Our company, Tools of the Trade, donated some professional San Jamar color-coded cutting boards, a 12-piece professional cutlery kit from Victorinox Swiss Army, and some learning charts on sanitation, proper food preparation, and safe food temperatures. I had been introduced to the Chef Instructor, Frank "Sonnie" Sablan, and after hearing what he was doing on Saipan, I recalled how I'd been involved equipping GCC's culinary program in the early days a quarter of a century ago.
I realize how critical it is for Saipan's students to get a good education to prepare them for the job market, and the culinary arts is a solid area for growth and opportunity. Jessica Barcinas Taylor, is the Career and Technical Education Program Coordinator for Kagman HS and she has a huge job. I believe if we can all find ways to assist, however small, we can accelerate the development of trained personnel to meet the needs of the local marketplace in Saipan. [Photo: L-R KHS Chef Instructor, Frank "Sonnie" Sablan; KHS Vice Principal, Leila Staffler; PSS acting Education Commissioner, Lynette Villagomez; CTE Program Director Jessica Barcinas-Taylor, and Guam Food Guy, Ken Stewart]
We are looking for big things to happen for these students - there are 48 in Chef Sablan's three classes. Many of these students are already showing potential and have participated in and won some food contests. The future looks bright for these aspiring students, especially with the right tools!
Chili's Grill & Bar
When I saw the ad in Monday's paper for the $5 Half Rack of Rib Special, I knew I had to try this out and boy am I glad I did!
I was waited on by Britt, a personable young lady who provided really great service. Since the ribs were cheap and I was hungry I ordered three different types - the Original, the Memphis Dry Rub, and the Honey Chipolte. I also ordered a side of Black Beans ($2.99) which are yummy good! I also ordered a piece of Garlic Toast ($.99).
My favorite flavor was the Honey Chipolte. While I like dry rubs, I think that the dry rubs work better on thicker cuts, like country-style ribs. The fat allow the flavors of the spice and herb blend to marry well. I also have a thing about Chili's. I can't walk in the door without thinking of my favorite Buffalo Wings ($9.49). Don't worry, I took most of this home for eating later. The ribs are on special for a limited time so get 'em while you can!
Sakura's Kitchen Remodeled
Upper Tumon (across from GTA Teleguam)
I had noticed some construction going on at Sakura's and actually thought they were closing. They weren't (thank God!) but they have renovated the entire restaurant, from the outside sign to the bathrooms which were stylishly outfitted and spanking new clean. They have re-energized the menu as well by adding more options and specials. The restaurant is around 11 years old and is now owned by Bob Yoshida. My original review was in 2001 and I will need to update it as we have featured Sakura's Kitchen in a number of newsletters since it has been a long-time GuamDiner favorite.
I ordered a Spicy Salmon Roll ($5.95) from the new special sushi menu. This had cucumber and salmon with some really pika mayo ribbons sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. I liked this small appetizer. It was meant to accompany my main entree, the Pork Cutlet and Egg Bowl ($8.95), more commonly known as katsu-don. This is one of my favorite comfort food dishes consisting of a rice bowl, with egg, pork, onions, and sauce. I liked the katsu-don as it was moist with dashi stock all the way through while the pork was tender and not dried out.
This place really packs up with customers during lunch. They have quite a following! Stop by and visit if you've not done so yet. They have popular bento box creations.
Delmonico Kitchen & Bar
Talk about overdue! I have eaten here several times since I last wrote about this place, which is now the home of my talented friend Eddie Chien, Executive Chef. Over the course of several dinners, we have tried a number of entrees off the menu as well as some specials that were featured, like the crab cakes and a delectable curried salmon dish that I'm still savoring. Eddie likes to do things that play with your palate and since he is a master at harmonizing unusual flavors and ingredients, the resulting fusion is invariably delicious!
At Delmonico, you can sit at the bar and eat or sit at one of the tables selecting from either the main dining room or the back room. The main room seems a little cooler to me. Though, I seriously think people stop thinking about anything else at all once they start eating! That is exactly what happened at our table!
The Classic Caesar Salad ($9 single/$17 shared) is one of a few salads offered. It comes with your choice of grilled or fried Chicken, Shrimp or fried Tofu. We had the shrimp and were satisfied with the quality and freshness of the ingredients and the taste of the dressing.
The Spicy Thai-style Hot Wings ($9) are a smart choice. They are covered with a lime mint dressing and our table really enjoyed the contrast of spicy with tart sweetness.
One of the dishes I've wanted to try was the Seared Spicy Creme Dory with Garlic Ginger Butter, seasonal vegetables, and steamed rice ($15) was well-seasoned and cooked to a gentle flakiness. That garlic ginger butter sauce is kickin'! While the fish is a basa, the dish seems to have received its name from a popular animated movie!
The Classic Scampi of Tiger Prawns with Tomato Garlic Herb Butter and Garlic Noodles ($16) is more than a mouthful of flavor! Both the Creme Dory and the Classic Scampi are "Signature Entrees", with good reason. The pasta is cooked al dente and the scampi are big and meaty.
During a visit with my brother, Lee, we had the No. 86 "Delmonico" Ribeye Steak prepared Chesa-style without the usual signature DKB Baked Mash potato. This dish usually comes with a choice of three sauces - Cajun, Local, and Yakiniku, however, since three of us were sharing dishes, we had all three sauces and gobbled it up quickly. I can't tell you which one I preferred most as all did justice to this tasty steak.
I understand from Eddie that they'll be making some menu adjustments and additions and I will definitely be back to try more food! [Editor's Note: Ask Eddie if he ever plans to reprise his Brazilian Glazed Pork Chops from the fondly remembered days of Ivory? Talk about a memorable dish!]
V.I.P. House Chinese Seafood Restaurant
Pacific Bay Hotel
"Where have you been?" That's the question manger Ken Li and owner, Daniel Chiu asked when they saw me today! Well, I'm back and it's just like returning to an old familiar place, but I'm going to have to come back again soon for another session, with a crab and a whole fish! This restaurant is known for seafood and I really want to come back with a large bib!!
Although we were supposed to have more members join our dinner group being reduced from six to three, Zee, Capt. Mike, and yours truly had the arduous task of eating multiple Chinese dishes - despite of diminished number, we did manage to try out seven dishes.
V.I.P. is one of Guam's largest and most atmospheric Chinese restaurants with large dining areas and four function rooms. They have done some remodeling and I was marveling at how pretty this place is. They also has some new talent in the kitchen and the service is also quite good, with seasoned waitresses at your beck and call, busying themselves with refilling your beverages and clearing your plates.
The dishes we tried was the Chicken of General Cho ($11). It's possible they meant to spell out General Tso, which seems to be the closest search result for this spicy chicken dish. It must be a winter-time dish because it's so full of chili peppers!
We then had Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet ($12), which had generous amounts of white fish that I thought it was basa but it could have been grouper. The green bell peppers and carrots were joined by sweet onions. I do think they use MSG but you can ask to have it cooked without if you prefer.
When the server brought out the Salt & Pepper Pork Chop ($9) we all found this to be very flavorful, juicy, and crisp on the outside. These are greaseless! The onions (both green and white) are ever-present and interspersed with red chilies. I like munching on these, though I need to watch my pepper intake!!
Our next dish was Chicken Won Ton Soup ($8), which is something I'd not had before. It was a very colorful with thin slices of tofu skin floating in the clear broth among the sliced green onions and green leaf vegetable. The chicken won ton has an appealingly different and lighter taste than the pork version. We all enjoyed this soup!
Never having tried Kon Pao Shrimp ($12), I wanted to try it. (I've enjoyed Kon Pao Chicken and Kon Pao Fish before.) We were all delighted by the large pieces of shrimp stir-fried with peanuts, red peppers, and onions. What a remarkable dish and really enjoyable since I love shrimp.
Our next arrival was House Fried Rice ($8). This seemed to have everything inside, including egg, ham, chicken, onion, green peas, and shrimp. The rice was well-cooked and gave us the starch we'd been craving. There was a lot of this left over as we were filling up quickly.
Finally, our last entree was Stir-Fried Kang Kong ($9), which was wok-fried with minced garlic. This is a classic vegetable dish. We ate what we could and that was it!
Everything was good - the meal, the company, the service, and the place! This was one of our more memorable dining experiences and that is saying something given how much we dine out.
V.I.P. offers reasonably priced dinner specials (we mostly ordered from these) and lunch specials which include two kinds of soup and rice. The menu prices range between $6 - $10. We will definitely come back and re-inforce our tasty relationship!