Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
Can you guess where/when this picture was taken? Does that curved shape look familiar? If you guessed this was the Hotel Nikko Guam, then you are correct! This photo was taken circa 1989 and was just one of several hotels under construction on the island at the time. We were being called the island of the giant red cranes as they seemed to be everywhere at once!!! If things keep going the way our tourism officials are planning, we are going to need a lot more hotels built to handle the peak demand we will be facing as our visitor arrivals increase, especially from China. The same applies to our neighbor to the north, Saipan, which could soon see the beginning of a 1,000 room casino resort with other properties in the planning stage. Could this be the beginning of another hotel development boom? Stay tuned!
Ken the Guam Food Guy
Patisserie Parisco Goodies Now Available at Java Hut Coffee Shop
"C'est si Bon!" "Oui, oui, mon ami, ziss es good --- tres bien!! Indulge yourself in the delightful treats shown in this picture! I have to give credit to the enormously talented pastry chef, Shizuka Louboutin, for expanding her reach to a natural location for her baked confections, Java Hut Coffee Shop! It's actually a smart collaboration between her and the ever-enterprising Ruby-Jane Redilla, owner of Java Hut. I stopped by today for a mocha and saw this spread and ended up by a variety of the offerings shown, including blueberry and chocolate chip scones, Madeleines, chocolate chip cookies, Reese's Peanut Butter infused cookies, and Snickers Bar infused cookies! I didn't get the cream puffs or the macaroons. I took these to the office where everything was quickly devoured. The madeleines are French tea cakes and have a scalloped shell shape that has a slight crust and a light lemon taste. These are smooth on one side and ribbed on the other. They are sold individually wrapped as are the cookies and scones. These are truly divine scones - moist, flavorful and soft on the palate. Not hard and aggressive (which some folks prefer). These are more cake-like. The candy bar infused cookies are a treat, too! We are indeed fortunate to have Shizuka's specialty baked creations available on our little island!
Farewell, Manny Mendoza!
Former Smithco/AK Commercial Employee Returns to Guam
Manuel "Manny" Mendoza, was my co-worker at Smith Hotel & Restaurant Supply, which later became AK Commercial Division. I met him in 1978 and worked with him thru the early 90's. He was the ultimate inventory control clerk and knew where every stock item was located and how many we had. After he moved to Maui, he would send me a Christmas card with a note every year. He passed in January 2014 and his daughter, Annette Alger and family brought his ashes her to be interred at Guam Memorial Park. I attended this brief and small Buddhist ceremony. Annette had also brought a collection of Manny's favorite hats and shirts to accompany his remains. One of the shirts was a yellow AK Commercial Division shirt, something Annette said he proudly wore fairly often. In the photo you will see Romy Urbien (former Culligan engineer), Mark Stotts (Smithco Sales Rep) and yours truly (a very young Ken Stewart, Sales Rep for Smithco), all shown with Manny. I wanted to honor Manny's memory as he was a little known player in a company that had a big impact on the island. Here's to you, Manny! We couldn't have built the business without you!
Vitale's Italian Ristorante Goes Shrimpin'!
The Plaza, 2nd Floor
Good old Joe has done it again! Yes, Vitale's has expanded their menu by adding some new seafood entrees, many of which are made with Shrimp! His menu now features Calamari Rings, Del Mare Ocean Shrimp, Spaghetti with Shrimp, Del Mare Ocean Shrimp Spaghetti or Fettuccine, and Fettuccine with Shrimps ($16.95), as shown in the photo. This is a rich, creamy shrimp extravaganza with Vitale's al dente fettuccine noodles and signature garlic bread. He has also added fresh Catch of the Day (Mahi and Parrot Fish).
Another new menu item introduced tried by Zee was his Spaghetti with Spinach ($15.95), which features Spinach, Garlic, and Tomato cooked in a ton of olive oil and served with Garlic Bread! It's a good move for Vitale's as these new menu items cater to seafood lovers and diners who have to forgo red meats during Lenten season.
Fizz & Co. Soda Fountain
Hagatna (across from Bank of Guam, next to Pojo's)
Hours: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Mon-Thursday)
11 a.m. - 8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday)
I had been meaning to stop by Fizz & Co. after Travis Coffman gave a glowing review of their Nathan's Famous Dawgs. I still regret not going there sooner but am glad I did last week! It is certainly one of the island's best kept secrets as I was able to sit at the counter and order without lining up nor waiting for service. In fact, it's the absolutely amazing service that I received from a tag team of three energized and personable young ladies that I'm sure will continue to lure customers back for more great food and awesome service. Kudos to the owner who hired these outgoing lasses who are infectiously proud of their workplace and make sure you are as happy as they are with their creations. (Pictures L-R Joyce Borja, Jennavie Ballesta, and Mariana Pangelinan)
Fizz & Co. is a fun and exciting place to be with its antique soda fountain and rock & roll ambiance. The walls have a variety of classic old Coca Cola and Coffee posters, as well as 45 vinyl records, a Beatles poster, and a stunningly glamorous picture of that Hollywood icon, Audrey Hepburn. I heard Beatles, Rolling Stone's and a few other artists performing in the background (l like this place!). Behind the counter is a line up of cooking equipment, including the waffle baker, pannini grill, and flat griddle on one side with the other end of the counter supporting an array of Ice Cream spindle blenders and milk shake machines. This is a soda fountain shop after all!
I ordered a 6" Dawg ($2.99) and told Joyce to do her thing (make it with the works), which she did! The cheese added was $.50, Chili ($.75) and lettuce ($.50). This dawg was loaded to the max and I am glad I didn't get the 12" dawg! The Crown Bakery buns are the best for keeping things together and this dawg needed that extra protection. Even so, it's one that'll require a lot of finger lickin' 'cause it is one messy meal! Yet the combination of flavors (Nathan's meat is good all alone) that makes this dog superlative! Certainly one of the best hot dogs I've eaten on Guam!
The other item I ordered (to try) was a Pastrami Sandwich ($4.50) with Swiss Cheese, Garlic Mayo, Pastrami, and Wheat Bread. I liked the freshness of this sandwich and the Garlic Mayo really added an extra flavor dimension. My only complaint was the large slice of white onion that was a bit overpowering on the bite. I told Joyce I'd prefer the thin slices of red onion on the sandwich.
I had to indulge in a Chocolate Shake (16 oz, Black Mud, $4.25). This was all that I thought it would be...another soda fountain fantasy! Speaking of which, I had to fulfill yet another fantasy(and childhood favorite) and ordered the classic Root Beer Float ($4.25). These were perfectly made by Jennavie. She later made me a sample the Freeze Blast (Orange Sherbet Ice Cream blended with milk and 7-up and topped by whipped cream on top) that brought back even more childhood memories. There are some nifty creative handmade sodas including some of their "Jerks" favorite mixes include Tay's specialty (strawberry coconut) or Joycee's Sour Patch (Raspberry & Lime). Aaron's Chaud Fizz sounds interesting and is made using cherry , lime , watermelon, and coconut.
Well, I do have to return one of these days to Fizz & Co. to try out their Waffle Sundae and a Tuna Melt Panini, and perhaps a few more items from their all-too-tempting menu selections. Gotta get energized by Mariana, Joyce and Jennavie as well!!
Uomaru Honten Japanese Restaurant
1371 Pale San Vitores Road
Tumon (beneath Dabin)
Hours: 11 a.m. - 1:00 a.m. daily
There are a number of good Japanese restaurants on Guam and I always enjoy going to a new one for the first time. Uomaru Honten Japanese Restaurant is actually a surprising find. We were told about this by our friends, Hideto "Pancho" Yanase and his wife Sue, who own Kai Japanese Restaurant. They told us to go here since it is one of the late night places they can go to after they close their restaurant.
That night we were staying at the Westin and wanted to explore the neighborhood. I've always noticed Uomaru since they first opened. They have a unique and distinct appearance, which is actually part of their brand image as this is a chain from Japan. It is brightly lit up inside, almost "TV Studio" bright, and there are banners written in kanji all around the top walls. The tables and chairs appear to be made from pallets and wooden planks. This is another trademark look for Uomaru. It's kind of an energized Izakaya with a very large and full menu of traditional Japanese favorites. The menu has full color food photos of each item listed along with the pricing. There is a main dining room as well as an upstairs loft section, which can accommodate small groups.
We ordered a selection of different items starting out with Today's Sashimi ($15), which had saba (mackerel), Salmon, squid, maguro tuna, and another fish type I'd not seen in most local sashimi samplers. Everything was fresh and I enjoyed the abundant perilla (shiso) leaves on the plank. We also received our Cold tofu ($5) and Edamame ($4). Both of these were typical. The presentation of the Japanese Pickles ($8) was novel, with six different pickled vegetables laid atop a plant leaf that was centered in a narrow long china platter.
Our order of the Assorted Tempura ($15) was served. There was onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, eggplant, squash, and carrots. This was just so-so. For really good tempura, go to Kanda's Corner at Tentekomai. I also ordered the Grilled Salmon ($8), which came with some grated radish and lemon. It did seem kind of small and skimpy, but it was well cooked.
Zee needed more vegetarian so she was able to get a plate of cucumber maki (not on the menu, but doable for $6. I wanted to try their Yakitori ($6) that they call Grilled Chicken. It had a nice sauce on it and was well cooked. I am on a quest for the best Yakitori. Still looking! I also ordered the Grilled Pork ($6). It as also just the pork cubed on a skewer. I ate it and did enjoy the sweet sauce and actually was ectastic over my green pepper paste. I've been looking for this special green pepper for a while. It is also used at Kanda's Corner with his fresh tofu.
All in all, this is definitely a great place to come with a small group to eat and drink beer, shoju, or sake. The dishes are served quickly and the service is pretty responsive. The typical 10% service charge is applied to your bill. I do agree with the Yanases about this being a great place for a late night meal with friends. We'll have to try it with them some night!
Ita dake masu!
Ken the Guam Food Guy