Thank you for your patience in awaiting this delayed newsletter. We have much to cover in this issue so we'll forego the normal introductory remarks and take you straight to the featured articles!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Josephine Perez Cruz
March 19, 1941 - September 1, 2011
Proprietress of Josephine's Chamorro Kitchen
I wanted to take this opportunity to honor one of Guam's culinary legends, Josephine Cruz, who recently passed. Her restaurant, Josephine'e Chamorro Kitchen, was one of my earlier introductions as the Guam Food Guy to Chamorro Cuisine prepared and served in a restaurant. My first review was March, 2001. Below is an extract from our Dec 31, 2004 newsletter featuring the late Josephine "Ofing" Cruz:
Josephine's Chamorro Kitchen Tribute (Dec 31, 2004 Newsletter)
That old Carly Simon song, "Nobody Does It Better" comes to mind when I think about the wonderful style and beautiful smile of Josephine Cruz, owner of Josephine's Chamorro Kitchen in Tamuning's O.P. Plaza (behind Oka Pay-Less). Josephine has just returned after recovering from a health challenge and is back to seeing that her customers are happy and well-fed. I met with her recently to give her a copy of a review I'd done on Josephine's last year (October 3, 2003). To my surprise, she'd not seen it, but had heard about it from many people, a lot of them from off-island who wanted to get some genuine Chamorro cuisine and had come to Guam and called her number.
I was so glad to be able to read my review to her and to see her beaming with pride as I read through the passages describing her delectable dishes. If you've not yet been to Josephine's, I highly suggest you get over to her quaint little place for lunch. In fact, you should do it as soon as you can as she will be taking her annual holiday coming up in the middle of January, during which time, she will be closed for business for a few months. Don't despair, though, she will return and we'll keep you posted on when. Go to Josephine's for genuine down-home style Chamorro cooking!
I'm sure that Josephine is cooking some of our local favorites at her eatery in Heaven. I can't wait to sit down and get a belly full of Josephine's great cooking when my time comes!
Mico & Stevie's "Till We Meet Again Guahan" Farewell Concert
7pm, Tuesday , October 4, 2011
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
This is a concert performance you don't want to miss! Tickets for this farewell event are $15 and include one domestic beer or soda. We want to wish Mico and Stevie the best of luck on their future endeavors as they make this big move to the Mainland after having spent the past 14 years on Guam. You can still see Mico & Stevie Scott perform at Roy's Lounge this Friday and Saturday night, as well as next Thursday night at Shoreline, followed by their final Roy's weekend performance on Friday and Saturday, September 30 and Oct 1 respectively. For many, Mico & Stevie aren't just friends, they're family.
A Majestic Wine Dinner
Premium Five Course Wine Dinner with Wine Ambassador Jeff Cook
August 31, 2011
It was an evening of gastronomic wizardry performed by Hilton's Executive Chef Christopher House as he demonstrated his culinary acumen in pairing a selection of fine wines with an inventive menu accentuating healthier dining.
The first course featured Poached Halibut on Crab Croquette, Citrus Herb Fusion, with Champagne Beurre Blanc paired with the Matanzas Creek "Sonoma County" Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp and refreshing wine. This was a playfully light and flavorfully layered intro to an evening of surprises.
For the second course, a Hartford "Russian River Four Hearts" Chardonnay was paired with Chef House's Butter Poached Lobster with Braised Leeks, Port Poached Fig and Red Beet Essence. The visual appeal of the fig-crowned lobster elicited excited murmurs from guests.
Course three (my favorite) was a Seared Quail with Naval Orange Marmalade, Herb de Provence Cherry Demi and Fennel Israeli Couscous which was righteously paired with La Crema's Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir which is delightfully drinkable anytime!. The flavor elements of this creation were in tandem with the taste notes of the wine, and you can't get healthier than couscous especially from Israel since it's "kosher"!
The fourth course was Olive Oil Poached Rack of Lamb with Harrissa Ratatouille, Mint Gremolata and Rosemary Potatoes; a reals departure from expectations on how lamb is cooked, however, it was novel and inventive, and paired boldly with Kendall Jackson's Atalon Napa Valley Merlot. House was certainly making points among culinary academics. He was putting new words into people's mouths and they were ecstatically chewing and swallowing them. It's interesting how wine improves one's sense of erudition!
The fifth course, Summer Berry Cobbler Berry Sundae with Spiced Apple Financier was a home-spun comfort dessert though one would be hard-pressed to define the name. Everything became clearer when we had coffee mixed with Patron Cafe XO.
Kudos to Chef Christopher House and his kitchen team for an elevating and memorable dining experience.
Churrasco Brazilian BBQ & Salad Bar
New Menu Features Tapas and A la Carte Selections
1Fl Pacific Bay Hotel
Churrasco has recently introduced a new line-up of delectable tapas and a la carte selections to augment their ever-growing list of savory Mesquite Grilled meats featured in their Rodizio.
I was pleasantly surprised about the menu improvements that had been in development by Executive Chef Michael Moral over the past year. It was also good to know that Churrasco finally offers a Salad Bar Only option that includes unlimited access to the Salad Bar, Bread Station, Soup Station and Hot Sides for only $15 (adult/lunch) and $23 (adult/dinner) while children (ages 4-8) pay half respectively.
For this meal I was joined by colleague, Mark Lim, who gladly accepted my invite to explore Churrasco's new menu items. Over the course of the night we did get a lot of stares from people who noticed we were one of the only tables that didn't get any carved meat!
There are about 12 different tapas on the menu. Our first was the Smoked Salmon Mille Feuille ($5), a puff pastry topped with an escalope of smoked salmon, fish roe, savory dill ice cream and cucumbers. The savory dill ice cream is a big deal in the creative sense.
Next we had the Cured Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio ($5) of cured beef, fried potatoes, and garlic ice cream. Did I say "garlic ice cream"? Extraordinary!
This was followed by the Camarao Con Alho ($7), which was shrimp, tomato sauce, white wine, garlic, chili pepper, olive oil parsley and crostini. This had a little heat from the pepper but I really liked it.
Our final tapas dish was a mouthful to say, Estofado con Lengua De Buey ($10) braised beef tongue with Grand Marnier orange segments and olive oil. Talk about tender, flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth goodness!
Other tapas include Young Sliders, mini home-made open faced burgers topped with assorted cheese, quail eggs three ways, aioli and basil oil; Panquecas, Brazilian-style crepes filled with beef or chicken and veggies; Seafood Bruschetta; Garlic Butter Mushrooms; Fried Breaded Mussels; and Picante Linguica Defumada (another mouthful), a spicy Brazilian sausage, caramelized onions, red bell pepper air, baguette, and fried culantro. These sound intriguing but will have to wait for next time!
We still had more food to order so we chose a Spinach Salad ($8) of spinach, gorgonzola cheese, toasted walnuts and raisins with a lemon balsamic vinaigrette. This was simply outstanding, as fresh and palatable as it was pleasing to the eye!
For main courses we ordered Pan Fried Salmon ($15) with a seafood broth, risotto, sauteed spinach, and lemon honey gelee. Fancy. Upscale. Cool. I really liked the risotto in the seafood broth moat! The presentations are impressive and carefully crafted and garnished for impact.
Our second selection was the Beef Tenderloin ($18), Chef Michael's 2011 Chef's Cup Entree. This is braised beef tenderloin, bordelaise sauce, soft garlic yellow polenta, and sauteed vegetables which in this case was asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Everything about this dish works well together. It's imaginative and noteworthy. The beef, however, was a tad over-cooked, which undermined the overall quality of the dish. I've had it closer to medium rare and for a filet that's ideal, especially when combined the other elements.
We had room to share a dessert, and dessert at Churrasco is one to be reckoned with, especially when you have a Pastry Chef as talented as Raoul Cordero, who made those memorably creative pastries and desserts at Colors RED. We had his Signature Trio ($7.50 )which features Warm Chocolate Molten Cake with Passion Fruit Ganache, Espresso Panna Cotta, and Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. This guy's an ice cream fanatic - dill, garlic, hazelnut - what flavor do you want? He'll do it!
Kudos and a job well done to Chefs Michael and Raoul, and to owner Susan Park and her capable assistant manager, Maricon Tolentino (whose linguistic skills are amazing). We'll have to return soon for Round Two!
Khaohom Thai Restaurant
Marine Corps Drive
Lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm
Dinner Mon-Sat 5-9:30pm
It's great to have a new Thai restaurant on Guam! Khaohom Thai opened about two weeks ago. "Khaohom" means fragrant rice. I stopped for lunch on Sept 13 after they had just opened. There is ample parking and I was able to get a good parking space in the back.
At the time of my visit, I was quite impressed with the spaciousness and financial commitment of the owners, who include General Manager Patcharin "Pat" Theppibal and Chef Pairatch Theppibal. Obviously a lot of money was spent converting a dilapidated massage parlour into a beautifully decorated and well-furnished restaurant. Pat used to work at the Trench and Chef worked at Shirley's. They and other family members finally had their dream of owning their own restaurant and serving authentic Thai cuisine come true in Khaohom.
Still new, Khaohom had a very limited menu and only accepted cash. I decided Thai Tea ($3), Hot Wings ($8), and Shrimp Penang ($12). Waiting for my order, I gazed out to Hagatna Bay and marveled at the restaurant's good fortune in having this scenic ocean view. It will certainly drive in customers.
The wings came out with the "hot" chili dipping sauce on the side. They are unseasoned and super crispy---something I like! I dipped one (there are eight pieces in an order) in the sauce and took a bite. The crunch was so loud that it prompted one member of a nearby table to ask me if they were good. I guess the crunch said it all. I talked with a few other patrons whom I knew were also test-driving Khaohom. Everyone had a favorable impression.
My Shrimp Penang was served next. It was probably one of the better penang sauces I recall having since it was intensely flavored (hot) but also richly spiced and thick. This was a sauce that could stand on its own feet! So, two dishes were enough to satisfy my Thai taste test on this first go around.
One of the other tables had a breaded calamari dish that they didn't like so much. I've heard both good and not so good comments from other people, which is to be expected from a new establishment. The learning curve is steep, especially when you have family run businesses and no professional management.
I believe this will be a successful restaurant. I do need to caution drivers to be aware of the speeding traffic when you are turning into the parking lot and exiting.
Let's wish the Theppibal family great success in their new family business.
Day's Inn (Ypao Road)
Breakfast Mon-Sat 7-10:30am
Lunch Mon-Sat 10:30am-2pm
Lolah's Restaurant is definitely open and serving up a very tasty all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $10.95, which includes drinks and desserts. I had lunch this week and was impressed again by the home-cooked goodness of each dish put out on the hot line by owner Rose Vega.
They had an Arroz Caldo with Egg as a soup, Fried Chicken, Chicken Curry , Tinaktak, Fried Fish, and a few other Filipino meat and vegetable dishes. There is a salad bar and a dessert station, where the fried bananas were going fast then gone. In fact, the food is always running low to out and quickly replenished. That's what you get with an all-you-can-eat buffet! A stir fried vegetable and chicken dish came out while I was there, seemingly a new entree.
Lolah's has breakfast, too, and you can get American breakfast (even Eggs Benedict), Three-egg Omelets, French Toast, and Pancakes, as well as Asian breakfasts such as Tapsilog, Fishsilog, Sizzling Plate, and Chamorro Fried Rice with Eggs!
So,if you want to eat some good-tasting down home-cooked meals in a really cozy dining room, try Lolah's. It's like the food your grandma cooks!
Naked Fish Bar & Grill
Beach Road, Garapan
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, or so the saying goes! I've got to give credit to Anneliese Wenden for giving me the nod on this fabulously fun find in Saipan. I've driven by this place a gazillion times and hadn't yet ventured in until my last Saipan trip on August 8.
I stopped in for dinner and bellied up to the bar where I ordered a Carlsberg and started to question my server, Doll, about the most popular dishes on their rather considerable menu. She listed off a lot of choices and I must have grabbed a few. I would certainly get my fill of seafood, thus the name, "Naked Fish".
First to come was the Garlic Octopus ($7.50), which had thinly sliced octopus sauteed in a garlic sauce. I can't say that every slice was thin (the garlic slices were), but the octopus was easily eaten with chopsticks, and the pieces were tender and not overly chewy. Certainly a great chasah and best shared with a group.
Next came another recommended dish, the Japanese Style Poke ($7.75), which had diced tuna mixed with chili oil and pepper topped with nori and furikake. The furikake was a recent enhancement according to Doll, and it put a bunch of crunch in this fiery, spicy, and tasty dish. This dish could (and does) sell a lot of Carlsbergs! Did I mention that it is also a shareable dish? Why is it that Saipan's seafood seems to taste fresher? Are they closer to the ocean or something?
The next recommendation should have preceded the Poke, since it was not as flagrantly spicy and taste-bud numbing as the Poke. It was the Naked Fish's famous Sashimi ($7.50) of sliced ruby red tuna with a naked-style marinade, with donne salii. Talk about "tasteless", or should I say, "un-taste-able". Fortunately, another Carlsberg swashed and cleansed my tongue of its heat rash and the fiery red Tinian donne salii that the locals relish mixing with wasabi and local lemon and soy began to kick in, first causing the hairs on my back to raise and then an ever-increasing burn in my belly, throat and mouth! The last two pieces of fresh sashimi were awesome!
Okay, so I am known to favor chicken wings wherever I go, and Doll described their wings as being worthy. I ordered their Naked Hot Wings ($7.50), which are marinated, fried to perfection, then tossed with their spicy sauce and served with celery sticks and Ranch dressing. The spicy sauce is actually an Asian sweet chili sauce blend, and the wings are crispy. They are pretty darned good, and a pleasant switch from fish. Spicy, yes, and I had to get yet another Carlsberg.
Now, this is a lot of food for sure, and I had ordered everything without realizing the portions. I had one more dish coming, the house specialty, a Garlic Fish ($12.95). This was one for the records. I don't recall when I've had as much garlic in one night, and this fish was covered in fried garlic slices! The pieces of fish were battered and laid atop the main body of the fish. Slivered scallions garnished green against the golden background. I ate as much as I could. This was one of those marathon meals!
The Naked Fish is open for lunch, too. It has a main dining area, the bar where I perched, and a separate game room where customers hold tournaments darts and other team games. The atmosphere is casual and fun, and the service excellent as is typical of Saipan.
Thanks to manager "Pochai" Santiago who, along with Doll and Rissa, made sure I had everything I needed. They epitomize the personality and special class of a place called the Naked Fish - just look at their faces!
Guam Marriott Resort & Spa
It's DINE & RIDE VI and you can enter to win a Harley Davidson Sportster 4800 Motorcycle by simply dining at the Manhattan Steakhouse. This popular annual promotion is an important fund-raiser with proceeds benefitting Habitat for Humanity, Rainbows for Children and Autism Community Together.
The dinner menu at the Manhattan has been enhanced by a significant upgrading of the quality of beef offered. Diners can now enjoy U.S. "Prime" Certified Angus Beef cuts other than the New York. There are now Filet Mignons and a Rib Eye that are prime grade. Here's an explanatory from them menu attesting to the quality of "Prime" beef: "U.S. Prime is the highest quality of Steaks! Of all the beef produced in the U.S., only 2% is certified Prime grade by the USDA. Our USDA Prime beef comes from the finest corn-fed cattle the Midwest has to offer. The beef is then dry-aged up to six weeks, imparting a buttery texture that many beef connoisseurs herald as the ultimate beef experience!"
Manhattan is Guam's best fine-dining steakhouse restaurant, and this expansion of U.S.D.A. "Prime" Certified Angus Beef escalates their stature even further. The overall dining experience at Manhattan is par excellence, with superb martinis, a stellar wine selection, impeccable service, while retaining a comfortable dining ambiance, without the stuffiness sometimes found in fine dining restaurants.
We recently had dinner at Manhattan and tried the "Prime" Filet (8 oz - $51). The filets are also available in 6 oz. and 10 oz. sizes. This steak is unbelievably tender, with a texture and flavor you can only describe by trying. These are extraordinary steaks.
I wanted to sample the Wild Boar Grilled Chops ($40). These are fresh from the Durham Ranch in Wyoming. They are cooked to perfection and have a distinct porcine gamey taste. These are thick meaty chops.
The other entree I managed (or tried) to eat was the Manhattan Foie Gras Steakhouse Burger ($22) which is a ground Sirloin steak paired with a delicious slice of foie gras. This is served with hickory smoked bacon and sweet potato fries. The bun is made from Ciabatta Ranch Toast. The foie gras portion is not just a slice, it's quite large and when you stack this open faced sandwich, it's a towering challenge! I tried to unhinge my jaws to eat the sandwich, but it was too big. It's better to cut the pieces while separated.
I've got to try out the Bison Burger, the Steakhouse Cheese Steak Sandwich, and the Manhattan Blackened Prime Rib sandwich.
Believe it or not, we still had room for dessert, enjoying a luscious Banana & Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding ($9) topped with a coconut and rum caramel sauce served with vanilla ice cream. This coupled with an illy Cappuccino makes for a perfect ending to an exquisite dinner.
Be sure you complete your Dine & Ride VI entry form after you dine at Manhattan Steakhouse, your destination for uncompromised quality in food and service.