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October 7, 2011, Volume 11 Number 18

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It would not be an exaggeration to state that everyone on the planet has, in some way or another, had their life influenced by Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, who died on Wednesday. I can say unequivocally that GuamDiner.com would not be the web portal site you see today. Technology has made so many amazing changes and advancements since 1976, the year that Apple was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

My first encounters with Apple were when my brother Lee was introducing multimedia to schools back in 1992. I would later join his company, Education Interactive that eventually transformed into Innova Technologies, one of the region's most advanced technology companies at the time. Innova's reliance on the Macintosh platform was the basis for its success. I should also explain that I wasn't aware of the Internet until 1994, when Paul Carlson (of Kuentos, now MCV) was explaining to us the meaning of the World Wide Web.

I recall remarks made by Steve Jobs during an iPhone launch that he grew up as a kid watching the Jetson's and Star Trek and thought during the course of his life that it would be cool to be able to make video calls. He was able to turn science "fiction" into science "fact"!

Steve was an inspired leader and innovator who was able to get the best people to extend their reach beyond what they thought they could grasp. It's not surprising that so many are comparing him to another great pioneering inventor who changed the world, Thomas Edison. Edison was able to contribute more as he lived much longer. One wonders how many new, cool, and exciting innovations would have been created had Steve's life not be cut short so early in his life.

Thank you, Steve Jobs. You've been an inspiration to us all. May you Rest in Peace

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy" and the GuamDiner.com team

GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday October 8, 2011
10am-Noon

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 Hideto "Pancho" Yanase of Kai Restaurant, along with his lovely wife, Sue, Kai's Manager.

In our second hour, we'll welcome a team from the Hyatt Regency Guam, specifically Joy James, Marketing Communications Manager, Al Dente Chef de Cuisine, Jo Ong, and Hyatt's Executive Chef, Josef Budde.

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!

Pastries in Paradise Winners

Pastries in Paradise 2011 was held last Saturday, October 1, at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. The Christmas-themed event was well attended and had an amazing display of desserts available for guests to enjoy. Every year there are different theme ingredients used in the competitions. This year's theme ingredient for the Judge's Cup was Sweet Corn, sponsored by the Farmers' Cooperative Association of Guam. It was the second year the Hyatt Regency Saipan sent a team to participate. Below are the results of this competition along with photos:

JUDGE'S CUP WINNERS


1st Place "Sweet Corn Mini-Cheesecake"
Chef Paul Kerner, GCC Culinary Arts Academy


2nd Place "The Maj-Blanca in Corn Macaroon with Corn Tuile"
Chef Suharto, Hyatt Regency Guam


3rd Place "Christmas Island Custard Cake"
Chef Samuel Fellone, Pacific Island Club

TORANI'S "Green Apple" Beverage Challenge
sponsored by Archway, Inc.

1st place "Tropical Christmas"
Chris Eustaquio, Planet Hollywood Guam

2nd place "Torani Green Apple Bubble Tea"
Chef Paul Kerner. GCC Culinary Arts Academy

3rd place "Uncle Mario's Holiday Drink"
Mario Olivia. Sugarnomics

BAILEY"S "Mint Chocolate" Dessert Challenge
sponsored by ST Corp.

1st place "Mint Chocolate Bailey's Tiramisu & Mint Chocolate Bailey's Balls with the Gold Leave"
Chef Suharto, Hyatt Regency Guam

2nd place - "Crazy Mousse"
Chef Albert Pingu, Planet Hollywood Guam

3rd place - "Bailey's Mint Chocolate Bavarian Pretzel Torte"
Chef Johnny Sanchez, SandCastle

Finally, in the People's Choice Awards, Team Hyatt Guam was able to excel again, garnering two of the three categories:

Best Booth Design - Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort
Best Tasting Dessert - Hyatt Regency Guam
Most Creative Desserts - Hyatt Regency Guam

Curry Kebab Temporarily Closed for Renovation

If you've been by the Curry Kebab in Northwest Plaza (across from Marianas Trench )you would have noticed that it's been closed for well over a week (Since Sept 24). We stopped by to see what was happening and saw the sign stating they'll be re-opening after renovating. There are more than a few folks eager to have Curry Kebab's tandoori chicken and naan breads again.

Issin Japanese Restaurant
Teppanyaki Lunch Special
Westin Resort Guam 4Fl
Tumon
646-5252

There's something special about having lunch at Issin Japanese Restaurant and its not just the food. It's the authentic Japanese ambiance, attentive and polite service, and an awesome view of Tumon Bay that relaxes the mind and soothes the soul! Although there is a larger, more complete a la carte menu, don't miss the Lunch Specials Menu served Monday to Saturday from 11:30am to 2pm.

We started out with an a la carte sushi sampler with tuna (maguro) and salmon (sake) on a bed of seaweed ($25). This was a bit pricey but it was so beautiful with micro flowers garnishing the plate. Plus Westin Platinum Privilege Members get a 10% discount here.



From the specials mean, we both ordered the Angus Steak & Shrimp Teppan-Yaki ($20) served with Green Salad, Rice, and Miso Soup. It was great spending time talking with Teppan Chef Jesse Borja as he prepped our meal. He works methodically, cutting up the vegetables and meat, then grilling them to your preferred doneness.

Issin is not a super-crowded restaurant, and we were the only ones at the teppan counter. The privacy and exclusivity enjoyed by us was worth the price difference. The quality of the filet beef and plump shrimp was also worth the difference in price. Don't miss the Green Tea Ice Cream for dessert.

Issin is a hard place to actually leave - the view of the serene turquoise water and blue sky is mesmerizing!

Lone Star Steakhouse Launches New Menu
Marine Corps Drive
Tamuning
646-6061

We had the opportunity to test drive some of the new menu items at Lone Star Steakhouse this past week. It's quite an impressive re-vamp, as they have elevated the culinary demeanor of the menu to feature a few gourmet enhancements. The physical menu itself is pretty cool and smartly laid out with eye-grabbing fonts and brazen lettering. Although some of the favorites and standard items are still on the menu, they've removed some items. The menu has been stream-lined to focus more on key entrees such as their family of steaks.

We started out with the Lobster Bisque ($8.99), which is a smooth and creamy classic topped with fresh cream. This is definitely a departure from the prior, tasty but rather ordinary soups. It's an extra effort and a step in the right direction. The flavor of this creamy soup emulates some of the other bisques served on island. It's not a chowder so don't expect it to be full of lobster meat!

We then had one of the new Texas Teasers, Cajun Fried Calamari with Red-Pepper Aioli ($13.49). These are a wonderful addition to this new menu. The calamari is among the tenderest we've had and certainly among the better flavored, as they have a tinge of Cajun spice in the panko batter that really gets a kick up when dipped in their red-pepper aioli. I wonder who created this awesome condiment. It's so flavory (new byword - blending flavor and savor), I even put a little in my bisque!!

Next we had the highly-touted Tomato/Onion Salad ($12.79), an ambitious experiment, featuring air-flown, vine-ripened tomatoes with red onion, bleu cheese crumbles and extra virgin olive oil. It's apparent that there's a move towards healthier dining and this is an original that has loads of healthy flavor and taste appeal. Our tomatoes were firm and just slightly under ripe (two more days and they'd have been perfect). Nonetheless, when you combine the sliced tomatoes with the red onion (which could have been sliced a little thinner), along with the crumbled blue cheese and extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper, it becomes a sweet dream on the palate! This salad is another strong move upward for the menu's culinary profile. Simple and natural, this salad has a lot of class and when the tomatoes are ripely ready, you've got nothing short of a home-run!

We also had Crab Cakes made with blue crab meat and served with the amazing red-pepper aioli ($14.29). These are definitely winners, dipped in a specially-seasoned panko batter and deep fried to golden brown perfection. They are among the crabbiest on the island as there's plenty of moist, tasty crab meat and I think they are also the tastiest, especially when you add the red-pepper aioli.

The piece de resistance was the new Bone-In Ribeye, a 16 oz. specially cut Ribeye steak ($39.99), that has a profile with attitude! This definitely appeals to the carnivore in us and certainly not to be eaten at Lent for those who give up the indulgence of beef at that time! This one would be hard to resist and I'm sure someone would certainly spend time confessing their fall to temptation having been enticed by this meat! The melting pad of butter they put atop this steak adds more flavor to each bite though it could be termed gilding the lily!

Back to the less indulgent now! In a move to support healthier dining choices, diners now order sides as there are no starches or veggies sold with the entree. One of the new sides which replaces steamed broccoli is Grilled Vegetables ($6.79). At this meal, these included zucchini, fresh mushroom, red bell pepper, green bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes.

I'm looking forward to trying some more new items on Lone Star's Menu. It's a fantastic beginning.

Island Girl Coffee 'n Quenchers
Rte 8 Maite (in front of Market Wholesale & Synergy)
727-5651

True to its clever and well-conceived plan, this is a novel approach to speed and convenience when it comes to getting your cup of java or a cold smoothie. This little drive-thru kiosk is a bona fide beach shack, replete with thatched roof and bamboo walls!

You can get hot and Ice brewed coffees, espresso beverages, energy drinks, flavorful frappes and breakfast foods. I haven't tried it yet, but I hear they have a breakfast burrito made by Le Tasi Bistro.

I did have a Mocha (16 oz. $4.55) on a Sunday morning along with a huge Mango Poppyseed Muffin ($2.75) also made by Chef Bertrand of LTB.

I actually think this business should get a promotional award from GVB! It captures the island spirit more than any other coffee shop. I don't have to tell you how it warms a heart to have two smiling local baristas preparing your drinks and serving them as you drive thru.

There is a little dining area in front where you can sit and enjoy your drinks and food. Kudos to the Hurley family for this innovative and lovely enhancement to our coffee spots.

Pochon Chicken 1
Rt 10 Mangilao (before Public Health)
734-9281

When I first wrote about visiting Pochon Chicken II in Upper Tumon back in our May 13, 2011 newsletter, I referred to the fact that Zee was telling me to try the Mangilao Pochon (the original, with a different owner), since the chicken was "spicier and hotter". So it was no surprise to Zee (and the waitress) when the combination of Wings and Drumsticks ($20) in a basket hit our table and I hit the roof trying to chew my first bite!

If you want to see Zee really laughing hard, just feed me something that will make me tear up, stomp my leg, and turn dark red! Yes, I did agree to "Very Spicy" as opposed to just "Spicy" and "Mild". I didn't really know that this was going to cause me such grief! It took me about 10 minutes and 3 beers to adjust my palate to handle this extreme heat!

Pochon is definitely a place for chicken lovers with its Korean-style marinated chicken deep-fried to a crisp. I will just do spicy next time here so I can enjoy my meal without scorching my tongue!

Al Dente Italian Ristorante
Hyatt Regency Guam
Tumon
647-1234

A refreshingly new menu launched this week at Al Dente Italian Ristorante. It is a well conceived and cleverly executed result of fine-tuning, experimenting, and pushing the envelope to achieve a masterful rendering, in short a fantastic menu! Al Dente Chef de Cuisine Jo Ong is credited with the development of this new menu and she really took it to heart when it came to envisioning each and every antipasti, pasta dish, main course, and dessert. It was a very determined effort to match imagination with experience. I call it the rejuvenation menu, as I could swear that I felt healthier and better after eating the dishes we selected for our first dining experience. We even discovered that what's so fascinating and enticing about this new menu is that the dishes we didn't select were as intriguing and appealing as those we did! This certainly will be a compelling reason to return for more.

To start, we ordered two cold antipasti salads, one with Smoked Duck Breast, Apple Crisp, Candied Walnut, Spinach & Raspberry Vinaigrette ($18); and the other of Alaskan King Crab Leg, with island-grown Lettuce, Fennel, and Burnt Orange Citronette ($18).

The duck was exquisite! You have to imagine light, as in refined, layered, and sensational. Fresh spinach leaves and razor-sliced smoked duck in a playful pile competing with thin apple crisps and sweet crunchy walnuts, all lightly drizzled by the fruity tartness of the raspberry vinaigrette. It is certainly designed to please and refresh the palate!

The King Crab salad boasts the vitality of locally grown hydroponic lettuce (called living lettuce) and a truly inspired citrus gamble with its grilled (burned) orange which is a taste totally new to me, or is it? After all, there's something similar with duck a l'orange, n'est-pas? But we're talking Italian here, and yes, the freshness of this salad was what impressed me.

We each had a glass of Mondavi's Private Selection Chardonnay, which lasted the night, pairing well with our selections. I may have opted for a red with my pasta, but it was a writing night so I refrained. We couldn't have had better service than that which was delivered by Marlene, a veteran server whose personality models hospitality. She was helpful in describing our selections well informed by staff menu tasting they had done earlier in the day.

We by-passed the hot antipasti selections, among which was a Black Lip Mussels, Chili, White Wine, Garlic and Bruschetta dish as well as a Grilled Octopus, Cannellini Beans, Caperberries, Cucumber, Olives and Red Wine Vinaigrette! We didn't even try one of their six pizzas, which included Tony's (cherry tomato roasted garlic, kalamata olive, white anchovy, and spices) or the Funghi Portabella mushroom, goat cheese, arugula, truffle oil, and balsamico). There's always a next time!

What I did order from the Pasta menu was a Rigatoni with Italian Sausage, Fennel, Chili, Cherry Tomatoes, and Sage ($26). This was excellent, with al dente rigatoni tubes layered and covered with a rich seasoned marinara and translucent parmesan shavings. The fresh basil on top was actually grown in Jo's garden. She definitely has a green thumb! I delighted in the sweet basil sensation enticing my palate. This dish would make anyone's day! It wasn't until later that I saw a few other pasta dishes that I considered worthy, like the Spaghetti Pepperoncino with garlic, espelette pepper (the fiery Piment d' Espelette) and extra virgin olive oil or the Linguini with clams and pancetta!

Zee went for a main course, choosing Confit Salmon with Pancetta, Lentils, Spinach, and Horseradish Sauce ($28). Oh, what a glorious creation was this! The salmon was lightly poached in olive oil rendering it light, moist, and delicately flaky. Slow cooking it this way releases and maintains natural flavors and juices from this succulent fish. It was topped by a sprig of fresh dill and placed over a pile of lentils and these were no ordinary lentils! These were divinely flavored by the pancetta and when blended with the spinach and horseradish sauce, became a healthy, intoxicatingly delicious addiction. I don't think I've had better tasting lentils!

We were only able to try one of the dessert selections which we shared. It was a dream confection on a plate - truly looking as if someone had grabbed a handful of clouds sculpted it into a swirling meringue decorated with strawberries and painted with passion fruit. That's actually a poetic description of the menu's name, which is Strawberry Meringue, Passion Fruit Sauce ($8). This is a light dessert with amazing concentrations of flavor that you need to balance by blending. The perfect bite should have some meringue and strawberry and passion fruit. It wasn't until a little later we discovered there was whipped cream just underneath the mint leaves. This confection is akin to New Zealand's national dessert, Pavlova. The more layered your fork is with strawberry, passion fruit, meringue, whipped cream, and the ultimate ingredient, mint leaf, the closer you come to dessert Nirvana!


[Photo: Al Dente cook Bruce, Exec. Chef Budde & Al Dente chef Ong]

Kudos to Chef Jo Ong and her kitchen team along with Al Dente Manager Red Matienzo for an outstanding culinary performance. We also pay tribute to the inspired leadership of Executive Chef Josef Budde, whose encouragement and support have been instrumental to Hyatt's stellar achievements. As for me, the next visit will have to be soon!

Buon appetito!

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