November 18, 2011, Volume 11 Number 21
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
There is so much going on as we head into Thanksgiving Week. I get tickled when I hear people new to Guam wonder what there is to do here on this little rock in the Western Pacific. Once they get acclimated, they realize that there are more activities, functions and events happening concurrently than they can possibly attend. Our island has many non-profit organizations that hold fund-raisers. Tonight's DINE & RIDE VI Finale at the Guam Marriott Resort & Spa's Manhattan Steakhouse is one example of a business creatively raising funds for three non-profits (Habitat for Humanity, Rainbows for All Children, and Autism Community Together). The lucky winner of this annual dinner promotion will win a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle!
We also have a host of professional associations that hold events, conferences, dinners, product launches, and receptions. I haven't even touched on the political events or the family events. You get the picture. If for any reason you find yourself looking for something to do, I recommend you volunteer in some way, whether it's ringing the bell during the upcoming holidays for the Salvation Army, helping the Guam Girl Scouts with Christmas Tree sales or help with feeding the needy at the annual Thanksgiving Event at Chamorro Village; there are a lot of people who'd appreciate your helping out by volunteering some time. And to help you along the way, check out the Thanksgiving Specials that our esteemed resturant subscribers are offering. We must all be thankful for the many blessings in our lives. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
Ken, the Guam Food Guy
GFG Hosts K57 "Tourism & You" Food Guy Show
Saturday November 19, 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 Lenny & Pika Fejeran, owners of Pika's Café.
In our second hour, we'll welcome a team from Lone Star Steakhouse, specifically Jimmy Untalan, General Manager, and AJ Zapatos, Manager.
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!
Infusion Coffee & Tea Opening Preview
Tamuning (next to Ben Franklin Bldg.)
Wow, talk about a metamorphosis! I had a chance to stop by for a trial run sampling of the new Infusion Coffee & Tea cafe on Thursday and was astonished by the amazing transformation of this long-vacant, run-down building that used to house the Furasato Restaurant (it's been closed for close to 20 years, if not longer). Kudos to Richard Chan and Mika Gibson of Archway, Inc., who have established their 2nd full service outlet. Infusion is a highly popular cafe famous for the crepes and coffee, along with pastries and other goodies. This new location has an upstairs dining room as well as an outdoor deck which offers a view of Tamuning's Marine Corps Drive. There are some new items on their menu such as the savory crepe I tried called the Ryan, which had Chicken, Tomato, Spinach, Cheese, and Salsa. Pretty impressive! I don't know the exact opening date, but I'd expect it to be soon, perhaps this weekend. Again, congrats to the Archway team.
Jamaican Grill Opens Dededo Mall Location
Dededo Mall, Dededo
Ya Mon, it's happened! In a well-attended Grill-Lighting Ceremony, Jamaican Grill opened its doors to eagerly awaiting guests who munched on Jamaican Grill's trademark grilled ribs, chicken and fish, complemented by red and Jamaican rice, as well as salads and fruits. It's the largest Jamaican Grill restaurant ever with a seating capacity of 140 pax. Owners Tim Murphy and Frank Kenney have outdone themselves with this latest eatery which really shows off its Jamaican-themed decor, reflecting the artistic and creative design vision of Ariel Dimalanta. This will certainly bring a lot of traffic and attention to the Dededo Mall which has until now been a fairly modest facility with a Judicial Court, some small retail shops and a small food court. This will really give the northern residents (Dededo, Yigo, Andersen and NCTAMS) a closer Jamaican Grill location than the Tumon and Hagatna locations. Kudo's to Frank, Tim, their families, managers and employees. Another Jamaican Grill dream has come true. Ya Mon!!!
PROA Lunch Special
Ypao Beach, Tumon
Speaking of "dreams," I recently ate one at PROA! Yes, as I've recommended over and over to people who have eaten at Proa or who want to eat there, try the "Specials!"
One of the day's specials during my visit was an amazing Yuzu Ponzu Marinated Salmon w/Shoyo Butter Rice & Furikake Butter Sauce with Simple Salad ($24.95). I don't really think it's possible to fully describe this creation. If you read the name and visualize how each element would make its distinct contribution to the whole, then you can get a pretty good outline of what it was to eat. To really appreciate it though, you'd have to eat it. Don't worry, they do encores so you'll be able to have this or others like it during lunch or dinner depending on what the cooks have put up on the board. Fantastic, Team PROA - you never disappoint!
Pika's Café is a place I'd return to more often if I didn't have to keep eating at other restaurants. I'd do more breakfasts, that's for sure. I was lucky to have a break in my schedule so that I could return to Pika's Café for lunch recently. I saw a few specials on the board and then looked at the menu. What got my attention was the Classic Burger which won First Place in the MV BurgerFest Competition earlier this year. I had already eaten Pika's awesome Tinaktak Burger, which won 2nd Place in the Gourmet Category. So this day it was going to be the Classic Burger, aka "Champ" ($13), which has an Angus Patty, Lana Sauce, Provolone, Applewood Bacon, Avocado Spread, Fix-ins& One Daily Side. I chose the Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup as my side dish. The soup was hot, hearty and flavorful. I let it cool down while I worked on the burger - what a sandwich! The grilled Ciabatta bun is ideal for holding everything together and not falling apart. You need plenty of napkins because this big boy can't help but drip and drizzle as you try to squeeze it for a bite. That Lana sauce is the bomb!
I was supposed to be a judge for that competition but had to travel off-island. I can see how Pika's took first place. This burger was definitely worthy and I even recommended it to another customer. She loved it and let me get a photo of the other daily side, the local salad. This was another astonishing creation using fresh local vegetables that had been pickled including papaya, onion, cucumber, daikon radish, red onion and green onion. I relished the flavor, taste, and fresh crunchiness of this side. I'm looking forward to my next culinary foray to Pika's Café.
Hafa Adai Café
Pacifica Plaza (Hours 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. Mon-Sat., closed Sunday)
It's been 5 years since my first review of Hafa Adai Café (May 2006) and nothing's really changed at this popular breakfast and lunch spot. Owners Billy and Jozy Hon work as hard as they've done for years putting out an amazing menu full of local favorites and combination dishes (American, Local and some Chinese). I did try a few different items from the review and as you can see, our food photos in 2011 are much larger than those we included in 2006.
My Shrimp Scramble (not called this on the menu, but it's what I got by combining 3 eggs with shrimp and green onions for $5.75). Four pieces of crisp bacon make up the side dish for $3.00. Zee's 3 Egg Omelet had Cheese and Bacon for $5.75 and she ordered Beef Tapa (2 pcs. for $3). Of course, you get a constant refill of coffee (I don't know the brand, but it's a pretty decent cup of java).
I returned for lunch later in the week and ordered the Deep Fried Half Chicken for $7.25 (add $1.00 for Fried Rice Substituted for White Rice) and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($3.95). The Grilled Cheese Sandwich was a pleasant change and evoked past childhood memories. They use thick-sliced Pullman Bread which makes perfect grilled toast. The half fried chicken was generously portioned and I had plenty left-over. It was fried perfectly and still retained its juiciness. Hafa Adai Café is one of the more consistent restaurants because they haven't changed their menu . Great place for affordable dining.
Okinawa Travel Adventure - "Destination Okinawa"
When our media travel group arrived in Okinawa at night, we checked into the ANA Okinawa Harborview Crowne Plaza located in Naha only 10 minutes from the airport. This is a comfortable, business hotel that is located in a quiet residential and commercial neighborhood that allows for easy walking access to the main shopping area of Kokusai Street.
I was very happy after my long day to settle in my room. I had some packets of Okinawa literature to review and discovered a special packet of aromatic bath salts, so it was reading time in a soothing hot bath, and yes, the Aromatic salts provided some degree of aromatherapy! I watched the Okinawa visitor channel on the wide screen TV and soon drifted off to an easy sleep.
One of the great inventions from Japan is their special toilet seat. Most Americans are a little uncomfortable the first time they sit on these, however, once you've satisfied your curiosity about which buttons to push, you soon will appreciation the consideration this invention affords the user. It's a wonderful example of how the Japanese value cleanliness.
We didn't have time to spend much time in the hotel with our tight schedule, however I did have time for a quick and light breakfast buffet in the Garden Restaurant Printemps (which means Spring time in French).
Okashigoten Onna Souvenir Shop
Onna (2 km North From Cape Manzamo)
During our first day of touring in Okinawa, our bus made a stop at the Okashigoten Souvenir Shop in Onna. I really didn't know what to expect. It's a very impressive and grandiose edifice painted in red vermillion. It reminded me of a Chinese temple with its dragon head ornament mounted above the entranceway. I later learned that the entrance of this store was designed borrowing elements of the main building of Okinawa's Shuri Castle. The unique features are its S-shaped entrance roof called "Karahafu."
Once inside, we were immersed in the swirling activity of a busy gift and souvenir shop with sales people offering samples of cakes, tarts, and candies. Along the back wall was an enormous factory that was producing the famous and fresh Beni-imo Tart made with purple sweet potatoes. You can view the complete production process through glass walls. It's fascinating to see how the little tarts are precisely filled with the sweet potato emulsion with its trademark swirl. Of course, everyone was busy sampling and buying different items for gifts. The red sweet potatoes were not native to Okinawa and were introduced from Fujian Province in the early 1600s. Rich in vitamins, this sweet potato has health benefits as a source of dietary fiber, minerals and natural polyphenol.
Other products available for purchase at the store are Shio Goma Chinsuko (salt & sesame wafers) and a variety of cakes and confectionaries, as well as packaged foods like Okinawa Soba. Colorful glass creations are also for sale here along with countless Shisha guardian dragon dog ornaments.
One of the fun things to do when leaving is to have your photo taken with the life size characters - they'll turn you into a bona fide "tater head!" At least you'll be a healthy purple one!
Sam's Sailor Inn Restaurant
When it was time for lunch on our 2nd day in Okinawa we went to Kokusai Street where we found ourselves in the beginning stages of an all-island festival with the streets filled with costumed groups of men balancing enormous flagpoles and banners. We were going to eat at Sam's Sailor Inn Restaurant, one of eight eateries comprising Sam's Restaurant Group. Sam's was established since 1962. I'll talk more about this festive event, called the Hatagashira Festival in my next article.
Sam's Sailor Inn Restaurant specializes in teppanyaki dining. The entire interior is designed with a maritime motif, in fact, it's more like being inside a large ship, complete with portholes, railings and infrastructure of a military vessel. There was a contingent of U.S. Marine band members lined up outside as we were entering. All of the servers wear white sailors hats with Sam's name in blue letters, matching their blouses that are designed like the traditional sailor's uniform. The restaurant features Sam's Original Drinks. I ordered the Jaw's Ocean Sling which is made with Gin, Coconut Liqueur, Pineapple and Lemon. This was served in a huge ceramic shark with bloody teeth giving way to a skewered orange slice with cherry and mint leaf garnish. The drink was refreshing and had a little kick.
The menu here was fairly straightforward for our lunch - everyone would have the same Curry Soup, fresh salad, and steak, seared Teppan - style by trained teppan chefs. Chef Tomori was our first teppan chef. He bowed when he brought our beef platter out. Just as he was about to proceed with grilling the meat, Quentin Koch, our United/Continental host, asked for my Guam Logo pin and put it on Tomori-san's chef coat. He'll now proudly represent Guam. It was just as Kyoko Murakami, our first day's tour guide, had explained the meaning of the Okinawa phrase, "Ichari ba cho de" (once we meet we are like brothers and sisters). We were now brothers with Chef Tomori!
He then cut up some onions and potatoes and spread them on the teppan griddle. Once grilled, he placed these cooked items on our plate. Then the choice tenderloin steak was grilled. Occasionally Chef Tomori (who was eventually joined by Chef Ishimine) would dazzle us with some flaring of the salt & pepper shakers as well as the spatulas. The meat was very delicious and we had two dipping sauces - one reminded me of a ponzu sauce and the other had a spicy taste.
Finally, one of the much anticipated events was for the chefs to prepare a house specialty, the Garlic Fried Volcano-style! This took some initial preparation and then the time came for the action shot which was made by adding a little brandy to the grilling rice and igniting it. The orange and yellow flame licked upwards and evoked murmurs of awe and appreciation from our party, just as it does at all teppan restaurants seeking that "wow" impact from the whoosh of the flames!
Our lunch was very satisfying and we thanked our chefs and the restaurant manager for the hospitality and good service.
Stay tuned for our next segment on "Destination Okinawa."
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