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November 30, 2012, Volume 12 Number 24

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Adios, November!! Hello, December!! Yes, it's that special time of year again when we know that the Christmas Holiday season is about to jump into full gear. How do we know this on Guam when there's no snow to be found? We know it because the Hilton's Christmas Train is back on track and on the ground (not airborne)! The holidays officially started last night (November 29) with a countdown and a chorus of whistles blown by a lobby full of young kids when Hilton General Manager Makoto "Earnie" Yasuhara gave the go signal launching the trains. This event was made more special with a large contingent of the Guam Girl Scouts singing Christmas songs.

This year's proceeds from the sponsorships for the train will be donated to Autism Community Together. One thing you can count on is that Guam knows how to celebrate the Christmas holidays—just check out all the Christmas lights, trees, banners, and holiday displays (the island's official X'mas display is located just north of Tumon Sands Plaza and across from the Hyatt). Another telltale sign is the shopping centers with all the holiday sales! Be sure to donate to the Salvation Army's Kettle Drive campaign to help the less fortunate. Even better, be a volunteer bell ringer and show true Christmas compassion!

Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"

Pika's Cafe to Open New Location in Early December
Star Bldg
Across from St. John's School
Upper Tumon

Well, if all goes well and according to plan, Pika's Cafe will be open for business sometime next week! The new location is in the same complex but at the other end of the building on the southern end. Pika's Cafe is one of the island's most popular dining destinations for breakfast and lunch, serving unique menu creations that use locally-grown produce. I can't wait to go there to eat! In fact, the waiting should be over since they have more than twice the space! Kudos to Lenny & Pika Fejeran for their hard-work and vision! You make a lot of people happy!

Dusit Thani Guam Changes Tumon Landscape

You don't have to look too hard to see how much of an impact the new Dusit Thani Guam will have on Tumon Bay's landscape. From the beach, this 30-story complex towers over the Hyatt and the Outrigger Guam Resort! There will be 417 rooms, the island's largest conference center, state of the art spas, and an array of restaurants. The Dusit Thani Guam is scheduled to open in late 2013. It's going to be an exciting year!

'Tis the Seasoning! - A Holiday Event with a Purpose!
December 9th 2 pm - 5 pm
Agana Shopping Center

On Sunday December 9 a special food event organized by Sweet Mango Marketing will be held in the Center Court of the Agana Shopping Center. This event features some of Guam's best known restaurants which will be putting on live cooking demos and offering free samples of holiday appetizers and desserts. Proceeds from this event will help benefit Operation Christmas Drop. You will also have an opportunity to purchase a new 2013 Recipe Calendar at a special event price of $6.00 (after the event the price rises to $12).

Among the restaurants participating are Meskla, PROA, Katre Bistro, Sea Grill, Tony Roma's, TGI Friday's, Sugarnomics, Meskla on the Cove, Benii, En Japanese, Capricciosa, Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill, The Beach, Sunset Grill, and Logan Farms. Come on down and enjoy the fun! There will be a special appearance by "Super Chef" and Santa Claus! Bring the family for a fun Christmas-themed food event.

Benika Osawa's 2nd Birthday Party 11/27/12
Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro

It was deja vu for Zee and I as we were once again invited to attend Benika Osawa's Guam birthday, this time her 2nd! Happy parents Junko & Masahito Osawa were on Guam this past week (they spent two days in Rota) and had invited us to join them in this celebration (we did the same last year, but at PROA - see newsletter 445). Junko (Shimizu) Osawa had first contacted me prior to a visit to Guam in 2007 when we dined at Sesomjai along with her sister Kunie. We had dinners at Ruby Tuesday and PROA on Junko's subsequent visits. This was husband Masahito's second visit to Guam and he really enjoyed the food at Meskla, especially the finadene sampler!

We shared the Chamoru Chesa' Platter which was a huge hit...they fell in love with the finandene dinanche( w/eggplant), putting it on everything they ate. They had the Parrot Fish and Dinanche Crusted Pork chops, and Benika munched on French Fries, while I had the Fried Chicken and Zee had a giant salad with a fruit salsa vinaigrette. They had purchased an Ice Cream Cake from Haagen-Dazs which we were served by the team at Meskla! It was another special moment in time for our wonderful young friends from Japan! Happy Birthday, Benika-chan! See you next year!!

Table 35
665 S. Marine Drive

It's been some time since I'd stopped by Table 35 for lunch alone. It's nice to just drop in and find out what the specials for the day are. Both Executive Chef Christopher Aguon and Sous Chef Sara Pleadwell were manning the grills so I was confident they'd put out some worthy fare, and they did!

I started out with the special appetizer which was the Ahi & Salmon Poke with Crispy Wonton ($11.95). Presented in a martini glass, this was a novel way to serve Poke by combining salmon and tuna. The crispy wonton sheets were neat, too.

Next came the Spicy Cajun Ribeye Po-Boy w/ Honey Chipotle Sauce & sauteed/shredded cabbage - $12.95. I really liked the flavors and textures of this sandwich. Although the bun was grilled, it proved to be too much bread for me. The beef was tender and was enhanced by that delicious honey chipotle sauce.

I don't know how he did it, but my server Ricky talked me into trying their special dessert for the holiday season, the Pumpkin Cheesecake w/Blueberry & Strawberry Sauce - $7.99. "Christmas on a Plate" is how Sara described this statuesque slice of cheesecake. This was capped by fresh whipped cream and a crisp toasted walnut. I couldn't finish it all, but gave it a great effort! Can't wait until my next visit to Table 35!

Dabin Korean Fusion Style Restaurant
2F Ocean Plaza
San Vitores Rd. (next to Westin)

Hours: 6 p.m. - 6 a.m.

Although I'd seen Dabin Restaurant's sign hundreds of times, I never managed to stop by and check it out---until recently! I'd heard some things from other people who'd eaten here. Some said the food was good but a little on the pricey side. One of the things you should be aware of is that Dabin is a yakiniku restaurant, where you self-grill your meat and vegetables. Based on my visit, I can attest to the fact that Dabin Korean Fusion Style Restaurant has both a caliber and a pedigree that places it above most other Korean restaurants. Dabin is different in that it wants to make an impression on you. Like an art gallery, there are amazing poster size black and white graphics of young people, as well as a wall that boasts a collection of antique and rare cameras that have famous people's caricatures behind them (Jimmy Hendrix, Catherine Deneuve, Orlando Bloom and others). A modern/futuristic bar is in one of the back corners. The decor is compelling as it almost seems like a high-end night club and art gallery, but there are the tables with individual vent tubes hanging from the ceiling. I learned that the camera collection belonged to the owner and that the graphic images were created by him.

We met his wife June who seated us. We had a special Beef Combination ($45) for 2 persons. This included the banchan, however, I did find out that the King Oyster Mushrooms are priced at $18. When you taste them grilled, you know why. Dabin uses the special hard wood charcoal to grill the meats. This imparts a special taste and flavor you can't get with gas flames. I like to grill meat at Korean BBQ restaurants so this was a treat for me (if you don't like to cook, go with someone who does). June explained that her meat is fresh and does not get marinated with pear apples or other tenderizers used in marinades. Along with the meat and mushrooms, I grilled garlic and green chilies. Everything was really delicious! We wrapped the meat in lettuce and added kimchi and other vegetables. Then June brought out a bowl of sliced onions to which she added her special sauce! This you must have! The onions were already sweet and this sauce made them a gourmet treat!

June explained that Dabin was open late night because the night club workers needed beef after having lots to drink. Beef was better than noodles she said. Dabin has private rooms for small parties. The menu is large with a variety of beef, pork and seafood dishes, along with Korean soups. I was very impressed by my visit to Dabin and will certainly make it a point to return with friends. It may be a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for!!

Katre Bistro
122 Archbishop FC Flores St.
Behind Bank of Hawaii and across from Alpha Insurers & Caliente

Hours : 11 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
5 - 8 p.m. Monday - Saturday

Foodies Rejoice!! Awesome! Magnificent! Divine! The superlatives seem to come from all directions!! There's no doubt that Katre Bistro has in a very short time period inserted itself into Guam's dining scene "Buzz Circuit" as the "Go To" place to eat! Barely open for just 3 months and still operating off their soft opening menu, Katre Bistro's overnight success can be attributed to a lifetime of work achieved by Chef/owner Roxs Cailao, who has developed his culinary craft from classic continental melded with Asian and Mediterranean influences. I consider him "old school" in the most complimentary way. He lives and breathes flavors and tastes, and knows how to wow a palate! There may be a lot of "hot shot" young chefs out there who are making their marks with nouveau cuisine and other interesting (and praiseworthy) creations, but there's Roxs Cailao, whose skill and time-tested knowledge of ingredients and taste combinations puts him in a league of his own---he's the veteran chef who many would love to learn from...just eat his food and you'll taste what I'm talking about!

I had stopped by for lunch and later had dinner with friends. The lunch was where I got my first look at this small cafe which is located in the old Take 5 Coffee shop location. It's a small place and still new, but people soon forget the size and newness once they take their first bites. I started with the Thai Salad with julienne vegetables, bean sprouts topped with roasted peanuts, grilled chicken, tortilla crisp and thai chili cilantro dressing ($7.95). What struck me was not just the workmanship of the presentation, but the fresh tastes and ingredient flavors that were jumping off the plate! I remember using the phrase intensely concentrated flavors. I found myself pushing my fork through the dressing and chili cilantro "paint" dabs on my palette (plate). Yum.

I then tried the first appetizer, which was Bruschetta, traditional with boursin, basil, tomato salsa and pesto - $4.95. Boursin is a soft creamy cheese with a unique texture and flavor similar to cream cheese, ideal for spreading. I liked how well he made the salsa and pesto. My only issue was the bread, which I thought could have been a little better quality-wise. (I was thinking Hilton's French Baguette or Leo Palace's French bread). Unfortunately, the island's high-end bread resources are limited. Katre's bruschetta wouldn't have bothered most people.

Next to come was Katre's Spiced Shrimp a la Gambas with confit of onion and garlic in olive oil ($8.95). You may have noticed these prices are very reasonable...the whole menu is! The most expensive menu item is a Grilled C.A.B. Rib Steak for $26.95!! Everything else is closer to half that price. The Gambas were also intensely flavored, and I definitely liked how all elements worked together. I took a super close up photo of the dish, which exposed all the details of the vegetables, herbs and spices that were used. The caramelized onions had a crunch and taste that I enjoyed, too. It was a masterful rendering. The portion was fair sized and easily shareable.

When my next order came, I was delighted by the simplicity and complexity of the flavors. It was the Crostini Open Faced Sandwich with Ham, Tomato, Mozzarella, arugula and roasted peppers ($8.95). Let's just stop here and reflect on our fast food sandwich culture. I'm talking about Subway and Submarina. Well, this is "Hammer Time", and what MC Hammer will tell them about this Katre Bistro creation is: "You can't touch this!" Eating this crostini is not about volume, it's about the quality of taste. The ham itself was fantastic and married to the roasted pepper and mozzarella!! Exciting!! The salad greens on the plate were dressed in a vinaigrette and had gorgonzola sprinkled on top. They were surrounded by a sensory onslaught of diced red and yellow bell peppers, sliced grapes, capers, pesto, and chili...just an amazing focus on taste and textural sensations.

As a main course (lunch & dinner menu are the same), I opted for the Braised Pork Belly with Sherry, Soy and Sugar, spiked with Fennel, Star anize and cinnamon - $11.50. This was served with steamed rice and looked fabulous! Fragrant, aromatic, and inviting, I plunged in and sliced off a piece of the lean pork. It was so fork tender and seemed to just melt. Yes, another winner. A little on the sweet side for me, but still skillfully created, and dressed with caramelized onions (Chef Roxs seems to put these everywhere). Definitely a spice treat. I was given a bite of another entree, which was the Ox Tongue braised with Port, aromatic vegetable, mushroom and herbs($12.95). I can easily understand why so many people were enamored with this soup-like dish. Delicate and delicious.

On my return visit for dinner I did have the Scampi - Sauteed shrimp with Olive Oil, Garlic, White wine, and grilled veggies - $13.95. This was a little more subtle than the previous dishes which I considered more intensely flavored and seasoned. I did enjoy this pasta dish - perhaps just a tad more garlic for me! We finished off our dinner with a slice of Coconut Cream Pie from our favorite French chef and colleague, Bertrand Haurillon of Le Tasi Bistro bakery. Pies and cakes are made by Le Tasi Bistro and subject to availability.

As you can tell, I'm already a fan of Chef Roxs. I appreciate his inventiveness and considered use of ingredients in his preparations. It's food you notice with more than just your notice with your mouth! Chef Roxs hails from the Philippines and had his culinary training in the Philippines and in Washington DC. He has been an executive chef with Marriott in New York and Washington D.C. (where he prepared food for King Saud of Saudi Arabia), Sheraton in Virginia and the Renaissance Hotel in Washington. He was the first Filipino certified by the ACF (American Culinary Federation) as an executive chef. You can read various newspaper articles posted on one of the walls of the back function rooms about Chef Roxs' illustrious career and rise through the ranks. He's a modest man and doesn't have an over-bearing ego. His humility is disarming, making him easily approachable. He's always smiling. He's a gift to the people of Guam! Thank you, Chef!

Bon appetit!

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