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May 14 , 2010, Volume 10 Number 9

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It's been a busy past few weeks with all the culinary competitions and food celebrations. We have a lot of ground to cover in today's newsletter so I'll get on with the show and keep this intro brief! Be sure to mark your calendars for May 23, which is the day that Ebisu Sushi Japanese Restaurant will be closing for a short holiday. They will be re-opening on June 7. For those who enjoy healthier dining options, you'll be pleased to learn that FROOTS will soon be opening an outlet in the GPO Food Court. Also, it's been heard on the street that COLORS Red Restaurant may be moving from the Acanta Mall to a new location.

Finally, in keeping with our promoting Guam made products, we are pleased to feature this lovely photo of two newly-introduced naturally distilled spirits, Guam's Own Rum and Guam's Own Whiskey. These are produced on Guam by Guam's Own Distillery, headed up by my friend Valentino Perez. I understand that both of these unusually smooth spirits are available for purchase at ABC Stores and Circle K outlets, with more locations being added. This should become a popular gift for locals and tourists alike! Way to go, Val!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday May 15, 2010

Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show, from 10am-Noon. Our first hour guests will feature Team PIC, including Executive Chef Rey Dasalla and Public Relations Manager, Keiko Nishida. Team PIC recently took 1st place in PHARE's Professional Culinary Competition.

Our 2nd hour guests will include Executive Chef Andreas Lorenz, Westin's Director of Food & Beverage in charge of Kitchens and his GW Pro-Start Team who recently returned from the National ProStart Student Culinary Competition in Overland Park, Kansas.

Feel free to participate by calling *57 on your cell phone or 477-5757. I'm sure we are going to have a lively conversation and restaurants and food are things that everyone has an opinion about!

GHRA PHARE Culinary Competition Winners Announced

This past week's PHARE Culinary Competitions were held on Friday, May 7 (Professional) and Saturday May 8 (Student) at the Hyatt's La Mirenda Restaurant, which was the first time for the competition to be held in this much more suitable venue - it was a brilliant idea to have the competition in a restaurant for a change!

The food ingredients for the Professional Competition were live Maine Lobster (courtesy of Quality Distributors) and local Eggplant (courtesy of the Guam Farmers' Co-Op). The Student Competition featured Pork Butt (courtesy of Triple J Five Star Wholesale) and the Guam Farmers' Co-Op local Eggplant again.

Professional Category
1st Place - Michael Del Rosario, Pacific Islands Club Guam "Lobster Eggplant Sweet Corn Tamale"
2nd Place - Leo C. Santiago, Fiesta Resort Guam "Grilled Lobster Salad with Eggplant Pistachio Rouille and Vegetable Chips"
3rd Place - Rheh Villanueva, Sea Grill Restaurant "Lobster and Grilled Eggplant Stuffing with fresh Thyme Lobster Cream"
People's Choice Award - Michael Del Rosario, Pacific Islands Club Guam

Student Category
1st Place - Team Southern High's BAR-B-QUE Braised Pork Sandwich with Eggplant and Vegetable Medley (served on French Bread)
2nd Place - GCC's Team Oh Maganda's "Eggplant and Pork Lasagna"

It's always exciting to see the outstanding culinary creativity of our young aspiring chefs. We have really come a long way in bringing culinary arts to the forefront of vocational education. It's only going to get better!

Shioti Eurasian Restaurant
Tumon Golf Driving Range
Upper Tumon

If you want to add some excitement to your dining experience, go to Shioti Eurasian Restaurant and order intriguing preparations like we did the other night! We were actually long overdue on our return to this gem of a restaurant (don't be deterred by the location since a golf driving range doesn't always conjure up haute cuisine). The intimate ambiance and atmosphere make for a cozy, even romantic setting, especially if you share a bottle of one of Shioti's fine wine selections. Our Rutherford Merlot made this meal more than memorable.

We started out with the Shioti Beef Bites Appetizer ($5.95), little breaded chunks of CAB (Certified Angus Beef) steak deep-fried and served in a wire basket with a BBQ dipping sauce.

Zee's main course was a new addition to Shioti's menu, Kimchee Spaghetti ($12.50). This is an absolutely delicious, full-flavored, spicy pile of pasta like you've never had before. Minced pork, mushroom, onions, and garlic really come to life with the addition of kimchee stir-fried into this innovative creation. The portion is huge and much more than a single person should eat though we hear that there are those who do. It makes for excellent balutan.

My entree was Teppan New York Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce ($18.95), that comes with the house salad. The photo really show how appealing the house salad is with crisp fresh romaine, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and croutons. They love to make salads here at Shioti.

I was in the mood for pasta so I asked to have some linguine with Alfredo sauce. I was so pleased to see my dish delivered, and quite impressed by Noriko's presentation which featured grilled tofu, carrot, and baby bok choy with the Alfredo pasta in the middle. The CAB New York Strip was sliced into thick pieces and teppan grilled to a perfect medium rare with aromatic bronzed garlic chips on top. I really can't tell you how good this was - you'll just have to take my word and taste it yourself!

Carmen's Cha Cha Cha
Perez Building (next to the Hagatna Cathedral)

It was Cinco de Mayo and I had to celebrate somehow during the day since I had dinner plans that were not "south of the border down Mexico way" but rather they were south of Hanoi!

I couldn't think of a better choice for a late lunch celebration than Carmen's Cha Cha Cha, which is also celebrating 10 years in this current location though Carmen first opened shop at the Chamorro Village five years before moving across the street from the Cathedral. There is only one Carmen Leyva and one can't help but admire this talented and beautiful owner/chef whose passion is cooking up delicious food.

The restaurant was fully packed at 2pm and there was a live duo of musicians performing. I ordered my first Margarita of the day - a Calamansi Lime concoction that really set the tone. I munched on my chips and salsa while awaiting my order of Chicken Tortilla Soup ($6). Talk about pleasure on a plate! I like interactive dining that allows me to participate in building my own dish, which in this case was putting all of the various ingredients into my soup. The basic chicken broth has shredded chicken with carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, and you add diced red onions, chopped cilantro, shredded Monterrey cheese, shredded lettuce, fresh lime wedges, and crisp tortilla strips! This do-it-yourself creation results in a heavenly soup with melted cheese combining with chips and threaded chicken and the onion-cilantro-lime flavors melding together. Mucho gusto!

My main course was not on the menu but the restaurant put it together for me. It was a Chili Rellenos and Chicken Taco Combo Platter, with a huge roasted Poblano chili stuffed with Monterrey cheese, potato chunks, and a blend of seasoned ground pork and beef. I have had cheese-only Rellenos in the past, but this one was divine, and was served with a both a white sauce and a savory rich red sauce that I could have eaten all day! Also on the plate was a chicken taco rolled in a soft flour tortilla, to which I added some guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and shredded lettuce. The Mexican rice and refried beans were all that was needed to satisfy my Cinco de Mayo craving that day!

Cinco De Mayo Dinner Buffet
La Mirenda Cafe Restaurant
Hyatt Regency Guam

We were very fortunate to be able to enjoy the amazing flavors of Mexico this past Monday night at the Hyatt's La Mirenda Cinco de Mayo buffet celebration which ran through May 12. This event was done in Hyatt style, with more than just Mexican flags, colorful ponchos, and wide-rimmed sombreros adorning the walls. As per usual, they imported a Hyatt chef with all the credentials related to the cuisine they are featuring and this gentleman's culinary roots spring from Guadalajara, Mexico. We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Rafael Camarena, who is presently the Chef de Cuisine at Sally's, in the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, and were able to indulge in what was a fabulous buffet of authentic Mexican cuisine. They also brought in a live, four-piece Mariachi band from Los Angeles. Who is going to top that?

Among the dishes were Bistec Ranchero, Homemade Beans, Lamb "Bar Ba Coa", Red Snapper with Almonds, Mexican Rice, Cheese Enchiladas, Mahi Mahi Tacos, Beef and Chicken Fajitas, and a very lovely Lamb Stew, to which I added cilantro and onion. The lamb in this stew just melted in the mouth!

One of the highlights was the fresh grilled flour tortillas - you just can't do better than fresh grilled, with the slightly burned grill marks giving you that toasty goodness. Chef Rafael spent some time with us and he asked if I'd tried the Carnitas, which weren't on the menu that night. He went to the kitchen and brought me out a plate and I'm so glad I didn't miss these tender flavorful morsels of pork which were absolutely delicious.

The Mariachi Band was a fun and dynamic addition, far better than recorded music playing Mexican music. They played "La Cucaracha" for me - something they really got a kick out of, the band commented that the song wasn't their idea of romantic and that I could have thought of something more appealing than a story about cockroaches! All in all a great event and another grand Hyatt experience.

Zozo Restaurant Vietnamese Cuisine
Ground Floor Tanota Building (across from GTA)
Upper Tumon

Zozo Restaurant is the place where I've discovered some really good fried pork chops - so good they are the ones you can recommend. Why? Because they cut them up before frying them. Okay, this is not the healthiest way of cooking, but it doesn't over cook the chops, either, which is what happens a lot at other restaurants. I have been ordering these take-out for the past year and had never actually dined-in here until this visit, which coincided with my older brother Lee's return trip on his way back to California from Hong Kong. It was Cinco de Mayo and a group of close friends joined Lee, Zee and myself at this Vietnamese "hole-in-the-wall" eatery that serves up some fairly good chow.

Clockwise from top left: Fried Pork Chops, Beef Lemon Grass. Fried Spare Ribs, Shrimp Lemon Grass

We ordered our food family-style for sharing. The plated items all come with steamed rice and salad. We ordered Shrimp Lemon Grass ($10), Beef Lemon Grass ($10), Fresh Lumpia (2 pcs/$6.50), Fried Pork Chops ($8.75), Combination Soup ($7), and Fried Spare Ribs ($8.75). The dishes I liked were the Shrimp Lemon Grass, Fried Pork Chops, and Fried Spare Ribs, which I thought were even better than the Fried Pork Chops!

The Fresh Lumpia seemed to lack imagination and flavor - a far cry from our favorite and what I consider to be the "best on island", which are served by Mary's Vietnamese in Harmon. The Beef Lemon Grass seemed a little tough and didn't grab me the way the Shrimp Lemon Grass did. I didn't try the soup (everyone else seemed to like it).

I will have to come back to try their Pho (beef soup) and Shrimp Kelaguen, which a lot of people have said is one of their better items.

Famous Fried Pork Chops

More about those pork chops I order for take-out. They are well packed, with foil separating the meat from the styrofoam. They also give a sealed packet of Thousand Island dressing. You'd be surprised by the number of people who order take-out from this little hideaway. Our group had a great time eating, laughing, and catching up on our lives - something that should be done at every meal, don't you think?

Seoul Restaurant
Tumon (Across from Guam Reef Hotel)

It has been many years since our last visit to Seoul Restaurant, though we'd thought about it often and had every intention of returning. We finally did last week and actually had a pretty good time despite the restaurant being out of the lettuce leaves we use to roll up our meat. I still can't believe that we reviewed this restaurant in June 2003, which covered the famous local lunch special menu. They are still very popular with locals who go there during lunch. This night, there were only Japanese and Koreans eating here, and as I said, they had just run out of lettuce.

Seoul's owner, Mie Park, recognized me and though she wasn't here during my review, her sister, Sung, served us and later sent the review to Mie. After all these years I was grateful she wasn't mad at us for taking our sweet time in returning!

We ordered the Choice Rib Meat (Kalbi Rib, $21.95, 2 pieces), and the Choice Sauce Red Meat (marinated Kalbi w/out rib bone, marinated, $19.95). As the restaurant was full and they didn't have a table with the set-in barbecue grill, we were brought a stone table top grill to use instead for grilling our meat. This wasn't too much of an imposition, we just wouldn't get the benefit of the wood charcoal flavors you get when using those white hot embers.

I really enjoy the interactive nature of grilling the meats myself. I have to turn it every so often and then cut it, add garlic to the grill and even sliced onion Korean-style. Zee really likes the gojujang (Korean red pepper paste) dipping sauce and asks for it regularly when we go to Korean restaurants. For panchan, we usually get a wider selection at Urijip, however, Seoul's is pretty much in line with other Korean restaurants, and even had marinated shiitake mushrooms.

Seoul is still a great little restaurant with lots of personality and fans as you can tell from the numerous autographed drawings on the wall, many of which are from celebrity guests.

We promised we'd come back in a more timely fashion and one of the servers who had been joking back and forth with us even wanted to take a photo with me. Our next visit we'll be sure to check for lettuce leaves and barbecue grills. We have every confidence that we'll have a great time eating at Seoul Korean Restaurant again.

Chal Mokgesumnida!

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