What are your favorite "comfort foods"? I actually have a long list, and identify certain dishes with specific restaurants, such as Nayon Turo Turo's Tinola, Mary's Vietnamese for Sinigang with Shrimp, Katsu's (Green Door) Tofu Steak, Kar Kar's (May's) WonTon Soup, Menkui Ramen's Chashu Ramen, Kai's Hamachi Kama (Grilled Yellowtail Collar), Lone Star's Chopped Steak , PROA's Big Feller Trio, Zozo's Fried Pork Chops, Chopstix's Katsu-don and Hava Java Cafe's Chicken Salad Sandwich on a Toasted Baguette. I could add a few more, as these are the dishes that I will re-order at a restaurant over and over again. There are certain taste and flavor combinations in these foods that evoke a lot of good memories and when eating them I feel "secure" and truly comforted.
It's great to have these comfort foods and it's disappointing and sad when one of your favorite restaurants closes. Which is an excellent reason to learn how to cook your own comfort food. I have climbed on this band wagon after recently acquiring a pressure cooker which I immediately put to use making an awesome Oxtail Stew. These were fall-off-the-bone and melt-in-your-mouth tender! I was able to make enough for leftovers and to share.
As more new restaurants open up I'm sure there will be new comfort foods that will inspire our palates and satisfy our cravings! Now that's an exciting prospect for the New Year. Speaking of which, "Gung Hay Fat Choy!", Chinese for "Happy New Year!" We will be celebrating Lunar Year 4709, The Year of the Rabbit next Thursday, February 3 and the signs are auspicious for a good and prosperous year with the Rabbit in charge!
Ken, the 'Guam Food Guy'
9th UOGEF MCA Chef's Cup
February 2, 2011
Hyatt Regency Guam
Tickets are completely sold out! Look for a full review of all of the happenings in our next newsletter. It promises to be the best yet.
Outrigger Guam Resort celebrates Chinese New Year "Year of the Rabbit"
Thursday, Feb 3, 2011
The celebration begins at 6pm with the traditional Lion Dance in the hotel lobby by the Chinese School of Guam. The Palm Cafe will feature a buffet of Chinese cuisine including a selection of Chinese-themed salads such as Jelly Fish Salad, Century Egg Salad, Drunken Chicken Salad and more. Adding to the tasty choices is the Seafood Station with Mussels in Chili Sauce, Steamed Shrimp with Chinese Vinegar & Garlic, and Sashimi. There will also be an assortment of Dim Sum, a Crispy Noodle Station, two soups and an array of hot entrees - all accompanied by free-flowing Tsing Tao Beer. Finish up the celebration with a visit to the Dessert Station and you will have kicked the Year of the Rabbit off in fine style.
The Chinese New Year Dinner Buffet Celebration is $32.95 per person and $18.95 per child (ages 6-12 years) plus 10% service charge. Please call (671) 649-9000 for reservations and more information.
Shoreline Bar + Kitchen
The buzz over Shoreline has continued to gain momentum as more and more diners discover this happening place and explore their expanded menu offerings. I stopped by for a glass of wine one night and had a chance to try out two dishes while sitting at the bar. I ordered the Carabao Wings ($11.95), which are glazed in a sweet and spicy island sauce and served with celery and carrot sticks and jalapeno-ranch dipping sauce. These were actually quite good and I could see myself snacking on them again, though I'd probably have them with a cold beer as they were certainly spicy.
The other dish I ordered was the Flank on a Plank ($10.95), which was a flavorful and satisfying tender marinated and grilled flank steak. You can get this at your preferred doneness though I prefer medium rare and recommend it. Shoreline's finadene sauce is made fresh daily and certainly among the better tasting finadene's I've had. This dish is a hearty portion of lean meat that would be best shared.
While I was there, Chef Sandy Santiago brought out a Butterscotch Creme Brulee that they are going to be serving for Valentine's Dinner. It's certainly a dessert one could fall in love with eating.
Chili's Grill & Bar
Around the middle of last month I had the opportunity to sample a few of the new items available at Chili's. Among these was a refreshing new concoction promoted as "Fire and Ice!", but officially known as the Patron Pomegranate Margarita: the Perfect Mix of Patron Silver Tequila (100% Blue Agave), Patron Citronage Orange liqueur and pomegranate with a splash of Sprite. I actually liked the taste of this better than my usual favorite, El Presidente!
One of the new appetizers I tried was the Southwest Shrimp Dip, a creamy spinach dip with artichokes and southwest seasoned shrimp served with seasoned Pita Wedges ($11.99). The pita wedges are actually deep fried (but not greasy), and marry well with this rich and creamy spinach and artichoke dip infused with sliced Southwest spiced shrimp. This hot dish is smartly served in a small cast iron skillet to retain its heat and keep the cheese so gooey soft. It's an appetizer that's best shared since it is a very generous portion.
I also had the Pulled Pork ($11.99) with caramelized onions and spicy coleslaw on a sesame seed bun. This bad boy is served with provolone cheese and BBQ sauce, and a pile of fries. I liked the coleslaw layered underneath the pile of pulled pork, as it added a lot of crunchy texture to each bite and complemented the caramelized onions that were interspersed with the melted cheese.
After eating so much I didn't believe I had room for the decadent White Molten, which is another item best shared, especially if you have a sweet tooth. There's hot white chocolate inside with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. It's the ultimate way to end a meal at Chili's. That's why they urge you to "Save room for dessert!"
Blue Lagoon Plaza
Already known as one of my favorite dining destinations, Kai Restaurant's food experience is enhanced by the pub-like ambiance, where regular diners come and visit their shochu and sake bottles, which have their photos attached to the outside. Dining in this izakaya is an extended process that can last an hour or two, as you sip and eat, all the while carrying on conversations with your friends as well as owners Hideto "Pancho" and Sue Yanase.
Kai's Sashimi Plate ($25) is a wonderful tribute to seafood, with salmon, yellowtail, mackerel, squid, red snapper, and maguro tuna.
I had the Tempura Roll ($6), featuring crisp shrimp tempura with spicy mayonnaise. They don't overdo the mayonnaise the way some of the more popular sushi eateries in Upper Tumon are doing and that makes this a really enjoyable choice. I also ordered another appetizer, Buta Kushi Yaki ($6) which is pork grilled on skewers. Of the few I've had, this is one of the best as they use special seasonings to really bring out the pork flavor. These are quite tasty.
My comfort food moment was the arrival of my Hamachi Kama ($11), which is the miso-flavored yellow tail. It is perfectly grilled so that the white fish meat is steamed to doneness under the charred skin. They had local lemons available to squeeze over the grated radish and shoyu blend. This classifies as "finer dining" in the purest culinary sense. Lovely!
A new menu item that I sampled while there was their Tofu Steak ($6). This is a firmer tofu and the skin is a little tough. The bonito and thinly sliced green onions are piled on top and the tofu rests in a pond of mirin and dashi. It is a welcome addition to their menu.
If you've not yet visited Kai, you should make it a point to do so as soon as you can. They are open for dinner only 7 days a week!
Onward Beach Resort
Dinner Service 5:30-10:30pm
It's been nearly seven years since I reviewed Caravel Restaurant, which is the Italian eatery on the ground floor of the Onward Beach Resort. Our review was February 2004 and it was by all accounts a rave review that extolled the culinary talents and enthusiasm of then chef/manager, Yoji Akiyama, who has long since left Guam.
I must thank Onward Executive Chef Hiromi Gunji for his considerate invitation for me to return and try out some of their menu items. I must mention that Chef Gunji introduced me to the Caravel chef who actually worked in the kitchen at Caravel when Akiyama-san was there - his name is Ricky Emesiochl, and he hails from Belau. This guy can cook up a storm!
Our server was Alvin, who was extremely helpful in recommending and catering to our needs and is another really nice guy who is proud to be in the hospitality industry. We followed some of his suggestions and started out with a Minestrone ($5.50). This minestrone was actually one of the best versions of this classic Italian soup that Zee and I recall. It was both delicate and richly flavored. They used pancetta to add flavor and a number of other ingredients that were long simmered to perfection.
Another suggestion was the Bianca & Prosciutto Pizza ($19). This excellent pizza had the mozzarella cheese on the pizza as one would expect but the sliced prosciutto was on a separate plate, bedecked by a small pile of green olives. To eat this, you get a slice of pizza then top it with a slice of prosciutto and add a single olive. You can eat it flat or roll it into a taco shape so you don't drop your olive! The taste is awesome with the cheese and prosciutto flavors simply magnificent together.
We had the Antipasto Misto ($16) which is simply an assortment of the day's appetizer. This featured marinated seafood including shrimp, mussels, scallops, smoked salmon, squid, marlin eskabeche, and shitake mushrooms. This platter changes each day and they usually have eggplant, however, they substituted the mushroom, which was still pretty good. Along with this came our Garlic Toast ($5.50), which had three large pieces of thick French bread. Another plus is that they do bake their breads and desserts on property.
Our main entree was a complete surprise - King Crab & Lettuce Spaghetti ($22). If you like King Crab, this is chock full of it and when married to the cherry tomatoes and lettuce it is a surprisingly successful dish. The lettuce is sauted down but still has some crispness and firmness. You can add (we did) fresh grated parmesan cheese to blend in with the pasta and broth. This is a worthy creation. There are other pasta dishes on Caravel's menu such as Peperoncino, Meat Sauce, Shrimp & Tomato Cream, Bacon & Mushroom Tomato Sauce, and Sea Urchin and Squid. All use spaghetti pasta.
We had two desserts to end the dinner. One was the classic Hot Chocolate Cake ($9.50), which is the chocolate molten souffle. This was beautifully plated and garnished with fresh strawberries and crowned by a cherry. It's one of those Valentine "dream desserts". The other dessert was the Afogato aka Espresso & Vanilla Ice Cream for $7.50. You pour the espresso over the ice cream to make a dreamy espresso float.
Caravel has a nautical theme ambiance and offers beach views through large glass wall windows. We are looking forward to returning for some of their steak and seafood offerings. They use Certified Angus Beef and offer wine by the glass or bottle. They even serve San Pellegrino which certainly gets my Italian nod! I won't wait nearly so long to return to Caravel Restaurant.