Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
We are back! We are making up from last week's newsletter with this short edition and will publish this next week to get back on our regular publication schedule. We wanted to be sure to cover the Micronesian Chef's Association's hugely successful third Maila' Ta Fan Chesa on May 27 as well as the Taste of the Marianas' Professional Chef's Competition (as we have done every year). I have been recovering from a long birthday celebration that started on June 6 and persisted until June 9! The venues included Tapanade Sangrias & Tapas, The Grille at Santa Fe, Suphan Thai, Kai Japanese Restaurant, and Issin Japanese Restaurant with a grand finale Pago Bay feast prepared by Vivian Matsuno (who really could open up a specialty bistro, assisted by her aspiring young culinarian, daughter Naomi)! One of the best presents I had though was the opportunity to spend some quality time with close friends Carmen and Renee La Fata, who were visiting from Okinawa this past week! They are shown in the photo with Zee and me toasting Bottega Proseco at Kai Japanese Restaurant. It was fun having "Pancho" (Hideto Yanase, Kai's Chef/Owner) sing his birthday song (he's practiced hundreds of times) while strumming his ukulele! One thing we observed at Kai this past Sunday was the large number of young locals who were eating there. However they heard about Kai, I'm glad they "got it"! They now have a basis for comparison! Celebrate your birthday at Kai for a memorably positive experience!
Ken The Guam Food Guy
Applebee's Getting There!
I live just around the corner from the Applebee's construction jobsite next to Chili's and adjoining the Cost-U-Less complex. They are preparing the ground work for the new strip mall that will also include an IHOP restaurant. I have even heard a 2nd Applebee's is in the works. At the pace they are working this restaurant could be open within 2 months! There's going to be a lot of people working in the restaurant industry once these locations (and the 4 Jack In The Boxes) are open! Before 2014 is over, we'll have the Lotte Hotel Guam's restaurants and the Dusit Thani Guam's restaurants serving customers! I guess we'll never run out of places to eat!!
Maila' Ta Fan Chesa - An Unparalleled Success!
May 27, 2014 - Hyatt Regency Guam
There are a number of reasons why this 3rd Maila ta Fan Chesa was such a runaway success! The Micronesian Chefs Association (MCA) had 7 chef members participate in creating and serving hundreds of portions of appetizers, beverages, and desserts made with the key produce items supplied by local farmers. Moreover, a special visiting guest wine-maker, Dave Ready, Jr., of Murphy-Good Winery, was present serving wines that were specially paired with some of the chef preparations.
Among the chef creations were Hyatt Chef Mirko Agostini's Inarajan Frapioca and Italian Sweet Dragonfruit; Meskla Chef Peter Duenas (and MCA President) served Bacon-Scallion Tapioca Hash Cakes topped with Braised Sirloin of Beef and Truffled Demi Glaze; Sea Grill Chef Rey Dasalla served a Manha Chicken Kelaguen Empenada with Manha Dinanche; PROA Chef Geoffrey Perez served Sugar Cane Skewered Poached Shrimp with mango calamansi relish with scented spearmint syrup; Outrigger Chef JR Taga prepared Smoked Cuban Pork with Seared Pineapple Salsa; PIC Chef Mark Curry served Corn Empanada with Pork and also made a Sweet Corn Tea with Agave; and Chef Cliff Takano of Tapanade introduced a Cobia Poke with Dragon Fruit Salsa.
This unique social event was energized by the constant interaction of grazing guests sipping awesome wines. People were constantly comparing and tasting and recommending to their friends and acquaintances...so much of the evening was spent discovering new tastes and flavors, which is really the main objective of the event --- getting the chefs to use fresh local produce to create new dishes! They were new not only to the customers, but to the chefs as well. Don't be surprised to see some of these chef creations on menus at local restaurants! That's a trend we want to encourage! Thanks to all who participated to make this the most successful Maila ta Fa Chesa to date! Next year I bet the MCA will hit it out of the ballpark!!!
Tapanade Sangria & Tapas Sunday Breakfastv Agana Shopping Center
(Served Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.)
One of the things I really enjoy is eating a simple Sunday breakfast as opposed to gorging myself on a giant buffet spread. I had attempted to get to Tapanade to try the Salmon Benedict I'd seen on a FaceBook post. It was one that announced they were going to be open for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. The first Sunday we drove down from the Westin to eat this breakfast and we were disappointed that they were closed for a private function. So we went back this past Sunday with Carmen & Renee LaFata (with whom we had eaten at Tapanade that previous Friday for dinner (review will follow in a separate article). The best thing was that dinner was so impressive to our visitors that they agreed to join us for my birthday breakfast).
I recommend arriving before 10:00 a.m. to assure you get hot coffee when you order. There were four in our party and we all shared the same funny experience of being served a half a cup of warm coffee. I advised our server about the coffee and she apologized and brewed a fresh pot. This was the only 'hiccup' in our otherwise wonderful Sunday breakfast. Three of us ordered the Salmon Benedict ($11) which features Seared Salmon with Vegetable Haystack, 2 Poached Eggs on an English Muffin and Bearnaise sauce. While both Carmen and Renee had their eggs cooked a few degrees past poached (how I had mine). We all agreed that the salmon was cooked perfectly. In fact, the Salmon Benedict was so good that it interrupted our conversations for a while! The presentation is classy and inviting, with a balsamic vinegar ring circling both muffins and drizzled bearnaise atop and interlaid with the balsamic rings.
Zee had Noah's Breakfast Platter (Pancake, Mixed Fruit Compote, Chantilly Creme, Egg any style, and choice of meat - bacon, sausage links, chorizo sausage, or Portuguese sausage.) We had the eggs scrambled and ordered bacon, both of which she gave me. We liked the pancakes and how they were presented (the whipped cream and fruit compote makes it almost ready to eat...just be sure to ask for syrup).
I definitely will return to try other breakfast items, such as the Baguette French Toast, Breakfast Paella, Breakfast Sliders, and Stuffed French Toast (Stuffed with Nutella and Chantilly Creme. Or course, the ambiance of Tapanade adds sophistication and elevation to the dining experience.
Hyatt Saipan Wins First Place in the Taste of the Marianas Chef Competition May 31
American Memorial Park
Team Hyatt Regency Saipan's Junior Chefs Vinson Deleon Guerrero and Pastry Chef Ian Cranley edged out their competition by preparing Mexican Tacos with Certified Angus Beef that wowed the judges sufficiently to garner 1st place. They were victorious over 4 other hotels' junior chef teams, all of who had made phenomenal attempts in creating awesome displays replete with fruit and vegetable carvings! The Hyatt's entry was titled "Pacifico Tacos al Pastor" with Lime Tortillas, Trio of Mango Salsa, and Island Avocado Tartare". The team took home the 1st Place Trophy and $500.00 cash. Their display used local cactus to give it a more authentic Southwestern feel and handmade their tortillas. They utilized local avocados to make their guacamole, local chilis, local lemons, mangos, and donne sali. They had also made chips and pico de gallo.
The second place finisher was Saipan World Resort (winning the 2nd place Trophy and $300) and placing third was last year's 1st place champion, Marianas Resort, who took home $200. The prize money was donated by the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas. Triple J Five Star is the other prime sponsor along with the Marianas Visitor Authority. This was the 16th year of this festival. The other competing properties was the Pacific Islands Club and the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.
King's Restaurant Value Menu - Breakfast Steals & Dinner Deals
Guam Premier Outlets
Okay, it's King's again! I had seen a flyer in the paper and had not yet dropped in to try out some of the new offerings. King's has really "stepped up to the plate" with these new Value Menu offerings. I knew that their food and service had greatly improved. Their marketing is also more sophisticated. Most importantly, they have ventured into the realm of culinary composition, where they are experimenting and trying out new (to King's) food pairings and ingredient combinations that are more upscale and beyond the ordinary. Let's not forget the key word "Value", because during the times these items are served, you are going to be pleased by the price you pay and the perception of the value you've received.
I had stopped by the Compadres location and was able to test try three menu offerings. I had the Crabocado Omelet ($6 breakfast, from Breakfast Steals, Monday - Friday from 6AM - 11AM). This surprisingly delicious omelet is made with Lump crab meat and creamy avocado sauce folded in and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.This can come with toast, hash browns, or white rice. I was served scoops of King's Friend Rice...and marveled at how tasty this was! The guacamole sauce blends so well with the egg , cheese and crab meat. The lump crab is of a good quality which really supports the flavor integrity.
I also ordered from the Dinner Deal Value Menu (Served Monday - Sunday from 5 PM - 10PM) the Oriental Chicken Salad ($8). This has crisp fresh lettuce (hydroponic from Grow Guam) and other salad fixings with grilled white meat chicken breast that is sliced and has a rich hoisony dressing and shredded Colby Jack cheese. The salad had diced apples, tangerines and craisin (cranberry/raisins). It wasn't a bad salad, I just had trouble focusing on the salad when I was eating that terrific omelet.
It became more of an ordeal for me when the last item I ordered from the Dinner Deal Menu, one of the Steak Toppers, which has a topping placed atop a 10 oz Certified Angus Beef New York strip steak cooked to my liking (Medium Rare) arrived. The Topping was the Portabella Parmesan Cream Sauce. I had this with Fries and Steamed Vegetables. I took a taste of the cream sauce with a portabello chunk and was dazzled by the richness of the flavor of this sauce! It was on par with some of the finer sauces you get at expensive steakhouses. I sliced the steak and just keep slicing and biting until the steak was gone! I decided to take the salad home for later.
Just when I was about ready to go, I was asked if I'd be willing to try a dessert they were currently developing. "Sure," I said. Well, lo and behold, I was brought out this lovely creation that I was told was a deep fried Twinkie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream topped with macadamia chunks! Yum Yum! Not just one bite this one...it was fresh and hot and sweet and decadently irresistible. It's not officially a Twinkie as Hostess is out of business. What is really is a "Tasty Cake" -identical in every way to the noble Twinkie. In preparing it, they coated it with pancake batter so it didn't absorb oil and also to protect the cake. Well, I can tell you they didn't protect this cake from me! Whatever they call it, it is an impressive hot dessert creation that is not at all what you'd expect. It is just another surprise this great team at King's has been planning, executing and plating! I can't wait to try other dinner deals like the Chicken Mushroom Rice Melt and Magnificent Meatloaf. I also hear the Crab Oscar going to mist your eyes!! This is a lot to chew on, folks...just come and take your time!
Ken the Guam Food Guy