Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Is Guam destined to be the restaurant capital of the world? That's a good question. There was a time when there may have been a few dozen eateries on this island. The advent of tourism and the gradual increase of the military footprint fostered further development. Shopping Centers responded to the population increase as well as the overall economic growth (from GovGuam, Federal, and Private Sector work forces, especially in construction and hospitality) made more. Do you think you've seen the end of restaurant growth in shopping centers? Don't count on it. The GPO will have a new Panda Express (probably by the end of this year if not before). Near GPO you will see Applebee's and I-Hop, with Applebee's opening probably early summer, and I-Hop perhaps during the 1st Quarter of 2015. In the Agana Shopping Center (which has been expanding its restaurant inventory like crazy) you will see an Ajisen Ramen shop opening perhaps this year. They did open a Panda Express and Tapenade Tapas & Sangria in the past 6 months. Outside of the Shopping Center destination, we have Eggs 'n Things opening in the next thirty days. They've been doing trial runs, so it should be soon! The big question is where oh where will we be putting Jack in the Box? Don't be too surprised to see existing single unit restaurants start to multiply. Michelle's Coffee Shop did it, who's next?
Ken the Guam Food Guy!
Boston Pizza Co. Opens In Tamuning Cost U Less!
Boston Pizza Co./Chamorro Chip Cookies
Cost U Less
It's better than just deja vu! It's destiny! I ran into long-time friend Bob McLaughlin the other day at Cost U Less Tamuning where he was putting the final touches on his expanded presence of his Chamorro Chips Cookie stall where he was also selling hot dogs and sodas. The ever-active entrepreneur has always been a do-it-himself kind of guy (anything to cut costs) and probably pays himself less than the minimum wage (if you consider the long hours he works!) Anyway, I was super-excited to hear he was starting up his Boston Pizza business right here in my neighborhood (within walking distance!).
If you didn't know this factoid, Boston Pizza was the very first Guam Food Guy review, done in January 2000! Another little unknown fact is that I sold Bob his first Hobart convection oven when he started baking his Chamorro Chips Cookie brand. I can easily say he made more "dough" from his oven than I did! I am sure glad that he took the plunge into the glorious world of pizza pies!
You can buy pizza by the slice ($2.50 - $3.00, depending on the toppings), by a 9" Pizza ($7 - $9), and by the 14" (base price of $16.00 - $18.00). Extra Cheese and Extra Toppings are $1.00 ea. It took about 20 minutes over all to get the pizza finished (I ordered a 14" pizza with Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, and Mushrooms - fresh mushrooms!). I recommend you call first if you are going to order a pizza if you don't want to wait too long. These pizzas are truly that delicious...one of the best take-out pizzas you can get! Just look at the picture of the pizza I took to my office and shared! Everyone loved it!
Evelyn's Hot Dogs and Burgers
Marine Corps Drive
It had been a while since I last visited Evelyn Ungacta's famous Hot Dog Stand located along Hagatna Bay's shoreline and Marine Corps Drive. It was already past 3 p.m. and I had not eaten lunch so I was famished. People line up to get one of Eveyln's hot dogs, chili dogs, chili cheese dogs, hamburgers, egg burgers, moco (rice, patty and egg) and chiloco (moco with chili). The price is right with Hot Dogs going for $2.75 and a Chili Dog for $3.00 - add a cold soda for $1.00. You can garnish your dog all the usual condiments of green relish, sauerkraut, chopped onions, mustard, and catsup to suit your tastes. The result is a quick meal that puts to rest all those late lunch hunger pains and gives the satisfaction you can only get from eating that All American favorite - the hot dog! I even tried Evelyn's cheeseburger since I hadn't had one before (and actually hadn't realized she had that big gas grill). One of the best things about this scenic little spot is the view of the ocean and the breeze (windy days are best). It's like eating at the beach! Talk about having a "Cheeseburger in Paradise"!
Evelyn and her husband, Felix (former Mayor of Hagatna) are a dynamic duo as they work synchronously to cook dogs, steam buns, grill patties, prepare orders, make change, and still carry on conversations with customers. They are simply amazing people! Evelyn's a living icon, and though I hadn't had a hot dog at her stand in a little over a year, she was still happy to see me and jokingly chided me ("where've you been?"). Other vendors may have other dog types (bigger and spicier), but her buns are the softest and they really hug that dog! You can find Evelyn and Felix serving dogs, burgers, sodas, and all the fixings weekdays in Hagatna - just look for the big blue canopy!
Sumay Pub & Grill
Marine Corps Drive (Near Naval Activities Main Gate)
Grill Hours; Monday - Friday 5:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday - 6:00 - 11:00 p.m.
It was about time that I was able to drive all the way down to Santa Rita and try out that famous burger served at Sumay Pub & Grill! I had tried several times but didn't realize the hours of operation were not the usual times I was in the neighborhood. They were always closed when I drove by. This night I was lucky and had gone with a group of co-workers who were there sucking down Carlsbergs! I knew owners Aaron and Heidi and they were pleased to finally see me. I was glad they were able to build such a popular niche business that seemed to make a lot of people happy with their huge and tasty home-made burgers.
Sumay Pub's claim to fame has to be its burger, since they have a huge sign outside that boasts "Voted Guam's Best Burger". No doubt they did win an election. Everyone, though, has an opinion about their favorite burger. Some prefer burgers that use higher quality meat cuts. Others prefer burgers that are char-grilled. While others like "Veggie Burgers", which you won't get here!
The menu is fairly straightforward, with a basic burger selling for $7.50. Their burgers include ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions. Prices increase incrementally with each add-on (Cheese, Bacon, and Pika-sauce). The Pika Bacon Cheese Burger is $9.50, and that's the burger I had, along with a side of Onion Rings (Small - $2.00) and Waffle Fries (Small - $2). This is one of the best constructed burgers I've had in a very long time. The buns (made by Crown Bakery) were perfect. The tomato, lettuce, onion, and bacon were harmonious ingredients that are usually a weak point for many burgers, not this one! I think the cheese was American, but couldn't tell for sure since the pika sauce dominated the flavor. The size of the patty was very large, probably just over 8 oz. I have eaten hundreds (if not thousands) of burgers and this one ranks in the top tier percentile. For me, the patty was soft and pliant, and I prefer my burgers to be more contiguous with more bite to them. The taste of the burger was pretty good, with the bun winning the best supporting actor Oscar. I still prefer Meskla's burgers (the Maga' lahi and Guetes).
I tried a bite of the Fish & Chips Basket ($8.00) that someone had ordered. The basa fish was light and tasty, still juicy under the crispy panko exterior.
I didn't have a bite of the Crispy Fish Burger ($7.00), though I could imagine how it would taste based on my trying the fish and chips. The Mushroom Poppers ($4) and Jalapeno Poppers ($5) are very popular for the young beer drinking crowd. I have been consciously reducing my fried foods intake so the Onion Rings (petty crispy) and waffle fries were more than enough to meet my fried foods quota. I will have to come back and try the BBQ Fiesta Plate and maybe a regular burger. The Pub is a great place to get away and be in an open air environment. It's entertaining and a bona fide "oasis" for the many Navy personnel and their families who crave an old-fashioned home-made burger meal.
Prime Rib Craving Satisfied At Bistro
Pacific Islands Club
There are times when you just crave something you've not had in some time...in this case it was a long time since I've had Prime Rib! I was joined by my colleague Mark for this dinner which was also an opportunity to pair some wines (Calitera Cabernet and a Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet) over the course of two hours. Our server, Ivan, was pleased as always to see us (he's one of their best having served for a number of years). The restaurant was quite busy with many hotel guests and their families (and not a lot of locals, surprisingly).
We started out with an appetizer (another craving), the Seafood Cocktail Sampler ($15.50), which is made with succulent Alaskan crab legs, sweet shrimp and smoked salmon served with a zesty cocktail sauce. I was completely delighted by this incredible platter filled with an abundance of seafood - crab, salmon, big shrimp, and salad elements (lettuce, cucumbers, and capers) and strawberries. We shared this plate and commented on the freshness of the crab (the delicate white meat came out easily in chunks) and shrimp.
When we'd finished this we were brought a cheese platter by Ivan as there was a bit of a delay. Of course, cheese and wine are natural partners so we made quick work of some of this, having some of Bistro's hot dinner rolls. The kalamata olives and grapes on this plate made the dish all the more perfect.
As I said, I had this craving for Prime Rib and when my plate came I felt as though my prayers had been answered. Ivan had promised it would be quite good and he didn't exaggerate or over-state. Here it was in all its glory: Bistro's Classic Prime Rib - Herb crusted (10 oz) Angus Beef, slow-roasted to perfection in a rosemary jus ($29.50). I wanted it medium rare and easily sliced through the meat. I had my horseradish and the melting butter patty. The flavors were so rich and satisfying (along the outer crust the spices had caramelized with the fat - such a amazing taste sensation! I had some fluffy whipped mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and carrots to accompany this noble succulent beef. Chef had garnished the plate with a balsamic red wine reduction and green pesto. This was an ideal size to eat and it worked out fabulously with both of us sharing it. (don't worry...I ate most).
Mark had ordered Bistro's Fresh Atlantic Salmon Crusted with Spinach and Crab ($27.50) . This is a fillet of fresh Atlantic Salmon with a delicious crab and spinach pernod crust, served with mushroom artichoke fondue sauce. What a compelling presentation. He had a baked potato and though I had a piece of his salmon, I didn't get the chance to combine with the fondue sauce. I'll just have to come back for this at another time. We also noted a neighboring customer had been brought a very large fresh steamed Maine Lobster. I made a mental note to come back for one of these, too! What a great place to treat yourself to when you want a fine dining experience. Go to Bistro and satisfy your cravings! Bon Appetit!