Can you believe it's already June? We haven't really put the month of May to rest and we're already gearing up for a busy June! I was off-island during three major events last weekend, namely the Maila Tan Fan Boka 2011 Competition at GPO and the Agat Mango Festival, both on Saturday, and the Marianas Variety Burgerfest at Skinner Plaza on Sunday. Kudos go to our friends at Team PROA for garnering the People's Choice Award in the Maila Tan Fan Boka Chamorro Food Competition. Congratulations to Team MADD DAWG (representing Mt. Carmel) for taking first place in the professional competition and Sabot Chamoru's first place finish in the amateur category.
Please join us in applauding Meskla Dos and Pika Cafe for winning "Best" burgers in their respective categories. Pika won in the Classic and Meskla Dos won in the Gourmet category with their Uhang (shrimp) burger. Coincidentally, Meskla Dos placed second in the Classic competition and Pika Cafe garnered second in the Gourmet category with their Tinaktak Burger, something that I'd love to try! It was a great burger day for all!
We want to take this opportunity to bid adios to Kieran Daly, the former G.M. of PIC Saipan, who will be leaving Saipan to join his family in his native Australia. He'll be taking some time to do a European tour in the near future. I was able to personally wish him well this past Saturday night during a private party at Casa Urashima, one of Saipan's numerous great restaurants.
Another notable transition is the departure of Bart Jackson from PIC Guam where he has been the General Manager for a number of years. Bart is the last of the "hospitality titans", which is a title I assigned to Guam's hospitality industry leaders who preceded him, namely Manfred Pieper and Mustafa Issa. The good news is that Bart is planning on staying on island and in the industry. We want to wish him and his family every success.
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
4th Annual Taste Guam
Hyatt Regency Guam
Saturday June 4
Taste Guam is the island's ultimate food & beverage extravaganza. There is no entry fee, however you will need to purchase booklets of script ($20/each) to buy food and drinks. A number of restaurants will be selling food along with wine, beer, and soft drinks from various beverage companies. The Farmer's Market will have a very large booth area selling local produce.
The Micronesia Chefs Association (MCA) will feature live cooking demonstrations with chef members showing their skills. Among the chefs participating are Walter Cortes, Executive Chef, Singapura; Chef Suharto, Pastry Chef, Hyatt Regency Guam; Meskla's Peter Duenas aka "Outdoor Chef", and Westin's Executive Chef Andreas Lorenz. There will also be a Budweiser Chef's Cup, where chefs will compete using Budweiser beer as a theme ingredient. The event will have something for everyone! Bring the family to enjoy the Taste of Guam !
Taste of the Marianas
May 28, 2011
American Memorial Park
The Saipan World Resort took home the 1st place trophy and cash prize for their Island Treasure Box Creation. The main ingredient was Certified Angus Beef for all competitors and each booth had its own unique theme, decoration, and preparation of the beef, and presentation.
Chefs Rommel Villariza and Roland Santos didn't expect to win first out of a field of five teams, which included PIC Saipan, Fiesta Resort, Hafa Adai Hotel, and the Hyatt Regency Saipan. PIC took 2nd Place and Hafa Adai garnered the 3rd place position.
The level of creativity and superb craftsmanship in the design and execution of the displays where chefs carved watermelons, papaya, coconuts, and a variety of vegetables was quite impressive.
The Taste of the Marianas is an annual event that spans every Saturday of the month of May. There are a number of hotels and restaurants that have food booths, as well as booths that sell beers and sodas. Handicrafts and other products are available.
Hyatt Sunday Brunch
Giovanni's & Teppanyaki
Hyatt Regency Saipan
If you ever have the opportunity to spend a weekend on Saipan, be sure to make a reservation for Sunday Brunch at Giovanni's at the Hyatt Regency Saipan. We were just there and again experienced what must be the ultimate culinary feast. To get a more detailed view beyond the photo collage created, I suggest you read our June 2006 review (not much has changed in 5 years!!).
Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro
There are some things that you can't easily forget and one of them is the delicious local food awaiting you at Meskla. How does one top crunching through a fried corn titiya while savoring the spicy glory of finadene dinanche-dipped tinala katne(dried beef)?
The other day I was there on a food tasting and was able to share a Firecracker "Kuetes" Burger (Spicy) for $9.95. This is a bold-flavored sandwich and carries quite a spice kick.
Although we didn't try some of the current specials, Chef Peter wanted me to be sure to let people know that the Mana' Hak were in season and that they were making Mana'Hak Pizza.
I was curious about one of the other "Specials" they were offerng and came across the Meskla Stuffed Pork Chop ($18.95), which is an enormous cut of meat with two rib bones and stuffing on the inside. These are truly thick-cut and I don't think the photos demonstrate the full impact of the size. The stuffing is a blend of pork chorizo and local spinach. The rich "kadityu" sauce with creamy coconut milk, vegetables and seasonings makes this an irresistible meal that will satisfy the heartiest of appetites.
For dessert we saved a little room for the Spicy Molten Lava Cake Ala Mode ($9.95), which is another one of those dangerously decadent desserts you can't keep a spoon out of!
Other samplings for the photo shoot we were on included Meskla's Signature A la King, which is a shrimp chowder with mixed vegetables baked in a fresh-cut coconut shell with a puff pastry topping and the fried Parrot Fish which we shared dipping in Meskla's famous 5-finadene sampler tray. Things are all good at Meskla!
Unit 10 Korean Trade Center
Harmon Industrial Park Road (across street from Proline and next to Jologs Lounge)
You'd think that with a name like "Cilantro" you'd be easy to find when driving on the Harmon Industrial "pikeway", but you actually need bigger landmarks (like Proline) or a bright sign like neighbor Nancy's Coffee Shop.
Cilantro is open for lunch from 10:30am-2:30pm Monday to Saturday, and my observation about this eatery is that they have many fans from the working class who come here to partake of their favorite "comfort foods" at prices they can afford. With the 1-Choice for $4.95 and 2-Choice at $5.95, including salad bar this is a dining bargain and while it is not fancy, it is quaintly charming with its orange-colored wall and Filipino crafted artwork. Cilantro's owner, Rowena Snaer Salvador, also operates a catering service and the restaurant can be booked for private parties.
The hot food unit has seven wells, with five half-size pans and two full-size pans, yielding 12 different food choices. Fried chicken and tilapia join Pork Rib Sinigang (soup) and Chicken Tinola (soup), as well as Pork Mechado, Chicken Adobo, Kare Kare, and Pinakbet. Some of these items will change daily. I had the Tinola Soup, Chicken Adobo, Kare Kare, and Pork Mechado, which was a little spicy, but not bad.
Eating at a place like Cilantro proves you can eat Filipino comfort foods at a price that won't break you wallet. I also learned from Rowena that if you decide to visit the neighboring bar, Jologs Lounge, for drinks, you can get take-out orders from Cilantro.
Try the Crispy Pata! I hear it's one of their specialties
Table 35 Restaurant + Bar
Tamuning (next to First Hawaiian Bank)
What a difference a day makes, or was it the night? Yes, well, I did return to Table 35, this time during dinner hours. I was genuinely enchanted by the restaurant's evening ambiance with a spiraling blue and white lined chandelier and tasteful backlighting effects on the walls and under the bar. It really makes one appreciate the craftsmanship and design aesthetics. The staff couldn't be friendlier.
We ordered the Miso-Rubbed Striploin with Citrus Soy Butter, Caramelized Garlic Chips ($26.95), chasah-style (sliced for sharing) and medium rare. This is Executive Chef Christopher Aguon back in his element, creating a superb steak experience with toasted garlic chips atop tender slices of succulent steak drenched in a dreamy citrus soy butter sauce. The mashed potatoes were homemade and the accompanying dredged zucchini sauted to perfection. The grilled eggplant and red bell pepper formed a nutritious and colorful backdrop with steamed broccoli and baby bok choy. How a chef makes something look so appealing and then follows through by exceeding expectations is a question I won't bother asking or answering! I just know that each bite of that fabulous steak was purely addictive!
No sooner had we finished this steak than we realized that we still had room for more, so we ordered the Pan Roasted Salmon, Red Onion-Pepper Relish, Lemongrass Beurre Blanc ($19.95). You can enjoy fantasizing about how good this was from the photo, and I can assure you that it tasted even better and we polished this entree off in record time. I wasn't sure if I even identified the red onion pepper relish, I was completely fixated on the flavor of the lemongrass beurre blanc - another dream cream sauce. Both dishes are recommended though I don't know if I'd share the Salmon next time, I want it all to myself!
We want to wish Owner Jimmy Okuhama, Executive Chef Christopher Aguon, and their entire team every success on this new venture, which officially celebrates its grand opening this weekend!!
PREGO bellisimo! Hours - $25.95
Westin Resort Guam
How would you like to get away from ordinary lunches and dine as though you were on holiday at a romantic restaurant with a dazzling ocean front view? You can do that quite simply by going to PREGO's bellisimo! Hours lunch, where you can treat yourself to an antipasti buffet of Italian delights - you will find Oysters on the Half Shell, chilled King Crab Legs, Romaine Little Ceasars, Parma Ham with Olives, Minestrone, fresh made Foccacia and several varieties of Pizza are here for your gustatory pleasure. Moreover, you can also have a main course of your choice (there are usually six rotating entrees).
I had the Pork Loin Steak Parmiagiano, gratined with mozzarella, basil and roma tomato served on a silky mascarpone risotto and marsala sauce. I really enjoyed this tantalizing creation which also represents some of the newer menu options available at PREGO, which is sporting a spiffy new logo as well!
Our group had lunch there a few weeks ago and one of our team wanted the Lemon & Herb Marinated Pan-fried Chicken Breast on warm Red Potato Salad and garnished with mixed baby greens. They liked the fresh greens and said the chicken was juicy and well-seasoned.
The dessert bar at PREGO has several different cakes, fruits, cookies, and assorted flavored panna cotta shooters including strawberry, caramel, and chocolate. What a treat to eat at PREGO!
I succumbed to my craving for Chef Jackie Li's super tasty Chinese cooking recently and was reminded of why I like taking friends and acquaintances here to eat! For this dinner, I had to eat most of this food on my own since Zee was on the 21-day detox and she would only watch me eat, and boy, did I eat!! Let's see, I ordered Pork Egg Fu Yung ($8), Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings ($6.95), Combination Fried Rice ($8.50), and Sauteed Garlic Chinese Broccoli ($8.50). No Chinese beer so I drank Oolong tea!
I managed to finish all of the Pork Egg Fu Yung, most of the wings, and half of the broccoli. The rice I did just a bit and was able to extend the rest over three at-home meals! It actually was a shame that I had so much food and no one else to eat with me!
Jackie's cooking is fast, fresh, and flavorful. He is a magician in the kitchen! Give him a wok and ingredients, and you will eat well!