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October 4, 2013, Volume 13 Number 18

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

Is it already October?!! I'm still trying to recover from September, and that applies to my information technology which was challenged by the stormy weather we experienced a few weeks back! This is our 485th Guamdiner newsletter (that's a lot of writing, right?) and we want to take this opportunity to again thank you, our readers, for your continuing support. Never did I nor anyone on our team imagine we would still be a viable source of restaurant and food-related information on Guam, Saipan, and wherever our dining adventures have taken us. It is an honor to serve and I am humbled by and grateful for your positive comments and encouragement. Let's move forward and explore new culinary destinations here at home and abroad! I don't need to tell you as you already know that "I Love Food"!!! Let's Eat!!

Ken, the Guam Food Guy

Happy 20th Anniversary Hyatt Regency Guam

We want to congratulate the Hyatt Regency Guam and join them in celebrating 20 years of providing amazing hospitality to the people of Guam and to our visitors from around the world. From its inception, Hyatt has hosted countless functions and events and has been a preferred dining destination for people who love to eat as much as those Hyatt chefs love to cook!! This past Tuesday night's Anniversary Celebration Party was the epitome of anything ever done previously! The celebration took place throughout the entire hotel's food outlets, lobby, and main ballroom. Guests entered through "Typhoon Alley" where they witnessed the devastation of 4 typhoons, 2 super typhoons and several storms. We were treated to a variety of culinary wonderlands including Little Italy (Al Dente), the Chinese Pavilion, The Bazaar (featuring international delights from Korea, Japan, and local cuisine), and the ultimate fantasy, "Sweet Innovations", which was a decadent celebration of Hyatt's extraordinary dessert creations! Special photograph collections chronicling events and special moments over the last 20 years were displayed. The Hall of GM's honored the various General Managers who lead team Hyatt through the ups and downs of our island's fortunes. We want to commend Ken Corporation's president, Shigeru Sato, for his enthusiastic support and confidence to continue investing in the Hyatt Regency Guam. There's no doubt that things will only get better for all of us at the Hyatt keeps exceeding our expectations and taking us to newer levels of hospitality!

Guam Hosts World Class Culinary Event
Sept 18 - 20

Guam made culinary history during the recent Pacific Challenge, an annual culinary competition held by the Pacific Island nations region of WACS (World Association of Chefs Societies), of which Guam's Micronesian Chefs Association (MCA) is member and played host to this year's event. The competitions were held in the kitchens of the GCC Culinary Academy with judging taking place in the Multi-Purpose Auditorium. Teams from Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, and Fiji participated along with junior chef teams from GCC as well as local restaurants chefs. A major sponsor of the event was Anchor via their local distributor, MBI.

What has given Guam "bragging rights" is the fact that MCA President Peter Duenas took 1st Place in the Cocktail Party Canape Competition, ahead of Australia and New Zealand. It was Chef Peter's Hot Modern Canape, "Duck-Duck-Goose" (Pacific Asian Style Duck Confit atop a Chinese Bun, Seared Foie Gras, Mango Compote, Spicy Hoisin Glaze, Crispy Duck Cracklin', and Micro Arugula) that wowed both the judging panel and invited guests. His Cold Modern signature Canape was a Savory Wasabi Cheesecake with Peanut Crust, Topped with Local Style Tuna Tartare, Spicy Flying Fish Caviar and Micro Corn Sprout was equally spectacular, however the Duck was still the crowd favorite! Australian Chef Neil Abrahams won 1st Place in the 3-Course Black Box competition and also took 1st Place Overall. More coverage of the competitions will be reported in our next newsletter.

(L-R) GCC Culinary Arts Student Regine Olarte, Chef Neil Abrahams, Overall Winner, Australia; Chef Shailesh Naidu, Fiji; Chef Peter Duenas, 1st Place Canape, Guam; Chef Sam Timoko, Cook Islands; and Chef Gary Miller, New Zealand

Somjai House
Thai Food
Open 7 days, lunch & dinner

Sawadee! If you are looking for a genuine home-cooked Thai meal you can stop by Somjai House in Mangilao. After several decades of operating free-standing Thai restaurants on Guam, Somjai Vongjalorn has made the brilliant decision to operate her restaurant from her house! After all, this is where she raised her sons (all grown men now). She can cook anytime and doesn't really have a set schedule. If you see an open sign on her door than feel free to go in and enjoy your meal.

I'd been meaning to stop by and see Somjai (the last time was when she helped her daughter-in-law Soraya at Bangkok Cuisine). She is such a delightful person who loves to share her passion for cooking. She has created a kitchen and dining area by enclosing the carport You are only a few feet away from her as she cooks. It's like having a personal chef. Better still this is Momma Somjai's home and you are an invited guest!

Zee and I stopped by on a Saturday for lunch. She suggested I try a combination of her two popular appetizers - the Deep Fried Pork and Deep Fried Chicken, costing $10 (half/half). This comes with a sweet chili dipping sauce. The pork and chicken pieces are cut into long strips and are breaded. They are crispy and nearly greaseless, and very tasty.

Zee ordered the Vegetarian Pad Thai ($8.00), which was beautifully presented. I had a few bites of these tasty noodles. One thing about Thai food is you can always find a way to eliminate meat and still have a fabulously delicious Thai dining experience.

My main dish was Pad Kapao Shrimp ($10), which is laden with garlic and basil. The shrimp are plump and juicy and the broth excited the palate. She used a special rice called Thai Hom Mali Rice. It seems to be a bit sweeter than some others I've had. Somjai's menu is simple and offers some of the more popular selections like Tom Yum, Steamed Blue Mussels, Penang Chicken, Beef Salad and Thai Curries. Somjai has a unique way of making guests feel right at home, and if she's not cooking, she's engaging you in a conversation. Stop by and eat at Somjai House. You'll feel right at home!

Pho Cafe Vietnamese Restaurant
Mangilao (Next to American Passport Renewal ) and Pochon
Hours - Monday - Sunday (10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.)

Pho Cafe Vietnamese Restaurant has only been open a few months but they have established a loyal and steadily growing customer base by serving big portions of tasty food at affordable prices! They serve a la carte menu items for most of the day and have Fast Food Lunch choices from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The dining room is spacious and well air-conditioned. There is a large screen TV on in one of the corners

When I first entered I was greeted and seated by a polite young man who definitely had some customer service experience. He was engaging and spent time introducing some of the menu items. Eric is his name and he is definitely a man on a mission to serve his customers! For this review, I ordered a sampling of appetizers and entrees.

For starters I had the Fresh Lumpia (2 pieces - cut in half and served with Peanut Sauce). I ate one and had the rest packed for take-out. These were so-so, with plenty of rice noodles as filler, a piece of pork and a piece of shrimp, lettuce leaf and bean sprouts. The truth is that I've been spoiled by Mary's Fresh Lumpia, as well as by Vivan's home-prepared Fresh Lumpia. The peanut sauce was on the bland side so I wasn't too excited by this other than the fact that it was relatively "fresh".

The next item delivered was the Chicken Lemongrass (served with Rice) for $7.50. This was better for me as there was a lot of garlic and pepper sauce mixed in with the onions and lemongrass. This dish comes with a side salad on the plate and of course they have a bottle of 1000 Island Dressing! This was a little different appearance than I'm used to as this had a red chili sauce tint. I ate some and took the rest to my office.

Then came the Beef Kelaguen (spicy, $9.50), which is made with beef, onions, cucumber and lettuce, served with rice. This is a large portion and is definitely replete with flecks of chili peppers. This is not a "hot" burning dish, just spicy.

Next to be served was the Salt & Pepper Shrimp (served with rice and salad, $10.50). This was another unusual preparation as the shrimp was battered and fried. The dish is filled with sauteed onions and well seasoned. All in all it's a fairly flavorful dish.

My final order was the Fried Spare Ribs (served with rice and salad). If you are a spare rib fan, you'll like these as they are meaty and have a little bit of seasoning on them. They have a dipping sauce that was not finadene (could have been an attempt). I ate a couple of ribs without the sauce as it was a bit pungent. Pho Cafe has about 65 menu items and the most expensive item costs $12.50 (Fried Tilapia or Sweet & Sour Tilapia). They have party trays (if you order 5 or more trays you get 1 tray of Fried Rice for Free). I'll have to come back sometime and try their Pho(Beef Soup) and Combination Crispy Fried Noodles ($12.50).

Stop by Pho Cafe and let Eric walk you through the menu!

Meskla Chamoru Fusion Sunday Brunch
9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Hagatna 479-2653(BOKA)
$24.95-adults / $12.95-children (ages 5-11)

I've always enjoyed my visits to Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro so I was definitely looking forward to trying out their recently started Sunday Brunch (since August 4). Admittedly, we were spoiled by the fantastic Chamorro Sunday Brunch put on by the Cepeda family's lengendary restaurant, Y Kusina, so we saw this an opportunity to once again indulge in an all-you-can-eat Sunday "fiesta"! Since Zee's made the lifestyle change of eating vegetarian, she would not be able to get the full monetary value of the buffet price for the foods she could eat. These buffet prices are among the lowest on island. I would suggest having their Tofu Kadon Pika available for those who don't eat meat. That dish was so good even I would eat it again and again!

Meskla's Sunday brunch offerings are considerable. There is an omelet station and a Honey Glazed Ham Leg slicing station. They have Chalakilis for soup, Chamoru Eggplant Salad with Coconut Milk, Chicken Kelaguen, Shrimp Kelaguen, Basil Olive Chamorro flatbread, fried corn Titiyas, Tinala Katne, Mustard Fried Chicken, Scallion Ginger Steamed Snapper, Hot Cakes, and Desserts (including Bonelos Agu and Manha Pie). The buffet also offers free Budweiser or Bud Light, as well as Martini Asti Sparkling Wine. I definitely would suggest getting reservations as the restaurant filled up pretty quickly!! Everyone there seemed to be supremely pleased with what they were eating and experiencing! Must have been pretty good!

Japanese Restaurant Iki Teppan Dinner
Hotel Belvedere
Leo Palace Resort
Manenggon Hills
471-0001 Ext 7131

My last full review of Iki Japanese was in December 2004 (has it been that long?). I had enjoyed a wonderful lunch and spent time talking with Chef Masanori Murase and Chef Mitsugu Soga. Back then the economy was better than it has been in the last few years. Fortunately things have improved significantly and Iki has launched a Teppanyaki dinner service. I was joined by some of my work colleagues and we soon discovered what an amazingly transformative dining experience high-end teppanyaki can be! Mind you when we first were seated it was a bit warm (the air con had a problem), however that slight irritation eventually disappeared as the night progressed .

You should be aware that there is no a la carte menu service for Iki's Teppanyaki dinner. They offer 3 courses: Takumi ($70.00), Miyabi($90.00), and Hibiki ($120.00). Takumi offers a choice of Salmon and Scallop or US Rib Eye, while Miyabi will give you both Salmon and Scallop along with US Tenderloin Steak. The Hibiki adds Foie Gras, Lobster Tail and Scallop, and US Kobe Beef. All have the most beautiful Assorted Appetizer plate of 9 different treats. These are marinated seafood and vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms - all ornately positioned to please the eye and to titillate the palate! It is exquisite! As is the soup...a cold tomato essence...just tasty!!

Our teppan chef James skillfully prepared and cooked one Takumi and one Miyabi course (there were 4 of us). We shared these and a bottle of Twin Oaks Cabernet. The Salmon simply melted in the mouth! The scallop was so flavorful and rich. The Tenderloin cooked medium rare was perfection. The various elements on our plates, from fried garlic, grilled onion, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, and mushroom were all on point. Special sauces enhanced our meat. The dessert had a mixture of peaches, strawberry, honeydew melon, and cherry, with a pineapple topped mango cake, and a delightful calamansi gelatin (Jello). We were most impressed and will definitely return when we can start at the sushi counter and migrate to the teppan side. It was also good catching up with Chef Soga-san! He's still there and has become an island fixture!!

Enjoy a new, luxurious teppan dining experience at Japanese Restaurant Iki!

Ita dake masu!

Ken, The Guam Food Guy

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