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Guam Diner Newsletter

April 30, 2010, Volume 10 Number 8

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

April is finally over and we're off to an incredible May starting tomorrow! A quick run-through this month's activities included judging the Smokin' Grills Grilling Competition two weeks ago. Congratulations to overall winner Team PROA Restaurant, with kudos as well to Chef Paul Kerner (GCC) and Team Adobo. April also included the 13th Annual Auction & Wine-Tasting to Benefit the Guam Girl Scouts, and the first-ever Banana Festival at Ipan, Talofofo. A combination of closing and opening was seen in the final and permanent closure of Hilton's venerable Genji Restaurant which left its longtime location post-Typhoon Pongsona to become a lunch service known as Genji at Roy's and the original space is now Fisherman's Cove Seafood Restaurant. Openings in April included Maxi's Burgers and Shakes, the above mentioned Fisherman's Cove and Churrasco Brazilian BBQ and Salad Bar (the latter two covered in today's newsletter).

May is set to have a number of culinary competitions starting out with PHARE on May 7th and 8th, followed by the Maila Ta Fan Boka Festival 2010 at the Agana Shopping Center on May 8th. The latter part of the month brings the Taste of the Marianas' Professional Chefs Competition on May 29th in Saipan followed by the first-ever MV Guam Burgerfest Guam 2010 on May 30. Unfortunately for me, my schedule precludes me from being able to participate in all of May's competitions. Not to worry though, I've got more than enough on my plate!

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms everywhere! That's the best Day in May!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

Talofofo Banana Festival
April 23-25
Ipan, Talofofo

On Sunday I travelled down to balmy Ipan just in time to catch the Banana Recipes competition that started around noon. This year inaugurated what is destined to become an annual event, just like the Agat Mango Festival. Ipan Beach Park was transformed into a mini-fairgrounds with concession stands, banana displays, and informational booths. The pristine coastline and azure waters of the Pacific made a serene backdrop for the day's activities.

The GCC culinary students were out in force as was a 6 foot tall Banana mascot, which just thrilled the little kids. I was able to sample some Bonelos Aga (banana doughnuts), Banana Pudding, Banana Bread, and some really tasty Banana Kadu with Binadu (deer meat stew). The 1st place winner was Chad Damian, whose banana crepes were reputed to be magnificent - too bad I missed their morning service! I'm so looking forward to next year's celebration. Kudos to the Mayor and residents of Ipan for an exciting and successful debut event!

Reunited Compadres - Lee Stewart Rendezvous with Guam Friends

Photos: Top Left: Lee Stewart, Carl Peterson and Joey Cepeda. Top Right: Lee, Ken Stewart and Lance Hagans. Bottom Left: Joe "Uncle Tote" Cunningham, Lee and Carl. Bottom Right: Joey, Ken, Carl and Lee.

The rumor mills were correct! Former Guam resident, Lee Stewart, made a very brief (24 hours) stopover on the island last week on his way to Hong Kong. My older brother, and I emphasize OLDER though he looks younger with his clean-shaven everything, finally made it to Guam after a 10 year absence and was impressed by many of the new developments and changes on the island. Zee and I joined him along with Lance Hagans for a Korean BBQ dinner. Lance was a key player on the Innova Technologies Team lead by Lee back in the mid-90's.

Lee heard that long-time friend Joey Cepeda was also on island and we arranged to meet with him and Carl Peterson for a Friday lunch at Al Dente. Carl, Joey, Lee and yours truly are former members of the Paradise Jaycees, with our friendship and association starting back in 1973!

One of Lee's missions by another former Guam resident, Jeff Shafer, now living in San Jose, California, was to obtain a copy of the Marianas Homegrown CD. As you can see from the photo, it was "mission accomplished" thanks to our good buddy Joe "Uncle Tote" Cunningham, who just happened to be in the neighborhood. For those who missed Lee this time, he promised he'd return in the very near future.

Michelle's Coffee Shop
Rte 10 (next to Best Water & Ice)

Our Sunday morning search for a good breakfast spot took us all the way to Mangilao where we re-visited Michelle's Coffee Shop, for a first-time breakfast visit. It wasn't so far out of the way as we were on our way to the Guam Raceway Park to judge the Smokin' Grills competition and needed to "fuel up" before the event.

Michelle's was packed with locals chowing down on breakfast and lunch menu items and specials. I ordered the Shrimp Scramble ($7.50) and added Fried Rice for a $1.25. Zee had the Katson's Chorizo Sausage with Eggs, which I believe was on special but had a regular price of $6.75. We shared a plate of pancakes (3/$4.50), and I had some wheat toast. One of our goals is to find decent pancakes, and Michelle's made the grade. In fact, I ate my pancake so fast it didn't have time to cool down!

I really liked their Shrimp Scramble, too, since they were generous with the shrimp. Next time I'll be sure to ask the waitress to add green onions, which makes my scramble "the bomb"! The Fried Rice was also very good.

The Katson's Chorizo was well prepared and both Zee and I noted that it was definitely among the best chorizos we'd been served. While we were there we ran into Michelle Kosloski, Michelle's energetic owner, who spent some time talking to us about the business. She has really done well since she started back in 2004. One of her regular customers was sitting in the adjacent table and he told us that he loves Michelle's Chop Suey, and that he eats it at least once a week. Michelle's menu has over 100 entrees and includes American, local and Chinese favorites.

Just before we left, Michelle insisted that we have an Illy Espresso though we'd already downed a number of cups of regular coffee and now we were going for the "high octane brew" and at $2 a cup you can't go wrong! We're going to have to come back here to Michelle's and do some serious menu exploration.

Fisherman's Cove Seafood Restaurant & Grill
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa

The anticipation is finally over. Sayonara, Genji Japanese Restaurant, and Hello, Fisherman's Cove Seafood Restaurant! The fish are awaiting. After about four months of construction, a totally revamped layout and innovative dining concept has emerged in the former Genji digs. It's actually a fairly clever re-engineering of the existing restaurant, and I think they are on to a good thing by making seafood the major offering. After all, locals and visitors have been looking for good seafood restaurants and we've only been able to provide scant offerings on menus, depending on what's been able to arrive from off-island, which doesn't make much sense for an island surrounded by an immense ocean!

Fisherman's Cove is seeking to address this dearth of seafood dining options and intends to meet the expectations of diners by offering the freshest seafood available. Moreover, the restaurant will also offer the most diverse selection of seafood (for dinner service) to be sold by total weight, priced by the ounce.

I've not yet reviewed this restaurant, but I went to the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday night and had a lunch meeting the next day. What I can say at this time is that the abundance and variety of seafood on display at the seafood market was definitely impressive, and if the spot does even half of what is on offer, it will have done better than any place else at achieving a real seafood dining experience.

The seafood items listed on the menu board includes: Red Snapper, White Pomfrett, Chilean Seabass, Halibut, Black Cod, Salmon, Marlin, Black Lapu Lapu, Red Lapu Lapu, Parrot Fish, Mackerel, Big-Eye Tuna, White Shrimp, Trout, Mahi Mahi, Baramundi, Lobster Tails, Black Mussels, Mud Crab, Squid, Oysters, Alaska King Crab, Black Tiger Prawns, Scallops, Blue Crab, Rock Lobster, New Zealand Mussels, Clams, and Snow Crab. Diners will have the choice to have their seafood prepared to-order; either sauted, blackened, flame-broiled (with a tropical mango salsa), steamed in a ginger/scallion/cilantro/peanut oil broth, or deep-fried with finadene which is the way we like things locally!

Dinner also has an a la carte menu with a few steaks, steak & seafood combinations, and other items, such as a tantalizing Californian Cioppino for Two which features scallops, prawns, clams, mussels, fin fish, cherry tomato broth, and garlic toasted crostini for $49. Mud Crab can be served in a variety of ways, including cooked in red chili and lemon grass sauce, black pepper crusted with fried garlic, Thai-style curry with coconut, or steamed with butter and fish chili sauce.

Fish 'n Chips Basket

Lunch at the Cove is simpler with a Shrimp & Chips Basket ($9.99), a Fish 'n Chips Basket ($7.99), with beer-battered filets, hand-cut fries, and a home-made tartar sauce. One of the more popular items is the Fisherman's Trio ($14.99), which is a daily combo of the fresh seafood grilled teppan style with vegetables, steamed rice and finadene.

Lobster Mac ' n Cheese

The restaurant also offers a Fisherman's Po-Boy Submarine Sandwich ($16.99), and an excellent item carried over from the dinner menu, Lobster Mac 'n Cheese ($21), with al dente macaroni in a delectable three-cheese cream sauce baked in a casserole with tasty lobster chunks. This is worthy! I sampled it and believe Mac 'n Cheese fans will embrace this dish. There is a salad bar which you can add to your entree for $4.99 or you can get the salad bar by itself for $9.99.

I had a lime and a coconut sorbet dessert that was blissfully refreshing on my palate and left me craving more! I'm looking forward to my dinner at Fisherman's Cove and then I will really be able to describe the "promised land" or should I say, "promised sea" to you that Fisherman's Cove promises.

Menkui Ramen
Tumon Trade Center (on Fujita Rd.)

It's been some time since this little ramen shop opened (I think it was April or May of 2007) and its reputation as having the island's best ramen has grown with the steadily increasing client base, many who have to return almost every week for their "ramen fix". I've become a "ramen snob" too and can't find myself eating ramen at other restaurants thanks to Menkui's spoiling me! Chef/Owner Akira Kudo and his wife Sumiko, who handles the front of the house, have made a niche for themselves with this specialty ramen shop.

The other night we came to eat again and I decided to take some photos to share with you why I love Menkui so much. The Chashu Men ($10) has a soy-based broth with a hefty portion of tender thick-sliced chashu (pork). The bamboo shoots add a nice texture and the green onions add a special magic to this awesome soup.

Zee goes a spicier route with Menkui's Tan Tan Ramen ($10). This spicy version of ramen has ground pork on top of the noodles and green onions piled above, surrounded by a red sea of pika broth. It's great for relieving any kind of congestion!

Menkui Ramen will forever be a treasure for those of us ramen lovers who support this family owned eatery that makes the best tasting ramen on Guam! It's the closest thing to being in Japan.

Churrasco Brazilian BBQ & Salad Bar
Pacific Bay Hotel
649-BRBQ (2727

Another landmark dining experience is now available in Tumon with the arrival of the Churrasco Brazilian BBQ & Salad Bar, which opened for business on Thursday, April 29. Fortunately, I was able to attend a grand opening party held privately the day before which enabled me to share my experience in today's newsletter.

Owner Susan Park and Chef Michael Moral greet guests

This is an exciting and significant addition to Guam's repertoire of culinary offerings, and I commend owner Susan Park and her father, Jae Sung Park, for their vision in bringing one of the fastest growing dining concepts in America to Guam. Susan was fortunate in recruiting Executive Chef Michael Moral to head up their kitchen team. Mike went to the States for training last year and learned the ins and outs of Brazilian BBQ. The term "churrasco" (pronounced "shoo ras koo") translates literally as 'Brazilian BBQ'. This is a highly popular and successful dining concept with servers aka Gaucho's carving the meat tableside from long sword-skewers.

The restaurant is modeled after the popular churrasco restaurants in the States, which offer Rodizio dining: unlimited servings of meats grilled over mesquite charcoal in the Brazilian grill along with unlimited access to the extensive salad bar, and unlimited hot sides. For dinner, the price is $33.75 for adults and $16.88 for children 9 and above. Lunch for adults is $19.95 and $9.98 for children.

The bar at Churrasco

For the uninitiated, Churrasco is a six-step dining sequence, the first is to enjoy a refreshing beverage while they explain the unique dining experience. We sampled a Caipirinha, the Brazilian national drink, made with cachaca (the third most distilled liquor on the planet and Brazil's national spirit, made from pressed cane sugar), lime and sugar. They have other exotic Brazilian beverages as well as an extensive wine and beer list plus the usual sodas, teas and coffees. This will be a happening place!

The second step is to visit the gourmet salad bar for your first course.

The third step involves turning your "meat card" red side up which signals the gaucho chefs that you are ready to begin the next stage of the meal.

Wait staff will then deliver Churrasco's signature hot side items to your table: Brazilian rice (my favorite), white rice, and red rice; really tasty black beans; cooked spinach, and garlic mashed potatoes. One of the pleasant surprises was a basket of Pao de Queijo (warm cheese bread), that remind me of hot puff pastries.

Picanha (Grilled Top Sirloin)

Step 4 is choosing the cuts of meat brought to your table and sliced by the gaucho chefs. (Small tongs are provided to allow you to hold the meat being sliced so you can put it on your plate.) Step 5 involves flipping the card to the black side when you are satisfied with your meat slices. (When you are ready for more offerings, you merely turn the card over again to the red side.)

Step 6 lets you end your meal with a dessert, which includes such delectables as Creme de Papaya, Pudim de Leite Condensado (Brazilian-style flan and caramelized sugar), Brazilian Cheesecake, Pastel Frito de Mango (turnover pastry with mango and vanilla ice cream), and assorted ice cream and sorbets.

An essential part of the service is the use of the various dipping sauces, of which there are five. The first, and best known, is chimichuri, which is made with flat leaf parsley, vinegar, fresh garlic, cilantro, and extra virgin olive oil. Another sauce is finadene, as well as a finadene reduction. There is a red, smoke flavored bbq sauce, and a sweet, marmalade-like sauce.

Grilled Chicken

The meats are the reason for this restaurant concept and the most popular for carving is the Picanha (pea-Can-ya), which is the one you always see in the ads for the Fogo De Chao restaurant chain in major cities. It is Top Sirloin steak formed into a "S" shape and when carved, it gives way to an enticing juicy red meat beneath the grilled exterior. There are other cuts of beef available and chicken (some of which are bacon-wrapped), as well as Linguica (Lin-Gwee-Sa), a cured pork sausage. Another carved item is Lombo (pork loin) crusted with Parmesan cheese that offers a unique flavor when grilled.

Mesquite Grill

Churrasco Brazilian BBQ & Salad Bar is an impressive and well-constructed restaurant, and is definitely a fun place to bring friends and family or to meet special guests. Adding to the festive atmosphere were live guitarists performing during the opening. This may carry over for regular dinner service and I think this would be an excellent idea. They are hoping to eventually have live Brazilian dancing, which would be wonderful.

The dining sequence takes some getting used to (turning your plastic red or black card over to signal the gaucho chefs). The service staff and the gaucho chefs have good personalities and they spend a lot of time catering to your needs and making sure your party has everything required. I am pretty sure that this restaurant will satisfy the heartiest of appetites with the endless carving of meats at your table. Most people (outside of vegetarians) really love grilled meat. Knowing this island's passion for grilled meat, it would appear that the owners have found a winning combination. I think you'll appreciate this new, interactive, fun dining concept. I recommend it!

Comer Bem! (Portuguese for "eat well")

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