dish covered with a bright orange sauce with green onions, garlic, sliced boiled egg, and other toppings, over which I squeezed local lemon. Once you taste this you can see why it's a favorite.

My next dish to try was another specialty dish, Nanay's Arroz Valenciana, which is a molded sticky rice dish seasoned and mixed with raisins, corn, sausage, and bell pepper. This dish is also worth the exploration if you see it when you visit. Other items on their rotating menu are Pinoy Bisteak, Fried Bangus, Dinuguan, Ginisang Ground Beef, Chicken Tinola, Lechon Kawali, Fried Chicken, Kalderetang Manok, and Pinakbet.

Nanay's accepts orders for take-out and party trays. Just call in advance. They are open from 9am-6pm. Check them out!

Vitale's Restaurant - Renovated and Larger!
2nd Floor Plaza Arcade (across DFS Galleria)
Tumon
646-7692

We finally were able to stop by Vitale's Italian Restaurant in Tumon after a long absence and were delighted with the renovations that are almost complete. Not only have they nearly doubled their space, they have transformed Vitale's into a work of art by upgrading their decor with Roman columns and hand-painted frescos of scenic Italia. We sat next to one of the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa in a comfortable new booth. The ceilings have been painted, too, in a fashion akin to the Sistine Chapel, so you'll find yourself looking up to see what's been depicted.

I understand that the artist who did these paintings is Felicia Babcock, who also does some design work. She's certainly used her talents to elevate the ambiance of Vitale's, already known for its great Italian menu selections.

Speaking of which, Zee had a Meatball Lasagna ($14.95) and I opted for the Tour of Italy, which has a Fettuccine Alfredo, Meatball Lasagna, and Chicken Parmigiana ($15.95). Both of these come with Vitale's famous garlic bread. We'll have to return when the work is finally done and get some photos of the larger space.

We wish to extend our congratulations to Joe Vitale and his son, Agostino Vitale, on their successful renovation!

Shioti Eurasian Restaurant
Tumon Golf Driving Range
Upper Tumon
649-6368

It was lunchtime and I'd not been to Shioti in a while. I wanted to try something that I'd not had yet so decided on their signature sandwich, the Inside Out Burger ($9.95). I also ordered a House Salad ($5.50). The salad was beautiful - the perfect picture of freshness! If you want a light lunch, just do the salads...they really do an awesome job!

The Inside Out Burger has Colby Jack cheese in the middle of a C.A.B.beef patty. I had it with onion rings (the other choice is fries). The menu describes it as "stepping-out-of-the-box burger", which is a fair description since it is not like any burger you've had and if you can't eat cheese don't get this sandwich...try Shioti's House Burger. My burger had a dill pickle wedge, red onion, lettuce and a thick tomato slice all on a toasted sesame bun. Though it doesn't look exactly like the photo displayed on the table tent, it is still an impressive image to see that cheese just oozing out from the center of this good-sized patty.

I asked my server Stephanie what was new on the menu and one of the things she said was really popular was the Macadamia Crusted Basa Fish ($9.95), which comes with sauted spinach and red onions on a mushroom & carrot potato cake. I just had to see it to get its photo and to taste it. Wow! This was a very large piece of basa - certainly the largest I'd seen served anywhere here locally. The crusting really gave this fish a lot of character and personality.

Another new item featured on Shioti's menu is Noriko's famous Paella ($26, serves two people). It is described as a saffron-flavored Spanish dish made with varying combinations of arborio rice, vegetables, meat, chicken, and seafood, and takes 25 to 30 minutes to prepare. I am surely looking forward to my visit to try this!

Merloj Prime Steakhouse
Ramada Suites Hotel
Ipao Road
Tumon Heights

I hadn't been to Merloj on Ipao Road for a while so I made a point to drop in and see what their best lunch specials are. For $9.95 you can order one of several entrees, which happen to be Grilled Basa or Mahi-Mahi, Teppan Style Beef Steak, Grilled Chicken w/Apple Curry Sauce, Stroganoff-style Beef Patty, Surf & Turf Bento, Fire-Grilled Kalbi Beef, Pan Fried Texas Steak, Marinated Pork Steak, and Seared Tofu Steak. All entrees are served with steamed rice, sauted vegetables, and iced tea.

I went for the Stroganoff Patty which comes with a mushroom sauce and broccoli florets. It's a large piece of well seasoned and cooked-just-right meat. The mushroom sauce was very good and made with wine.

I also ordered the Surf & Turf Bento to see what it looked like. It was served in a four-compartment plate with chopped lettuce with tomato slices in a light vinaigrette dressing in one; grilled sirloin steak pieces with a great tasting marinade on them that didn't need any other flavoring; two pieces of breaded basa filet sauteed in a lemon butter sauce with capers that was a winner and steamed rice.

I was impressed that they were able to provide decent quality food for a very affordable price. I had good service and enjoyed a lunch on a white tablecloth in a dining room that had its own unique charm and class attributed to a collection of antiquities and art pieces.

Bon appetit!

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