February 11, 2011, Volume 11 Number 2
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Happy Valentine's Day! Yes, it's that time of year when romance permeates the air along with the delectable aroma of specially prepared menus designed to seduce your taste buds and more! You can check out some of these amorous feasts that are listed at our GuamDiner.com's Valentine's Specials.
This week's DinerBytes includes a few hot spots I visited in Saipan during a recent visit. We're also excited to share with you an exclusive preview of Sushi Ebisu's newly-created Salad Lunch Special menu items that will launch on Valentine's Day, Monday, February 14.
Finally, if you are devotee of the culinary arts, then you won't want to miss the GCC ProStart Student Culinary Competition this coming Saturday, February 12, at the Micronesia Mall. All the details are in our first item. There's always something cooking on Guam's stove top!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
GCC ProStart Competition
Saturday, February 12 10am-4:30pm
The four ProStart culinary teams from Guam Community College's Career and Technical Education programs at George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Simon Sanchez, and Southern High Schools will fire up their gas burners this weekend at the Micronesia Mall to see which team will head to the national ProStart competition in Kansas City in May.
The competition gets underway at 10am with Southern High being the first school to check-in and prepare their three-course menu. The competition runs through 4:30pm at which time the winners will be announced and awards will be presented.
An interesting addition to the event is the appearance of Department of Defense high schools in the Pacific at the competition. DOD schools from Japan, Okinawa and Korea are on Guam and will compete amongst themselves for the chance to go to Kansas City for the nationals. Interestingly enough, DOD has had a culinary program in these schools for seven years, however this is the first time they have had a culinary competition. Attendees will have the opportunity to see the Guam schools and the DOD Pacific schools compete in their respective systems with a winner from each school system heading to the national competition. Should be an exciting event!
Team PROA Garner's 9th UOGEF/MCA Chef's Cup with Imaginative Dessert Creation
The recent 9th Chef's Cup was among the best ever held when you consider the quality and complexity of the courses created by the five competing teams. This year's theme was Mediterranean and the chefs were tasked with creating a dish inspired from the country they selected.
Although the ultimate and lasting glory of winning was bestowed upon Team PROA, headed up by Executive Chef Geoffrey Perez, all the teams put out some awesome dishes and we wanted to showcase these in order of presentation. Also, we really want to applaud the fantastic amount of teamwork and esprit de corps demonstrated by all who participated in the kitchen to make this culinary event the success that it has become. Seeing all of the GCC student/chef participants is a true heart-warmer to folks like me who remember the very origins of the culinary program that Barry Mead spearheaded with his vision.
1st Course - Cold Appetizer - Italy
Chef Rey Dasalla, PIC
Trio of Italian Cold Appetizers - Tuna Carpaccio with Roasted Baby Beets and Agrumato Oil; Marinated Scallops with Puree Avocado; Garlic Shrimp Bruschetta with Pesto and Tomato
2nd Course - Soup - Morocco
Chef Peter Duenas, Meskla Restaurant
Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Olive Oil Poached Shrimp and Stuffed Moroccan Flatbread
3rd Course - Hot Appetizer - France
Chef Daniel Lenherr, Westin Resort Guam
Homard fume chaud servi avec gateau de crabe frit et fondue tomate semi-dried doux (Hot Smoked Lobster Served with Fried Crab Cake and Sweet Semi-dried Tomato Fondue)
4th Course - Main Entree - Spain
Chef Michael Moral, Churrasco Brazilian BBQ Restaurant
Solomillo de Buey Braseada en Salsa de Rioja (Braised Beef Tenderloin in Rioja Sauce)
5th Course - Dessert - Greece
Chef Geoffrey Perez, PROA
Strawberry Sorbet, Honey Lavender Gelato and Orange Sorbet Creamsicle with Kataifi Strawberry Leather and Pistachio Dust
Chef Geoffrey's dessert was described as "playful and fun", reminding one of their childhood when the ice cream truck would deliver popsicles. The "creamsicle" was an artistic and complex creation that really defied the odds not so much by winning, but in getting the sorbets and gelato to the Hyatt without suffering any meltdowns!
Sushi Ebisu Japanese Restaurant
NEW Salad Lunch Specials
Tumon, across from Bank of Guam
To meet the demand and need for healthier dining and lighter fare, Sushi Ebisu will be serving Salad Lunch Specials beginning February 14. Three new salad creations will join the already popular Tuna Lunch Specials ($10) that Sushi Ebisu has been serving for the past few years.
I had the opportunity to "test drive" two of these salads, the Boiled Shrimp and the Grilled Pork Salad. The Boiled Shrimp Salad is loaded with medium-sized shrimp (10 pcs) layered on a bed of greens with both red and green shredded cabbage, sliced cucumber and tomato. A lemon wedge comes with to add a zesty tartness to the mix. I used the Italian dressing on this salad. Chef Fumie-san informed me that he wanted to give some people (especially ladies) a lighter option that didn't have too much rice. The half California roll provides an ample amount, and is a delicious treat on its own!
The Grilled Pork Salad was a little more daunting since the pork is actually a sliced pork steak. I used the roasted onion dressing on this. The pork slices are thick so it does take some chewing. Both of these are welcome additions to a great lunch-time specials line-up. Diners can also order sushi a la carte here for lunch as well.
Max Tropical Cafe
Tropical Quest Building
Max Tropical Cafe is still serving up some pretty tasty Thai that can be enjoyed while you sit at the bar. We stopped by after a long hiatus from Max's and were happy to reconnect with chef/owner Att. We ordered Flat Wide Noodles Stir-Fried with Vegetables and Chicken ($9), Phad Krapao Mee Thai-style with fried Egg ($9), and Penang Curry with Shrimp. I think that Att's Penang ranks right up there in taste.
The Phad Krapao could have been a little spicier (hotter), but I was able to enhance the heat with some Thai Finadene which is made by adding fish sauce to the usual suspects.
Max's also has a weekday lunch special buffet for $9.95. I'll have to come back for this one. I've become so used to eating here at night that I don't recognize it during the daytime!
Oleai Beach Bar & Grill ("Reach for the Beach")
Oleai Beach Bar & Grill is one of those places you don't want to leave after you've sat down, had a few beers, and watched the waves lapping up against the shoreline a few feet away from the outdoor dining deck. Besides its supremely relaxing location, Oleai serves a menu of tasty appetizers, specials, and entrees. For this write-up, I was able to add some photos from my previous Saipan visit to augment the ones from my visit this past Wednesday. During my December visit, I had a few Carlsberg beers while watching the sunset and enjoying two chasers, the first one being Chicken Wings Chase, which is chicken drumettes seasoned with Cajun spices. These are served with vegetable sticks and blue cheese dressing ($7.50). The other appetizer was the Shrimp Chaser, which features shrimp seasoned with seafood spices, sauted in butter and garlic served with Titiyas ( $8). I must note that these shrimp are locally raised and never frozen, so they had an appreciable freshness.
For my Wednesday dinner, I opted for the Daily Special, which was Fish & Chips ($8.50) with soup or salad. While awaiting my food, I gazed out over the darkened bay the trailing lights of three prepositioning ships anchored in deeper water. These ships have become part of the Saipan landscape (or seascape) as they've been here for years.
The Fish & Chips came out and looked alluring. There were three large battered pieces of mahi mahi joined by big planks of semi-baked potato deep fried to given them a crispy crunchy exterior. Tartar sauce and coleslaw also partnered with the Fish & Chips, completing this meal.
Oleai has other specials like Chicken Parmigiana, Blackened Pork Chops, Garlic Shrimp, Fettuccini Alfredo with Shrimp, and Stuffed Chicken Breast. You can get a Buck & A Half Taco Monday to Thursday from 11am- 2pm, with this special running all-day Friday to Sunday. Oleai has burgers and plenty more to eat.
Why don't you stop by on your next visit to Saipan and check out the great food and relaxing outdoor ambiance yourself!
Joe's Bar & Grill ("Home of the Tinala Katne")
Joe's is a place you won't soon forget. Located next to the VFW, Joe's is known for its fun karaoke singing and really delicious local specialties. They seem to get a constant supply of fresh fish which they put on special for kelaguen, poke, or frying.
Though I'd been to Joe's before at night, I didn't have my camera to capture food photos. This time, I did bring the camera. You'll have to take my word that the Tinala Katne (dried beef), Marlin Kelaguen, Wahoo Sashimi, and Marlin Poke are really good.
One of the things I like to do at a bar is get chasers or snack items. The menu is extensive at Joes' and they serve one of my favorite appetizers, Deep Fried Chicken Gizzards. This came with a side dish of Tinian Donne, which is close to radioactive, and a flavorful finadene. I bravely put dabs of donne in my finadene and started eating away in bliss. The bartender (I sat at the bar eating) noticed my lips, face and ears were turning red and it also had my nose running - that's how hot this new finadene was! One of my neighbors, a merchant marine stationed on one of the ships anchored off the coast, ordered the Chicken Kelaguen ($6.75), which was beautifully served in a white clamshell, and garnished with cucumber slices and red ginger slivers. He really enjoyed it!
Be sure to stop by Joe's Bar and Grill when you visit Saipan. It will welcome you with open arms!
Kili Cafe and Terrace
Hyatt Regency Saipan
Kili Cafe and Terrace has been offering a fabulous Healthy Lunch Buffet for some time now. The lunch features a full buffet for $26 with salads, a choice main course, and desserts. For $18, you can avail yourself of the salad and dessert buffet. Already full from an early morning breakfast that was backed up by a mid-morning meal at another hotel, I could only eat the main entree, which was a delectable Pan-Fried Barramundi Filet, Spinach, Mashed Potatoes, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This was a flavorful and healthy dish with Mediterranean underpinnings. The olives, capers, basil and olive oil made this one of those memorable dining moments.
As I was dining with Executive Chef Gabriele Colombo, he had another one of the entrees, the Roasted Half Spring Chicken, Forest Mushrooms, Roast Potatoes, Lemon Confit. He allowed me to capture a photo of it. To this day I regret not having ordered it since it also had the classic appeal of healthy eating with supreme flavors. I think it's best to come here with more of an appetite and not pre-loaded as I was!