June 25 , 2010, Volume 10 Number 12
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Some things, like restaurant closings, are inevitable. We've seen the statistics that measure restaurants succeeding based on the number of years of operation. We'd expect to see restaurants last at least a year, which is one of the first benchmarks for success - surviving your first year. The sudden closure of Artista Cafe and Maxi's Burgers & Shakes, both open just this year (Artista in January and Maxi's in April), caught many by surprise. Even one restaurant seems to have closed before it even opened, and that's Just Tacos, which was supposed to open in the Baba Corporation's new strip mall in Tumon, across from Tumon Sands Plaza.
Other restaurants that have closed recently are Kiyo Sato Japanese Restaurant in Tumon (owned by long-time Guam resident Kiyonori Oyama), COLORS Red, Nanay's House, Old Hagatna Grill, and Wild Thai. We don't want to ever forget the venerable Genji Restaurant in the Hilton, which has since transformed into the Fisherman's Cove Seafood Restaurant. The length of time doesn't always guarantee survival. In fact, there are no guarantees, rather, there are just noble efforts.
When I reflect on some of my favorite restaurant dining experiences, I recall the greats like the Galleon Grill, Kurumaya Seahorse, Flamboyan, Claret, Le Tasi Bistro, Firefly, Chuck's, Marty's, Sichuan Kitchen, Andaman Thai, Old Hagatna Grill, Y Kusina, Creations, Lotus Garden, Chianti, M's Steak House, Ivory Cuisine, and the Salzburg Chalet. There are others, but these are the ones I'd have loved to see around still serving at their prime. What are some of your favorite restaurant memories from eateries now past? I'm sure you could add to my list!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday June 26, 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 a candid discussion with Brian Artero, President of Pacific Dining, which owns Lone Star Steakhouse and Chili's Grill & Bar, and Chris Bejado, co-owner and Director of Hospitality, for PROA Restaurant.
Our second hour guests will feature Sheila Peebles aka the Wine Lady, who has been the Wine Sales Team Leader for Ambros, Inc. , and her sister, Karen Peebles, of PIC. For those who don't yet know, the Peebles sisters will soon be departing Guam and moving on to other exciting life adventures!
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!
"Heads up! There's a celebrity in the house!" Where are the paparazzi when you need them? Yes, we stopped by Thai Kitchen the other night and noticed that Guam's own famous (and very accomplished) musician, Patrick Palomo, was hunkering over a steaming hot bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup, one of his favorite dishes. Of course, he had bumped it up a few degrees by adding "Thai finadene" pepper sauce. Patrick was chatting away with Thai Kitchen's ebullient owner, Toy McGurk. We had to have what he was enjoying with all that fried garlic on top!
Photo clockwise from top left: Chicken Noodle Soup; Guam Food Guy, Patrick Palomo & Toy McGurk; Spring Rolls, Bangkok Wings, Pad Kra Poa, Papaya Salad
We ordered the Chicken Noodle Soup ($8), along with Papaya Salad (Som Tom, $8), Bangkok Wings ($7), Spring Rolls ($6), and Pad Kra Poa "Thai Style" with the fried egg on top, which is a delicious dish combining minced chicken, basil, and peppers. There were three of us so we were able to eat almost all of this feast.
The Bangkok Wings came with a sweet chili sauce and they were fried and marinated perfectly - they were probably the first to go!
The soup was truly a floating culinary masterpiece with minced chicken balls, red pepper paste, cilantro, noodles, dumplings, green onions, bean sprouts, and crispy fried garlic chips. I embellished it a bit with that fiery Thai finadene - you don't need a lot of this stuff! One thing for certain about Thai Kitchen, you can count on them for putting out really tasty Thai food! Try the Garlic Shrimp!
An Evening with Ernesto
May 30, 2010
Hyatt Regency Saipan
Italian wine-maker Ernesto Casetta, of Casa Vinicola F.LLI Casetta, returned to Saipan after his first visit two years ago. This time, a unique and special dinner was held to celebrate his second visit to beautiful Saipan. He was again accompanied by Ms. Carla Martino, his personal assistant and translator. Club at the Hyatt members and other invited guests attended this fabulous event that started out with sunset cocktails and canapes in the Hyatt's elaborate garden, which is a floral paradise!
Executive Chef Gabriele Colombo prepared a sumptuous feast that was designed to pair with four Casetta wines. The Aperitivio della casa (house canapes) included Bruchetta with liver pate, balsamico reduction, Tuna Rolls filled with celery and arugula, lemon essence, and Breasaola ham on ciabatta toast, basil remoulade. These were joined by Casetta Gavi DOCG and Casetta Langhe Favorita DOC, both tag-teaming as the perfect aperitif.
Photo clockwise from top left: Insalata di spinaci; Wine, Filetto di manzo brasato; Sr. Casetta and Chef Colombo; Dessert Buffet; Crema di asparagi; Risotto con zucchini
After the sunset, the entourage moved into Giovanni's for dinner, which started out with Insalata di spinaci, anatra, grana padano e salsa, agli agrumi e senape (salad of fresh spinach, seared duckling breast, grana padano, pine nuts and citrus mustard). This was paired with Casetta's Gavi DOCG, a light, refreshing wine with a pleasing bouquet made with 100% Cortese grapes.
The next course was a Crema di asparagi e ragu' di gamberetti (green asparagus soup with shrimp and tomato ragout, oregano oil) which was served in a coffee cup and paired with Casetta Langhe Favorita DOC.
This was followed by an extraordinarily delectable Risotto con zucchini, porcini e fonduta alla fontina (Carnaroli rice with zucchini, porcini mushrooms and fontina cheese fondue) that held its own with a magnificent velvety ruby red Casetta Barbera d'Alba DOC Barilin.
The main course raised the culinary bar for all with a succulent and flavorful Filetto di manzo brasato con salsa ai frutti di bosco e verdure grigliate (Braised beef prime beef roulade, grilled garden vegetables, forest berries, red wine jus). Again, the Casetta Barbera D'Alba DOC Barilin escorted this fantastic course and fully delivered a robust and intense performance on the palate.
It was a meal to remember, complete with melodic piano accompaniment. The attendees were so moved that they had Sr. Casetta and Chef Colombo autograph their menus to keep as souvenirs!!
The group then moved out to the Lobby Lounge for the Dessert Bar and Coffee, where they were mesmerized by such decadent creations as chocolate and hazelnut tarts, mini bonet pudding, assorted macaroons, a marinated strawberry salad topped by a warm amaretto sabayon, walnut ice cream and lemon sorbet. Illy coffee with biscotti was served with a pleasing Piemontese dessert wine, Casetta's Moscato d'Asti DOCG.
It was most definitely one of the best nights of the year for many who were there to celebrate with Sr. Casetta! Grazie, Chef Colombo!
Harmon Industrial Park Main Artery (across from PROLINE)
Seorabol Restaurant has been open for just over a year and it has already gained a reputation among Guam's local Korean population as the best place for getting a noodle fix! Specifically, two types of noodle dishes, Black Beans Sauce Noodles (Jajangmyun $8) [Editor's Note: when I lived in Korea this was a favorite dish of Westerners and it was called with great affection "axle grease & noodles] and the Stir Fried Spicy Seafood Noodle (Jjanpong $9). We had the former during our visit to this unlikely out of the way hole in the wall. These are the kinds of places you need to explore as they are well off the "beaten path" or in the case of restaurant, the "eatin' path"!
Open from 11am-9pm Monday-Saturday, Seorabal has a limited menu in English (and an expanded one in Korean on the wall). It's best to come with a Korean who can assist in the ordering and recommending. We were able to get suggestions on what to try out from owner Theresa Choi (quite fluent in English) who told us that their restaurant's cuisine is different from other Korean restaurants. They specialize in Chinese with Korean taste. We had a Chap Chae with Rice, ($12), which was kind of like a chop suey with lots of vegetables with the clear rice noodles and chap chae flavors. The side dishs (ban chan) included a spicy chinese broccoli kimchi, daigo, chopped white onion and black bean sauce, which was used for dipping the onion pieces.
The Black Beans Sauce Noodles has to be stirred and blended immediately upon serving, then cut with scissors to serve (a concession which isn't seen in Korea and we did the same with the Chap Chae). The noodles are thick, flour noodles and there were pieces of pork and mushroom in this dish, which had a thick black bean sauce that coated everything, For some reason, this reminded me of eating spaghetti with a thick sauce. It was quite good.
The other dish we had was the Sweet & Sour Pork $15, done in the classic Korean version of this Chinese dish. Theresa's husband, Byung, the chef/owner, apparently made us a little more than the normal size. This platter had a lot of crisp, battered pork bits that were in a thick sweet & sour sauce which is much more vinegary and with has cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini as well. Theresa prepared a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, and red pepper flakes to dip the pork pieces in, kind of like a finadene. It was a fun evening of culinary exploration!
Papa G's Noodles Station
Well, we finally made it down to Papa G's Noodle Station in Tumon. It's next to Chuan Fu on the ground floor of the building that houses Izakaya Katsu, the "Green Door". We did find out that they really have expanded their menu and repertoire of noodle offerings. Up to now, we had only dined at their Hagatna location. Papa G's wants folks to know that they don't use MSG in their dishes and that they use Reverse Osmosis to purify the water they use for cooking and ice.
Papa G's has several dining areas, with the first being out in front where they have built a wooden deck with a canopy. The other areas in the restaurant include a space along the building's corridor and in the back, which has over-size wooden tables and chairs. We sat in this back area and ordered from Tiffany, our cheerful server. We tried kimchee Ramen ($8), Pork Chop Fried Noodles ($9.50) and Fried Chicken ($6).
The portions here are huge and you really have to share your dishes when you order more than one thing. I should mention that the Kimchees Ramen (and several other Ramen dishes) have a local price, which was $6.50. The bowl is filled with fresh noodles, a spicy broth with lots of kimchi, some broccoli, bamboo shoots, and half a boiled egg. It's actually pretty tasty.
The Pork Chop Fried Noodles was a heck of a lot of food really too much for one person it may be there are guys with huge appetites who could finish this, but not us! It must have been about 3-4 pounds of food! The noodles were good and stir-fried with cabbage, broccoli, onions, and carrots. There was a generous amount of pork chop chunks throughout the noodle pile. It wasn't greasy and had a sauce that reminded me of Yakisoba noodles.
We ordered the Fried Chicken as we had when we visited the first Papa G's. It seemed to taste better and was seasoned kind of like Southern-style chicken. There seemed like 5 pieces, and it was mostly thigh meat. Not bad
Papa G's has noodle dishes from all over the world, including Vietnam, Japan, China, Italy, Thailand, Guam, Korea and Indonesia. At lunch time, they have special salads, soups, and pastas not available any other time. We'll have to return for lunch to try the Olive Farm Pasta or the Rock Pepper Pasta, a lobster dish with pepper cream sauce.
Meskla Dos Fine Hamburgers & Chamoru BBQ
Across from K-Mart (formerly Maxi's Burgers & Shakes)
Upper Tumon (11am-9pm)
To paraphrase a popular saying "You can't keep a good chef down" and this is especially true in the case of Chef Peter Duenas, a.k.a., the "Outdoor Chef" and owner/executive chef of Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro in Hagatna. Chef Peter has seized the opportunity to expand his brand and business to Upper Tumon and taken over the location that formerly was Maxi's Burgers and Shakes (and prior to that, Steaks 'n Shakes. They just opened on Tuesday and Chef Peter and brother Bryan are working on making this one of Guam's premier burger stands that also serves up some tasty "Tininu" aka BBQ!
I had a chance to test drive a few menu items on Thursday during lunch. I had a craving for some Tinala Katni (Chamoru Dried Beef) an item which is available on Meskla Dos' local style BBQ plates which are available as 1-choice, $6; 2-choice, $8 and 3-choice, $10. I order the TInala Katni and the plate included red rice, a really tasty macaroni salad, finadene, finadene dinanche, and a generous portion of dried beef, marinated with Chef Peter's special marinade. Other BBQ plate selections include Tasahos (Meskla's Special Smoked Pork), Katni (Short Ribs), and Manok (Chicken).
It's my feeling that Chef Peter really wanted to flex his culinary muscles when it came to making and serving burgers. He probably spent some time thinking about some of these extraordinary creations and now he can actually prepare and serve them. One that I tried was the Grilled Cheese Burger ($9.95) This has a house-made 8 oz. patty grilled to your liking and served (believe it or not) in-between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches! It is actually kind of a fantasy come true and a classic case of food combining! After all, who doesn't like a grilled cheese sandwich? How about combining it with a burger? It's a fantastic flavor combination similar to that perfect marriage of chocolate and peanut butter in the beloved Resse's Peanut Butter Cups. Meskla Dos hand makes their patties from high quality beef and they offer a choice of French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, or Onion Rings with their sandwiches.
The other burger I tried was their Rancheru Burger, a house made 8 oz patty grilled to order, topped with crisp bacon, a fried egg, and spicy house made ranch dressing. Amazing! I had it on a Basil bun (other bun choices are Sesame and Wheat). This is a monster burger and loaded with flavors that include grilled onions, fresh tomato, and shredded lettuce. The egg and ranch dressing combine exceptionally well with the beef patty.
Other burgers include the Guetes Cheese Burger (Spicy), which is named after a firecracker and uses Chef Peter's famous boonie pepper sauce. The Uhang Burger is made with shrimp dusted with panko and deep fried to a golden finish. The Guihan Burger fries coconut battered catfish and pairs it with a tangy scallion tartar sauce. The Achang Bay Blue Burger has melting hot blue cheese and a creamy garlic aioli. The French Toast Slammer is another combo creation that has a burger patty with French Toast and a side of maple syrup.
What I'd like to try out next is their P.B.L.T. (Peter and Bryan's version of the classic BLT). It uses crispy golden pork belly strips and recommends you use heavy mayonnaise with your lettuce and sweet tomatoes! There's a Tuna Melt and a Veggie Burger as well. There are also fountain sodas, house shakes, a Kids' Menu with Fried Chicken Strips & Fries for $4.95, as well as Fish & Chips and a "Duendes" Burger & Fries. I want to wish Chef Peter and his team every success in their new venture. I'm going to do my best to eat my way through his menu! I suggest you do the same!!
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