Restaurant Update - Grand Taj Curry & Grill to Open in July
Guam is about the see another Indian restaurant open its doors, this time in Tumon. Yes, the Grand Taj Curry & Grill is scheduled to open during the 3rd week of July. The Grand Taj is owned by long-time resident, Chef Kotwal Singh, who most recently was employed as the Regional Executive Chef for Hard Rock Cafe's Guam and Saipan locations. The Grand Taj will be located on the 2nd floor of the Grand Plaza Hotel in the same space previously occupied by the Yuan San Chinese Restaurant. The restaurant will have a tandoori oven and will offer a full menu of Indian delights, along with a lunch buffet. We are looking forward to trying out Chef Singh's new venture, his first time to do his "own thing"!
Another restaurant in the news are the new Bento House which opened on Thursday, July 6 in Harmon, next to 7-Day Supermarket. It is also owned by the same family, offering local favorites, Japanese and Korean food for breakfast lunch and dinner. The Full House Restaurant recently opened in Mangilao, just down the street from Wendy's . They serve Korean food.
Suphan Thai Restaurant
DNA Plaza (Near Yogurtland & Cost-U-Less)
It was by accident that I discovered something wonderful at Suphan Thai! Let's say I had an "Anton Ego" experience, similar to his gastronomic epiphany in the movie "Ratatouille". When owner Brad Jiblits told me that his favorite Thai dish was inadvertently left off their printed menu and that his wife, "Thum" (pronounced "Toom") made it for him all the time. He told me it was Pad Ka Pow($9), which is also one of my favorite Thai dishes. This is an intensely flavorful dish made with lots of Thai Basil and chilies(especially when you order it "spicy" and "Thai Style" with a fried egg. When the dish arrived I could tell from the steaming aroma that this was going to be memorable. My first bite took me all the way back to 1997 or 1998 when I first had this version of Pad ka Pow at the legendary Pim's Place. This time I had it made with pork, however it can be made with minced chicken or beef. This was, by far, the best I've had since my Pim's experience..it had everything I remembered! They did put this entree on their Take Out paper menu, as well as another dish that was omitted, their Pad-Se-Ew.
I should also mention that Thai Fried Rice($8) is another dish that will surprise you with its fresh goodness. We order a spicier version of it called Spicy Thai Fried Rice, which has (you guessed it) some extra chilies to give it a hot kick! Bravo, "Thum"!
For healthy and palatable vegetarian dining, there is no better place on Guam than Simply Food. I'd not been here for some time (the first time this year) and I'm going to have to correct that and try to get here more often. It's just such a long drive from Tamuning!!! Anyway, I was hungry and needed something substantial, and didn't want their Chamorro monthly special entree, so I ordered the Tofu Spinach Lasagna with Garlic Bread - $7.49. This actually tastes pretty good and it will fill you, but you won't get stuffed since all of this plant based food digests so much more efficiently! I added a side salad to my special for $2.99 and had some herbal tea. Another entree I've had that I like is the Mushroom Loaf which comes with a wheat dinner roll.
Zee went for the monthly special (Monday) which had "Chicken Kelaguen", Chalakilis, Spinach, and Brown Red Rice($7.49). These specials change daily and last for one month, and then they change again. They do a wonderful job of making palatable international fare out of meatless ingredients. You can expect to have Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Filipino, Vietnamese and local, among others. You can build your own sandwich, too, and have a Reuben, or a Peanut Butter and Banana on Wheat, a Hot dog, of a Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich. Smoothies, juice drinks, shakes, and herbal iced teas are available. You haven't lived until you've had a Tofu Shake! There is a full fledged vegan store at Simply Food where you can buy everything (but meat). They also have some delicious baked items like zucchini bread, banana bread, cookies, and a variety of healthy, multi-grain breads. It's like I always say: I go to Simply Food for "guilt-free" dining! Check out their website for more information: www.simplyfoodguam.com
Tumon (across from GVB and Ypao Beach)
PROA continues to perpetuate the legend-awesome food, spectacular presentations, and friendly attentive service. The biggest and most pervasive complaint about PROA is that people have a hard time getting in unless they have made advance reservations. The word here is "advance", because I've heard complaints that when they try to make reservations, they are fully booked. Like I said "advance". I'd say 3 - 4 days if not a week(for weekends) ! Since they are open all day, you can come early (4-ish) and just sit and drink some wine(they've really developed quite an amazing wine list - check out their New Beverage Menu on www.guamdiner.com) . Like I said earlier, they continue to perpetuate the legend with upgrades and improvements like this!
We recently had our MCA Board luncheon at PROA and I wanted to share some of PROA's bountiful offerings with you much the same as we shared the appetizers we had. First to come was their Triton Farms locally grown Mixed Baby Greens with Panko-Crusted Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese and Marinated Tomatoes, served with a Pomegranate-Honey Vinaigrette and Basil Oil ($14.95). OMG, this is simply scrumptious. I had a piece of the Buffalo Mozzarella and just marveled at how well they've made this salad - an imaginative creation with fresh local ingredients and fanciful flavors that delight the palate!
Next to appear was the Calamari, Breaded and Flash-Fried, served with a Mango-Napa-Cilantro Slaw, Red Pepper Flakes and a Soy Citrus Syrup ($9.95). Not only was this good, but it disappeared before I could get a second piece! Next to appear was the Chicken and Beef Nachos with Chipotle Sour Cream, Fresh Avocado and Empanada Chips($ 9.95). I actually didn't even taste this one since the Empanada chips were fried, and I was trying to make some concessions to my "healthier eating" commitment . I'll try some later.
In what was my biggest meal in a while, I couldn't resist one of PROA's lunchtime special entree: the Surf & Turf" Grilled N.Y., Served with Crispy Flat Ironed Furikake Salmon Rice Cake, wasabi butter sauce, and yuzu dressed side Salad ($ 24.95, 12 oz.). I had my New York medium rare and it was grilled to perfection. Our server, Jennifer, was really on top of things and had repeated the specials over and over again as members of our board came in. PROA takes pride in their specials. This steak you couldn't get anywhere else with all the flavors they'd combined. Most of my lunch write-ups have been on the Daily Specials. You need to try them as this is when the chefs really go out of heir way to dazzle you!
PROA has also upgraded their dessert offerings. They are in the process of changing their name from Sweet Relief to PROA Desserts. I did have one of their Key Lime Pie Tarts. I'll have to walk an extra mile for my sins and transgressions. Go to PROA!I can't give you any better advice!
Big Al's Smoked BBQ-To-Go
Anigua,(adjacent to the 76 Station
It was Mark Cruz's facebook picture of a Cheeseburger that piqued my curiosity. It was labeled "The Big Al Burger". So I asked him where was Big Al's and he said it was just past the Anigua 76. I did manage to drive down the day of our MCA Board luncheon and that's when I saw the big red box trailer that seemed to be sharing the entranceway to a vehicle inspection facility. I was further surprised when I looked inside the window and saw a familiar face(Lisa Bordallo) who was busy packing up meals for a customer. I had noticed some guys in the back turning some chicken and ribs over a bbq pit. It was soon after that I made an important connection. One of the grill masters was none other than the legendary local baseball star, John Hattig. He was a phenomenal baseball player here and then went on to play professionally with the Reno Silver Fox of the Golden Baseball League, later advancing to the Major Leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. He's also Lisa's other half( happy couple)! Anyway, they are there helping out a family member who owns Big Al's, which is named for the owner's son. Call it a labor of love! Lisa's famous too(Blame Adam, P.I.C., Sheraton, UOGEF, Fly Guam),and known as a diligent worker with a super personality...they are both special people and are doing something that's really not their dream job, but, as I said, they are doing it for family, and on Guam, family is "tight"!
I took the trek down to Anigua around 2:30-ish to avoid the lunch rush. I stood at the window and told Lisa I was going to order several things and needed to get a photo of each before they were wrapped and packed up. Big Al's is a no-frills stationary canteen, with a large smoker in the back along with a BBQ grill. They have a simple menu and I wanted to try out their main offerings. First I had to have that Big Al Burger( $4.50), which has cheese, red onion, pickles, lettuce and special sauce. They grill their buns and put their hand-made patty(from ground beef) in the bun and wrap it up in foil. I had ordered the 3 other items to take out and eat at home, however, I had to have that burger THEN & NOW! The first bite was all I really needed to tell how good this sandwich is. Fantastic, and at $4.50, you can't go wrong! It's not the big giant belly-buster burger everybody's making to impress the masses. This burger is simply a good darned burger that reminds me of the pleasure we'd get eating at Cool Spot. The secret sauce reminds me of something Jack in the Box had used. The burger's a winner!
I'd also ordered Ani's Favorite Zesty Ribs Plate ($7.99), which comes with smoked pork ribs that are covered in their own tangy BB sauce, rice, baked beans, and coleslaw. The other entree was the Ribs & Chicken Combo Plate($7.50), which features Ani's Ribs and Mama's Best Chicken. The final entree I ordered to take home was Tata's Tinalan Katne ($8.99), which is a local favorite with Smoked dried beef strips served with corn tatizas and and finadene.(just like Tata used to make at the ranch).
I took all three trays home for sampling later. You could tell that John really loves to smoke and grill - it's just something guys like doing on island. He's got a system that leaves the ribs tender and juicy. You can see the different hues on the pork and how the smoke has penetrated. These are meaty and delicious ribs - not boiled but smoked and grilled. These ribs have integrity and I did enjoy them. I thought the chicken was also well smoked and flavorful , but not as moist. Perhaps I need to get the whole chicken next time before it's cut up. The sauce is not as zesty as I'd expected so if they want to kick it up a bit they can. The cole slaws passable and the beans are beans - nothing special to doctor them up. You get 3 scoops of white rice, which is probably safer to serve than potato or macaroni salad. For the price, though, these are decently portioned meals. The Tinalan Katne was different than most I've had - it seemed to be more natural flavored and not hard-smoked. Unfortunately, I have to forego eating much of this so it'll find it's way to an office where others can enjoy this part of my GFG feast.
Big Al's has Family Platters (Small- $47.50 that can feed 3-4 people and combines chicken and ribs, or gives you one or the other with sides; and Large ($47.50, which feeds, 6-8 people, and gives you 1 whole chicken and 1 whole slab of ribs, or 2 whole chickens or 2 whole rib slabs, only. If you want just Smoked Meat, the Pork Ribs are $16.95 (whole slab), an $9.25 for a half slab. A whole Chicken is $12.50 while half a bird is $7.95. Big Al's is open from 11 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. I think you'd enjoy getting some of this tasty smoked meat from Big Al's Smoked BBQ-To-Go!