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January 25, 2013, Volume 13 Number 2

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

January is coming to a close and I can already tell that 2013 is going to be a fantastic year for Guam and our neighboring sister islands in the CNMI. Tourism has leaped back into the forefront of our economic activities and we are seeing record growth in our visitors. On Guam we are experiencing a room capacity challenge, which means we don't have enough rooms to meet the demand. We are essentially turning away tourist bookings because of our shortfall. It's a good problem to have and we need a solution.

Today's newsletter will feature a few dining experiences on Saipan, where I spent two days and was able to finally do my "power walk" along the scenic Beach Road Pathway. I'd not walked since January 2 when I had my accident! Not being able to burn calories has cost me dearly, and I've gained about 6 lbs.!! I was motivated to walk and it was such a beautiful morning I made sure I got out and enjoyed a brisk walk along this gorgeous seaside walkway. Wouldn't it be great if Guam could have one of these? Let's put this on our future island wish list!!

Ken, the Guam Food Guy!

Guam Girl Scouts Cookies Are Here!!

It's cookie time! During a recent press conference held on MLK Day the Guam Girl Scouts officially launched this year's Girl Scout Cookie sales and proclaimed that a new sales record had been set! The results were astonishing, with a sales increase of 25.8% over last year's record sales results. This year 92,569 boxes were sold!!! A new cookie flavor, Mango Cremes, was introduced. It is one of the first to have a label stating the cookies are made "with Nutrifusion". I'm still waiting for my cookie order to be delivered!

For those who have not yet been able to purchase Girl Scout cookies this year, we are pleased to be able to provide you a schedule of dates and locations where you can purchase your cookies from various troops who will be holding sales. Below is the listing:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kmart - 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Cost-U-Less Dededo - 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Cost-U-Less Tamuning - 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Guam Premier Outlets - 12:00 Noon - 7:00 p.m.
Navy Exchange - 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Andersen AFB Commissary - 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Andersen AFB Shoppette - 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Andersen AFB Exchange - 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kmart - 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Cost-U-Less Tamuning - 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon; 3:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Guam Premier Outlets - 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Navy Commissary - 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.; 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Navy Exchange - 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Andersen AFB Commissary - 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Andersen AFB Shoppette - 1:00 - 4:00 p.m
. Andersen AFB Exchange - 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kmart - 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Cost-U-Less Tamuning - 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Guam Premier Outlets - 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.
Navy Exchange - 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Spring Chinese Kitchen
Tamuning (Next to Lohan's Chiropractic)

Spring Chinese Kitchen has relocated to its present Marine Corps Drive location (just north of Pizza Hut) in Tamuning about 4 months ago. Spring had been a local neighborhood favorite in its former Farenholt Avenue location and was always packed for both lunch and dinner. We recently dropped in for dinner to try out a couple dishes we like. The Steamed Chinese Broccoli ($8.95) is a vegetarian favorite, and is freshly-made with a little garlic to flavor it. An alternative dish we tried on a 2nd visit was the Sauteed Garlic Kang Kong ($8.95), which was notably more flavorful with lots more garlic! As both of these are frequently ordered, there's a chance that one or the other may not be available. Another popular Vegetarian entree is the Braised Tofu ($7.95). Be sure to tell you server you want "No MSG" . The Braised Tofu has Chinese cabbage, broccoli, onions, carrots, and tofu. It is fresh made to order.

On the meat side of the menu, I had the Chicken with Black Bean Sauce ($7.95) on our 1st visit and the Chicken with Cashew Nut ($8.95) for the 2nd meal. The Black Bean Sauce was a bit on the salty side, however, the Chicken with Cashew Nut had a more balanced flavor, with plenty of crunchy celery stalks, and green bell peppers. The cashews were delicious and complemented the sauteed vegetables.

Next I had the Shanghai Beef ( $8.95), which I found to be quite good and made with red peppers, green and white onions, garlic, and beef. This dish has some heat from the pepper seeds, but would not be considered "pika" hot. One of the dishes I ordered for the 2nd dinner was Shrimp Egg Fu Yung($7.95), which I really liked, especially with the brown sauce. You also have to like white onions, as these are one of the key ingredients along with the shrimp. For those who like omelets, Egg Fu Yung combinations are kind of a Chinese equivalent. Spring does have daily lunch specials starting at $5.00, with lunch service from 11 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Dinner is 6 - 10 p.m.

Ben N' Yans BBQ Place
Manhattan Building
Rt 16 Harmon
Hours: 7 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Ben N' Yans BBQ Place is one of the most popular Filipino restaurants on Guam because the food is "masarap"! I had not been to Ben N' Yans since they relocated from down the hallway in this massive 2-story strip mall complex. They are in a larger space, however, they recently reduced their hours (they used to be 24 hours). I had the chance to revisit them when I had a lunch meeting with Tess Fowler and Nomer Arcangel who work in the freight business. One thing about Ben N' Yans, is you need to have a party of several people to share dishes, and share we did!!!

First to come was the Lechon Kawali ($10), which is deep-fried pork belly served with your choice of Mang Tomas sauce or finadene. We did the traditional Filipino sauce although finedene is frequently ordered. There's something irresistible about golden deep-fried pork belly. The sheer crunchiness of the skin and the lean meat layer beneath the fat cap holds all that flavor! You have to love pork to eat this - it may not be among the healthiest foods to eat, but it is one of the tastiest!

Speaking of tasty, the Sizzling Bangus ($12) which is grilled milk fish belly that's served on a sizzling platter and is topped by green onion, tomato, pepper, fried garlic, and comes with a lemon wedge you can squeeze over it all before eating. This is another favorite for people; Ben N' Yans is known for a variety of sizzling platters, which include chicken, beef liver, pork chop, posit (squid), and tofu).

We ordered Chicken Chopsuey ($8.00) which was something I hadn't tried before. It's chicken sauteed with mixed vegetables(celery, mushrooms, cabbage, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, baby corn, onion, carrot and fried garlic chips. There was some chicken in this predominantly vegetable dish and was actually pretty good.

One of my all-time favorite Filipino dishes is Kare Kare Oxtail ($12), served in what looks like a steaming black cauldron. It is one of Ben N' Yan's House favorites, made with beef tripe and oxtail, bok choy, eggplant, and long beans sauteed with onions in a garlic and peanut butter sauce. A necessary condiment to accompany this specialty is bagaoong, which is dried shrimp paste. (Warning -bagaoong is an acquired taste!) You have to eat Kare Kare with rice.

No Filipino meal is complete without having a soup. We ordered the Sinigang na Baboy ($10), which is pork simmered in ginger, tomato, eggplant, long beans, and white radish in tamarind. This ingredient laden soup has huge chunks of tender pork and radish in a piquant broth made sour by the tamarind. Sinigang is a classic Filipino soup loved by all, and is said to help the body fight off colds.

The last item we shared was a dessert called Sapin Sapin, which is made from rice flour that's crushed and made into a paste. It's a thick semi-sweet, layered sticky rice cake that's multi-colored. It's not my preferred dessert, however like many Filipino dishes, you have to learn to appreciate it. At Ben N' Yan's, you will definitely spend your time and money appreciating the many food choices on their menu!ll

Tony Roma's
Comete Center

One of the curious things I find about visiting Saipan is how dining experiences are different than Guam's. It could be attributed to the "romance" of travelling somewhere exotic and not familiar. It could also be that Saipan has special atmospheric conditions that enhance one's taste buds and taste perceptions. Tony Roma's is the home of America's #1 BBQ Ribs, however, each location can choose which items they feature on their menu. I was recently on Saipan and was by the Garapan restaurant for a late lunch (they are open for 11:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.) and saw the Certified Angus Beef Logo on their Steaks menu. Their Filet Medallions (usually 3 pieces for the order at $36) can be sold as a combo, where you get two medallions and a choice of a few select entrees (lobster tails, Baby Backs, St. Louis, Grilled Shrimp, South Miami Fried Shrimp, Caribbean Coconut Shrimp, Mahi Mahi, and Grilled Salmon, for prices ranging from $33 - $44). I decided on the meatier St. Louis Ribs, which is priced at $35.

The Medallions Combo has toppings for each of the two filets. One is a Cabernet demi-glace and the other is a peppercorn sauce (the standard for both is the demi-glace), and I was able to get one of each. You also get one side (I had the fully loaded Baked Potato) and a fresh vegetable (Roasted Garlic Green Beans). What surprised me was how phenomenally delicious this Combo was!! Everything was as good as it could have been! The filets were perfectly cooked Medium Rare. The sauces were distinctly and notably delicious in their own right. The St. Louis Ribs were actually the best I remember having! Again, I don't know why the meat had such a fresh cooked flavor. It must have been a cooking secret! Finally, the local green beans were awesome! They were crispy, crunchy, and well-seasoned. I shared my enthusiasm and praise for the food with the managers there. I will be sure to return sometime in the future. I wonder what other surprises they have in store for me?

Maybe I'll try one of their local lunch specials served Monday - Friday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.They have an Apple Citrus Salad with Chicken, a Kick'n Shrimp Sandwich (for $10), Grilled Salmon with Tomato Pesto ($11), Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Salsa ($11), St. Louis Ribs ($10), and Baby Backs for ($12), a Mini Burger Trio for ($15), and a few other neat specials. This location also has some very interesting Tony Roma's memories captured on the wall behind the cashier's station. I had no idea that Tony Roma was engaged to Stella Stevens! You can check out these interesting TR factoids and see photos of the man himself!

Shenanigans Restaurant
Beach Road

Shenanigans is one of Saipan's more popular restaurants for locals, who are enamored with Shenanigans international fusion cuisine creations. The dinner we had the other night was a model for how a high culinary standard should be maintained. Though my previous write-ups on Shenanigans raved about their breakfast and lunch selections and how well these were conceived, presented and devoured, it was the dinner experience that pushed the envelope right off the table and into fantasy land!

I was accompanied by my colleague Ben Tabin and we ordered a bottle of Robert Mondavi's Woodbridge Merlot ($28). If you order wine at Shenanigans, they are one of the few progressive restaurants who have adopted the Vinturi Wine Aerators for Red and for White Wine. The qualitative difference in taste is immediately realized! We shared our dishes while we munched on the foccacia bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The first item we ordered was Insalata Mista ($9.95), which has mixed greens with cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and olives with balsamic figs vinaigrette. While one can easily list these elemental ingredients, how they are presented when served makes all the difference!

Our next course was an appetizer, the Fritto Misto ($12.95), which had crispy battered fried prawns, calamari, and mussels, served with pesto tartar and honey mustard vinaigrette. The pesto tartar was a creative condiment for the seafood, and interestingly enough, that went well with the honey mustard did justice to the salad beneath. The soup of the day came with our dinner entree, which was a savory Chili Black Bean. This was a nice creation as well!

When you are perusing the menu at Shenanigans, you will soon learn that ordering here is a very difficult task because you will be overwhelmed with choices and selections. I was told you just have to come back and order the other item next time. For the main course, we decided on a pasta creation and settled on the Carbonara ($12.95) using Linguine pasta (other choices are Angel Hair, Spaghetti, Penne, Fettuccine, or Fresh Spinach Fettuccine). The Carbonara is made using bacon, onion, garlic, egg yolk, and cream with sundried tomato and spinach. It is a masterful creation and the Linguine noodles were cooked al dente. The thick rich sauce coated each noodle and Ben was very happy indeed eating this incredible Italian specialty.

I had to eat something different and believe me, everything on the menu here is "different"! The Chef's Steak Special ($25.95) caught my eye and we ordered it. The menu description was raised high expectations! It would be made with peppered slices of NY Steak and grilled prawns with caramelized onion and roasted garlic with bearnaise sauce and red wine reduction, served with scalloped potato and veggies. Though I don't think these potatoes were "scalloped" as I knew they should be, they were small, bite-size bits that still worked well with this extraordinarily presentation. It was food art!! Balsamic never drizzled so well!! Ben and I gleefully stuffed ourselves, and we chatted with Shenanigans owner Bel Busby.

I didn't think we had any room left when Bel had our server bring us a Dessert Sampler (not on the menu yet, but inspired during the lunch Zee and I had last May). Yes, again, Shenanigans' food artists went to work and put out a beautifully tempting dessert trio that featured their Dark Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Cheesecake, and Cheesecake. It was a 2 hour dinner experience that we didn't want to end, but end it did and now it's enshrined in this review! Get to Shenanigans Restaurant in Saipan, for a new level in "extraordinary dining"!

Bon Appetit!

Ken the GFG

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