May 10, 2013, Volume 13 Number 9
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
If there's one thing you can count on about Guam, there will always be places to eat! We're not just talking about restaurants (there's more than 500 here), we're also talking about the many village fiestas, banquets, christenings, birthdays, retirement parties, product launches, funerals, graduations, weddings, trade shows, culinary competitions, local and national holiday celebrations, and 5K running events. We're even good at creating new eating events, such as this coming Saturday's Guam BBQ Block Party to be held in Tumon's Pleasure Island. Face it, ours is an eating culture. Go to almost any office setting on island and the topic of food and eating food will come up during the morning and after lunch. Someone will bring a dish or food to the office (or workplace) for snacks or to share with co-workers. We are also lucky to have a large variety of ethnic cuisines available. At our office we'll bring in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Chamorro, American, Korean, Italian, Japanese, Jamaican, Hawaiian and Persian food! As I said, there will always be places to eat, and that's also why we do what we do at Guamdiner.com!
Thank you for your readership for all of these past twelve years! Happy Mother's Day to our moms on Guam and around the world!
Ken, the Guam Food Guy!
Guam Diner Blast From the Past - FIVE YEARS AGO
It was five years ago when we published the following intro to our newsletter and talked about the transition we made to a bi-weekly format. For those who remember, we used to publish every Friday! What's interesting to note is the Chili's ground-breaking ceremony we covered. It was during then Governor Felix Camacho's congratulatory speech that he mentioned (almost jokingly) about the need to develop that sliver of jungle separating GPO from Cost-U-Less. Now that area is cleared and getting ready to build a strip mall that will house an Applebee's restaurant and possibly an I-Hop!!
May 9, 2008, Volume 8 Number 16
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Welcome to our second bi-weekly edition of the GuamDiner.com newsletter! So much has transpired in the two weeks since our last newsletter that we must follow the previous newsletter's format of briefly touching on the highlights of our many food experiences and events. In keeping with the adage that a "picture is worth a thousand words", we're going to use more photographs to tell our stories at the expense of more words. We'd also like to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt Mother's Day wishes to all you moms...we thank you for the love and care you've given!
Ken, the "Guam Food Guy"
Chili's Breaks Ground at GPO!
We were delighted to learn that Chili's Grill & Bar will be opening later this year at Guam Premier Outlets in the vacant lot directly in front of Wendy's along Chalan San Antonio. I attended the Ground Breaking Ceremony on May 5 held at 6pm and was delighted to find out that, immediately after the dignitaries made their speeches and blessings were bestowed on the site, we would be treated to refreshments! [Photo: Brian Artero and Gov. Felix Camacho]
Pleasure Island Guam Presents the Inaugural GUAM BBQ BLOCK PARTY
Saturday, May 11, 2013 5:30 - 10 :00 p.m.
The Guam Visitor's Bureau along with tourism industry partners in Pleasure Island will be holding the first Guam BBQ Block Party. This special event is designed to enhance Guam's visitors experience as well as offer an awesome BBQ celebration for our local community. The event showcases Guam's unique BBQ styles through a competitive BBQ Cook off and will also feature a variety of foods from local restaurants, as well as local products created by artisans from around the island. You will be entertained by live bands and performers, and there will also be cultural demonstrations. This event is free and open to the public.
The BBQ competition is the highlight of the event. It is organized by the Micronesian Chefs' Association (MCA). There is over $5000 in prize money for this grilling competition and there are 11 teams competing. San Vitores Road from the crosswalk between UnderWater World and DFS Galleria to the traffic light in front of the entrance to SandCastle will be closed on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 11 a.m. to Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
The Honorable Lieutenant Governor Raymond S. Tenorio with the 12 competing teams of the Guam BBQ Block Party BBQ Contest - Pacific Islands Club, Pacific Island Grillers, SMOKE, BG Big Dawgs, Team Sea Grill, ASU Smokehouse, Delmonico's, Proa Hagatna, Proa Tumon, Meskla, Eat Street and Table 35
Toh-Lee Weekly Chinese Buffet
Hotel Nikko Guam
649-8815 Ext 7508
Mondays - Fridays 11:30 - 14:00 (last call 13:30)
$20.00*/adult - $13.00*/child (4-11 years)
Toh-Lee Chinese Restaurant boasts the most spectacular panoramic view of Tumon Bay of all the existing restaurants in Tumon. It's all about the location of this restaurant. It is on the 16th floor of a hotel that is perched on the northern most tip of the Tumon, so that from this view everything else in Tumon is south, and for most purposes, far below. It is an edifying and dreamy experience sitting at a table adjacent to the full wall window that overlooks the glistening azure bay below. Sitting here sipping hot tea, you will be entranced by the continuous waves rolling in from the Philippine Sea. Toh-Lee is definitely a break from the normal humdrum routines of daily life! It's ideal for a business meeting or rendezvous with friends. It is the perfect place for a romantic lunch getaway.
The tables are draped in crisp white tablecloths befitting formal Chinese fine dining etiquette. Toh-Lee offers an all - you-can-eat weekly lunch buffet featuring specialty Chinese cuisine favorites.I like to make Congee, which is a rice porridge, to which you can add garnishes such a thousand year old egg, cilantro, shrimp, chili paste, and fried garlic. There is a modest dimsum selection available, which can feature shumai or hargau. Dimsum is such a pleasure to eat. You can make your own dipping sauce with vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce and even Chinese hot mustard or chili paste. It's all made to your own preference.
The buffet line has chafing dishes filled with Seafood Chopsuey, Fried Chicken with Orange Sauce, Chili Shrimp with Bok Choy, Gyoza dumplings, Crispy Noodles and Vegetables, Fried Rice, Kang Kong, Egg Fu Yung, and Sauteed Vegetables. These entrees will change each week so come back again for a different dining experience. Desserts include sesame balls, fresh fruit, and almond jelly fruit cocktails.
You can also enjoy Toh-Lee's magnificent view on Saturday and Sunday, when Toh-Lee offers "All You Can Eat DimSum" for $32/adult, $18/child. This meal includes an appetizer, soup, and a main dish, with over 60 food selections! That's a lot of dimsum! Come and enjoy Guam's most elevating dining experience, where you can eat at the top of the island!
SweetStacks - The Best Things In Life Are Sweet!
Have you ever heard of SweetStacks Gourmet Pancake and Waffle Mix? Well, to be honest, I hadn't either until I received an email from SweetStacks founder, Elaine Babauta a few weeks ago. I checked out their website www.sweetstacks.com and was quite impressed by the visuals of fluffy pancakes piled high. Moreover, I read the testimonials about the pancakes and saw some video demonstrations and found myself caught up in a frenzy of pancake excitement. After all, who doesn't love pancakes? What's also wonderful about the Sweetstacks story is that they use a Chamorro family recipe that's been passed down through generations - making it a family tradition.
Though based in San Diego, Sweetstacks has already been available on Guam via mail order. Elaine is looking to broaden their position in this market by working through local distribution to put Sweetstacks on our grocery shelves. There has been a lot of press and media coverage this past week so I'd be surprised if Kathy Sgro and Mike Benito hadn't heard about Sweetstacks, which are available in two formulations, the Original and Blueberry.
One of the things I wanted to do was to prepare and taste (for myself) the SweetStacks products. I organized a tasting with some friends on a Sunday morning. These friends (Tim & Anneliese Wenden) volunteered their large kitchen so that we could do this tasting. They do pancakes for their young kids (Mariana and Richard) every Sunday so this was perfect timing. Also invited was Mark Lim and his youngsters (Twins Malcom and Mason, and Maddie). After cooking up heaps of bacon and ham, I gave a pack of original mix to Anneliese and a pack of the Blueberry to Tim and said, "Let's cook!" They followed the easy instructions and cooked up the pancakes (each 1 lb. bag can make 24 - 4" pancakes). We were all amazed by the size and quantity of the plump blueberries. I prepared the last remaining batch of the originals. The mix is so refined it doesn't lump or clump. It blends very quickly with the egg, milk and oil. All the kids were eating and enjoying their pancakes and camaraderie...it was probably their first official "taste-testing" so they enjoyed whatever excitement that created.
Although we'd bought maple syrup, these pancakes didn't really need syrup! Just a light amount, perhaps. The blueberries were abundant in the blueberry pancakes. Both pancake types were the best tasting I've ever had from a packaged mix. Now that I've had SweetStacks, I'm going to need to get more! If any restaurant opts to use SweetStacks, I'll be sure to come there to eat them and will urge others to as well!! Of course, once they've had their taste of SweetStacks, they'll probably do the same as me! Kudos to the Elaine Babauta and her family for making SweetStacks a reality and for continuing this noble Chamorro family tradition of sharing great food! Biba SweetStacks!!!
Uncle Paul's Seafood Noodle & Bento House
Mon-Sat - Lunch : 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner : 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Sunday: Dinner : 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Looking for an unusual place with unusual tastes? If you live in Tamuning, you don't have far to go! It was a reference PDN writer Lacee Martinez made in an earlier article about combining basil and cinnamon that grabbed my curiosity. I should also add that this restaurant could have moved closer to Marine Corps Drive so people could catch a glimpse of it as they sped by. I think they chose this spot on purpose since they say some of the best restaurants are little hole in the wall joints located in some back alley! There are a lot of healthy plants outside (almost like camouflage) which always indicated caring and loving owners.
Once inside (make sure to open the door furthest to your left) the ambiance and atmosphere changes. I always appreciate how owners can decorate their establishments with valued treasures from their country. In this case, the owners are from Taiwan and this restaurant's specialty is unique Taiwanese cuisine. (I think they're the only Chinese restaurant specializing in Taiwanese cuisine) We were seated by Rhodalyn Chen, who I realized was the wife of chef/owner Paul Chen. You have to take some time reviewing the menu because these are not your typical Chinese preparations. Uncle Paul's offers customers an introduction to traditional Taiwanese cuisine in an ambiance that surrounds you with Taiwanese imagery, which includes the Taipei street market and one of the city's proudest if not tallest creations, Taipei 101, a building that touches the clouds!
We studied the menu and created our order. Since Zee is mostly vegetarian and most of Paul's menu has meat, we had to improvise. She ordered (A.30) Cold Noodles w/Chicken (fresh Cucumbers & Carrots) - $8.50. We ordered "less" chicken. We also ordered Chinese Broccoli ($8.50), the Smoke Chicken Leg ($5.50), the Rice Bowl with Braised Pork(Taiwan Pork Adobo) $7.50 (a smaller size is available for $4.50), and Cinnamon Basil Leaves w/Egg Omelet ($9.00). I played some soft music on my iPad since there was no background music (a DVD had just finished playing when we came in). There are not alcoholic beverages so I drank Green Tea and Zee had water. The more I looked around the dining room the more I felt I was a guest in someone's house...that's the feeling you get.
The Cold Noodles were quite good and Zee would have even liked them heated. They were topped with ground peanuts and had vegetables mixed throughout. There was some intriguing spice that gave this dish a little kick. I would have liked to try it with chicken. The Chinese Broccoli was firm and had the right amount of garlic.
The Smoked Chicken Leg was delivered. This is a very attractive presentation as it is golden bronzed and sliced precisely. It had a smoky aroma and when I tasted it I was impressed by the moistness of the meat. It had been steamed and then smoked for some time. Really an interesting taste with a slight taste of cinnamon spice. There were two legs so one of these went home with other leftovers.
Next to arrive was the Rice Bowl with Braised Pork. This is actually pork belly and a pretty sizeable chunk at that. This dish comes with daigo (pickled daikon radish) and what I thought was cooked red ginger. There was a broth on the rice that had a unique and interesting flavor. Again, the portion was sizeable enough to warrant leftovers.
Last to arrive was the Cinnamon Basil Leaves w/ Egg Omelet. Now this was a leap of faith for me as I didn't know what to expect since I've never combined these discordant ingredients. Well I have had French Toast with Cinnamon (it has egg) but no basil. Good thing I am a basil lover...you'd have to be to eat this! It is just as it looks - an omelet with basil/basil/basil! I wouldn't know what to add to moisten it up, perhaps a sauce.
I did promise myself to return one day to try some other dishes on their menu which seems to have about 60 items. I think I'll take some of my Taiwanese friends who can help me navigate through this menu of delicacies.
The Kracked Egg
Tumon Business Center (across from Tumon Sands Plaza)
Hours: 12 a.m. - 12 p.m. (7 days)
The Kracked Egg has finally "hatched" after what seemed to be an interminably long gestation in getting their doors open. But, oh, what a magnificent and wonderful place this is (or has the potential to become)! Imagine drinking coffee and munching on a waffle while sitting outside on the wooden deck watching the first rays of sun light up the sky! Airy, graceful, elegant, and spacious...these describe what is most impressive on the inside. These high ceilings and tall French windows framing the north end of the building really gives you the impression you are in the waiting lounge of Heaven! Diners literally bask in the light before it gets too hot, at which time The Kracked Egg closes. I've not been here at night or early morning (before 5 a.m.) to see what things are like. I will one day.
I should state that I normally don't do a review during the "soft opening" period of a restaurant. This is not so much a review as it is a preview, and I'm doing it as the owner/managing partner is Lori Tydingco, owner of the Brown Bag Cafe in Tamuning (scheduled to move in the spot next to The Kracked Egg in July). Lori has established her credibility. She has a lot of style and panache, and this is reflected throughout her menu. She has made an effort to create foods that are distinctly different than other breakfast offerings on island. I just had to get my first taste at the Kracked Egg and I can honestly say I was impressed with the quality of the food I ate which included a Hotcake Breakfast Meal, Waffle, and Italian Frittata.
The HotCake Breakfast Meal($9.50) includes 2 classic buttermilk pancakes (she lightly seasons these with cinnamon and nutmeg), 2 eggs as you like them, and a choice of spam, bacon, sausage patty or ham. In the photo, I had my eggs scrambled and the bacon was slab bacon, which I consider a first ever for Guam. Better get there quick if you like slab bacon because it may not be available for long. It can be problematic for chewing, especially the rind!
A friend of mine had the Chamorro Style ($9.50) which had 2 eggs cooked to order, 2 spam, and Chorizo fried rice, with your choice of toast or English muffin. He seemed impressed. I ate the Italian Frittata ($10.95), which is an open-faced 2-egg omelet infused with ham and bacon, house veggies, penne pasta and cheese. This is served with toast or English muffin. Actually, pretty tasty eating.
The Classic Belgian Waffle is $6.95 and is just that. Eventually, plans are to expand and add toppings. Other omelets worth considering are the Japanese omelet that's stuffed with Mackerel and topped with furikake, or the Mediterranean Omelet, made with Feta Cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and coated with extra virgin olive oil. They offer the Chamaole Benedict, which has Spam and 2 poached eggs with their creamy Hollandaise. Their Locomotion ($9.50) has rice topped with their house made meatloaf, homemade gravy and 2 eggs. Also on their soft opening menu is the S.O.S. Island Style ($9.95), that has a creamed Chorizo gravy.
So there you have a glimpse of something new, different, and much needed in Tumon! A great place to eat a relaxing, cooked to order breakfast when everywhere else is closed. Oh with an added dash of brightness once the sun comes up!
Ken The Guam Food Guy
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