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March 1, 2013, Volume 13 Number 4

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

It's March and time to celebrate Chamorro Month! Biba Chamoru! Biba Guahan! There will be plenty of activities planned during this month so keep your eyes and ears open for news about village happenings pertaining to Chamorro Month festivities and exhibitions. I know of one food competition usually held at Cost U Less Tamuning around the middle of the month where you can sample hot & spicy Kadon Pika. One of the things I look forward to is going to the bank branches and GovGuam offices (GPA & GWA) where you can see beautiful decorations commemorating Chamorro Month. Too bad we can't celebrate Chamorro month all year long!

This time last year our Guamdiner Newsletter had photos the closures of Hooters, Planet Hollywood, and TGI Friday's Hagatna location, which is now the location for PROA. We saw the openings of EN, Godzilla Bowl and Gorilla. I just noticed that the sign is up on PAPA's, the new steakhouse on Airport Road with that sweeping panoramic view of Tamuning and Tumon. NAPU has opened (have yet to go there) next to Roasted in Tamuning, and so has Oishi! Japanese Curry House, which is covered in today's newsletter. I also had my first taste of the new Asu Smokehouse's smoked spareribs! Wow!! No wonder they are constantly running out of food!!! As you can see, there's plenty to eat and do on our always busy little paradise, Isla Guahan!

Ken, the Guam Food Guy!

The 15th Annual Arts & Crafts Fair
Saturday, March 9, 2013
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Hotel Nikko Guam - Tasi Ballroom
Admission : FREE

Don't miss this annual cultural event sponsored by the Japan Club of Guam, which will also be celebrating its 40th anniversary. This event will feature various exhibitions of patchwork, quilting, Kimekomi dolls, beaded jewelry, clay flowers, crafts and other items you can purchase. There will also be Japanese dance, tea ceremonies, aikido, koto and Jazz band performances. You can also sample Japanese food at a kiosk that will be set up. For more information, call the Japan Club of Guam at 646-8066.

Terry's Local Comfort Food
Across Yigo Shell Gas Station
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 am - 3 pm
Dinner Served: Thursday - Saturday 5:30 - 8:30 pm

Some of you may recall that I've just returned from a little over 2 weeks of travelling in the Mainland where I wasn't able to get my Chamorro food fix! So it was understandable how on my return I started driving north on Marine Corps Drive until I reached Yigo where I parked my car in front of Terry's Local Comfort Food where I went to get "comforted"! I'd been there a couple of times before and wrote about Terry's last August. This time I tried a few dishes I'd not had there so I could write about something new.

The Special of the Day was Tinaktak ($8.50), a popular dish I like very much but don't get to eat that often. Tinaktak is an original Chamorro stew made with beef (usually ground) cooked in coconut milk with lemon, long beans and other vegetables. At Terry's the other vegetables were eggplant and pumpkin tip. The sirloin was cut into bite-size cubes and braised to a delicious tenderness, rather than ground. The plate comes with steamed rice and Terry's own special finadene sauce. This was a really tasty dish that I finished, however the others I had this day were balautan! ( takeout leftovers).

\My other dishes included the Fried Chicken Plate($7.25), which had 3 pieces of golden fried chicken(if you think it looks good, wait 'til you taste it!!), steamed rice and finandene sauce. This plate alone would have sufficed and satisfied my basic craving! Another one I had was the Chicken Curry ($8.50), which features Terry's homemade curry sauce, steamed rice, and finadene. Although curry is not considered a Chamorro dish, it is popular locally and Terry's version is unique with carrots, green bell peppers and a very thick rich curry gravy that'll make any rainy day blues go away.

My final of four was the Ribs Estufao ($7.50), which are spare ribs in a local stock made with vinegar, onions, garlic, soy sauce and black pepper. This stew came along with the standard steamed white rice and finadene. This is another "comfort" dish that people will eat whenever they can. It is simple to make. We feature a recipe on our site: Ribs Estufao.

I did take home a couple of bags of leftovers and definitely satisfied my craving for the Chamorro food I'd missed so much! It's gof mange'! (very good~!!)

Asu Smokehouse
Chamorro Village (across entrance to Paseo Stadium)
Hours : 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Mon - Fri)
Wednesday - Open til 9 p.m.

I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg thought he'd be promoting restaurants when he started Facebook? If you look at the Smoked Pork Sandwich posted on the Asu Smokehouse FB page, you would definitely be impressed! I had been asked about this newly-opened eatery by a number of people, however I'd not been able to get down and try out their offerings. They only have three main things - Smoked Brisket, Smoked Spareribs, Pulled Pork. Today they were totally out of Brisket! I had talked to owner Angel Orsini (who I've known for some time as a participant in bbq and cooking competitions) about coming down try out his food when he was stocked (he didn't have any chicken kelaguen today either as he'd been bought out earlier!). Nevertheless, I had to go down and get a taste of Angel's smokey ribs so I could at least say I've tasted them.

Well, I did taste them, and all I've got to say is : "DEEEEELICIOUS!!!! These are among the meatiest I've had! They are coated with a special dry rub that has cooked ghost peppers in the blend. Don't worry, they are not hot, but you can detect a bit of pika here and there. Asu cooks the whole untrimmed pork sparerib with aged tropical hardwoods and chunks of mango wood. Once I'd tasted this proprietary smoked sparerib, it didn't matter that there was no kelaguen (the Asu Plate) has 3 spareribs, a vinegar based slaw, red rice, and chicken kelaguen. (I've judged Angel's award-winning Chicken Kelaguen before, so can officially attest to why it's so good ). The Asu Plate also has a small container of "magic" bbq sauce, which is dark and tangy with a distinct herb blend flavor). The pork color is a vibrant smoked pink (it's thoroughly cooked) with a dark brown caramelized exterior (not a heavy glaze, rather a mixture of the dry rub and pork fat that gives the ribs a "sheen"). There's no sauce or glaze on the meat. These are smoked for over 12 hours and no propane or lighter fluid are used during the cooking process.

I'm glad to see the evolution of grilling that now features specialty smoking. I'll have to return for a full plate next time! At least I got the full flavor this time! Good job, Angel & Buddy!

The Shrimp Shack
Chamorro Village #162
Hours : 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (Mon-Fri)
Wed: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

While I was over checking out Asu Smokehouse, I also wanted to stop by Elaine Damian's Shrimp Shack which is just across the walkway. Gosh, it's been almost seven years since my last write up on The Shrimp Shack and I'm glad to know they are still going strong! This is Guam's first locally-owned Shrimp Shack where everything on their menu is made with shrimp. Today I decided to try the Garlic and Butter Shrimp ($8.00 Reg/Large is $10). My goodness were these ever good and tasty shrimp!!! Last time I had the Hot & Spicy Shrimp as well as the Shrimp Tacos, which were awesome. The shrimp are plump, clean (de-veined) and they do not spare the butter nor garlic! The take-out dish also has macaroni salad and steamed white rice. I really need to get back with the program and get down Chamorro Village more often so I can go "Shrimpin' at the Shrimp Shack"! You can also get Fiesta Platters too! Just call Elaine at 477-0611!

Oishi! Japanese Curry House
Star Bldg.
Upper Tumon
Open: Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (last order)
Dinner: 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. (last order)
Closed on Sunday

Oishi! Japanese Curry House opened while I was travelling off-island. It is located in the same small space that used to house Pika's Cafe. This size seems to work better for Oishi! Japanese Curry House as their menu is simpler and streamlined to only feature curry dishes, specifically Japanese curry dishes. As the small table tent with the Indian, British, Japanese and Guam flags states, "Curry which was originally created by the Indian, was introduced to Japan by the British, at a time when India was under their administration. The British somewhat 're-invented' the curry by introducing "curry powder". The dish became popular in Japan and available for purchase in supermarkets and restaurants in the late 1960's. It has been adopted since its introduction to Japan, and is so widely consumed that it has been labeled a national dish." The sign cutely summarizes curry's evolution with the phrase, "Created in India, Renovated in Britain, Improved in Japan, and Now, enjoyed in Guam!"

If you like Japanese style curry, then you should be pleased and excited that a bona fide Japanese curry establishment has opened. We stopped by early in the week and tried two of their offerings. I had the Pork Katsu Curry ( $9.75) and was convinced to be adventurous by adding shredded cheese for $2.00 more. Zee went for a Vegan option, and they only had the Eggplant Curry ($8.50) on their menu. Zee asked if they had anything else and they advised they had spinach. She had the Spinach and Corn ($1.00 more). They only have steamed white rice and red ginger.

I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting and different flavors I encountered from the melting shredded cheese as it blended into my curry. They had told me it was good and I agree, it was pretty good. Other curry dishes on their soft opening menu included Gyoza Curry, Salmon Fry Curry, Natto Curry, Creamy Crab Croquette Curry, Tofu Curry, and Ebi Katsu curry. You can add chili pepper/powder to your curry dish if you'd like to make it spicier. (Recommended if you are used to hot & spicy curry).

Take out is available. When you are through, so over to FrostBite to cool down your palate!

Tropical Blendz
Middle Road - Across from Garapan Central Park
Garapan, Saipan

Something fresh, rejuvenating, nutritious and delicious has sprouted on the restaurant scene in Saipan this past November and I was delighted to have lunched there during my most recent visit to Saipan Friday of last week. Tropical Blendz is a juice bar that also serves vegetarian dishes, baked goods, salads, teas, coffees, shakes and shots (as in the Wheatgrass, Spirulina, Noni, and Ginger)!

I had stopped by in January but they had just closed. This time, I was there around lunch time and when I walked in I immediately was greeted by someone who already knew me from Guam - Sandy Weaver, one of the owners. (Small world!) I really liked the look and feel of this place...very warm, welcoming, and nurturing. There were several tables of people eating with others at the counter. The restaurant is well-lit by sunlight that pours through the front and side windows, and is accented by green and orange painted walls and orange colored chairs and placemats.

Fresh food is prepared daily and written on a menu board hanging on a wall. The soups for the day are Potato, Lentil, Dahl, and Carrot Ginger ($5.50), and the Salads were Broccoli, Kale, Pasta, Greek Pasta ($7.50). For Main Special Entrees, you get your choice of Panini, Deluxe Burger, or Hummus Wrap, (all specials are $8.95, and include either a soup or salad). From this menu I ordered the Hummus Wrap (hummus, grilled bell pepper, eggplant, lettuce, and tomato). I selected the Carrot Ginger soup, which was served piping hot!

For a beverage, I asked Sandy what was a popular favorite - their beverage menu board was full of a variety of beverage concoctions categorized as Vital Fluids, Power Shakes, Hot Beverages, and Shots. She suggested the Exotica (Mango, Vanilla, Banana, Coconut Milk, Nutmeg, Organic Protein Powder, Almond or coconut milk), which was $5.50 including the protein powder. I did enjoy this shake and could see myself trying others on their board, like the Liver Cleanser made with Grapefruit, Lemon, Cayenne and Beets, or Brain Tonic, made with Apple Juice, Coconut Milk, Strawberries and Banana.

I took my time enjoying the fresh-tasting wrap with its healthy ingredients. The hummus was well-blended. The soup portion was huge and I was impressed by the combination of flavors as I don't think I've ever had a ginger infused carrot soup. I heard from Sandy that they were planning to discontinue their breakfast service and extend their hours past 5 until 8 or 8:30 p.m. and eventually serve some wine and beer. I do know that the type of healthy and nutritious food they are serving will go a long way to improving the health, longevity, and quality of life for many of Saipan's residents. I'm looking forward to my return and to meeting Sandy's partner Oxana Chekoldina. They're to be commended for their culinary vision in offering healthy options.

The Australian Bee Gees Show
"A Tribute to the Bee Gees"
February 14, 2013
Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort

As much as I appreciate and enjoy all the wonderful music created and performed by the Bee Gees, I have to confess that their music and singing (as channeled by the visiting Australian Bee Gees) was over-shadowed and out-matched by the superb culinary creativity demonstrated by our local celebrity chef, Veronica "Ronnie" Perez (of Cup & Saucer and Firefly fame), who led us on a six-course Italian-inspired gastronomic odyssey with remarkable wine pairings.

I had not been back on Guam for 12 hours when I received a call from "Uncle Jerry" Calvo who requested my presence at a special event at the Sheraton. It was my writing night and I was already suffering from jet lag, however, when I arrived and saw the menu, I was re-energized and ultimately excited by the presentations and tastes that would indulge my palate. Let's briefly explore these highlights and let the photo presentations convey what words can barely reach!

For the antipasti course, Chef Ronnie put a glorious plate out that drew audible gasps of delight and excitement from the assembled audience of some of the island's top social echelons. It was a dazzling presentation composed of Seared Foie Gras, Sweet Baby Greens, Strawberries, Toasted Pistachios, with a Balsamic Glaze. This was paired with a Windy Peak Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay, which accented the strawberries and bubble scrubbed the foie gras. Chef Ronnie's selection of ingredients entertained the foie gras like I've never had it before. This was a playful, delectable, and imaginative dalliance.

This was followed by the Primi (first course) which was a Pumpkin Gnocchi, with Carbonara Sauce and Sage, joined by a Barton & Guestier Passeport Pouilly-Fuisse! Again, Chef Ronnie pushed the envelope past any of our usual collective pasta experience using pumpkin as her base ingredient. It was brilliant and well-received. The wine stood up magnificently with its intensely rich bouquet and full-bodied structure, leaving a creamy aftertaste that was smitten with the sagely carbonara sauce!

Continuing on this cuisine crusade came the Pesci (fish) course, which was a Norwegian Salmon, with Curried Risotto, and a Citrus-Cashew Gremolata. This was betrothed to a glorious Sofia Riesling, which had a combination of nuanced flavors on par with Chef Ronnie's complex course. Curried Risotto (a first) and her Gremolata had an unexpected nuttiness that won favor with the wine and enhanced the salmon's flavor profile.

For her Intermedio (pause) Chef Ronnie put out a refreshing and palate-washing Lemon Basil Sorbet, which was essentially what it sounds like but with full Technicolor tastes from fresh basil and lemon.

The Carne (meat) course was awesome (and strained the superlatives). It was a Peppered American Kobe Filet of Beef with Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, Wild Mushroom Ragout and White Truffle Oil. Partner with this was the Barton & Guestier Passeport Saint-Emilion. This is probably as good as it gets to where European fine-dining meets an American-Japanese tour de force and finds a dynamic synergy from its forced encounter. The legendary Saint-Emilion performed an oenological absolution to this dish blessing it on its journey to oblivion.

In respect to Italian dining protocol, Chef Ronnie provided a Formaggi (cheese course) with Italian Fruitcake, Parmesan, Gouda, and White Cheddar, all to be quashed down with the muscular Barton & Guestier Passeport Medoc.

A final send-off was in the dessert course (Dolce) where her last conjuring was a Trio of Ice Cream, with each accented with contrasting elements that produced amazing outcomes. Vanilla paired with Extra Virgin Olive Oil - you really get to know ice cream and olive oil - not just Popeye's girl friend!! Strawberry and Balsamic Reduction - a Wow Plus!! Chocolate Ice Cream with Frangelico - this we could do a lot!!! Delicious. A plateful of cookies accompanied the ice cream partnering, complete with her signature colorful macaroons!

What an amazing, unparalleled dinner! What Bee Gees? No, they were very good, awesome in fact. Still, it was Chef Ronnie's night all the way!!

Buon appetito!
Ken the Guam Food Guy

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