April 29, 2011, Volume 11 Number 9
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Talk about a busy month! I don't know when we'll be able to catch our breath! It's been a non-stop roller-coaster ride of continuous activity, and it doesn't appear to be letting up!!
The result has been a delay in some things I've been wanting to reference and report on. Particularly, information about two restaurants that recently closed. One is La France, which was located in the Mezzanine Level of the Outrigger Guam Resort. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful and elegant restaurants on Guam with an incomparable view of the boulevard action of San Vitores below. The other restaurant that recently closed was Choi's Korean Restaurant (Zen) in Tamuning, off Marine Corps Drive just past American Music. Owned by John Cho and his perky wife, Choi, this restaurant deserves a medal for enduring a long, drawn out battle to stay open. Talk about a lot of heart! They thanked their customers for their patronage and apologized for any inconvenience as per a sign on their locked door.
So, we now look forward to May and to new restaurant experiences. It seems that the current buzz is on Table 35, which is set to open sometime in May.
So much to do and so much to eat! Such is life on Guam!
Ken the "Guam Food Guy"
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday April 30, 2011
Listen up this Saturday morning for the Guam Food Guy segment of K57's "Tourism & You" Show from 10am-Noon. Our first hour guests will feature Alice Chou, one of the organizers for this coming Sunday's Chinese Gourmet Festival to be held at the Sheraton. Also joining us in this first hour is Cheryl De Guzman, local marketing manager for Eternity Creek Winery and Wine Paradise LTD, along with one of their wine advisors.
In our second hour, we'll welcome Devika Saelen, Director of Food & Beverage for the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, and Hilton's Executive Chef Christopher House.
Feel free to participate by calling *57 on your cell phone or 477-5757. I'm sure we are going to have a lively conversation and restaurants and food are things about which everyone has an opinion!
Jazz Up Your Night!
14th Annual Auction & Wine Tasting Event to benefit the Guam Girl Scouts
Hyatt Regency Guam
April 29, 2011
Chinese Gourmet Festival
Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort
Sunday May 1, 2011
Tickets $25/adult, $15/children (6-12)
This special fundraising event is hosted by the Chinese School of Guam in conjunction with the United Chinese Association of Guam and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It will feature an amazing variety of Chinese dishes (more than 120!) and the entrance fee will entitle guests to sample these dishes and admission includes one drink. There will be other beverages available for purchase by vendors who will have booths.
Foods such as Bamboo Shoot Pork, Four Seasons Meatball, Fresh Shrimp Salad, Chinese Buns, Pork Lumpia Shanghai, Drunken Chicken Wings, Vegetarian Sweet & Sour Chicken, Duck with Beer Sauce, Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage, Shredded Pork Wrap, the ever-popular Honey Walnut Shrimp and Fish with Chili Sauce are just a few of the items featured.
The event will cultural entertainment and the ever-popular lion dance. There will be drawings for prizes in addition to auctions for luxury vehicles.
Team Adobo/Fiji Garners Grand Prize in Smokin' Grill BBQ Challenge 2011
The Grand Champion's Trophy and bragging rights for a year were claimed by Team Adobo/Fiji at the Miller Lite Island Flavor Smokin' Grill BBQ Challenge on April 17 at the Guam International Raceway Track in Yigo. Nine teams competed in three grilling categories: Beef Shortribs (kalbi cut), Pork Spareribs (baby back), and Chicken for the Miller Lite Challenge Prize. [Photo L-R: Jojo Santo Tomas, Janae Certez,; Miller Spokesmodel, Mike Rozanski, Frances Recheungel and Marty Leon Guerrero]
1st Place, GCC, Paul Kerner (team captain)
2nd Place, Meskla, Peter Duenas (team captain)
3rd Place, Triple J FiveStar, Jim Herbert (team captain)
1st Place, Team Adobo/Fiji, Jojo Santo Tomas (team captain)
2nd Place, Triple J FiveStar, Jim Herbert (team captain)
3rd Place, GCC, Paul Kerner (team captain).
Miller Lite Challenge
1st Place, PROA Restaurant, Geoffrey Perez (team captain).
2011 Grand Champion
Team Adobo/Fiji, Jojo Santo Tomas (team captain).
Although I was one of the judges for this event, it wasn't until the week after that I learned the name of Team Adobo/Fiji's winning pork rib entry: Tinaktak Baby Back! Sure was tasty and you can get a look at it in the collage shown - it's one of the ribs shown on the bottom left.
Can't wait until next year!!!
Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro
Marine Corps Drive (near Big Hook)
One of the things I recommend to people when eating at a restaurant they frequent is to try something new and different, and that's exactly what we did the other night when we stopped into Meskla. Talk about hard decisions! It's nearly impossible to resist the temptation to order the things I love and crave!
We decided to share a salad we'd not yet tried, Moni's Crispy Fried "Ito" Salad ($12.95), with succulent Catfish fillets dusted and fried to a golden crispy finish, served with a baby greens salad, cilantro, fruit salsa, and a spicy smoked tomato vinaigrette. We liked this concept. The fish was light and the greens were fresh, however, I wanted a little more intensity in the vinaigrette, which seemed muted. Still, this salad is a shareable delight with artistic overtones.
I've always been a fried chicken fanatic, so I didn't hesitate to order the Garlic-Mustard Fried Chicken ( $15.95), which is 8 oz chicken thighs marinated in a tangy garlic-mustard sauce, deep fried to a golden finish and served with a spicy coconut cream. This was spot on delicious! You could taste the mustard and garlic in the chicken and when you dipped it in the spicy coconut cream it was magnificent. This is where fusion meets divine! Zee experimented more by dipping her chicken in the trio of finadenes we had - Finadene Dinanche, Tuba Finadene, and Soy Finadene. I'd also ordered Roasted Rosemary Potatoes with my entree and they complemented the chicken wonderfully, though they're not what you'd typically find in a Chamoru restaurant - back to that "fusion" thing!
Zee ordered the BBQ Short Ribs ($12.95) from the "Tininu" local-style Backyard BBQ section of the menu and we added Meskla's BBQ Smoked Pork (tasahos) for an additional $3. Her starch was the fried corn titiyas and they give you plenty here.
Again, there are things that are so good to eat you feel you can't stop, and that's what Chef Peter Duenas has created with his smoked pork when dipped in the tuba finadene or the finadene dinanche. Zee especially enjoyed Chef Peter's boneless short ribs, which are a savory, tender, meaty treat. Like I said, try something new - you can always go back to the familiar later!
Hooter's Guam USA
Hooter's is another place I've been meaning to write about. Zee and I stopped there one night to try out some of the menu and ordered something I've had before the medium-spicy "Naked" Buffalo Wings ($13/10 pcs). To accompany these, we ordered the celery and bleu cheese dipping sauce ($2.50). I like their wings.
Zee wanted the Fried Pickles ($9) which are exactly what they sound like - sliced pickles lightly battered then fried. There's a warning sign on the menu that states, "Caution: Fried Pickles are Very, Very Addictive". And we can report that they most certainly are!
We also ordered the Ultimate Training Burgers ($14/4 minis), which are actually quite palatable. People don't realize that it doesn't take size to make a great burger. Some wonderful things come in smaller packages. These covered all the bases: lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo, mustard, burger, cheese, bacon, and buns. Plus, the plate came with onion rings. What happened next was another Food Guy episode in "What comes next?"!
Hooter's astute manager found an opportunity to extend my menu-awareness by having me try out their breaded Buffalo Wings, about which I admittedly had a rather negative preconceived notion. I don't like breading since it is heavy, absorbs grease, and gets in the way of the chicken flavor. I was wrong in this case. These are lightly battered in the kitchen and are not of the pre-battered frozen variety. They fry up nicely, have lots of flavor and are not greasy. The manager, Darlene, should get an award for her efforts!
Then she went the extra mile thinking that since we'd had the Training Burgers, perhaps we'd like to move up in to the big leagues and sample Hooter's Double "D" Burger, which was the top place finisher in last year's MV BurgerFest in the Commercial Establishment category. We acquiesced and voila, the monster mountain of meat was delivered! It came with curly fries and a dill pickle wedge. I sliced it in half and marveled at the sheer wall of meat down the middle. It looked like 2 inches of meat, with four slices of cheeses (Jack AND Cheddar). I took a bite and was impressed by the downright goodness of this uberburger creation, which surely has some secret ingredients to enhance the flavor.
Of course, we had to take some of the wings and half of that humongous burger home. I also have to say that we really enjoyed the service at Hooter's. The staff is very courteous and friendly.
Chopstix - A Japanese Restaurant
153 Martyr Street
If you were the only customers in a restaurant, would you feel uncomfortable or privileged? If you are at Chopstix, then count your blessings. It was a week night while Zee and I were considering restaurant options, I said "Japanese in Hagatna!" Still, it’s a little sad when you go to a really good restaurant and there are no other customers. This is Guam’s curse, as there are lesser quality restaurants doing gang busters, and there’s not that much difference in price!
We had a wonderful dinner experience and received owner Mike Sablan’s full attention! If you know Mike, he’s a bit chatty but entertaining nevertheless. I had some Asahi while Zee and I shared a small bottle of chilled sake that was suggested to complement one of our appetizers, the Cucumber in Plum Sauce ($5.50). This is one of those “take some getting used to” dishes, and yes the sake definitely helped. The plum sauce is sour and tart, making your mouth pucker and tastebuds salivate. Nori (seaweed) slices are mixed in adding a uniquely ocean-flavored saltiness and the cucumbers offer a soothing respite from the competing flavors.
Mike was talking about some items not on the printed menu and one item we tried was the gyoza. They were fresh and tasted alright. Another such item was Menchi-Katsu ($16), a popular Japanese dish that has ground beef croquettes. This is really quite juicy! . The panko flour is crispy and crunchy, with no trace of grease from frying. It comes with tonkatsu sauce. The entree has green salad, macaroni, oshinko (pickles), rice and miso soup, with a dab of hot mustard on the plate. This is a very substantial dish that should be shared.
Zee ordered Pork Ginger ($12.25) from the menu. It was well marinated and sauted with onions in a thick, savory sauce. Mike suggested and put a little Japanese mayo on her plate. He said this is how the Japanese enjoy the dish by mixing some of the meat with the mayo. I tried it, too, and concurred! Mike’s wife, Kaori, takes enormous pride in her cooking. It is home-style cooking, really just like going into her house to eat and she’s an excellent cook! Get there and find out for yourself!
Jamaican Grill - New Menu Items Chamorro Village Hagatna 472-2000
I was recently honored to receive an email invitation to dine at Jamaican Grill. It was sent by Christine Matsuoka, the General Manager and she wanted me to come down to try out the Ribeye Steak meal. I was surprised to learn that they even had one, though I did know that owners Tim and Frank were making some menu changes. This restaurant has evolved very well and is a true local success story! They have done a remarkable job of remodeling the restaurant and making it into a stylish, engaging and entertaining place to dine with family and friends. Plus, the food and beverage selections have blossomed dramatically in all different directions!
Zee ordered a Ginger Beer and I had the always-refreshing Splash and a Red Stripe Jamaican Lager. The first thing to arrive was a small boat piled with golden chunks of fish garnished with green onion slices as well as a salad. In the dipping well was a yellow, mustard-colored sauce. Come to find out this was a new appetizer called Fried Fish with Curry Mayo ($8.95). The yellowfin tuna is seasoned with Jamaican spices and the curry mayo is a perfect pairing with this fish!
Next came a plate piled high with ribs! It was Ja Mango BBQ Ribs which are simply bite-size jerk ribs simmered in mango BBQ sauce ($9.95). These are a little on the sweet side, yet very tasty indeed! The meat was tender and seemed to enjoy the mango marriage. This is a festive, island dish…I think it’s a brilliant addition to their menu!
We had had some salad earlier and gotten past the appetizers when we were brought the main course: the newly introduced 11 oz. Choice U.S. Rib-Eye Steak (with choice of rice and salad for $19.95). Fried onion rings lay atop this appealingly grilled steak that has a Carribbean steak sauce. The steak was cooked a perfect medium.
We were well on our way to getting full when one of the servers asked if we wanted any dessert. I asked about the Keylime Pie ($3.99), which is made with graham cracker crust, zesty real lime filling, layered with whipped cream, topped with browned meringue then garnished with mango and strawberry sauces. This is truly an awesome Key Lime Pie, made exclusively for Jamaican Grill by Sweet Relief Pasty Shop, PROA’s delectable sister!
We were also offered another dessert, this time it was a slice of Mango Cake ($4.99) flown in from Herman’s Bakery in Saipan. This is a dreamy cake, with a soft melt-in-your-mouth moistness that celebrates its mango birthright!
Just goes to show you that the good folks at Jamaican Grill go a long way to please customers! Fresh fish, fresh produce (like the locally grown hydroponic lettuce), and talented home grown staff and management! Ya Mon! An Irie dandy place to eat!