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May 11, 2012, Volume 12 Number 9

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

I'm back!! Yes, I've recently returned from a week touring Korea where I attended the 35th WACS World Congress in Daejeon along with Gordon Mizusawa, Secretary of the Micronesian Chefs' Association(MCA). WACS is the abbreviation for World Association of Chefs Societies. This is the first time Guam has attended this bi-annual event and we joined 92 other countries in what essentially was a United Nations of Chefs, with Guam carrying a vote that counted as much as any other nation! You can see some photos and read a bit more about this fantastic journey (from which I'm still recovering) in today's newsletter.

We have much to catch up on and will have to carry over to next week with some of our coverage of local restaurant happenings. We do want to wish all of you moms a glorious "Mother's Day" this Sunday...hope you get pampered by your family and loved deserve it!!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

Heavenly Veggies
Airport Plaza (near United Tire)

Vegetarians REJOICE!! Finally, your prayers have been answered for a truly vegetarian restaurant location in Tamuning! "O give thanks unto the LORD: for He is good....Who giveth food to all flesh" for his mercy endureth forever." -Psalms 136

Yes, after what seems to have taken months to complete, Heavenly Veggies has opened its doors for weekday lunch service from 11 am - 2 pm, with daily menu creations featuring home style vegan cooking. This is the real deal, folks, if you are serious about extending your life and improving the quality of your health! The foods served here are all natural plant whole foods that are free of cheese, dairy milk, eggs, animal products, trans-fats, cholesterol, MSG and preservatives! Moreover, aside from being nutritious and low calorie, these meals are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, bioflavenoids, antioxidants, plant proteins, and omega-3-essential oils! Now if that's not a super sales pitch for healthy guilt-free dining, I don't know what is. Oh, I should tell you that the price is pretty reasonable, too, with your main meal costing you $6.50/plate (includes salad or soup).

We stopped by the other day and determined this was definitely not your typical restaurant...seems more like a commune where you order your food at a cafeteria type counter, take your tray to your table to graze, and then remove your tray and refuse to a back area. The premise is simple. You order a Starch, Entree, Vegetable, and get your side choices. You can also order a beverage(I had Herbal Tea - $2). The day we ate, Zee's choice was Rottini Pasta, Mushroom Stroganoff, Potato Bean Casserole, and Chinese Broccoli. She had the salad.

I had the Brown Rice, Mushroom Stroganoff, Broccoli and Celery Fennel Soup. I have to admit that everything was fresh and palatable. This food doesn't require a lot of biting nor chewing, and somehow, it's a relief not having to eat meat. The portions are also designed to give you what you need. Every day there is a different menu selection so you can surprise your palate and body with good eats. They do have Fruit Smoothies(12 oz is $4.50 and 20 oz is $5.50). Heavenly Veggies is certainly a welcome addition to Guam's restaurant landscape, in fact, it's long overdue! They have only just opened their doors and apparently have some work to do on their interior. Don't let that deter you from coming here and taking a break from the "steak"! For you vegans out there, this should be music to your ears! Rejoice!

Caliente Mexican Taqueria

I missed Cinco de Mayo celebrations this year since I was in Korea, where I don't believe anything served is Mexican, though I did meet up with some Mexican chefs at the WACS Congress. Prior to leaving I did stop by Caliente for dinner and was again pleasantly surprised to try some menu items we hadn't tried yet, such as the Huevos Rancheros and the Tamales. However, before we go there, Zee ordered the Mexican Pizza ($11.00), which has a 13" flour tortilla topped with refried beans, salsa, chicken, jack cheese, and garnished with sour cream and guacamole. You can choose your own meat(ours was chicken) and for shrimp you add $3.00. This is quite good, but also quite filling and we only could eat half!

My choice was simple - Huevos Rancheros - $14 - Two Eggs any style(mine over easy) on top of a corn tortilla quesadilla, smothered with rancheros sauce, comes with beans, rice and carne asada. This is one of my favorite Mexican breakfast dishes and I didn't care if it was dinner time, I knew Tommy would do justice to this iconic plate. He didn't disappoint! Everything blended well –truly a classic version with his tasty carne asada.

Zee was craving for Tamales ($14), which are only available in beef. The plate comes with 3 homemade tamales and is served with rice and beans. No complaints here. These tamales were kosher and delivered what she needed to satisfy her craving - she's more critical than I am. I have already identified what I'm going to have on my next visit! It has become one of Caliente's more popular dishes - Homemade Tortilla Chicken Soup($7.00). I saw a guy eating this and I was taken by this appealing peppery cheese dream in a bowl!!

Sunflower Restaurant
Aurora Resort & Spa Lobby Floor

One of Tumon's newer breakfast and lunch destinations is the Sunflower Restaurant in the Aurora Resort. Named after the Okura's legendary Sunflower Coffee Shop, Sunflower Restaurant is in the same physical location, however, it has been opened up and modernized with a new color scheme that's richer and frames what God has provided in a glorious ocean vista. I arrived after the lunch crowd had dissipated and had a window seat. I couldn't help but reflect on this room's potential. They will be serving dinner and they will be serving cocktails. This could easily become a dining hot spot with that view!! Keep in mind that like Old Town Chinese Restaurant downstairs, these operators inherited this prime Tumon oceanfront space that was held by a major hotel for over 35 years. If they can get their service staff up to speed and offer a dynamic menu, they've got a fighting chance.

I saw the menu and noted that it's definitely in contention, with appetizers including calamari, shrimp tempura, Buffalo wings, ahi poke, salmon cakes, and Potato scallopini. They have salads, and specialty sandwiches including the Philly Cheese Steak, California Club, and Crab Cake, as well as some burgers. They have several Pilaf selections, and even a kid's meal assortment that features sliders, mini hot dogs, chicken fingers, fish & chips, mini Grilled Cheese sandwiches and mini spaghetti Bolognese. There is a 10% service charge added to your bill. The lunch hot plates include a Reef Fish of the day, fried chicken, Japanese Curry, pasta dishes, Loco Moco, Basa Filet, Rib Eye Steak, and a house specialty, Honey Glazed BBQ Ribs($16.95). As I said, if they open for dinner, they really be able to pay their rent!!

I ordered the Spicy Buffalo Wings ($6.95 for 6 pieces), with a spicy sauce(the other choice would be tangy). This comes with celery sticks and ranch dressing. These wings definitely had a "zing" to them, and you can see the red pepper flicks all over the outside! The wings were good enough.

My main course was a pasta dish, the Spaghetti Vongole ($14.50), which had baby clams sauteed in garlic, white wine, and parsley served over noodles along with garlic toast. This is a classic, flavorful Italian dish and I thought they did a fairly good job with this. The clams were delicious, and I really enjoyed their garlic toast. I really need to bring some more people here so we can share a rack of those ribs! Try Sunflower's got potential and they deserve to make this place work!

WACS 35TH World Congress
Daejeon, Korea

As I'd mentioned previously, Gordon Mizusawa (MCA Board Secretary) and myself attended the 35th Bi-Annual WACS World Congress as representatives for the Micronesian Chefs' Association. It was a full-on travel experience and my first time to Korea. Of course, one of my desires was to eat Korean cuisine and have some fresh kimchi(which I actually did upon arriving during a breakfast meeting where I had Kalbi tang—beef rib soup). I did have other opportunities to sample some of the excellent cuisine of Korea and I'll write about that a little later.

The WACS Congress was attended by some 3000 chefs representing 93 countries. The event featured seminars, guest speakers, symposiums, trade shows, culinary competitions, product displays, cooking demonstrations, cultural entertainment, and a special musical event - a live K-Pop concert! It was Gordon and my mission (as an MCA Director) to spread awareness about Guam (we had Guam pins and decal maps showing Guam's regional location). You'd be surprised by how many people didn't have the slightest idea where Guam was, even if they'd heard the name!! We also were there to learn as much as we could about the WACS family, the people, the philosophy, and the organization and how we could bring back information that would benefit the MCA. We met the challenge head on and gave out cards and pins and collected much the same. We were among the most aggressive of all participants(only outdone by the 3 countries who were competing to host the 2016 World Congress, namely Greece, Turkey, and South Africa). I believe South Africa won this!

We met with the movers and shakers of the culinary world while at WACS, meeting people like Chef Toshi Utsunomiya from the All Japan Chefs Assn., who was designated an Honorary WACS Member(he's attended 16 of these congresses) and is a friend and colleague of one our MCA directors, Josef Budde, who is the Executive Chef of Hyatt Regency Guam. We caught up with former Guam Resident Remo Berdux, who was the WACS Head Judge and is President of Le Toques Blanches Korea. Remo was our MCA President and Executive Chef of the Hyatt. He was one of the visionaries who created the fund-raising concept known as the Celebrity Chefs Cup Competition put on by the University of Guam Endowment Fund. Of course we met our WACS officials including President Gissur Gudmundsson, from Iceland. I am in one of the photos with a group from the Ukraine. They enjoyed the Guam decals and pins, and promised to come visit! We met with some culinary educators and chefs from Taiwan, one of whom knew GCC's Dr. Frank Tung. Glenn Austin is our Pacific Area Director for WACS. He and his wife Cassandra have visited Guam twice and we had the opportunity to meet with other Pacific Region Members including Vanuatu, New Zealand, and Australia to discuss regional information sharing and competitions. The prospect of Guam hosting a future Pacific Challenge is not that far off and could happen as early as next year! We've got some talented junior chefs who could hold their own and represent Guam. Glenn is a big player in WACS and is the Global Corporate Chef for Fonterra, a large exporter of dairy and cheeses.

On one day we had the opportunity to vote alongside the other delegates and participate in the parade of nations, where all 93 member countries flags were individually announced and carried to the front. We sure raised a cheer when the name "Guam" was announced!! (We'd already had fans by then so were joined in the cheering!). The first lady of Korea, Yoon-Ok Kim, was our honored guest speaker and Honorary Ambassador for WACS during this Congress. She encouraged all chefs to experience the flavors of Korean cuisine. That's what we did. I'll be writing more on this later! As you can surmise, this was an event of the lifetime and we expect to participate in future World Congresses, with the next one to be held in Norway in 2014. What an amazing experience that will be!

Ken the Guam Food Guy

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