Happy Liberation Day, Guam! If you have not experienced a Liberation Day Parade, this is something everyone needs to do at least once. It's a total showcase of island pride concentrated along a single parade route. Scores of floats representing businesses, clubs, social groups, government entities, and non-profits, are joined by military, reserve units, high schools, marching bands, dance troupes, beauty queens, and just about anyone who wants to "strut their stuff" as part of this grand review.
It is the single largest concentration of the island's population at one time for an event, and you can believe there will be barbecues galore up and down Marine Corps Drive! If you can't make it down in person, you can watch it all on TV, joining the celebration from the comfort of your home. You're bound to catch a glimpse of someone you know waving from a float!
We want to extend a hearty "Hafa Adai" to our first-time readers from Stripes Guam an advertising supplement to the Stars & Stripes newspaper. GuamDiner.com has partnered with them in sharing the contents of our bi-weekly newsletter along with other GuamDiner.com content including articles and recipes. We made our debut appearance in this week's Guam Stripes Vol. 8 #7 published on Sunday July 16, 2012.
The Stripes Epaper can be read online or downloaded at guam.stripes.com/restaurant-guide. The editorial staff at Stripes Guam have done an awesome job of telling our story and republishing our work to reach a larger readership who may not have known about us. Now, they do! The impact and results are dramatic! I stopped by Suphan Thai Restaurant on Thursday night and owner Brad Jiblits said he had six military customers come in specifically asking for the Pad Ka Pow pictured in our review on Page 10! Moreover, another brought in his iPad with the downloaded newsletter showing our DinerByte reviews! Stay tuned for more GuamDiner Byte articles and reviews in future editions of Stripes Guam!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Guam Farmers & Chefs Conference
"Cooking Up An Island Cuisine"
July 23, 24 & 25, 2012
Guam Community College
Building 400, Multipurpose Auditorium
Pre-registration:735-2080 or 735-2050
Registration Fee: $20/day
The first ever Guam Farmers & Chefs Conference will be held next week starting on Monday. This is part of a series of farmers and chefs conferences around the Pacific region designed to support local agricultural products and promote buying local produce by chefs and restaurants.
This important event is open to the public. Over the course of the three-day event, you will gain an understanding of the availability, seasonality and diversity of locally sourced produce.
Each day will have planning sessions to develop future collaborative programs in farmer/chef linkages, community and home gardens, food preservation and value-added processing. Come learn about juicing, or making tropical fruit ice cream, or making dried Jackfruit!
There will be presenters from the Kona Farmer Chef Movement and discussion panels with participants from the Farmer's Cooperative, Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association, Micronesian Chefs Association, UOG Cooperative Extension Service, and food distributors.
Vitale's Italian Ristorante
The Plaza, 2nd Floor
One of the island's favorite Italian eateries is Vitale's, and with good reason - it's food made with amore! Vitale's features more than 34 different spaghetti and pasta dishes, including Ravioli, Tortellini, Cannoloni, Manicotti, Lasagna, Fettuccine, Linguine Clam, Veal Parmiagana, and pizzas as well as belly-busting submarine sandwiches. My personal favorite is the "King" with pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, Italian sausage for $7.95.
We recently stopped by after too long an absence and treated ourselves to Linguine Clam in White Sauce ($14.95), Manicotti with Meat Balls ($16.95), and a side order of Italian Sausage Link with Marinara ($5).
The Linguine Clam is a richly flavored dish that's a creamy delight. Enhancing the experience is Vitale's delicious hot garlic bread with that just-baked taste that accompanies every pasta dish.
I have to confess a preference for the Manicotti, (Italian crepes stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese then smothered with special tomato sauce and Mozzarella). This was bliss!
I also can't resist Vitale's home-made Italian sausage, especially when it's floating in their fresh, zesty chunky marinara that's so good you want to sop it up with your bread!
So when you've got a craving for authentic Italian (proprietor Joe Vitale is from Sicily and his son, Agostino, mans the kitchen, too), go to Vitale's You can't go wrong!
Lone Star Steakhouse
Marine Corps Drive
You've got to hand it to the crew at Lone Star Steakhouse. They keep coming up with new things to keep their game fresh and delicious!
One of the best things they do is offer monthly Power Lunch Specials such as the line-up they are offering during July. It's actually a tribute to Guam's Liberation so they call them Liberation Lunch Specials. Each day of the week a different dish is featured. I recommend you try Monday's Tinaktak ($11.99), which has fresh ground USDA choice beef sauteed in a blend of coconut milk, onions, garlic, lemon juice, green beans, and diced tomatoes. Add to this a side of pickled cucumbers and steamed white rice and you've got a local favorite! Other featured specials are Bistek, Kadon Pika, Chorizos Chamorro, and Mahi Eskabeche. Check out the Lunch Specials at GuamDiner.com to see what's cooking each weekday!
When Lone Star launched their new menu this past year, I tried awesome new additions like the Crab Cakes, Cajun Fried Calamari, Tomato Onion Salad, and a Bone-in Ribeye. One of the new items I'd promised myself to try was one of their Steakhouse Burgers called "The Pounder" ($16.99), which is made with a full pound of hand-crafted USDA Choice Beef seasoned with an original spice blend mixed with Lea & Perrins Worcestershire steak sauce. I had some Jack Cheese on mine. This is no ordinary burger and as hard as I tried, I couldn't eat it all! I had the burger cooked medium and was very pleased with the flavors and how well the toasted sesame seed bun held up under the pressure of that monster meat! I took a third of it home and made several mini-sliders with the remnants!
NOW I'd like to feature a first time, off-the-menu favorite from a past era! Do any of you remember Chuck's Steak House's famous "Baseball" Cut steak? It was a charred Top Sirloin that was juicy on the inside and shaped like a ball. It's been gone from Guam since Chuck's closed a few years ago. This great steak deserved a resurrection, and if anyone could do it, it would be Lone Star and that is exactly what they did this past week!
I talked with Lone Star's managers about this steak along with Lone Star Chef Carl Donnauro, who used to create it at Chuck's during his long tenure there. Essentially, Carl reprises this great steak by carving up an impressive 12 oz. steak and calling it the "Ballpark" cut.
Making it more unique is that It is not on the menu, but you can ask for one. It will cost you $25.99 and includes your choice of soup or salad and a starch of your choice. It's best to have this cooked anywhere between Medium Rare to Medium Well, but better somewhat less or close to Medium so you don't lose all the juices. To enhance your Ballpark steak flavor, go local and dip your pieces in finadene...it really kicks it up a notch!
This special cut comes from the Butt and there are a limited number of Ballpark cuts you can get from each piece (maybe 5-7). So for those of you who remember the glory day's of Chuck's Baseball cut, you can now get a close relative with Lone Star's Ballpark cut! Thanks, Carl and thanks Team Lone Star!!
Shirley's Coffee Shop
Every Sunday morning we join a multitude of diners looking for a decent breakfast place that won't over-fill you nor break your wallet. There's nothing wrong with hotel buffets, however, it's not easy to go there and show "restraint"! So it's good to be able to find a place like Shirley's Coffee Shop to order an a la carte breakfast item and get your money's worth. We'd not been there for some time so we noticed that there were two new things we wanted to try. On a yellow card on the outside cover of the menu, we saw " New Fresh Waffle and Whipped Cream" ($6.95), with a choice of Maple, Strawberry, Banana and Mango Syrups. We ordered one and I ordered a Chorizo Scramble with Green Onions and Chopped Fresh Garlic($9.95) instead of my usual Shrimp Scramble. Zee ordered a Cheese Omelet($8.25), and we both had wheat toast.
While you wait for your order, Shirley's gave out a bowl of Arroz caldo, which is like a rice porridge. The waffle was alright (could have been a little hotter) but the taste and texture were there. The strawberry syrup was surprisingly strawberry and not overly sweet or sugary. Of course we had the whipped cream for the sake of the photo.
The Chorizo Scramble was better than I'd expected. I really like the fact that they use green onions. The Chorizo was not greasy and not overly spicy. It had a nice texture and flavor with just enough spice to give a rich taste. Of course, I needed my extra heat kick so I sprinkled a generous amount of Tabasco. That's what I needed.
Logan Farms Honey Glazed Hams & Market Cafe
Upper Tumon (formerly Burger King)
969-RIBS(7427) or 969-RICE(7423)
If you like good hearty American cuisine, then you should be eating at Logan Farms! It's the closest thing to eating in Texas, which is about 10,000 miles away! The other day I tried one of their newly-featured counter specials, the Beef Brisket w/two (2) sides and side salad - $10.49. The sides I chose were potato salad and green beans. Their green beans have pieces of ham in them for flavor and added protein. Both the salad and beans are good. The brisket was smoked and beefy, but sliced a little on the thin side. As I said, the flavor was there and maybe I just wanted more meat or thicker slices.
The other featured counter item(this is a special displayed on they counter instead of the lighted menu board) I tried on another visit was the Beef Brisket Sandwich($8.50). I have to admit that I was impressed with the taste of my sandwich which had a savory barbecue sauce that complemented the tender bits of brisket. I don't know if it's a bad merchandising choice, but I'd change the photo on the counter display because that brisket sandwich shown is quite different than the one served. One if overflowing with stacked meat. Or, another possibility would be to charge more(maybe $10) and make the sandwich look more like the photo. That would be a sandwich no one could touch!!
Logan Farms features a variety of Sandwiches (Signature Ham, Honey Turkey, Roast Beef, Chicken Salad Muffuletta, Classic Club, and Pesto Cuban). I wanted a dinner, though, and thought I'd try a combination. The Rostisserie Chicken has two sides for $7.99. Their Rostisserie Chicken is one of the best on island. Well seasoned and juicy. Green beans, potato salad, and a cornbread muffin complimented the golden bird. We also had a side of BBQ Spare Ribs., which cost us about $5.00. The ribs are good and meaty. You can order a full rack to take home. As I said, home-cooked and home flavors. Try Logan Farms.
Kar Kar Restaurant
Mikkel Tan Vy Bldg (formerly KimChi Complex)
Kar Kar has some of the best overall dining values on island. You can get a complete meal here that will fill you up without emptying your wallet! Freshly prepared Chinese and local items are what makes Kar Kar one of the island's favorites. Lunch and dinner specials run from $4.50 - $7.50. The Flat Wide Noodles with Beef are one of the dishes we had the other night. It cost $8.50. We also had some dim sum too, with an order each of Shumai and Pork with Black Bean Sauce, which are priced around $4.00 ea. Zee had to have her Sesame Balls, which were about $2.00 ea. The Chinese Broccoli at Kar Kar is rapidly stir fried with garlic, leaving them crisp, firm and tasty. We did get a chance to try the Orange Chicken, which was a bit more vinegary than Zee would like. The corn starch made the batter nice and crunchy. This was akin to Sweet & Sour sauce but with orange accents. Kar Kar's Fried Rice varieties are excellent and their seafood dishes (steamed fish and ginger crab) are well-regarded. Kar Kar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however they are closed on Wednesday nights.
Mediterranean Dinner Buffet
Sunday Night 6 - 10 p.m. $30.95 per adult, $16.95 per child(6-12)
Outrigger Guam Resort
When I first heard that the Palm Cafe featured a Mediterranean Dinner Buffet on Sundays, I was intrigued. Then I was told by one of the chefs that they had lamb to die for! Well, this was a challenge indeed! Palm Cafe has been wowing customers with their newly energized buffets and enhanced menu offerings. The Japanese Lunch Buffet has been a resounding success and their Sunday Brunch has seen a steady increase in traffic.
Our first impression of the buffet line-up was a one of those "wow" moments, as you couldn't help but notice the huge Roasted Garlic Herb Lamb Carcass that stood upright on large pan filled with sliced pieces of lamb. It's certainly the most lamb I'd ever seen on a hotel buffet line! Every piece of this succulent meat was so tasty! There was nothing gamey about the lamb, and I didn't need any gravy to mask or enhance this. Next to the Lamb carvery was the Shawarma station, which had a block of chicken meat rotating on a spit that was grilled by a radiant heater. Beneath was pita bread for the shawarma along with condiments and add-ins for the pita, including raitha(a creamy cucumber sauce), marinated eggplant, lettuce, and hummus.
Here I was confronted with an overwhelming amount and variety of food! What to choose? There was pizza(I had a slice), and shrimp scampi(which was divine), as was the Beef with mushroom in the hot line. Also notable was a tender Pork Fillet with dried Fruits and balsamic sauce. One of my favorites was the baked mahi mahi with capers, tomato, parsley, butter, and lemon. Accompanying this tasty mahi was a tartar sauce the likes of which I can remember having before...it was superb! Zee doesn't typically like or eat tartar sauce, however, she sampled this and liked it immediately!
Other featured items were a savory couscous salad, pasta dishes, Greek salads, tomato and feta cheese with black olives, cucumber and tomato salads, artichoke and pepper medley, beets with red onion, a cheese platter, soups, and desserts, among which was a Yogurt Cake, Panna Cotta, Cheese Cake, and a decadent Chocolate Cream Cake.
The Palm Cafe's great food is matched by excellent and friendly service...the staff here take enormous pride in their jobs and they seem to exude hospitality. I was able to capture some of the culinary team in a photo op next to the lamb carvery. L-R, Executive Chef David Jones, Sous Chef JR Taga, and Executive Sous Chef Jhamnong Kraitong. These guys work well together and are on a mission to make the Palm Cafe and the Outrigger Resort Guam a worthy culinary haven for Guam's food lovers.
Ken the Guam Food Guy