April 9, 2010, Volume 10 Number 7
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
The anticipation is building by the day as residents await the opening of two new and exciting restaurant concepts. The first is what will be the island's first Brazilian BBQ restaurant, called Churasco Brazilian BBQ and Salad Bar, located in the Pacific Bay Hotel. This ground floor location used to house Mac & Marti's, and it has been completely refurbished with a brand new full-service kitchen and special Churasco grill. The Brazilian BBQ concept has experienced impressive growth in the last few years as consumers have embraced the all-you-can-eat menu of grilled meats that are sliced on demand. There will be a large salad bar and several dipping sauces for your meats, which will include beef, chicken, pork, lamb and even fish. This restaurant is planning on its soft opening later this month.
The second restaurant that's been stirring up curious appetites is the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa's Fisherman's Cove Seafood Restaurant and Grill, which is being built in the same location that was home to the venerable and much-missed Genji Japanese Restaurant. The hype has been enormous for this seafood restaurant, which promises to have the freshest array of seafood on island, including fish, lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops and other seafood items that will be showcased in a market display. Guests will be able to select their seafood and have it prepared by chefs with their choice of seasonings. There will also be steaks available for meat lovers to enjoy as well as some specialty entrees like a bucket of steamed prawns, Penn Cove mussels, and Lobster Mac n' Cheese. Lunch will be served Monday to Friday and dinner will be served nightly. The expected opening is April 29.
I think it's really exciting to have these two new restaurants joining our vast repertoire of dining options. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any other new restaurants coming to Guam!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Maxi's Burgers and Shakes Now Open!
Upper Tumon (across from Kmart, next to Avis)
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-4pm, Fri & Sat 11am-8pm
I was pleased to finally have an opportunity to stop by the newly-opened Maxi's Burgers and Shakes eatery that opened on April 1. This is the same place where Steaks & Shakes operated for a few years, however, Maxi's has taken the fast food diner to a new level, with an emphasis on homemade burgers and specialty hot dogs and brats. It's taken months and a significant investment by Maxi's owner, Gusti Ayu Priesnitz, to realize her dream to have a first-class burger diner that allows guests to create their own burger by adding their own toppings. Maxi's is named after her first son, Maximillian. She is married to Nicolaus Priesnitz, a former chef who helped in creating recipes for the burgers, buns, and a special Chili con Carne. (Nicolaus is now the General Manager of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa.)
The restaurant's casual and fun atmosphere is visible from the outside with brightly painted murals and inside with the menu painted on the wall. The chairs and tables are made in Bali, and there is Balinese art throughout the restaurant, which has a downstairs level as well as an outdoor patio deck with a spectacular view of Tumon Bay.
I ordered a Maxi's House Burger ($5.95) and upgraded to a combo (add $2.45) which gave me Shoestring Fries and a soft drink. The burger patty is handmade and comes with shredded lettuce, tomato and dill pickles. You can also specify a specialty sauce; I got the Boonie Pepper Mayo and other choices include Mediterranean Garlic Herb Spread, Maxi's Ranch, Louisiana BBQ Sauce, and Honey Mustard Sauce. For an additional $.95 each, I added American Cheese and crispy fried bacon. Other topping options include Swiss cheese, blue cheese crumbles, caramelized onions, jalapeno peppers, fried eggs, and sauteed mushrooms.
There are sliders available for smaller appetites at $1.95 each, and other burgers such as the Aloha Burger, made with grilled fresh pineapple, Teriyaki Burger, Crispy Fried Chix's Supreme, a Fire'n Ice That's Hot, a Western Burger, and the Vegetarian Black Bean Burger.
I had to try out their Chocolate Milk Shake ($3.95/20 oz.), and it was delivered with my burger basket. I could tell this was no ordinary burger. The buns were toasted and everything was stacked ready for me to add any other condiments. Mustard, mayo, catsup, sweet pickle relish, and Tabasco were all on the counter within easy reach. I sampled the fries and these were really good.Then I decided to take the burger outside for a photo on the patio deck. ( This is what I call the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" photo-op!!) Then I returned inside and started eating. It was very flavorful and juicy - cooked to medium just as I requested - they ask your temperature preference when ordering. The buns were magnificent, both in taste and texture, and they held up to the juiciness of the burger better than most buns could.
I will have to return for more burger treats and also to try their Bavarian Dog and Big Boss hot dogs. They will also feature fish like Mahi Mahi on some burgers. It's a work in progress, and so far I'm impressed.
Royal Orchid Hotel
I'd been craving Korean food, especially after watching a National Geographic special on traditional Korean Cuisine and its amazing health benefits. There's a lot to be said about a curative powers of Korean peppers and spices which are used heavily in the preparation and marination of vegetables (kim chi and pickles too) and meats. There are claims that this food can help in weight loss, cancer prevention, reducing blood pressure, and fighting colds and flus. I had not been to Calvi House for a number of years with my last review in January 2004. I was very impressed at the time and don't know why I waited so long to return. I'm glad I did, since I was able to eat some completely new dishes and learned about the affordable lunch specials that locals will really enjoy.
It was my intention to order something other than my usual Kalbi, so I ordered Neobiani ($20) which is described on the menu as Chuck Rib Boneless displayed in an enticing color photo. My plans were changed when the owner, Jinny Lee, saw me and, remembering me, switched my order to one of the popular lunch specials, the Tukbaegi Bulgogi (roast beef in an earthen bowl, $10). She said she'd still make me a sampler of the Neobiani and wanted me to also try the Pajori, a seasoned green onion and lettuce dish which is like a salad ($12). The banchan (sides dishes) were placed in front of me and included kimchi, bean sprouts, potato salad, fish cake, and broccoli. There was also some paper-thin sliced radish circles, which I later found out would serve as wraps for my Neobiani beef.
Neobiani is the traditional and royal term for bulgogi. The meat pieces are thicker than regular bulgogi, which tends to be thinly-sliced. After marinating in pear juice, soy sauce, ginger and pepper, this meat is grilled to juicy perfection. My sample portion was delivered on a hot cast iron platter and sprinkled with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Jinny then showed me how to dip a piece of succulent meat into a finadene-like dipping sauce and onto the radish round, followed by a small amount of the Pajori. Folding this up into a small pouch, I popped it in my mouth and fell in love with this sensational taste combination! The Pajori was made with green onions and green lettuce leaves doused with a vinaigrette dressing.
Next I tried the Tukbaegi Bulgogi. I spooned a portion into a smaller bowl. It had a sizeable amount of enoki mushrooms and bean sprouts, as well as clear rice noodles. The abundant beef was floating in a hearty broth to which I added a little pepper spice. I put this on my rice bowl and combined the meat with steamed rice. I can see why Jinny said that it was their most popular lunch special. This was amazingly good!
The meal ended with the traditional cup of Sujeong Gwa (persimmon punch) which combined cloves and cinnamon in a cool refreshing liquid dessert treat. As I left, I made sure to thank Chef Jung for his excellent preparations. Everything was perfect and I was able to learn new things about Korean cuisine. Believe, I'll certainly return to Calvi house for more!
"A Taste of Southeast Asia" - Palm Cafe's New Thursday Night Buffet Explores the Exotic Flavors of South & East Asian Cuisines
Outrigger Guam Resort
Outrigger Guam Resort's Palm Cafe has done it again by introducing another outstanding theme dinner buffet to island diners. "A Taste of Southeast Asia" offers a remarkable culinary tour throughout some of the nations comprising the South and East Asian region, showcasing dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, India, China, and Indonesia. Every Thursday night from 6-10pm, the Palm Cafe is transformed into an exotic food festival and is adorned to reflect the bright and fanciful colors, imagery, culture and fabrics of Indonesia, Thailand, and India, as well as the other countries. For a price of only $29.95 per adult and $16.95 per child ages 6-12 years (a 10% s.c. will be added to all checks), you can partake of an array of cold salads and hot entrees featuring the distinct spice blends and flavors of these nations from where so many food traditions have originated. (The buffet also includes free-flowing Carlsberg Beer.)
Although it may be possible for someone to eat everything available on this buffet, I have learned to limit myself to only the items I can realistically finish, with a goal of tasting as many new and unusual items as I can. The Palm Cafe is interactive and you can start where ever you'd like. Some of the entrees change every other week, however, there is always a selection of dishes representing each country and the food name tags clearly identify the items as well as the country.
This time I decided to enjoy the hot entrees first thanks to the photos I was taking igniting my appetite! I spooned up some Nasi Lemak (coconut rice) and some Chicken Biryani with spicy yogurt sauce. This was followed by asparagus spears, broccoli and cabbage from the Cap Cay (stir fried vegetables), Bakmi Goreng (an Indonesian standard of seafood, fried egg and noodles). I made sure to get a few pieces of the fried fish with garlic chili sauce. This pan had some egg noodles with vegetables inside along with coriander leaves and lime which added to the visual appeal complementing the spicy fish.
The Penang and Vegetable Curry looked so good with its rich golden sauce with tomatoes and beef chunks floating amongst chopped cilantro and it literally was as good as it looked!
Other items I had to add to my rapidly filling plate were pieces of marinated pork with lemon grass and shallot, spicy Sambal chili crab from Singapore (one of my favorites), Tandoori Leg of Lamb, and some rib roast, both of which were at the carving station along with a variety of dipping sauces.
I also picked up some Gado Gado from the cold salad section. This Indonesian classic had cucumbers, bean sprouts, fried tofu, boiled egg wedges, and shrimp chips along with the traditional peanut sauce. I added a little lemon grass beef salad, some Vietnamese chicken salad and samosas from India. For soup, I added a bowl of Tom Yum, the Thai version of hot and sour soup.
I made sure that I had one of the Vietnamese fried lumpia, which I put into a lettuce wrap, added noodles, shredded cucumber, basil, and bean sprouts, with a little bit of fish sauce with chili tossed in for good measure. There really was too much food here, however, I made a really valiant effort to eat as much as I could!
With all of this richly spiced and diverse Asian cuisine, one might ask if there is a visiting chef here from each country making these dishes. Well, the chef responsible is actually a long-time resident of Guam who has been here since 1980 and it so happens that his specialty is in preparing these same Asian dishes. He is Phillip de Duong and he has found his roots at this Thursday night dinner buffet extravaganza.
Although it wasn't possible for me to eat all of the desserts, there were some notable ones that you should try when you visit. One is the Kolak Pisang (banana in coconut milk) and the other is the carrot sweet cake from India. I did have some fresh pineapple, strawberries, and managed to get a slice of some really delicious coconut cake and our local favorite, latiya, which the Outrigger always gets right.
The Palm Cafe's Taste of Southeast Asia is in its 4th week and I am sure that it will begin drawing more people as the word gets out about this elaborate and diverse spread of Asian delights. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 649-9000. I recommend that you come to the Palm Cafe on Thursday nights so that you can see and taste for yourself the amazing selection of Southeast Asian dishes, prepared by a chef who prides himself on his regional and international culinary proficiency. And remember, the ice-cold Carlsbergs are free-flowing! And just so you know, other buffet offerings from Palm Cafe include the very popular Hafa Adai Friday Dinner Buffet and the Prime Rib & Crab Dinner Buffet every Saturday.
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