July 26, 2013, Volume 13 Number 14
Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
I don't know if you were aware that I've been on a mission to lose weight and get myself into a healthier state. Since June 10, I started power-walking in the mornings at 5:00 a.m. with my pal Lance Hagans. He and I were work out buddies in the Body For Life Program. That was definitely a rigorous, results-oriented program (contest) and near the end I had toned myself into the best shape ever, and even boasted a "six pack"! Over the past decade that six pack has evolved into a "barrel"! So, I am now limiting my portions, not eating rice, avoiding carbs, and power-walking. Fortunately, I do have one "cheat" day (Sundays) when I can eat whatever I like. So wish me luck and don't take it personally if you see me turning down food offers! I will still continue to review restaurants, however, I will be taking home leftovers. I will be a leaner, healthier, and happier person once I've reached my goal of losing 100 lbs.! It won't be overnight! It took a decade to gain...it'll take some time (not as long as it did to put it on!) to lose it!
This week's newsletter takes us to Saipan where we visited Oceanside Bar N Grill and and got a taste of Russian cuisine at the new Siberian restaurant. We also pay a visit to Michelle's Coffee Shop in Mangilao! Stay well!
Ken, the Guam Food Guy
Michelle's Coffee Shop
How far would you go for a good cup of coffee? It was Sunday morning and we were looking for a breakfast place that had decent coffee and water. We have been encountering some problems with other restaurants on weekends (we're not talking about hotel buffets here...just a la carte eateries.) We live in Tamuning and though we are surrounded by places like Shirley's, King's, Denny's, Kar Kar, House of Brutus and a few others that serve some type of breakfast menu, we opted for Michelle's Coffee Shop in Mangilao and were very pleased with our choice!
First of all, I can safely say that none of these other establishments have someone as energetic, dynamic, and ambitious as their owner, who happens to be Michelle Kosloski! Having worked in Food & Beverage in hotels like the Hyatt Regency helped to form her industry knowledge. She obviously learned the value of coffee perfection, and that, my friends is what seals the deal when it comes to Sunday morning breakfasting! Michelle's is one of the only restaurants in Mangilao that serves illy Cafe beverages. My Americano was perfecto! Rich and delicious, you know excellent coffee when you taste illy!!! Her staff is one of the most active on island, and they walk around the dining room constantly checking to see if you are ok or if your need anything else. Michelle does the same! She even meets, greets, and seats customers!!!
I had a couple of things to eat (Zee had a stir-fry tofu dish and pancakes). Michelle's has her pancakes down - including a new menu item called Michelle's Combination Scramble ($8.50). It has Ham, Chamorro Sausage, and Shrimp, along with lots of green onions. I've been eating Shrimp Scrambles at other places, but this is the best-tasting scramble I've had. This comes with steamed rice or toast (I had wheat toast).
I also ordered one of the posted daily lunch specials, the Salt and Pepper Pork Chop ($7.99), which comes with rice. Since I'm not eating rice, they offered me sauteed garlic bokchoy! I was delighted by how they presented this on my plate! The bokchoy was awesome and I shared it wth Zee. Along with our breakfast, Michelle's gives finadene and donne dinanche. Believe me, both of these are delicious additions. They should bottle it!! Michelle's is open 7 days a week, from 6:45 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.(last call). Go to Michelle's for great food, great service, and great coffee! Soon to be opening a 2nd location in Yigo!!
More Food Bits from "Eat Your Words"
In our last newsletter, we introduced Charlotte Foltz Jones' book, "Eat Your Words", which describes the language of food and how food terms and phrases have become common everyday expressions. Today, we want to share some more food tidbits, this time about how food was used as money, in a barter system, since paper money didn't exist until about 700 AD, and even then, as with coins, which were introduced around 650 BC, was not generally accepted as a medium of exchange. Quoting from a chapter titled "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is":
- "In Japan the only primitive currency was rice. Most Japanese words expressing value are related to the word rice."
- "Pepper was a highly valued spice in the Middle Ages. Taxes were paid with pepper in many European cities, and soldiers were rewarded for their victories with bonuses of pepper."
- "In the early 2400's dried fish was the medium of exchange in Iceland. One pair of black leather shoes was equal to four dried stockfish."
- "On the Leeward Islands in 1668, a salary of fourteen thousand pounds of sugar was paid to 'an able preaching Orthodox Minister.' The minister charged a hundred pounds of sugar to perform marriage ceremonies."
- "Coconuts have been used as recently as 100 years ago on the island of Yap, near Guam. Two coconuts would buy one match; ten coconuts a bread roll; forty coconuts a twelve ounce bottle of gasoline; twenty-thousand coconuts a cooking stove. And on the island of Faraulip, in the South Pacific, a small boat could be purchased for three hundred coconuts."
Oceanside Bar 'N Grill
Looking for a fun place to eat, relax, listen to music, and maybe belt out a few karaoke numbers? You need look no further than Oceanside Bar N Grill in Garapan, just north of Tony Roma's and beneath Saigon Vietnam Restaurant). Oceanside is spacious and gives guests plenty of seating options. Owned by Malyn Ronquillo, who opened Oceanside a little over a year ago, this bar has the benefit of serving pretty tasty foods, especially some of the south of the border kinds, since Malyn came from Oceanside California to Saipan. I did have an opportunity to eat their chips and salsa when I had a beer in April of 2012 and I remember promising a return visit to eat something more substantial. The salsa was worthy!
My recent visit (last week) had me limited to eating protein (so I ordered one of the House Specialties, Certified Angus Beef Rib-eye Steak, 12 oz., for $26.99. This comes with a side salad and a mountain of steamed rice (which I didn't eat). The steak had some seasonings that accentuated the meat's rich flavor. It was just enough for us to share. I was with a colleague who had ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu ($9.95). Ben shared this with me and though I was a bit reluctant to eat "fried chicken", I found this chicken to be exceptional, and for this low price? Cordon Bleu is a breaded chicken cutlet that's been pounded thin and then wrapped around a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, then pan-fried. This is an elegant and simple dish, and not one that I'd expected to find in a Bar N Grill.
Other menu items I'd like to try next time is their Poke, Chicken Kelaguen, Baked Mussels, Carne Asada Taco, Chicken Quesadilla, and a Fish Taco. The night we were there a new band had been performing. When they finished customers were able to stretch their lungs out with karaoke! I was encouraged to sing a few myself. The sound system is quite modern and some of the people singing sounded like professional entertainers! Check out Oceanside Bar 'N Grill on your next Saipan visit!
2nd Floor ABC Store (across DFS Galleria)
Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. 7 days
When I heard there was a Russian restaurant in Saipan, I said to myself that it was about time and a great idea! Afterall, there have been thousands of Russian visitors to Saipan over the past decade, as well as a few who have made Saipan their choice of residence. It would only make sense that they have a place where they could get food from the homeland, or comfort food! I'm no expert on Russian cuisine and based on what I saw on their rather extensive and dramatically huge leather-bound menu, they seemed to cover all the bases (maybe the entire country)! The big red sign outside claims it has the "best Russian food"! I don't think they are getting anybody disputing this assertion.
Opened for nearly two months, the owners picked a prime location in a modern, well-designed building. There is an escalator and an elevator to Siberia from the street below. The escalator was under repair. There is a large seating area outside the main entrance. This area is covered and would be ideal for outdoor dining. The inside of the restaurant is quite spacious and must have taken a forest to furnish as there is a profusion of wood used - the walls and ceiling are built using a beautiful polished wood. It's like a giant log cabin. Siberia is truly atmospheric with ornate chandeliers and decorative lamps hanging from the ceiling. There are emerald green plush booths and sofas, paintings, objects d'art, curios, and the pelts and skins of hunted game (the most visible is a wolf that's splayed out and nailed to the wall with his red mouth gaping in a gruesome stretched grin). Adjacent to Siberia is its sister club called Coffee & Jazz, a cool place where you can get espresso beverages as well as your favorite cocktail or spirit. It's an impressive, classy club created by people who want you to be entertained in style.
I joined my co-workers for this dining adventure and they had already ordered some items since I had arrived late. Having to observe my reduced carb diet, I had to avoid the temptation of the popular Russian breads (Pirozhki-hot from the oven and stuffed with mashed potatoes). They had started out with a Set Menu C($32) which had Olivie (Russian style potato salad), Solyanka Soup (with smoked meats, olives, lemon), and Beef Stroganoff. They also ordered a Vareniki with Salmon ($19), featuring house made ravioli, served with red caviar. These were served in a covered. hot pot. They also ordered the Meat Pelmeni in Pot (Russian Meat Dumpling) for$16, which were filled with pork, and covered with a chive-filled sour cream.
The Beef Tongue ($9.00) was the cold appetizer I could eat. It came with horseradish and mustard as condiments and some dill pickle slices. This was a good start for me (along with my Cabernet, served chilled). I also ordered the Traditional Russian Borsch (with Beets, cabbage, and house vegetables, topped with sour cream) for $8.00. I really enjoyed the richly flavored vegetable broth.
The T-Bone Steak ($39) I had ordered came and I sliced some for sharing. It was seasoned with basic salt and pepper. A ramekin on the plate had some kind of steak sauce that really enhanced what was already a decent steak.
I had ordered the Golubtsy (Cabbage Roll Stuffed w/Meat) - $19 for us to sample. This turned out quite well too. I have to mention that the foods were all cooked fine, however, some of the flavors and tastes were generally bland (the dumplings and the cabbage rolls. That's because we are used to highly seasoned, highly-spiced food in our diets.
The Beef Stroganoff with Mashed Potato had tender Sliced Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms in a creamy Sauce for $19.00. This was a familiar food to my palate and I really enjoyed it. Of course, I couldn't eat the mashed potatoes (I did take a small bite to taste them. )
Our server brought a 3-well platter with what appeared to be mini-pretzels , melba toast, and some kind of brown sugar cubes and said this was dessert. These were all different tasting than what was expected. I could only nibble, and realized these items were a matter of personal preference.
What I did order for dessert was the Blini (pancakes, $19) platter (Serves 3) Blintzes served with jam, sour cream, honey, maple syrup. The menu mentioned the maple syrup, however, we only had the cherry jam, sour cream and honey. These were worth the extra calories because they were also familiar (pancake crepes). Everyone on the team liked them, though they were all stuffed (the breads they ate and the mashed potatoes took their toll!
All said, Siberia Restaurant is certainly worth trying out, and probably best if you go with a small group of friends who like to eat new foods. The food is certainly filling (it's heavy) and it's hearty, and yes, there are items on the menu that are a bit pricey. Taste is not their strong suit, however, the novelty of this unique destination serving the only Russian food should at least get you in the door.
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