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March 25, 2011, Volume 11 Number 6

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

March 11, 2011 is in its final approach to finding its tragic place in the annals of time. Just as September 11, 2001 has forever etched itself ignominiously in the world's psyche, March 11, 2011 will join that date of devastation for the cataclysmic events that have affected and changed our planet. The repercussions and long-term impact are still unraveling with each day's news bringing starker images of the sheer tragedy that has challenged the people of Japan.

The people of Guam have demonstrated overwhelming support and sympathy (as has the international community and especially those who have landed on the ground in Japan to sort through the sordid aftermath of the tsunami's inundation). Our proximity to Japan and direct connections to the Japanese people puts us in a unique position to offer relief and succor to the families in the affected areas. It's just a matter of time for Japanese families to connect with local families and residents to arrange temporary home stays for their children during this difficult time when the survivors are marginally able to meet their daily needs. The frigid sub-zero temperatures in northern Japan may force the need to evacuate people to warmer and safer environments. This may be our opportunity as a community to do what we do best by sharing our homes and island hospitality. After all, we are all family.

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

Green Door's Annual Reunion with Dr. Jonathon Morris - Year 10!

Incredibly, it has been ten years since I first met Dr. Jonathon Morris and his wonderful soul mate, Suzan, here on Guam. It was actually at the Hilton's Islander Terrace and as I recall, I was hobbling along on crutches with a foot injury. Dr. Morris is a psychiatrist based in Portland, Maine, who has been making annual two-week visits volunteering his time at the Department of Mental Health. He does this at his own expense and has already been awarded the Ancient Order of the Chamorro by Gov. Felix Camacho for his humanitarian efforts in assisting our island.

Over the past 10 years our friendship has grown deeper and we have made it our commitment to dine at Izakaya Katsu (aka the Green Door) whenever he visits. This may be our 9th reunion dinner, but it is our 10th year of meeting (I say this since I don't believe we were able to dine at Green Door in 2008, however he was my guest on the K57 Tourism & You Guam Food Guy radio show).

Our initial introduction was made when Suzan read my review of Izakaya Katsu prior to their visit in March 2001. We exchanged emails and set a date to meet at the Green Door where Suzan flattered me with her recounting of my vivid food descriptions of the dishes we ordered.

Every time we rendezvous, we order pretty much the same things: Green Door's legendary and inimitable Tofu Steak, Fried Shrimp, Chicken Salad, and Rib Eye Steak. Yokho Soma, Green Door's vivacious proprietress, doesn't bother to give us menus she just perfunctorily asks, "You want the same thing again?" We take our traditional reunion photo with Yokho and say our farewells until next March.

It is our dream to visit the Morris' in Portland to enjoy their annual Lobster Festival. If there's one thing for which I'm grateful for in my life as the Guam Food Guy, it's in making lifelong friends like Jonathon and Suzan Morris.

Sushi Ebisu Lunch Special Plus
Tumon
647-3735

 

I had a craving today for salmon, not just any salmon, but the specially smoked salmon served at Sushi Ebisu. I ordered the Grilled Salmon on the Tuna Lunch Special Menu ($10), which offers tuna as sashimi or tuna bowl along with the salmon. For the money, you can't get a better quality Japanese meal consisting of fresh sashimi, miso soup, salad, pickled ginger, steamed rice, and grilled salmon. Joining the salmon are grated radish and a slice of local lemon. The grilling really accentuates the smoky flavor of the salmon, and combining it with shoyu mixed with radish and lemon - well, it's simply pleasure defined.

 

I also ordered the Alaska Roll ($12.50), which has salmon on top of the avocado and crab inside. Just covering the top of the salmon is a thin, nearly translucent slice of daikon radish. This is an amazing combination of flavor, taste, and texture, and I wish I could eat this every day! It's an indulgence I make it a point to afford.

Following on the theme of things which make being the Guam Food Guy so rewarding is the opportunity to share information about the delightful cuisine of Sushi Ebisu with so many people. This is truly a place you don't want to miss and will return to again and again.

Seafood Chef Restaurant
2nd Floor Hakubotan Building (across Tamuning Post Office and ITC Bldg).
Tamuning
649-0233

The Seafood Chef Restaurant held its Re-Grand Opening last Friday, March 18 during a festive lunch. The $12 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet has expanded the menu selections and offerings. The new sushi bar had Executive Chef James Han and Sushi Chef Alan Lacap churning out sushi rolls for the lunch buffet line at a steady pace.



Seafood Chef has established daily cuisine themes for their lunch buffet, with each day featuring a different ethnic food. Monday is Korean; Tuesday offers Chinese with Dim sum; Wednesday is Japanese with Sushi; Thursday is Chamorro & Thai; and Friday combines Chamorro with Filipino favorites.

Dinner is a la carte, and they have expanded their menu to include a list of steaks as well as adding more seafood than before, BBQ for grilling (you can do that outside on the upper deck) and the new Sushi Bar. There are also private rooms available with seating for groups of 180, 120, and 80 people. Lunch is served from 11am-2pm, while dinner is from 6pm-9:30pm


I have to admit to being impressed by the large selection of produce and Korean foods and kimchi. The new owner of Seafood Chef is Mr. Min, who also owns California Market. He has brought in a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and seafood from Korea. The fresh halibut makes incredible sashimi. It's really nice to see this re-energized and well-funded improvement in the physical facility and in the food offerings. They are planning on starting a breakfast buffet which means that Denny's and King's might want to watch out!

Nit's Thai Cuisine
DHSP Plaza, Route 8
Purple Heart Highway
Barrigada (near Golden Sea Restaurant)
734-1145

 

I had to eat some more food at Nit's the other day so I could take some photos for Nit. WIth the task at hand, I had to step up to the plate (not reluctantly) and started with an order of the Dried Beef Appetizer ($9) made with specially prepared Thai seasonings then deep-fried. When eating these, they are so tasty with a bit of smokiness and a touch of pika they could well be the perfect chaser with beer. No beer for me that day so I had the Thai Tea, which was quite refreshing on the palate.

Warming up to the task at hand, I also ordered Shrimp Salad ($10), which is supposed to be the Thai version of kelaguen. The menu says diced shrimp, however, I think they forgot their dicer! These were BIG Shrimp, sprinkled with green onions and a spicy marinade. I know that eating them made my ears warm! I did eat 'em all though!

Last but not least I ordered Thai Red Curry with Chicken ($8). This is one of the quintessential dishes of Thailand. It's culinary art in a bowl, with fresh green basil leaves garnishing the top and bamboo shoots, local eggplant, and tender chicken chunks floating in a golden pond of richly curried coconut milk peppered with chili flakes. I am sure it could have been hotter in terms of spice heat, however, it was just fine and I could savor every ingredient without any punishing burns!

Nit does an awesome job and her popularity is increasing. I am looking forward to my next visit!

Pier 65 Pub & Grill - "A New Taste Directly from Chicago"
Next to AC Auto (across from AK and just before Mango Electronics)
Tamuning
969-5463

"If you cook it, they will come!" That should be the motto above the entrance way to this hidden-away secret pub and grill that opened a little over a year ago!

Stupid me - I missed the great breakfasts they used to serve in the mornings. Sadly there was not enough customer traffic to make it worthwhile. It was thanks to a heads-up from friend Wally Tranowski, that inspired me to come and try out this place that Wally claims has "some of the best food at the best prices I've found". He went on to say "I've never endorsed a restaurant but everything in their menu is home cooked and delicious." As I discovered, Sir Wally speaketh the truth!

Zee and I arrived for dinner and there was a lot of seating available. At the bar was Wally ( he really does love their food!) and he introduced us to owners Gary and Sue Huck, who moved from Chicago to a little over a year ago to make Guam their home. It's a great little pub with a nice selection of beers, including some wonderful German brews thanks to our friend Lutz, along with other imports and domestics. One of the newer specials is a 16 oz. Rib Eye Steak with Baked Potato and Corn for $25, which includes three domestic beers from the Bud Family. Now that's a meal deal!


We didn't have that large of an appetite at the time and I decided on something that's rarely available and never done right here. It was the Rueben Sandwich ($8.75) with fresh sliced corned beef nestled amongst Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on grilled rye. This includes house made French fries. Now, folks, this is one darned good Rueben sandwich and one that I'm finally able to recommend without hesitation, qualification, or apology! IF you like RUEBENS, you've found a new home at Pier 65!

Zee ordered something from her childhood memories, Sloppy Joes ($8) which had two sandwiches with spiced ground beef simmered in a homemade sauce. I had a bite and yes, this did evoke those childhood recollections of food mom would make us kids -.sloppy joes! Talk about Americana! Perhaps these could be enhanced by spicing them up to meet some local preferences. They were fine by me as they were.

We had to try (had to?) one more recommended dish, the Meat Loaf ($8) homemade and topped with brown gravy and real mashed potatoes and corn. They were out of corn this night so we had mixed vegetables. I really like corn with my meatloafl don't ask me why! The meatloaf was just as American as it could be. Sue puts shredded cheddar cheese atop her potatoes as a sort of garnish. She makes these dishes to order and just enough for each day, so once it's out, that's it. Another customer came in and had the last order of Beef Stroganoff. They also serve Spaghetti & Meatballs, Pulled Smoked Pork Sandwich, Beef Burger, and Tinaktak using Katson's Sausage mixed with green beans and tomatoes simmered in coconut milk over rice. Gosh that sounds good!

Pier 65 is open Monday-Thursday from 12pm-Midnight, and Friday & Saturday from 12pm-2am. Happy Hour is from 5-8pm every day. They have two pool tables and an electronic juke box. I think we've discovered a new hangout!

Izaka-ya By Jimmy - Oriental Style Lounge & Diner
Upper Tumon across from St Johns
649-SAKE(7253)

Read the sign: "RELAX AND ENJOY YOURSELF"

That's the rule of the house and you must obey or be miserable! Talk about a fun place where you can just sit back after a hard day's work and put down a few beers or your favorite shochu while munching your way through a simple yet elaborate menu of izakaya-type foods.

Izaka-ya by Jimmy has been slowly building a crowd who come for the coolly quaint atmosphere with an ambiance punctuated by funny signs like "I Kiss Better Than I Cook" or "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, FLOOR!" This place has all the elements that draw people to do their social networking while relaxing. It certainly helps having daily drink specials such as $3.95 Tequila shots on Tuesdays or $3.95 Sake (hot or on the rocks) on Wednesdays, or $2.95 draft beer on Fridays.

For me, though, it's all about the food, and for chef/owner Jimmy it's clear from my two visits that this is his passion. On my first night, I started out with the Poki Salad ($6.95), which did have a spicier kick to it than usual.

Next we had the Izak-ya Tofu Steak ($5.95), which I thought was better than many others I've had that use a meat based gravy/sauce. It's pan seared so it has a crisp outer skin.This dish is one I consider a real comfort food.

We ordered the savory Japanese pancake known as Onokomi-yaki ($7.85), and it didn't disappoint. Well blended with cabbage, onion, bonito, bacon, mayonnaise, and flour batter, it was very good.

When I saw that they had Chicken Gizzards ($4.95) on the menu, I had to have them! Jimmy marinates his and then fries them. He uses a Japanese finadene for a dipping sauce. I can't really describe the unique taste. I am used having them prepared by tossing with seasoned flour then frying or done in grilled yakitori style. These marinated then fried and served with sauce were just plain oiishi!

The final item we had on the first visit was one of the house specialties and, at $12.95, one of the most expensive items on the menu, the Japanese-style Steak. This is a RibEye that's grilled, then sliced and served on a hot cast iron skillet. In the center is a huge pile of grated radish on top of a perilla (shiso) leaf. The eating process is to put the grated radish into the adjoining bowl of a finadene-like soy-based seasoned dipping sauce, then you simply cut your meat and dip it in the combined radish sauce blend. Not bad at all!


The steak was a substantial dish and while it was good, I had to come back the following night and order what I'd seen some friends eating at the bar. This enticing dish was the Deluxe Yakitori ($12.95), which is an impressive display of different yakitori on skewers, including chicken balls, chicken wings, pork, chicken, and beef. I thought this would have been enough, however, I ended up joining some friends for their Sizzling Garlic Shrimp ($8.95), Gyoza ($4.95), Kimchee ($2.95), and an Izaka-ya special, Potato Salmon ($8.95). It seems that all of these dishes are made for a reason or that they have their own story. Owners Jimmy and Gemini have made this restaurant their baby and they seem to bend over backwards to keep their customers happy. They also have karaoke here, so after a few snacks and libations, you can sing your troubles away!

Izaka-ya by Jimmy is the right kind of place to soothe the soul and maybe heal the world's wounds for just one night! I like it!

Ita dake masu!

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