I don't know if it's just coincidence or pre-ordination, but I was surprised to find that our Guamdiner Newsletter from exactly 5 years ago was published on October 26, 2007! Moreover, the introductory topic parallels what I was going to start out in today's newsletter, which is the restaurant "epidemic" we are experiencing on Guam. At that time, we were seeing new restaurants opening including Benii, Uncle Sim's Ramen, along with a few others. In fact, one of the reviews featured the newly-opened Margaritas Burritos & BBQ in Tumon (congratulations Wanjoo Kim, Margaritas owner)! He certainly appreciates the term "persistence"! Another anniversary would be for the launch of Prego's Bellissimo Hours "Beautiful" Italian Lunch Service at the Westin Resort Guam.
Today's newsletter offers a first look at Meskla on the Cove, which opened October 25. Another new restaurant, which I've not even seen but have heard that it just opened at Chamorro Village is Babylonia, a Middle Eastern Restaurant. I have a copy of their extensive menu which features an impressive selection of appetizers (Dolma, Falafel, Tabbouleh, Fatoush, Hummus, Baba Ganoush), Main Dishes (Falafel, Chicken, and Beef Shawarma Wraps), Vegetarian (Qaysi, Sabzi, Bamya, & Vegetarian Tashreeb), and an assortment of Shish Kebabs! They have Persian sweets and beverages. Trust me, if they even live up to half of what's in their menu, they'll be successful!! The prices are reasonable. We also will introduce Manhattan's Crab Meat Specials, a newly-renovated Sagano Japanese Restaurant's Sunday Brunch Buffet, and Marriott Cafe's Monday Italian Buffet! We had so much to cover that we'll have to postpone some reviews in our first November newsletter.
Happy Halloween and welcome November 2012!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Chef Mirko Agostini Returns to Hyatt as Executive Chef
I was delighted to learn that one of my favorite Italian chefs has just returned to Guam as the new Executive Chef of the Hyatt Regency Guam. Chef Mirko Agostini was Al Dente's Chef de Cuisine in 2004 when I first met him. I wrote a dazzling review of Mirko's culinary abilities see:
Al Dente Ristorante - Inspired New Chef Masters and Enlivens Italian Classics
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Read the Review
Mirko so impressed me that he earned a 2nd review a year later:
Al Dente Ristorante - Chef Mirko Embellishes the Perfect Steak
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Read the Review
Worth sharing is this opening sentence: "La Festa del manzo L'Angus originale e garantito" is the Italian for what roughly translates into "Certified Angus Beef Promotion", and yes, this review is about a super-fabulous steak experience at Guam's premier Italian restaurant, Al Dente. I'd love to be able to memorize this Italian translation for C.A.B. so I could use it freely to describe these great steaks-just to impress my friend Jim Herbert, G.M. for Triple J Five Star!! Chef Mirko comes to Guam after serving as Executive Chef for Hyatt Regency Incheon. He is joined by his wife, Paola, and daughter. We want to welcome Chef Mirko home and wish him every success in his new role leading the culinary team at the Hyatt Regency Guam.
If you didn't get to taste the delicious Bavarian feast at taste last week, then you'll have to plan to attend next year's Oktoberfest celebration. I was overwhelmed by the number of entrees and variety of German dishes served. They were all labeled in German with English translations. Among the dishes were Roast Pigs Knuckle, Cured Pork Loin with Sauerkaut, Thuringer Rostbrawurst, Sausages, Sour Braised Beef with Apple and Sultanas and Red Cabbage (sauerbraten rheinische art mit blaukraut), Meatballs with Caper Cream (Koningsberger Klopse), Spaetzle with Cheese and Fried Onions, Onion Quiche (zwiebelkuchen), Bread Dumplings with Mushroom Cream (semmelknoedel in champignonrahm), Roast Potatoes (bratkartoffel), Marinated Cold Cut Meats, and Liver Spaetzle Soup (leberspaetzle suppe)
Finishing up the feast was a Black Forest Cake and other desserts, however I was able to relish a sugar-coated " Gefulte Krapfen", a jam-filled German donut. You had to be careful biting into to these delectable delights to avoid jam bursting forth and dripping down your chin!
Kudos to Executive Chef Daniel Lenherr, a Swiss native, who, along with Westin's hard-working culinary team, made this fantastic German feast a memorably delicious one! Willkommen!
Meskla on the Cove
Tamuning (Past Ocean Jet Club)
Chef Peter's done it again, and this time it's on the beach!!! It's 3 for 3 for Peter Duenas, Executive Chef and owner of Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro and Meskla Dos, two popular and successful stand-alone restaurants. Now he's opened a small but productive kitchen (built within a container) that's putting out an impressive selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees that seem to all taste better when eaten in the great outdoors. Along with Peter are his partners Jae and Jerry who operate the front of the house operation which has features an open air beach bar with a growing list of beverage options. This place has just opened on Thursday (October 25) after a 2 year development periodv(long time!!) and they are still in that "new" phase of fine-tuning their product. What I experienced was good enough to share as I usually give new restaurants some time to open and get settled.
First though I have to admit that this is one beautiful balmy beach location, where one's first impulse is to relax and feel the breeze! I first thought I was on Saipan when I saw the Hagatna Bay waters from the restaurant-it was that "scenic" and "laid-back". Meskla on the Cove has an ALL DAY DINING MENU (I guess they're serving lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. til closing, which is 9 or 10(I'll have to clarify). I did try a few of the menu items (there's more than enough to cover multiple visits. My first item was the Stuffed Portobello Cap ($8), which features Meskla's original clam bake that's stuffed into a giant portobello cap. If you like Portobello mushrooms, then you'll love this creation! It's a dreamy tasty feast you can take your time enjoying, savoring each bite as the melted cheese and clam mixture fill your mouth with a richness I've never had before with this grand and versatile mushroom.
Next was the Fried Clam Strips ($9), which are sweet surf clam strips battered and fried to a golden finish, served with tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. This is a real treat as an appetizer (no one does clams this way) as these are both tender and tasty(just a little bit of a chew). Both tartar and cocktail sauces work and you get a hefty serving(certainly best if shared!).
I then tried the Coconut Cove Crab Cakes ($15), which are their signature super lump crab cakes broiled to order and served with a spicy firecracker aioli. As crab cakes go, they made sure to do one thing right, make them all about crab!!! You will definitely get your money's worth when eating these.
The last thing I had during their Friends & Family night trial run, was the BBQ Plate on the Cove ($12.95), which features local style BBQ chicken and ribs served with salad and red rice. This is great way to get your local barbecue experience without having to fire up your own grill. This dish will be popular with tourists and visitors who want that local taste initiation. It's got ribs and chicken that are uniquely-marinated and grilled, and definitely something you'll cherish eating after having a few beers. Plus, their red rice and finedene are among the best.
I took photos of other guests' dinners, including the Grilled Ribeye Steak ($28.95), boasting a 12 oz cut Certified Angus Beef Ribeye steak grilled to order and brushed with a sweet garlic butter (something I'll have on another visit, but it was definitely aromatic and visually enticing). The other photo I took was of the Grilled Spicy-Garlic Prawns ($22.00), which has 5 Succulent Tiger Prawns char-broiled to order and brushed with a soy-boonie pepper butter. This dish also has grilled corn on the cob. Now doesn't "that soy-boonie pepper butter" baste sound like something you'd love to eat?!!
We're going to have to return to Meskla on the Cove to explore more of their many splendid menu creations, most of which are seafood items. We do want to wish this new restaurant success and longevity in their special beachfront hideaway!
Manhattan Crab Meat Specials
Manhattan Steak House
Guam Marriott Resort
Manhattan has recently launched an amazing menu of special creations celebrating crab meat in enticing and delectable ways. Lump crab meat is used extensively in these dishes with the one exception being the Soft Shell Crab appetizer. This special menu will be running through the end of this year and may be continued. I was fortunate to be joined in this tasting by Marriott's Executive Chef, Leland Feng, and Greg Mohr, Marriott's Director of Restaurants. Their joining made it possible and easier to try almost all of the menu items which we'll briefly describe and let the photos do the "talkin'"!
The first item we had from the Appetizer and Salad selections was the Crab Louie Salad - $19, which a blend of lump crab meat, onions, & celery tossed in a Creole mayo served on a bed of crisp local greens with golden baked tortilla chips. Local Triton greens are topped by a mound of this delicious savory crab Louie blend. The baked tortilla chips are very good and healthier than fried tortilla chips. There's no grease nor oils. I may sound like I'm over-stating it, but you'll find out that these dishes are full of crab meat. These are perfect for this dish which I highly recommend you try.
The next item served was the Crab Meat Spinach Dip ($14), which is another delicious special blend of lump crab, cheese and spinach. The portion is hefty so be sure to share with someone else. This also has those awesome baked tortilla chips, which not only have a wonderful taste, they feel better - they're crunchier and crispier! These dishes have a high "M.C.P.B. (rating, which means "More Crab Per Bite").
We then had the Soft Shell Crab ($8), which features a fried soft shell crab served with orange and Cajun sauces. There aren't many places where you can order soft shell crabs here, but this is one and eating them whole is what it's all about!! The seasoned batter on these is just the right amount and both the orange and cajun sauces complement this lovely crab which performs a disappearing act!!!
We then had one of my favorite cold soup appetizers, Crab Gazpacho $12, which is stunningly presented in a cobalt blue goblet. The richly flavored gazpacho is filled with lump crab meat & comes with an optional citrus vodka shooter. You can choose to take a shot or to mix it with your gazpacho to get a Bloody Mary (crab meat style). This is a fun dish on its own and they've really perfected the gazpacho's fresh vegetable blend.
They let me do a solo on the gazpacho and the next dish, which was a hot soup in the form of the Crab Bisque ($12), which is a seriously rich soup infused with lump crab meat and a thick brandied cream. I was really impressed with just how much crab they put in this soup...you sure didn't need a toothpick to locate it!
Now we move on to the entrees, the first one being the Salmon Filet ($36), featuring an 8oz Salmon filet topped with asparagus tips, ikura (salmon roe) lump crab meat, butter & bearnaise sauce. This was perfection on a plate on so many levels! The bearnaise sauce was superlative and the salmon cooked to a moist and light flaked perfection. Asparagus was another treat, crunchy and flavorful with each bite!
One of two beef (surf & turf combinations) was the Oscar Style Filet $45, consisting of a 6 oz Prime CAB Filet topped with asparagus tips, lump crab meat & bearnaise sauce. This award-winning dish was hands-down "awesome", and I was sure to point out this steak(and the New York strip loin) are prime grade cuts of beef (the highest). It was fork tender and absolutely delicious.
Our final entree was the Carpetbag New York Strip $45 (a 10oz pan-seared Prime CAB New York Strip stuffed with crab meat, mozzarella cheese & scallion topped with Marriott steak butter & brown sauce). Although I enjoyed this wonderful treatment (an over-stuffed steak with lots of crab meat flowing out!), I was already too full to eat much and had a few bites. We did justice to this menu, and only missed the Caesar Salad with Crab Meat ($18), which is a traditional Caesar tossed with crab meat. Sounds heavenly, right?
Get down to Manhattan Steakhouse and indulge in this lavish crab meat promotion along with Manhattan's other fine dining selections.
Monday Italian Buffet (Read Upcoming Review on Nov 9!)
Guam Marriott Resort
Enjoy an amazing variety antipasti at Marriott Cafe's newly-launched Monday Italian Buffet, where you can also see fresh pasta rolled and cut by Marriott Cafe's experienced chef Efren. This fresh pasta can be cooked to order with a large selection of ingredients and sauces right before your eyes!!
The Monday Italian Buffet also includes Marriott Cafe's regular international buffet selections which include salads, appetizers, hot and cold selections, another live cooking station, and desserts.
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
$15.00 + 10% S.C.
(on Nov 1 2012, price will increase to $18 + 10% S.C.)
Sagano Japanese Restaurant
Sunday Japanese Brunch Buffet $38.00 adult/$19.00 child(5-11) +10% S.C.
10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Onward Beach Resort
This coming Sunday morning you may want to consider making a reservation for the Sagano Japanese Restaurant's SUNDAY JAPANESE BRUNCH BUFFET - it's just that good!! The Sagano has been completely renovated and you would not recognize its new appearance. The dining room and the private dining rooms all have a modern, linear look that marries traditional Japanese aesthetics to contemporary dining functionality. The room is more open, allowing more natural daylight, which is one of the restaurants best attractions - the extraordinary view overlooking Hagatna Bay.
What's really significant is how Sagano's kitchen team, headed up by Chef de Cuisine Koichi Komine, has worked to create a robust and complete menu of traditional Japanese favorites including Nigiri Sushi, Teppanyaki, Tempura, Ramen, Sushi Rolls, Chawanmushi, and Teriyaki. The presentation is meticulous and well-orchestrated, with a large selection of cold appetizers like edamame, Japanese style Hand-made Nama kimchi, tuna and mushroom spaghetti, nanbanzuke (fried fish in vinegar and onion), Furofuki Daikon with Hamachi(a popular nimono -"simmered dish"), cold tofu with a spicy onion sauce, a tasty Japanese-style Poki, seafood kelaguen, daigaku-imo( candied sweet potato), and something I'd not seen previously served anywhere, edamame Gyoza! This bright green creation was new and probably something vegetarians would enjoy more.
I had arrived early to get photos and was able to sit down, take my time, marvel at Sagano's commanding ocean view) enjoy some sparkling wine, and cold green tea while sampling several courses of food. The tempura was not only good, it also had some unusual and creative elements beyond just shrimp. They had pumpkin wrapped in kisu fish (a tasty popular Japanese fish) as well as shiitake mushroom (oishi!!). I was intrigued by one of the cold platters that had smoked cheese sliced in semi -circles. When I tasted this cheese, it had a special flavor which Chef Komine said was cherry blossom infused. This was what impressed me so much. There was a clear focus and concentration on the food tasting experience. That's what most impressed me. It was not your typical Japanese buffet where food is made to look good and put on display. This food was made with taste and appearance in mind. This is definitely a quality dining experience.
I also enjoyed Sagano's teriyaki chicken, which is marinated Japanese style and then grilled over charcoal. This again was something beyond the ordinary. The teppanyaki choices were well prepared, too. Steak, salmon, and prawns were grilled to my (and other customer's) delight. My final dish that I had to try was Sagano's ramen, for which they used fresh noodles and a balanced broth that enhanced, but not overwhelmed, the noodles. There is a dessert selection, however I had completely satisfied myself and had no more room! Kudos to Chef Komine and his culinary team (Paul, Mike & Al) as well as to the friendly staff who made all Sagano's customers feel welcome!