Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
There it is! The year 2104 is winding down its place in history! What an amazing year!! I was hoping to have recovered enough to prepare a full-blown newsletter but I am still working to restore my health. We do have a few goodies for you in today's newsletter, the last one before Christmas! This is the time of year when we reflect on those who are less fortunate and left out of the mainstream of shopping and getting presents for family and friends. Be sure when you shop you drop a little money (preferably bills) in the red Salvation Army kettles. Support their mission to help those in need.
In my review of our past December newsletters, one iconic image keeps recurring, and that is the Hilton Christmas Train. What a grand tradition to uphold, and what a great demonstration of corporate giving back to the community. Other properties also have traditions that embody their Christmas spirit. It's remarkable to observe how these traditions commemorate the holiday, usually in some form of supporting a special non-profit community service organization. We need to celebrate these traditions of taking care of our people and we need to instill these values in our young people and children.
On behalf of the staff of Guamdiner.com, we want to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and auspicious tidings for this holiday season!
Ken, The Guam Food Guy
Guam Food Guy's Spicy Hamhocks & Beans
In recent years I've established a tradition each Thanksgiving by preparing my famous Spicy Ham Hocks & Beans for our company party. I am mentioning this now to prod me into sharing my recipe with those who want to go through the entire process of creating this hearty and nearly incendiary dish (so spicy it'll make you sweat!). In the photos I've included, you can see that I use a variety of peppers - Anaheim, Red Jalapeno, Green Jalapeno, Habanero, Boonie, Serrano, Red Bell, Yellow Bell, Orange Bell, Green Bell, Ortega Diced Green Chilies and Scotch Bonnet (if available). I also use lots of celery, green onion, yellow onion, and garlic when I start out in my crock pots. I do prepare a SPICY, MILD, and even Vegetarian version (red beans and veggies - no meat). I slow cook smoked ham hocks in each batch and then use a pressure cooker to break down hocks that didn't cook overnight. I add Andouille Sausage as well as canned diced tomatoes. As this is a labor of love for me, I spend an inordinate amount of time adding more vegetables to the batch to really accentuate the fresh vegetable flavor and essence into the blend. As I said, I will commit to creating a recipe that can serve as a guideline for preparing a Southern favorite comfort food. We will post it in our recipe section, hopefully before the end of this year! Get ready to cook!!
Sushi Ebisu Treats
2nd Floor Royal Orchid Hotel (next to Capricciosa)
If you have not been to Sushi Ebisu in Tumon's Royal Orchid Hotel, you are definitely missing something! We happened to have a dinner meeting this week with some colleagues and though we didn't photograph every thing we'd ordered, I thought that I could share a little about three extraordinary menu items you may just want to try when you do visit Sushi Ebisu.
Though not technically on the menu, the Smoked Salmon Carpaccio is an unwritten favorite of many! For $10.95, it has a flavor matrix that excites your palate. Who could guess that ordinary ingredients like mayo, Italian Dressing, and lemon would work wonders, especially when interspersed with capers! This dish is not Japanese in origin but it is in spirit - visually beautiful, modestly plated, and basically simple.
We ordered the Assorted Sashimi (5 Kinds, Large size, for 5-6 people, @$49.95). This magnificent platter has the freshest sashimi colorfully arranged for group access. Maguro tuna, Squid wrapped in perilla leaf (shiso), mackerel (saba) married to a lemon sliver, salmon (sake) and yellow tail (hamachi).
We also had the Soft Shell Crab Karaage (2 pcs for $11.95), served with sour sauce. Talk about melt-in-your mouth goodness!!! This fried crustacean is completely edible and explodes with a well-seasoned flavor you can only imagine if you aren't eating it! I certainly could have eaten more!! (I will!!).
We also had the Rainbow Roll, the Alaska Roll, Edamame, and Tori Kushi (chicken skewers, with sauce). Ebisu is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, and boasts 180 degree vista views of Tumon! It's an exciting destination you will find yourself returning to again and again!
The Lemai Cafe and Restaurant
673 Purple Heart Memorial Highway (Rte 8) next to Cars Plus
A remarkable thing happened when I stopped in Lemai this past Monday (which was a GovGuam holiday for our Lady of Camarin). There was only one other person there (I had actually phoned in my order from the bank) when I arrived and I sat down next to her at the counter. Within a few minutes we were talking about the food here and island events and I soon found out she was visiting from Indiana and that her daughter was at Naval Hospital about to give birth! I had ordered two dishes (for Balutan purposes). The first to come out was the Tinala Katne with Fried Titiyas ($11.00). This is dried beef and is one of the best (they use Certified Angus Beef). The second dish was Lemai's famous Garlic Fried Chicken ($10). Although I had originally wanted their regular Monday Special (Beef Shank Kadu), I settled for these two comfort dishes with my finadene and some donne salii.
When the visiting lady learned I was the Guam Food Guy, she couldn't believe it! She had come to Lemai based on my previous article which she read on our website!!! I shared some of my Tinala Katne with her...she liked it and promised she'll return for more of that! That just shows that big things can happen even in a small world! Get over to Lemai Cafe for down home delicious Chamoru food!
Old Town Chinese Restaurant
East West Business Center
Open 11:00 AM - 10:30 PM (7 Days A Week)
It's about time I updated our review on Old Town Chinese Restaurant, which for this location hasn't been written about since 2005! I have some history with Old Town Chinese, known for their Home Made Style Shanghai Cuisine. I first reviewed them in 2002 when they were located on San Vitores in Tumon (under different owners). I had done a more recent update of Old Town Chinese when they were in the Aurora Hotel (now known as LOTTE HOTEL GUAM). That was in September 2011, and that was when Old Town was doing a full dim sum menu along with their complete Chinese menu. They had superb buffets and mesmerizing views of the ocean! This Upper Tumon location does serve a limited Dim Sum menu any day of the week up until 10 p.m.
While I had intended to have a full crew (5 or more people) joining me for this review, I was only able to get Zee to join me after her Cantate rehearsal across the street at St John's. It was a 9:30 p.m. dinner and we were welcomed by Mason Finona, Old Town's manager. I would have been able to see my long-time friend and owner, Lily, had I been able to keep my schedule for Wednesday night! We'll have to reconnect later.
The most important thing to know about Old Town Chinese is that they've got it all right - the food, ambiance, service, Wi-Fi, take-out and long hours (open all day long when everyone else closes for lunch!). There is NO MSG in their food ingredients, so you get the benefit of natural flavors and tastes. Zee had been craving for something that is a classic Chinese-American dish - Orange Chicken ($8.95). This is actually pretty good here, as the citrusy sauce is tangy and has elements of sweet and sour going for it with battered fried chicken that still keeps some crunch though it's sauce-soaked.
I had ordered the Fish with Black Bean Sauce ($9.95) along with Yang Chow Fried Rice ($8.50) and Chinese Broccoli with Garlic ($7.95). Our final dish was the Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings ($7.00). We thought this would provide a fair representation of some of Old Town's extensive menu of over 80 items. What is evident from the photos is that their portions are quite large and definitely designed to be shared. The Fish with Black Bean sauce is savory and filled with fresh, crunchy vegetables and tender battered basa fillets that are stir-fried in a tasty black bean sauce. I was also greatly impressed by their fried rice, which was moist and filled with shrimp, veggies, egg, and bits of pork and chicken. We have not been eating rice as part of our dietary regimen but there are always exceptions when we have to take one or two spoonfuls for the team!
Of course one can find no fault with the super healthy and flavorful Chinese Broccoli, which really fills the plate! Vegetarians would embrace this and other meatless dishes on their menu such as Fried Tofu with Spicy Sauce, Braised Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Baby Bok Choi & Garlic, and Spicy Stir Fried Vegetables, all priced at $7.95 each.
The only thing that we ordered that we didn't "rave" over was the Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings. They had a batter coating them which seemed to be a blend of corn starch and flour. We have grown to prefer our wings to be "naked" and batterless. A small dish of their version of finadene accompanies this and this does help a bit. This is an issue of personal preference. There are many who probably want their wings coated if not waxed!!
We are very eager to return with a full entourage to try out the more substantial parts of Old Town's Menu, including the Steamed Live Lobster with Ginger and Green Onion, Steamed Lapu Lapu, Crab with Ginger and Onion, Roast Duck, and Seafood Tofu Hot Pot. I should also mention that Old Town has lunch specials that are available until 5:00 p.m.! These specials are very reasonably priced! Some of you have probably seen Old Town 3 at the Navy Exchange. I also understand they will be expanding with a new location on Andersen Air Force Base. As I said before, Old Town's got it right!!!