Happy 20th Anniversary Hotel Nikko Guam!
I attended a lavish cocktail reception on Thursday, Nov 15 held in the Hotel Nikko Guam's Tasi Ballroom. It wasn't an ordinary cocktail - it was a full-on celebration of Nikko's 20 years of business on the island. Guests included Mr. Shigeru Sato, Senior Managing Director of Ken Corporation, Governor Eddie and First Lady Christine Calvo, Speaker Judi Won Pat, Senator Tina Muna Barnes, Mark Baldyga (Vice-Chairman for GVB's Board of Directors), and a good portion of the island's prominent business people. It was fun to watch the Kagami-Biraki (sake barrel breaking ceremony), as well as listen to the sounds of the Guam Jazz Quartet. The Pa'a Taotao Tano Cultural Dance Group performed and there was a Mikoshi Shrine Parade, the J. Storm Magic Show, and a fireworks finale. The variety and quality of foods served was superb, with a whole tuna carved up and sliced fresh for sashimi and sushi, Chinese delicacies from Toh-Lee, prime rib, ramen, cheeses, breads, fruits, desserts, and more. It was a grand celebration that delighted everyone! I attended their grand opening 20 years ago! Here's to the next 20 years, Hotel Nikko Guam!
Shoreline Closes Its Doors as PROA Gears Up For Opening in Hagatna
These two photos were taken on Thursday (Nov 15), as I was driving through Hagatna. It was officially announced that Shoreline closed on Monday, 12 November after operating for a few years. Unfortunately, it was a concept that wasn't able to sustain although many customers really enjoyed themselves there. They made a real effort to make the restaurant and bar a profitable venture. It is a tough reminder of the challenges of operating a restaurant during a strained economy. We applaud the Sablan and Gutierrez families for their entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity. They built something they could be proud of creating.
Speaking of being proud of a creation, I had a chance to get a sneak peak at PROA's new Hagatna location (formerly TGI Friday's). WOW, what an amazing transformation! I will tell you that you will be astonished at what these wonderboys have achieved! Geoffrey Perez and Chris Bejado have rolled up their sleeves and their finances to build what can easily be described as a dream restaurant. It retains all of the aesthetics of the Tumon location...it's just a much bigger canvas! I don't know the exact opening date yet, but it should be by early December. Congrats Team PROA on your evolving "dream come true"!
Desperados Restaurant & Cantina
2nd Floor Ocean Plaza Building Next to Westin Tumon
Desperados has been featuring a popular Steak Pairing Menu for a few months and I finally was able to stop by and see how their 20 Porterhouse Steak would stack up against some of the other steaks I've been experiencing. For $36, it's a pretty good deal considering that the meal includes a baked potato, Texas Toast, house salad, and your choice of a beautifully paired glass of Beringer wine or an iced cold bottle of Heineken. I did make an effort on this well-seasoned, medium rare steak, however it proved to be too much for me to finish so I took 3/4 of it home! I did eat the salad and baked potato. I was encouraged by their friendly serving staff, Keani Flores and Crystal Conner, however there is a limit to how much I can eat for lunch. That's why we call it balutan! I did observe that Desperadoes is a cool sports bar, with the games broadcast on large screen tv's behind the bar.
On a separate visit I finally had something I'd been craving for a while which was their famous Fajitas. I had the Steak & Chicken (Combo) $15.95, which is seasoned and grilled with bell peppers and onions, served on a sizzling hot plate with a side of flour tortillas, Spanish rice refried beans, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo. This is a generous serving of lean steak and juicy chicken that's delivered with much fanfare and sizzling activity. It is one of their signature entrees and I do understand why.
I have to give a shout out to my friend Dave Mayers who has focused his time and talents in the kitchen making improvements and tweaking the menus. He also created a specialty dessert, a Cherry Tart ($4.50), which has Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, cinnamon sugar and cherries. If it sounds good and even looks good, then it's reasonable to understand why it is a worthy dessert! Try it on your next visit to Desperadoes!
Australians Cook Up Italian at Micronesian Chefs Association
Monthly Membership Meeting
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
The November MCA Monthly Membership Meeting was the scene of a culinary assault from down under! An amazing variety of foods were deliciously prepared and exquisitely plated by Australian Chef Hayden Church who worked with the Hilton's culinary team to serve a 5-course menu from foods supplied by Hayden's father, Brian Church. Brian owns a company called FairBank Pines, Pty. Ltd., which represents a broad range of food companies whose products he exports to Guam. Although I missed the first course as I was attending my Guam Girl Scouts Board Meeting, I didn't see any left-overs of the Italian fior de latte mozzarella and garlic pizza bites nor any for the Wood-roasted smoked salmon with roast fennel and red onion pizza bites.
What I did eat and managed to get some photos of is detailed below:
Italian Style Tapas
New Zealand King Salmon's cold smoked salmon and stracchino cream cheese arancini balls with a roasted red capsicum puree
Seared scallop on an organic polenta and black truffle pesto accompanied by Italian parsley salsa verde and crispy lilliput capers
Octopus carpaccio dressed with avocado and lilliput capers
CEAS Spanner Crab's crab meat lasagne with a chive and garlic cream sauce
Visco's smoked swordfish and smoked tuna tasting plate with a touch of fresh green and red dressed with a mandarin extra virgin olive oil
New Zealand King Salmon's crispy skin salmon on a bed of pea and red radish risotto finished with lemon extra virgin olive oil and white anchovies
Tasmanian blue mussels and pineapple cut calamari complimented by kalamata olives and tomato napoli finished with fresh Italian herbs and white wine, served with crusty ciabatta
Italian Dessert Tasting Plate
Crostata al Limone
Cannoli Siciliania Grandi filled with sheep milk ricotta
The MCA membership was quite pleased with this generous culinary demonstration showing how these various products could be prepared and served. It was not until the dessert course was being served that Chef Hayden was able to read the menu to the guests who had been trying to guess what they'd been eating! It was a fun night for foodies! Kudos to Brian and his son for making this MCA meeting a special dining occasion. Thanks to Hilton's Executive Chef Christopher House and F&B Director Devika Saelen for their gracious hospitality and support of this international culinary happening.
Sea Grill Restaurant's New Dinner and Tapas Menus
It seemed to take me a couple of months to finally make it to Sea Grill to "test dine" Executive Chef Rey Dasalla's adventurous new menu creations, both for the restaurant's dinner menu as well as the Surface Lounge Tenbou's Tapas menu selections. I could pinch myself for the time (and food eating) I'd missed! For this dinner review I was joined by Zee and our good friend, Ms. Toshie Ito of Motiva Training. It's important to point out that Zee is on a strictly vegetarian diet as part of a healthy lifestyle program she's following with the SDA Wellness Center. This means she left the "heavy lifting" to me and Toshie! Fortunately, Chef Rey was able to accommodate her with some amazing vegetarian creations.
We were seated in the Surface Lounge which is on the 4th floor of the Underwater World Building and sits atop the Tail of the Whale Bar. Our seats afforded a dramatic view of busy San Vitores Road's frenetic foot and vehicle traffic below. The lounge has an ethereal ambiance and dreamy atmosphere, and the elevated vantage point makes it seem as though you are on a cloud looking down. The booths have cushioned seats and pillows you can use to support yourself sitting up or laying down. It's indulgent luxuriousness.
One of the first things that happens once seated is you're greeted by your server and drinks are ordered. While waiting and perusing the menu, you can pick up crayons and start drawing or doodling, which is something that kept Toshie engaged throughout the dinner until she became too full! Chef Rey had made the selections for us which ended up being as much as we could possibly eat. His choices represented items from both the Tapas and Dinner Menus. One of the things Chef Rey showed me was the outdoor rooftop garden where they get their fresh herbs and some vegetables. The main dining room for Sea Grill has ample seating for large groups. There is a large full motion video screen streaming live action from the aquarium seascape! It's mesmerizing viewing this while you eat!
As an initial sampler, we were delivered Baba Ghanoush Crostini (Roasted Eggplant Tapenade with Toasted Sliced French Bread). This used local eggplant and was delicious. It's not priced on the menu but can be made on request.
Next to come was the Tapas Menu Sampler - $29 (any 3 tapas), which featured Ahi Tuna Katsu, Flash Fried Poke, Chamorro Chicken Empanadas. This has a marvelous and colorful presentation, and each element has a story. Chef Rey's Chicken Empanada had chicken kelaguen with a titiyas crust, draped by a lovely coconut dinanche sauce. It's a tasty pika! The Poke is flash fried and blended with sesame, onions, soy sauce, and highlighted with boonie peppers. The Ahi Tuna is prepared katsu-style (panko crusted, deep fried and served on a bed of sliced local cucumbers and glazed with a miso sesame vinaigrette and wasabi aioli. Everything on this dish was eaten and it definitely tasted as good as it looked!!
While we were engaged in eating this first sampler, we were brought out a stunning presentation that drew excited murmurs from around our table. This was the Sweet Romance Sampler For Two - $35, which features Chef Rey's Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp Lumpia, BBQ Pork Ribs, Crispy Calamari, Spicy Tuna Poke Sushi Dynamite. This was a truly memorable tasting sampler (all that's left was this photo), with original creations like the Shrimp lumpia that explodes in your mouth with hot shrimp blanketed by a fried lumpia wrapper that's drizzled with a delightful fresh pineapple-grapefruit marmalade and a light sweet and sour sauce! Yummy! Yes, the calamari was good, fried up Japanese-style and served with a sweet chili sauce. The Spicy Tuna Poke Sushi had tobiko (flying fish roe) piled on top in a small mound with a wasabi aioli drizzle and tempura-crusted nori. The final element was the Hoisin Honey BBQ Pork Ribs, which are so amazingly meaty (St. Louis cut) and tender that you just start eating them and you end up with a little bone where there was once a lot of meat!
We were then brought our salads. I had the Tuna Salad Nicoise ($12.50), which had seared medium rare tuna, string beans, boiled egg, olives, tomatoes, potatoes, local cucumbers, and anchovies drizzled with balsamic honey mustard vinaigrette. Toshie's salad was the Seared Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad with miso sesame vinaigrette (from Chef's 'Premier' dinner course, not individually priced). These were full of flavor and refreshing on the palate. Chef Rey then brought out a unique item we'd not seen anywhere else. It was a bottle of Ellie's and Emi's Island Finadene Sauce, which Sea Grill has labeled and is selling for $6.50/bottle. It's a bona fide Made in Guam product!!!
Now it was time for the main course! We were pacing ourselves for this! My selection was the Mixed Sea Grill Platter ($39.95). This huge plate had a Grilled lobster tail, catch of the day (Onaga), prawns, scallops, mussels, citrus buerre blanc, cilantro oil, spicy tomato jam served with garlic mashed potatoes & sauteed fresh vegetables. The fresh mussels grilled up nicely and the scallops were big, juicy and savory, and had been drizzled with that delicious ever-present citrus buerre blanc sauce! The lobster tail was just right and the Onaga grilled to an ideal doneness leaving the meat flaky and tasty. This was an extremely abundant plate that made me comfortable is calling Sea Grill a bona fide "seafood" restaurant! The spicy tomato jam was a pleasant surprise...really a fun, flavorful enhancement.
Toshie had the Catch of the Day ($28.50) , which was the Pan Fried Onaga with mango salsa. We had a few bites and she opted to take the bulk of it home! Those garlic mashed potatoes are so good and so filling! For Zee's main course Chef Rey created an off-the menu surprise—a zesty Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Toasted Sliced French Bread. Bravo Chef Rey! I wanted to capture Chef Rey in a photo and we were able to have him and Sous Chef Sandy Santiago join in for a threesome!
So we had just saved enough room (don't ask how) for dessert, which Toshie & I tried to share. The first was the Banana Coconut Bread Pudding French Toast ($8), which is topped with fresh berries, caramelized bananas & Bourbon creme anglaise. Oh, my! This was a dream dish! The Bourbon creme formed a pond within the well of the plate, and we dipped spoonful after spoonful over our toast pieces...the bananas (did I say "caramelized"?)...you get the flavor picture, right? Fresh mint on whipped cream! I have to rest with a two thumbs up high!!
Our second dessert was a Creme Brulee of the day, and though I don't remember the orange-red base mix, I did have a piece of the baked sesame wafer and the chocolate dipped strawberry. Beautiful presentation and nicely combined fruit toppings.
The Sea Grill's Dinner and Lunch Menus have many other items from the land and the sea, including Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chop and Grilled Porterhouse Steak, along with Live Maine Lobster, King Crab Legs, and Local Reef Fish. The Tapas menu has Beer Battered Fish Tacos, Gravlax, Jumbo Marinated Prawns, and Mediterranean Grilled Baby Octopus! Sea Grill boasts an impressive and enticing selection of food creations, made fresh, with passion, and designed to tantalize your palate!