Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's November and I hear there are a lot of worried turkeys looking over their shoulders! It's hard to believe we're gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday. It's probably the most memorable dining day of the year, with everyone looking forward to the feasts that await, both at home as well as at the island's hotels, who will all be in their "best food forward" mode! It shouldn't be long now that you'll begin to see the Thanksgiving Day Brunch and Dinner advertisements. Now that the elections are behind us, we can all settle back into our "normal" routines. It's funny how politics both unite and divide us. The important thing is that we find a common ground on which we can build a better community for our families and children. It's also important that we have leftover turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy to snack on in the days that follow "T" Day!
Ken the Guam Food Guy!
Vivian's Restaurant & Coffee Shop Opens at New Location
Across Micronesia Mall
Hours: Sun - Thursday - 6:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri - Saturday - 6:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.
One of the island's hardest working, most determined, and friendliest restaurant owners has moved from her Upper Tumon location next to Infusion to a better spot with more "drop in" traffic in the old CEBU Buffet Restaurant in Harmon, just across from the Micronesia Mall. I'm talking about Vivian Xia who has been eaking out a living in really tough conditions (no parking, no traffic, too big a space) with her family. She always manages to smile and greet customers. She has the most endearing customer service charm and one can't help but warm to her greeting.
In her new location she offers a daily $11.99 all you can eat lunch buffet (11 :00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.) and offers an a la carte menu selection all day long. She serves Western style and Local favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She also is one of the only establishments on island that serves the famous Szechwan HOT POT during dinner service (see our November 2009 review: guamdiner.com/reviews/review.php?review=374.
Vivian's new location is as cozy as her original location, perhaps slightly larger. We were there on Sunday morning and were happy to see her doors opening as customers came in after church to eat posted lunch specials, or ordering from the menu or eating from the buffet, which gets constantly replenished (small portions to retain freshness). It's not as fancy as the hotels...it's built for those unpretentious humble eaters who like their fried pork chops and hamburger steaks.
Adios Chef Habib Akbar
Creator of Habib Chicken Curry
Former Executive Chef of Pacific Islands Club Saipan
I was saddened to learn this past Wednesday of the recent passing of PIC Saipan Executive Chef Habib Akbar, who had been an island icon for well over 20 years since first moving to Saipan in 1989. I was told that he had not been feeling well and had requested that he leave Saipan to join his family in Pakistan where he spent his last days. I had known Habib for over twelve years (he was working at the Hyatt Regency Saipan at the time) under GM Mustafa Issa and then Hyatt Executive Chef David Jones. I later worked with him when he joined that dynamic duo at the new Palms Resort Saipan (former Hotel Nikko Saipan) where he was the Executive Sous Chef. He liked using fresh local produce and when he later took over as PIC's Executive Chef, he introduced a new Indian Food Station featuring Indian foods (and his famous curry). He loved to use spices to enliven his cuisine. He was a passionate culinarian and loved to cook with his heart. He was a big man with a big heart and a wide smile! We will miss you, Chef Habib, and will never forget you!
Palm Cafe's Saturday Night Prime Rib & Crab Dinner Buffet
Extravagant to the Max!!
Outrigger Guam Resort
$23.00/child (7 - 11 years)
Subject to 10% SC
I had been awaiting the perfect opportunity to revisit Palm Cafe's Saturday Night Prime Rib & Crab Buffet since I reviewed it in Sept 2005. I actually had eaten there on several occasions but didn't write about it. It was an impressive fantastic food festival then and it has since progressed into a whole new dimension under the guidance of Executive Chef Simplicio "JR" Taga and his dynamic kitchen team. Some members of his team are well known in their own right and the line-up includes Sandy Santiago, Executive Sous Chef, Jhamnong Kraitong, Asian Cuisine, Gene Soledad, and Charley Venezuela (Japanese Cuisine). It's great to have all this talent under one roof...that really gives Outrigger a competitive edge with these "specialists" on their team. Just compare Palm Cafe's Japanese Lunch buffet to other properties.
We were actually staying at the Outrigger when we booked our dinner reservation, so it was really convenient and gave us time to listen Jesse and Ruby afterwards over a bottle of wine. I should also mention that I was given a "nudge" by Keith Toy of Triple J Five Star to give this prime rib a try since it was Certified Angus Beef!! I didn't need any convincing once I'd heard that. When you see the photos for this review you definitely get the idea that this is one "UBER BUFFET" and that there's so much food cooking and being prepared and served that one really doesn't know where to begin. I did watch some regular repeat customers stand up to the Prime Rib carving station. I saw Chef Sandy slice open a huge rib roast. He carved some beautifully rare meat and laid it on the customer's plate. Later when I got mine, I couldn't wait for that first bite! It is definitely quality dining. Yes, we had to get a plate of the crab legs too...with hot melted butter and lemon it just seemed to get better and better!
There's a rather substantial Shabu Shabu station with shrimp, mussels, veggies (cabbage, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, eggplant) and udon noodles, along with sauces and flavorings.
There's a whole section devoted to sushi, sashimi, and the side dishes and pickled veggies like Oshinko. It is a bounty of seafood - literally all you can eat! The salmon is so fresh...we just kept eating that...so good! You can scoop out as much wasabi as you need. There are cheese plates (edam, Maginaggio, Aged Cheddar and more).
One of the hot lines had live cooking stations for tempura, grilled meats (beef, chicken, pork, sardines, mackerel), and grilled vegetables (onions, bittermellon with egg), and condiment sauces galore! I think that if anyone had a craving, they have a little jar or dish that'll have the right ingredient to get the right taste!!
I don't know if they rotate their hot line dishes, however they had some delicious roast pork loin with red peppercorns and I found some Kare Kare (they even had bagoong!). Of course, I could only watch the desserts...cakes and pies (apple, chocolate, and bread pudding. I didn't save any room but know its there if I want it! The dining room is really nice here with a sweeping ocean view from the glass windows facing the beach. The servers are friendly and are always monitoring your table...they really know how to handle customer needs...they anticipate the beverage pours and refills, whether you have iced tea, beef, or water.
For the money, you are getting incredible value - just in seafood alone! Then there's that Prime Rib and those Crab Legs! I saw one customer get a "bone-in" slice. It looked like something out of the Flint Stones! The slice had to be about 3-1/2" thick. I don't think it's possible to eat all of the selections available...which is why some of us have to make 2nd visits. Be sure to book your reservation in advance as there will surely be a hungry crowd swarming to get there.
Silver Oak Wine Dinners Win Raves in Guam & Saipan!
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
For those who were fortunate enough to attend the intimate Silver Oak wine dinners on Guam and Saipan this past week, they all walked away with more than just a Silver Oak engraved Schott Zwiesel crystal wine glass - they walked away with special bliss-filled memories! I was lucky to be asked to attend and had to perform my normal emcee duties which is really fun work. We all were able to meet first time island visitor, Ms. Vivien Gay, International Sales Manager for Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. There were two events that were organized, one for Guam and the second was for Saipan.
Roy's new Chef de Cuisine, Tim Luy, worked with his team (including some assistance for Hilton Executive Chef Dennis Salenga) to create a stellar pairing menu, with a first course being a Shellfish Poisson Cru, (Santa Barbara Uni, Wheat Berries and Almond Milk). This exotic and colorful intro plate was paired with 2013 Twomey Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, which is one of the most drinkable Sauvignon Blancs. The 2nd course Chef Tim put out was Peking Squab that was paired with the 2010 Twomey Cellars Soda Canyon Vinyard Merlot.
After a zesty lime sorbet intermezzo, Chef Tim wowed us with a dazzling Prime Aged Petit Filet Mignon, accompanied by a sumptuous Mandarin Tomato concasse, Lobster Mushroom and Sauce Charon. Prior to this course delivery, we were given a taste of the 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is definitely a premium wine experience for the wine connoisseur. This is a 100% Cabernet and is aged for 2 years in seasoned American Oak barrels. The wine finally served with dinner was the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, which is a blend that's also aged in American oak barrels, which imparts a silkier texture to the wine.
Our dessert ended with a Dense Ricotta Cake with Pureed Raspberry. We enjoyed this with the Bottega Gianduia Chocolate-Hazelnut Grappa.
Kudos to Chef Tim Luy and team Hilton for an outstanding tasting and pairing menu!
Giovanni's - Hyatt Regency Saipan
Hyatt Regency Saipan
Silver Oak Giovanni's Wine Dinner was actually more intimate and I will share with you the menu descriptions with the pairings...the photos really show the ingenious food creations that stood up with these glorious wines from Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars. Similar to Guam, the 2013 Twomey Cellars Sauvignon Blanc was another runaway success!
It paired up with two of Hyatt Executive Chef Gabriele Colombo's conceptualized appetizer creations. Chef Colombo actually joined us for this meal while his team under the leadership of Hyatt Executive Sous Chef Blake Carrothers executed these brilliant appetizer creations. The first was Carpaccio of Amadai snapper, monkfish liver sauce, perilla buds, cherry tomato. The next was Chorizo Crusted bay scallop, endive, pomegranate glaze, poppy seed cracker.
The Second Course we paired the 2012 Twomey Cellars Pinot Noir with an Acorn Pumpkin Pocket, fontina cheese fondue, and sage fritter. The second part of this course took an unusual twist with a Buckwheat tortelloni, braised veal tenderloin, mascarpone and pear filling and shaved Umbria black truffles.
For the third course we had a decanted 2010 Twomey Cellars Merlot. This was splendid with our locally-inspired course-braised Chicken hearts "kadun pika", with ginger, and pepper green leaves. The 2nd part of this course treated us to an Olive Oil poached Atlantic Salmon, green asparagus, and parsnip puree.
Just prior to the Main Course being served, the group was treated to a taste of the Alexander Valley Cabernet (similar to Guam). The Main Course was a decadently rich and unctuous Kurobata Pork Belly done three ways! It was paired with the 2009 Silver Oak Cabernet Napa.
For dessert team Hyatt Saipan prepared a dreamy Hazelnut marjolaine gateau, fior de latte Sonoma red plum spumoni, blackberry coulis. This dessert's stunning and colorful presentation was a fitting celebratory ending to our magical night of experiencing some of the finest crafted California wines in the industry. I would urge you to make every effort to try this family of wines. I am sure you will be as impressed as we all were!
Ken the Guam Food Guy