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March 12 , 2010, Volume 10 Number 5

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Today marks a milestone in the culinary archives of Guam Diner. Can you believe this is our 400th newsletter? Who would have thought or imagined that we'd go this far and continue producing (and archiving) these newsletters since our inception on July 13, 2001? Just reading through the past newsletter titles and features evokes a sense of nostalgia for me, not just for what I've done with my life as the Guam Food Guy, but for all the changes in Guam's culinary landscape. Kind of reminds me of the Lennon-McCartney song, "In My Life" - "there are places I remember some are gone and some remain." Yes, we've really come a long way and have created in the process a treasure trove of local restaurant happenings over the past ten years. None of this would be possible without the power of the Internet, which has made an impressive virtual legacy of our work

Speaking of legacies, as many of you know, I am a member of the Guam Girl Scouts and we just celebrated our 75th Anniversary this past Sunday at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. I had the opportunity to meet our special VIP guest, Emilie Johnston, whose mother-in-law was the late Agueda Johnston, the co-founder of the Guam Girl Scouts. As emcee, I was so honored to introduce her to the assembled crowd. She made my day when she told me she liked listening to my Food Guy reports on K-57, to which she's tuned in all day according to her son, Bert, also a member of the Guam Girl Scout Board. I told her I'd give her a "shout out" thanking her for listening. Thank you, Emilie, for dedicating so much of your life to supporting the Guam Girl Scouts!

Ken, The "Guam Food Guy"

Special Celebrity Chef Announcement
Roy Yamaguchi Returns to Roy's

If you've not yet heard the news, Roy Yamaguchi, founder of the world-famous restaurant chain bearing his name, is on Guam and will be doing his culinary thing at Roy's at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa tonight and tomorrow night (Friday & Saturday, March 12 and 13).

You will be able to savor the awesome and inimitable flavor creations of this culinary genius who has made an indelible mark in the universe of gastronomy with his unique fusion of Eastern and Western cuisines and insistence on the use of fresh, local ingredients. Among the a la carte menu items he is set to prepare are Hamachi Sashimi with Avocado, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Jalapeno Ponsu, Olive Oil Poached Hamachi with Arare Crunch, Proscuitto and Parsnip Puree and Breast of Duck with Parsnip Puree and assorted seasonal vegetables. Dinner hours are from 6-10pm and you can make reservations by calling 646-DINE.

Nana's Cafe
Nana's Cafe's Famous Hamburger Steak

I had a craving for hamburger steak the other day during lunch and realized I'd not been to Nana's in a while for Chef Kishimoto's famous Hamburger Steak Japonais Style ($13). This dish was inspired by King's Loco Moco, however Chef Kishimoto (who is Guam Plaza's Executive Chef) has transformed it into his own creation topping a flame-broiled beef patty with thin-sliced red onion, grated radish, a perilla leaf, and what is usually a sunny-side up egg, all surrounded by a deep brown sauce. Chef Kishimoto is a master of sauces and for this dish, his brown sauce uses teriyaki and miso to make a memorable flavor that is perfectly balanced. It should be noted that this dish needs some preparation time as it is a hand-made patty, so you should either call in advance (if you are in a hurry) or you can enjoy the beautiful Tumon Bay beach view just yards away while you wait for this special treat to reach your table. Nana's also features weekly lunch specials in addition to its regular a la carte lunch menu, which includes a visit to the salad bar.

D'Marianas Trench
Monticello Plaza (near Cost U Less)

D'Marianas Trench has expanded to a second Tamuning location, this time in the same location that was previously occupied by Wild Thai Cuisine and Andaman. D'Marianas Trench opened last week and serves much the same menu as The Trench does, with weekday lunch specials, and no all you can eat buffet.

Operated by veteran owner Malee Thompson who has ten years experience with the Trench, D'Marianas Trench offers an intimate atmosphere and good Thai food cooked to order.

We had the Yam Tuna (Tuna Thai Salad $8) that was superb! Every bite delivered loads of flavors, with onions, chilies, cilantro, mint leaves and fish sauce combined with crunchy cooling lettuce. It's a simple dish with immense taste.

We also had the Thai Style Chicken Wings ($8), which are cooked perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. They are served with a sweet chili sauce.

I was in the mood for a simple soup, so we had the Thai Noodle Soup with Shrimp ($10), which is more than enough for two to share. We added some pepper sauce and a little Thai finadene to the broth to give it more of a kick. The shrimp were plentiful and it came with broccoli spears, green onions, and fried garlic which also brought distinct flavor elements to the soup.

D'Marianas Trench retains most of the beautiful interior of Wild Thai and Andaman, with the walls lined with mirrors, ornaments, and framed photos of Thai still life images. It's a gallery reflecting the beauty of that exotic country and certainly creates a suitable atmosphere for enjoying its cuisine.

Grandma's Kitchen (Halmae Jip)
Tamuning Plaza Hotel
649-8646 Ext 130

This obscure little eatery has been open for about three months. As it is my mission to seek out and discover new and unusual places to eat, Halmae Jip or Grandma's Kitchen certainly fills the bill!

The way to get here is to turn in where Blockbuster is and follow that road until you reach the Tamuning Plaza Hotel. We arrived about 7pm, which seemed to surprise the owner who said they don't usually get customers this early (they are open from 5pm-5am and cater to the late night/early morning crowd)!

I must have been out of my mind when I ordered for us the Gamjatang (Pork Rib Soup with Potato $30), and the Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake $12), which was not on the menu. After all, the Gamjatang is enough for 3-4 people and there were just the two of us!

While awaiting the Gamjatang to be prepared, we started out with our banchan appetizers, which had some kimchi, broccoli, potatoes with Vienna sausage, sprouts, and marinated burdock root. The seafood pancake was enormous and I lamented not listening to Zee who'd wanted the vegetable version - don't know why I said seafood since she's not terribly fond of all the little creatures they put inside this pancake. I detected squid, shrimp, oysters, mussels, and maybe some baby octopus. With the dipping sauce, this was alright but I knew we couldn't finish it.

The Gamjatang is served in a steaming kettle that's placed on a gas burner on your table. The broth is red with chili powder spice, garlic, ground sesame seeds, onion, ginger and pepper seeds. There were also some perilla (wild sesame) leaves on top and blended in. The pork neck bones begged to be eaten with the hands so this became one of those long, hot, spicy ordeals, especially since we had partially sated our appetites with the pajeon.

We did manage to work our way through all of the meat, and left only a portion of the soup behind. This was our second experience with this dish. Our first was at Choi's Restaurant, which happens to be closed for renovations. I liked Choi's version of this dish better.

The Black Menu at COLORS Red
Acanta Mall

I'd been meaning to stop by and see what the "Black" banners were at COLORS Red Restaurant in Tumon's Acanta Mall. I'm glad I did. I discovered that the Black Menu has 14 different Sliders, each with its own unique flavor profile and personality. The menu also features some BBQ items including Brisket, Baby Backs, and Pulled Pork, along with sides (potatoes and onions) and cheese cake creations.

I ordered some wine and San Pellegrino, then decided on which sliders to order. The Slide Show costs $11, and lets you choose any three of the 14 (you have to add $2 for "The Little Jaws" or the "Crabby Bob"). The regular price per slider is $4. I ordered The Black (American cheese burger with ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion), The Obama (mushroom, Swiss cheese, and crispy bacon), and The Little Ninja (tender slices of steak glazed with teriyaki sauce). I also ordered The Sumo (Panko-crusted pulled pork with special sauce).

The Sumo came first. I don't know why, but I didn't particularly like the panko with the pulled pork. The taste just didn't appeal to me.

However, when I picked up and bit into their signature Black slider, "WOW"! It was de-licous, a miniature mouth explosion of pleasure! The American cheese was fried and extruded out both sides of the sandwich. The buns were soft, toasted, and ideal mates for the beef and cheese.

The next one I tried was the Obama, which was good, especially if you like Swiss cheese, which seemed to dominate the flavor of this slider. The Little Ninja was just amazing, and had been recommended by the hostess who escorted up the staircase to the restaurant. She was spot on! The teriyaki sauce and tender beef with sliced onions were perfection between the buns.

Chef Eddie Chien must have read my mind since he had me try out The Black Brisket (slow-smoked brisket with its special barbecue sauce, $6). It was not originally available when I'd first come in, however it had just finished cooking and he cut off a few chunks. It was another dreamy taste experience...and was sliced thicker than what I've had in Texas. Very good!

I ordered the Baby Back Ribs ($6), which arrived last. These were meaty, thick, and as tender as they come, finished off with a tangy, smoked barbecue sauce.

I like the concept here, since you can order whatever appeals to you and get just enough to eat. If you want crispy onions, steak fries, or skinny fries, they are only $3. I'll come back for dessert and to try some of the new menu items on the Red Menu. Now that they are re-opened for lunch, I'll do my best to get here when I need a variety slider fix!

The Grille at Santa Fe
Hotel Santa Fe

It appears that a renaissance has occurred at The Grille at Santa Fe! Yes, this restaurant has become a nice little hot spot worthy of recommending now that they've fixed some pretty serious service problems and upgraded their food service. Much of the credit has to go to General Manager Denis Regnier who recruited some key people like Executive Chef Carlton Olkeril (formerly of Firefly). We also met the Bar Supervisor, Jeff Santo Tomas, brother of my friend and colleague, food writer Jojo Santo Tomas of the PDN.

There are still some areas needing improvement, yet they are on the right track and have the right "can-do" attitude. I think in a few months time, they will attain that level of greatness that'll make them a first-rate island destination for outdoor dining on the beach. They have a perfect location on Hagatna Bay with one of the best sunset views already.

I suggest calling for reservations if you want a table as these tend to fill up quickly. Try to get there a little after 6pm so you can watch the sun slowly sink into the Philippine Sea on the horizon. Depending on the night, there are a variety of live entertainment options. We were fortunate on Wednesday to hear the lively sounds of Mike and Joe. Our server was Meiko who has an infectiously charming personality. She's a real asset to the restaurant as you can tell she loves her work!

We looked over the extensive menu and ordered some wine. Zee wanted the Spinach & Artichoke Dip ($9.95) which comes with jalapenos, green chili and cheese, complete with tortilla chips. I don't know but I didn't see any of the jalapenos and green chilies, but the spinach was plentiful and the taste was good.

I ordered the Grilled Shrimp Salad ($14.50), which is described as grilled tiger shrimp served over tossed greens, with cucumbers, tomatoes, green and red peppers, and hard boiled eggs. I was told that they were out of Italian dressing (other choices were Ranch, Thousand Island and Caesar.) I chose Caesar. When the salad came, it was quite beautiful, especially with the sunset in the background. The dressing was very good, and there were bacon bits and croutons, however, there was no tomato, nor cucumber, nor boiled egg, nor green or red peppers. It's possible I got a Caesar salad with Grilled shrimp. Or maybe they were out of ingredients. I didn't seem to mind much, since the view was great and I liked the wine.

I had heard about the BBQ Baby Backs here and was on a mission to try these out to see if they were as good as the claims.The Grille's Pork Baby Back Ribs are $16.95 and come with your choice of baked potato, French fries, or rice. According to the menu, they also come with baked beans. However, these were absent though I didn't fuss, since I was there for the ribs and not the beans. The rack was quite large and when I tried to pick up a piece, the rib bone just slipped free! That's a pretty good indication of how tender this meat was. The Chipotle sauce was a little milder than I'd expected, but did have an appealing taste. My rice scoop was bigger than I'd normally eat so I had half. The grilled vegetables were excellent, with the broccoli spears, bell pepper slices and carrots all retaining their natural crispness. The dinner entrees come with a trip to the salad bar which we didn't do since we'd had a salad.

Next time I'll try some of the other entrees, such as the Fish & Chips (crispy Pollock filets in beer batter, served with English-style chips, cole slaw and tartar sauce, $14.95), or the Mahi-Mahi Borracho ( mahi mahi marinated in tequila, grilled and served with lime garlic sauce), or the Grilled Salmon Steak ($19.95).

Our dinner experience was greatly enhanced by the service we received. The effort was sincere, the staff is very friendly and they have an enthusiasm that comes from a sense of purpose and identity. We will return for more!

Bon appetit!

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