August 27 , 2010, Volume 10 Number 16
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's nearing the end of August and it already seems we're running out of year! One thing we are not running out of is restaurants! With over 500 restaurants already in play here it's hard to imagine that there are people who want to add to the mix. Nonetheless, we are awaiting the opening of Cajun Delight, Delmonico Grill & Bar (formerly Sereno's), plus Dr. Kabob Grill and & Deli which will feature Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cuisine. This restaurant is located in Tumon underneath the V.I.P. House Chinese Seafood Restaurant.
I haven't yet tried the newly opened Submarina California Subs restaurant that opened in July in Barrigada Heights. I understand they are already looking to expand to another location, perhaps in the Tamuning area near the old I.T.& E. offices which seems kind of close to rival Subway. Two other restaurants that are in development are located in the former restaurants Old Hagatna Grill and Artista Cafe, though we don't yet have any names to release. Finally, we've learned that Chuck E. Cheese may be opening in November in the GPO location that housed Bestseller Books. Chuck E. Cheese will certainly raise the island's dining as entertainment bar a few notches, especially for kids and families. I believe this area needs further development since Guam has a preponderance of families with small children that are looking for kid-friendly dining establishments.
We want to give a Happy Birthday shout-out to one of the region's top restaurants, namely Giovanni's at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, which is celebrating its 15th year of business. They will be holding a special dinner event tonight (Aug 27) with the theme "Broadway, the American Musical". I sure wish I could be there as I understand they will be featuring a live station making fresh tiramisu from scratch. Kudos to Executive Chef Gabriele Colombo and the staff and management of this gem of a restaurant!
Ken the "Guam Good Guy"
House of Brutus Lunch Special - A Deal of a Meal
Looking for a quiet and relaxing place for a late afternoon lunch that won't cost you an arm and a leg? I found that House of Brutus is a convenient place for me to pop into and recharge the batteries while getting some sustenance that's actually pretty good. I was in the mood for a meat loaf dish when my server, Ronald, told me about one of the specials for the day. Mind you, it was already nearly 3 p.m. and so many restaurants stop serving their specials earlier or aren't even open mid-afternoon.
The day's special was a Chicken Mushroom and Ranch Pizza on Naan bread with a cup of Seafood Gumbo. This was priced at $10.50 including a glass of Iced Tea. The bargain is in the pricing since this 9" personal pizza is regularly priced at $9.50 by itself, and the cup of gumbo is $4.50 while the tea is around $2 so you can already see the savings! I also ordered the Meat Loaf and Gravy ($10) choosing the beef gravy rather than the mushroom or plain gravy choices.
The Seafood Gumbo is a standard on their menu and it should be. It's spicy, rich, and filled with vegetables and chunks of fish. The cup is so full it almost "runneth over". The pizza on naan was a surprise since I strayed away from my traditional favorites of Italian sausage and mushroom. The ranch dressing cooked with a generous portion of chicken smothered in mozzarella cheese was a novel flavor combination.
I sampled both the soup and pizza and took both home so I could concentrate on satisfying my meat loaf craving. I liked the meat loaf with the beef gray. It's a hearty portion and was accompanied by rice and a sauted vegetable medley, which was something that seemed experimental - it just didn't work for me.
Overall, though, I was satisfied with the meal and service, and liked that I could escape from the traffic that's become increasingly congested over the past couple of years.
Sushi Ebisu Japanese Restaurant
There's a solace I get from eating at Sushi Ebisu that I don't get anywhere else. It's the intimacy of the sushi counter and the interplay with Chef Fumi-san, while incongruent jazz plays in the background. The food is always a delight.
We were joined by our friend Toshie who'd just returned from Japan. Both she and Zee were in a curry kind of a mood and I ordered a few dishes to share from Ebisu's extensive menu.
irst to arrive was the Sashimi Platter ($15/small). Fumi-san surprised us with a gift of Hamachi toro - the fatty part of the belly which is a rarity by any measure. This was joined by Tako (octopus), Iki (squid rolled with shiso), shake (salmon), and Maguro (tuna).
Next to arrive was the Salmon no Carpaccio ($6.50), which features Ebisu's unique smoked salmon marinating in oil with capers and mayonnaise. It's divine, simple, and refined.
Toshie's Yasai Curry ($10) is a delicious assortment of vegetables are grilled and then immersed in Ebisu's spicy and flavorful curry sauce. Yellow, green and red bell peppers are joined by eggplant, carrot, squash, celery, and onion. It's a great meatless option and comes with a salad.
Next to arrive was my Torikushi ($4.50), which is grilled skewered chicken with teriyaki sauce. Toshie and I really relished this as the sauce is closer to a yakitori taste and is not as heavily sweet as most teriyakis. Moreover, Ebisu uses only thigh meat, which is juicier and has more flavor when grilled.
Zee's Chicken Katsu Curry ($10) arrived to her delight as usual. This is a very popular dish at Ebisu and once you try it you'll understand why. It's a sensational treat.
My final order was the Alaska Roll ($12), which is one of Ebisu's American-style sushi rolls with salmon topped by a paper-thin slice of radish, with avocado and crab filling the inside of the roll. In the background of the Alaska Roll is an article on display about Ebisu featuring beautiful food photos from the now-defunct WAVE Magazine, a hugely popular tourist publication in the 80s, 90s and the first decade of 2000.
All of the food we ate was so delicious that it elevated me to another one of those perfection moments we call "bliss". You can find yours, too, at Sushi Ebisu!
Vitale's Italian Ristorante
Tumon Plaza Arcade, 2nd Floor
(Across from the DFS Galleria)
No matter how hard you try you cannot resist the incredible authentic Italian cuisine prepared and served at Vitale's Italian Ristorante. We stopped by on a Sunday and had the Manicotti with Meatball's - $15.95. For those who don't know what manicotti is, it's an Italian crepe stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese then smothered with special tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It is one of those great creations that gives you warm and fuzzy feelings! When you have this and Vitale's garlic bread, you'll find it hard to eat it all, which means you get to take it home and have it later. The flavors just intensify when you reheat this glorious dish and eat it the second time around.
The other treat we had was the Spaghetti Pepperoncini ($12.95), which is filled with garlic chunks, green peppers, and red peppers, all bathed in olive oil. One of the great dishes for those who love garlic and can't get enough of it - you'll get it here! Try Vitale's. You're gonna love it!
Hawaiian Sushi Infusion At Roy's
A Colorful Array of Textures and Fresh Tastes to WOW your Palate
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
In the universe of great restaurants that have sustained over the years, Roy's Restaurant is firmly entrenched in the top tier ensuring its status by introducing new and exciting menu creations that reflect the culinary genius and unfettered imagination of its founder, Roy Yamaguchi, whom I consider a living legend and one of the most innovative chefs in the world.
One key element of innovation is renovation, and that's exactly what has taken place at Guam's own Roy's Restaurant, located in the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. Yes, a brand new look that's sophisticated yet unpretentious, with a toned down sleekness that places more emphasis on the dark wood table tops, now dressed with gold-woven place mats, which are the ideal landing pads for Roy's latest flotilla of fantastic creations - Hawaiian Fusion Sushi!
In this review we're going to showcase some of the newly introduced sushi selections as well as a few other new menu additions that we recently had the opportunity to enjoy. One of the first things you'll notice in the main dining room is that the window to the kitchen now has a sushi counter where there used to be a tandoori oven. You can watch the live action sushi preparation by the sushi chef, which may not be as exciting as a teppan chef flaring up the griddle, however, you'll soon discover plenty of excitement in the superb fusion sushi roll that's stimulating your palate.
The first sushi creation to arrive from the Yamaguchi Sushi & Sashimi menu page was Auntie Lei's Aloha Roll ($14.50), which seemed an appropriate way to greet our palates with the spirit of Roy's home state! This colorful roll features spicy tuna, kaiware (sprouted daikon radish seeds), cucumber, yellowtail, salmon, avocado, and garlic ponzu. From your first bite you'll know that only fresh, high-quality ingredients are used. The tobiko (flying fish roe) explode with bursts of flavor as you savor each bite. The kaiware imparts a unique fresh, green flavor and texture. As with the other sushi creations, wasabi and shoyu are offered, however, each has its own special sauce that is a preferred option you should try. The garlic ponzu worked magically.
The Spider Maki Tempura ($11.50) has soft shell crab, kaiware, avocado, tobiko, and a tangy lime aioli. The presentation is both striking and elegant, enhanced by an orchid's inimitable beauty.
The Hawaiian Sushi Sampler ($32) is a lavish parade of sushi varieties, and includes spicy tuna roll and nigiri sushi creations with hamachi, salmon, shake (salmon), maguro, shiromi (white fish), unagi (eel), and a spicy, flavorful poke made with truffle oil. It is indeed a gourmet poke like you've not had anywhere else! Truly a work of art with over-size cuts of fresh fish that overwhelm their rice foundations - and we have no complaints about that!
Roy's Sunrise at Haleakala ($12.50) offers a rainbow of colorful elements, with fresh tuna, yellowtail, salmon and avocado with a crispy asparagus roll beneath. This is accented by a spicy butter sauce.
One of the most intriguing sushi creations that we had was the Lakanilau Seared Wagyu Beef Wrapped Around Snow Crab ($18.50). This was a dreamy marriage enhanced by tempura asparagus and fresh avocado. The thin sliced succulent ultra-premium beef seemed to dissolve on your tongue. A dollop of ikura (salmon roe) atop each roll added an extra element of the ocean's bounty. Sliced pink gari (pickled ginger) was coupled with spicy red ginger strips, with each adding a separate pickled flavor that refreshed the palate. A spicy aioli blend accented the entire creation.
Our final sushi sensation was the Mana Dragon Roll ($15), which had freshwater eel, avocado, yuzu snow crab, and came with a memorable minted pineapple chutney. The pineapple seemed to have transformed into pieces of mango! The quality of this fresh water eel was notable as there were no traces of the tiny bones that seem to come with unagi. It also tasted better.
We did have one of the new salad creations, Thai Shrimp Salad ($12.50), which featured peanuts, cucumber, fennel, and baby red radish in a Key Lime nam pha vinaigrette. True to its origins, this Thai salad has powerful flavors with spicy, fiery tones. It's vivacious and refreshing, with unusual ingredients like the dried fish latticework layered across the top that tastes and feels like cuttlefish, and onions that have been shredded and marinated to look like pickled papaya.
Before I go too much further I should note that our Hawaiian Fusion Sushi creations were paired with Roy's Private Label California Chardonnay, which was among the better Chardonnay's available. There is also a Private Label Cabernet that I have yet to try. The bottle goes for $48 but this fine wine can be purchased by the glass for $12.50.
We had one of Roy's Signature Dinner Entrees, the Hibachi Grilled Atlantic Salmon ($28). The menu designates these signature items with a green "Y" Yamaguchi. This mouth-watering dish has a titillating cucumber and wakame salad, which perfectly blends and balances thin crisp cucumbers with the chewy wakame, splashed with an inspired and zesty ponzu sauce. The salmon is char-grilled hibachi style and delicately-moist on the inside. It's got a smokiness that harmonizes well with the cucumber and wakame.
The final entree I'll highlight was Roy's Surf & Turf ($55), a new addition from his Hawaiian Mixed Plates Menu. This show-stopping creation includes a blue cheese and porcini buttered 8 oz Certified Angus Beef filet mignon, lobster medallions flamed with cognac, crispy polenta fries, charred tomato anchovy ragout, and chili calamansi lime salsa. It's a tour de force that pairs the best of the land with the king of the sea. The lobster medallions are sweetened by the cognac searing and pair well with the panorama of sauces layering the plate. It is another sensational masterpiece you won't soon forget!
No dinner at Roy's would be complete without finishing with Roy's Signature Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle ($11.95), that we enjoyed with a cup of Roy's exclusive percolated Kona Coffee, a visual adventure in coffee physics that's well worth the wait. our service was performed perfectly by Christian Dior, a personable young lady who lived up to the quality standard of that renowned brand! We also want to applaud the outstanding culinary performance of Chef de Cuisine Dennis Salenga and his kitchen team who made the magic happen at Roy's!
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