Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
April's about to say "adios" and May 2014 will arrive next week! There are 5 Saturdays in May so it's going to be one of those extended months! Did you know there are only 4 months of this year with 5 Saturdays? (March, May, August, and November). I wish there were more Saturdays. I could use a month of Saturdays just to get caught up with all my "to-do's"! Speaking of "to-do's), be sure to take some time to get to the Micronesian Island Fair (April 25-27) at Ypao Beach Park. It is a magical island potpourri experience...one of the few times when you bring all of our Micronesian island neighbors together in one big celebration of culture. There is no charge to attend and the money you save on air fare to fly to the FSM and other places you can use to buy carvings, jewelry, artwork, clothing, and handicrafts. The food that'll be available gets better every year! The vendors realize the huge demand for their food and they've concocted better efficiencies to meet that demand!
The other "to do" thing is going to the Auction & Wine-Tasting Fund-raiser for the benefit of the Guam Girl Scouts, tonight (Friday, April 25) at the Infiniti Gallery in Upper Tumon. It all starts at 6:00 p.m. and promises to be one of those nights to remember! Don't forget!!!
Ken, The Guam Food Guy
Ypao Fish Story
I was blessed with a Hilton Staycation package recently and I can tell you that Hilton's room, amenities, room service menu, ocean vista, bedding and air-conditioning are in tip top condition (I loved my comforter)! It was one of those special times when one can enjoy a soothing bubble bath with special salts designed to relieve all that stress. While Zee participated in the Guam International 5K that Sunday, I luxuriated lazily in bed and later got up to go for a morning snorkel in Tumon Bay. The coral heads off the Hilton beach are amazing and filled with a variety of tropical fish and sea life. There were only a few swimmers out that morning (up before towels are available - 8 a.m.), when I noticed a shiny blue fish that was laying on the sandy bottom. I reached for it and found out that it wasn't a real fish but rather a fishing lure, complete with sharp barbs on each end! Wow! I was wearing my rubber tabbies and had I stepped on this it could have penetrated and been quite painful. So, I did my civic duty and removed this little remnant of a fishing day gone awry. That's my alluring fish story...it was another beautiful day on Guam! Maybe a bit safer, too?
Hava Java's Chicken Salad Sandwich
Hava Java Cafe
Agana (next to the Post Office and across from Bank Pacific)
I can't remember the exact day when I first had my first Chicken Salad Sandwich on a toasted baguette at Hava Java Cafe. It could have been sometime after owner Carol Ragan introduced her "Make Me A Sandwich" menu in the Spring of 2001. I do know that it is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches and what I consider a comfort lunch. I've tried other chicken salad sandwiches, but no one has ever been able to match this sandwiches' full depth and scope of flavors and tastes, especially when you have it fully loaded (the Pika Mayo's a must have) and for me, the Hot English Mustard. I have Provolone Cheese and get the sprouts, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and the side of Hava Java's delicious cole slaw. The meal includes China Mist iced tea or iced coffee and will set you back just over $8.00. This sandwich is not just my favorite sandwich, there are many others who have the same affection for Carol's creation. Thank you Carol for bringing this special joy to my world and to others as well!
Hilton Energizes Islander Terrace Sunday Brunch
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
Something amazing is taking place at the Hilton's Islander Terrace. I saw it first-hand during a Sunday brunch the weekend before last. The entire look and feel of the buffet seems to have been transformed into what is definitely much more appealing. There's a new vibrancy to the displays and also what I feel is a new orientation to showcase regional Asian cuisines as well as American and Mediterranean. Fresh seafood (rock crab, snow crab, shrimp and mussels) fill one station, while another location has steamed grouper, crab, shrimp, crab claws, shrimp, sausage, and corn. I also noticed a couple of imposing Chinese Lion statues perched up high, guarding and protecting.
While some Sunday brunch buffet spreads try to impress with their volume, Island Terrace aims to impress with their quality, so that instead of carving steamboat, Islander puts out a Striploin and Top Sirloin, both exquisitely seasoned and marinated, then sliced thin for easier consumption. The hot noodle station has all the ready-made fixings for your favorite blend. And if you like duck and charsiu pork, they have an abundance of these. I still can't figure out how they managed to render that duck to be so tender and juicy! Pressure cooked and roasted?
The "Asian" alley or street market has some interesting offerings. Someone put some thought into presentation aesthetics and the colorful pots contain such delights as Indian Seafood Curry, Thai Chicken Green Curry, Thai Beef Red Curry, and Orange Chicken. Crispy Pata cubes are also on display. None of these are in the old-style chafing dish pans...these are home-style preparations, with just cooked portioning.
There's tempura shrimp and vegetables, shwarma and hummus, sushi and scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, pancakes and waffles, and there are also Eggs Benedict. My only complaint was that the Eggs Benedict weren't being warmed from beneath so they lacked the temperature you'd get when served a la carte.
The dessert display is equally compelling, with the entire section offering organized rows of elegantly coiffed acrylic tubes of yogurt dessert, mousses, jello, cakes, pies, and fruits, and trifles. Of course, Chocolate lovers have to have their molten chocolate fountain! Free flowing sparkling wine and fresh-squeezed orange juice---does it get better than this? Kudos go to Executive Chef Dennis Salenga, Islander Terrace Manager Karla Kaneshiro, and Food & Beverage Director Kevin Sassano for a refreshing and imaginative upgrading of the Sunday brunch as well as other Islander Terrace buffets.
Brix Pub N Pizza
Blue Lagoon Plaza
If you would have told me I'd be eating fifty inches of pizza that night I went to Brix Pub N Pizza, I'd have thought you were "nuts"! I can tell you that the best way to understand how good a pizza really is putting it in your mouth, not reading about it. My first time to visit Brix Pub N Pizza was a little over a week ago. Why it took so long for me to go there I don't know. I always pass it on my way to Kai and I'm usually in the mood for Japanese. Brix Pub N Pizza has now given me another good reason to drive to Blue Lagoon Plaza and find parking. The pizzas they make are the real deal, the kind you can't put down, the kind that let you think and appreciate what you are eating while you are eating it (that's multi-tasking), and the kind that goes well with Stella Artois or any of the full line up of brews served at this pub.
From the outside Brix looks just like it sounds...like a lot of bricks formed into a building. Brix has covered outdoor seating on concrete benches, and plenty of seating inside. They have a section of Beer Pong tables (I need to come back to see how this whole thing works). The bar has several sections and is great for eating on. I should also mention that Brix has some pretty cool people working here. We met one, Dia Kuykendall, who was our bartender. We also were introduced to the chef, Pierre Topasna, who explained all the different fresh toppings he uses on his pizzas. I don't think I remember any explaining that many types of pizza without taking a breath! His enthusiasm is contagious and is transferred to the pizzas.
Brix has been open for just over a year and they've already created a bit of a buzz about their pizzas in that time. I have not heard any negative comments about their pizzas. Their menu features 15 pizza pie creations, with each having their own individual personality and ingredient composition. They only make 10" and 16" pizzas. I was joined by Mark and Andrew on this pizza eating mission. We were entertained by owner Lee Heather, and Oren Long, Brix's General Manager. There were not a lot of people there when we walked in around 8ish on a Thursday night, but there should have been .
Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pizza (sliced pepperoni and Italian Sausage with a blend of cheeses and red sauce, served on a thin crispy crust.) 10" - $12, 16" - $21.99
We started out with a safe conservative and popular pizza, the Pepperoni and Italian Sausage (10" - $12, 16" is $21.99). All the pizzas we had were 1O " and they are served on elevated metal stands on a pizza pan. They have a red marinara sauce and a blend of cheeses. There was a generous amount of Italian Sausage and Pepperoni slices on this pizza. The first bite convinced me immediately that is was no ordinary pizza. It resonated with a crispy crunch joined with a mouthful of great flavors. All the ingredients were in harmony and balanced.
Island Pizza (Julienned mangoes and chorizo sausage with a blend of cheeses and a spicy denanche sauce served on a thin crispy crust - ***Very Spicy***) 10" $14.00 16" $24.99
The next pizza was delivered. It was the famous "Island Pizza", (10" - $14) which has julienned mangoes and chorizo sausage with denanche. This pizza was supposed to be "spicy". For Mark, it was definitely a brow dabber! To much heat for him. This pizza had that same awesome thin crispy crust, but the topping was awash with tasty goodness. I could have put some more donne on this!
Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Pizza (chicken tenderloins, bacon, spinach, caramelized onions and a ranch sauce with a blend of cheeses, drizzed with a ranch dressing on a think crispy crust.) 10" - $14.00 16" - $24.99
The next pizza was one recommended by Lee. It was the Chicken, Bacon, and Ranch Pizza (10" - $14.00). This is made using chicken tenderloins, bacon, spinach caramelized onions and a blend of cheeses, then drizzled with a ranch dressing. The bite was incredible!! I was discovering new pizza territory. I was starting to wonder how these pizzas all could get progressively better! We kept going back to try a slice of a previous pizza while awaiting for the next delivery.
Spinach and Artichoke Pizza Spinach and artichokes with a blend of cheese and a hearty white cream sauce, served on a thin crispy crust 10" - $12.00 16"- $21.99
When the Spinach and Artichoke Pizza (10" - $12) arrived, I was mesmerized by the brilliant colors of the melted cheese with green strings of spinach and flat artichoke leaves. This was one gorgeous pizza. But what about the taste? OMG, this was even better than the last. Bold flavors and fresh spinach...what were they doing in that kitchen? They must have cast a spell on us!
Roasted Veggie Pizza Seasonal roasted vegetables, with a 3 cheese blend and red sauce, drizzeld with a balsamic reduction 10" - $14.00 16" $ 24.99
I think one of the last pizzas we tried was one Lee thought would impress us the most, the Roasted Veggie Pizza, which has seasonal roasted vegetables, a 3-cheese blend and was drizzled with a balsamic reduction! This was the piece de resistance, enhancing this pizza's flavor profile to a new threshold. There were scrumptious portabello mushroom slices on this pizza! I don't know about you, but this was my first time eating multiple pizzas that seemed to only get better with each version. This was only five and I can't even remember if we did or didn't try the BBQ Chicken pizza that Lee may have ordered (I didn't get a photo if he did). I can always come back for more!
Brix Management w GFG L-R Oren Long, General Manager Center_ Ken S. Lee Heather, Owner (Nike shirt)
Come on down to Brix Pub N Pizza where you will crunch and munch your way to Pizza "Nirvanna" one glorious bite at a time! As the many Japanese visitors said when posing for a picture of them with their Brix Pizza! Oisshi!!! Note: for to go orders, add $2.00
Ken The Guam Food Guy