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May 24, 2013, Volume 13 Number 10

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Face it! The people of Guam are having a love affair with the barbecue grill! Of course we are joining a lot of other people who are passionate about backyard grilling (especially most of North America). However, I don't think anywhere has taken to the level that we on Guam have, especially since we are grilling all year round and have made it a central part of our island's culture. Some of our more active and proficient restaurant chefs have been busier grilling these past thirty days than they ever have before in as short a period of time. They had to compete in Smokin' Grills, then the super successful inaugural launch of the GVB-sponsored BBQ Block Party in Tumon's Pleasure Island. And just this past weekend they were stoking the coals down at Ypao Beach for the Guam Micronesian Island Fair. Though it's not considered a BBQ in the traditional local sense, this coming weekend's Marianas Variety Burgerfest will have many chefs grilling up juicy burgers over open flames! This will be held at the Beach Bar, along with a lot of other events and activities, one of which will be the Miss Universe Guam 2013 Swimsuit Competition. Even our neighbors to the north in Saipan will be grilling this weekend at their annual Taste of the Marianas, where this year's theme will be the All-American Cheeseburger, which will be made using Certified Angus Beef Chuck Ground Beef! I'm looking forward to my annual ceremonial emceeing of this special competition. It's become a tradition that I can't miss!!!

Break out that BBQ Grill and have a great Memorial Day Holiday Weekend!

Ken, the Guam Food Guy!

Hotel Nikko Staycation
Hotel Nikko Guam

We recently treated ourselves to a relaxing staycation at one of Tumon's venerable hotels, the Hotel Nikko Guam. We had won the silent auction for the 2 night stay package at the Annual Auction & Wine-Tasting Event to Benefit the Guam Girl Scouts and were finally able to squeeze the time from our hectic life schedule to spend two nights and days at the Nikko. We were on the 15th floor looking over The Beach and on to Two Lover's Point. When you are this high up and have this commanding view, all your senses (and literally everything else) is "elevated"! It's amazing how easy and calming it is to sit on the balcony and listen to surf roll in and caress the shoreline. One could spend hours doing just this! Though we had our regular "chores" to do out side of the hotel, we looked forward to our return to our room. I do recommend the Magic Dinner Show featuring the illusions and magic of J. Storm. It is fun entertainment for the entire family in an intimate atmosphere. Thank you hotel nikko guam for making two days of the year extra special ones for us!!

Caliente Mexican Taqueria

While I didn't miss the annual Cinco de Mayo Mexican food celebration in Pago Bay this year (as I did while in Korea last year), I still found myself with a residual craving for some south of the border eats! It was almost a year ago that we went to Caliente and ate Huevos Rancheros, Tamales, and their savory Mexican Pizza! Flash forward and we went to Caliente again. One thing Zee likes doing is blending her own salsa from Caliente's salsa bar. She gets the right proportion of the mild with enough of the super hot to make the tortilla chips pika-licious! I ordered something totally new (didn't even realize it was on the menu). The Enchiladas De Spinach & Ricotta ($10.00) boasts 2 corn tortillas stuffed w/ricotta cheese, spinach and mushrooms topped with Jack cheese and a homemade red chilli cream sauce and served w/rice and beans. It kind of reminds you of an Italian dish! I also ordered something with some meat - two soft shell corn tacos, one a Carne Asada and the other a Pollo Asada, with each priced at $3.75.

Zee ordered her usual Veggie Burrito ($9.00) and even brought her own vegetarian cheese. These burritos are gigantic and half is always enough to eat with the other half taken home for lunch. Although our food was quite good, I have to confess that the most exciting meal was one a nearby customer at the bar had ordered. It was the Chicken Fajitas! For $15, you can have a sizzling platter piled high with marinated chicken mixed with red, orange and green bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. This sizzling platter held everyone's attention as it was carried across the restaurant dining area. The beef is $17 and the Shrimp is $18. The aroma of caramelizing meat and veggies with Mexican seasoning had me salivating and now I've got another craving to satisfy!! Next time, Tommy!!!

PIC's Rock & Roll Noodle
Skylight Level
Hours: 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Question: Have you ever seen a menu written in English, Korean, Japanese, and Russian? Well you can see one at PIC's Rock & Roll Noodle (formerly the Rock & Roll Cafe). Not only is this a multi-lingual menu, but the appetizers and entrees come from a variety of countries and represent the comfort foods that many of PIC's visiting guests enjoy in their native countries. The all day menu that I taste-tested is served from 11:00 a.m. until closing. They do have a breakfast menu that still offers PIC's Loco Moco, Chamorro breakfast, banana pancakes, and rock & roll omelet. We'll have to return and have some of these at another time.

Obviously one of the main stars of Rock & Roll Noodle has to be ramen, and this place has ramen covered! Soy Ramen, Taiwan Ramen, Tonkotsu Ramen, Miso Ramen, and Kimchee Ramen are among the most popular ramen dishes in most noodle houses. We ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen ($9.50) which has a pork base, with slices of chashu (pork), egg, chopped green onion, and bamboo shoots. I did like the noodles and the soup broth. Zee had the Kim Chee Ramen ($9.50) which has a red colored spicy broth with plenty of garlic and the same elements in the other ramen dishes.

I should mention that I did have an appetizer (Side Dish) during this visit called Gochujang Chicken ($5.95). This is basically Karaage Chicken (which you can order for the same price) that is covered with the popular spicy Korean gochujang sauce. The flavors are vinegary and hot; they are great chasers and would be awesome with beer!

On a subsequent visit, I had the Curried Fried Rice with Chicken - $9.50 (or Beef). This is an aromatic treat with lots to eat! It's a shareable dish and something I had never tried before, though I've had curry sauce on rice, which is still my preferred way to enjoy curry.

One dish I tried that I really got excited about was the Yaki-Udon ($9.00), which are stir-fried udon noodles much the same as yakisoba. When my plate was placed in front of me, the bonita flakes were still curling from the heat. The sliced green onions, orange carrot slivers, green bell peppers, cabbage, and red ginger on top were a stark contrast to the thick white noodles with smatterings of pork throughout. This is a great dish and one I could eat over and over again. It also would make a great vegetarian dish.

The final entree I had was a holdover from the previous menu based on popular demand. The sizable PIC Double Cheeseburger ($10.95) almost needs no introduction. It boasts 2 all beef patties with bacon and American cheese slices. It is garnished with tomato, red onion, butter lettuce, a dill pickle wedge, and French fries. The sesame-seed topped buns are grilled and do a good job of holding this mega-sandwich. This is a burger that's known around the world and is ordered often by return visitors

The Rock & Roll Noodle has changed its name and menu, but it still retains its coolness and modern appeal with multiple tv monitors showing popular channels. The friendly service staff are attentive and won't let your glasses go empty. Come and enjoy Rock & Roll Noodle as I'll come back for more!

Sushi Tairyo
Blue Lagoon Plaza

Daily Hours: 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

It seems hard to believe that my review of Sushi Tairyo in December 2001 didn't have a single photo of sushi! I had to compensate with words---tons of words describing every aspect of the sushi experience. Also, at the time of the review, Sushi Tairyo had just opened and became an instant success because it had new conveyor technology as well as really fresh seafood. The word "kaiten" on the menu means conveyor belt so kaiten zushi is conveyor belt sushi. The word "Super" describes the new (at the time) conveyor system at Sushi Tairyo. Taiyro roughly translates into the phrase "big fish harvest", which is what the original owning company, Gyoren Guam, was capitalizing on via a relationship with the Japanese Fishery Association. My take on this history is that the Super Conveyor was replicating the efficiency of the fresh seafood harvesting and distribution network in Japan, so that customers sitting at Sushi Tairyo could be reasonably confident that they were being served quality sushi.

Well, fast forward from 2001 to 2013 and Sushi Tairyo has new owners (the Yanase family, who also operate the adjoining enormously popular izakaya, Kai Restaurant. The other good news is that you can sit at the sushi counter today and be served quality sushi at a reasonable price. I hadn't been to Sushi Tairyo for about 2 or 3 years as I had changed my sushi dining preferences. I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to Sushi Tairyo one Tuesday a little past 1:00 p.m. There was hardly any plates on the conveyor belt, which would not have been the case at 11:30 a.m., when the belt is full of covered plates with a variety of sushi rolls ready made and available to eat. When you come past 1:00 p.m., you can order your sushi selections from the sushi chef behind the counter, which is what I did and the reason for my positive experience.

Sushi Tairyo charges sushi by the plate color, with prices for 1 or 2 pieces of sushi ranging from $2 - $6 . To make things easier for those to who don't know all the types of sushi served, Sushi Tairyo has color charts describing the sushi on plates by name and price. I had been seated and was watching the young Sushi Chef, Lother Sorio, deftly roll ngiri sushi for waiting customers. He has been doing this for 8 years and really enjoys (and takes pride in) his work. He and I later conferred about Japan's legendary Sushi Master, Jiro Ono. Lother amazed me with his meticulous attention to detail and his sanitation and hygiene. He was constantly washing his hands and utensils!

I ordered a Big Prawn ($4), Yellow Tail ($3) , California Roll ($3), a Negitoro Hand-Roll ($3), Uni(sea urchin) ($4), Shrimp Salad ($2), and Tempura Hand Roll ($3). The conveyor has gari (pickled ginger) and wasabi in bowls so you can take as you need as they rotate. You can order as much as you think you can eat! I realized as I was eating my sushi rolls how much I've changed as I don't like to eat as much rice, which is why I really prefer sashimi more.

The last sushi I ordered was one I saw on the menu was The Pepper Roll ($3) , which Lother explained had become increasingly popular since it has pepper flakes and bits of chili. It has salmon and mayonnaise and is baked, giving it a grilled cheese appearance. You better be able to handle the is certainly "pika"!

Having sushi for lunch is different than having it during dinner, as I'd be inclined to have either beer or sake during dinner. Sake really enhances the entire sushi experience, but beer does a great job of clearing the palate. It's extraordinary eating sushi with your eyes closed as you can taste the vinegar in the rice with a little bit of wasabi along with whatever seafood you've selected, especially with a cold beer or sake.

I am glad that I was finally able to get to Sushi Tairyo to enjoy the sushi I ate. I am going to return to eat some of the 30 or more items I missed!!

Ita-dake masu!

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