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February 20, 2015, Volume 15 Number 4

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

How many different restaurants do you visit each week? How about every two weeks? How many in a month? If you stop and think about it, you may not even consider your source of food is a restaurant per may be a coffee shop, a food court outlet, a kiosk, or a mobile canteen. There was a time when people would tend to frequent only a few of their favorite places and not try out new eateries, but I believe the trend now has been to go out and explore. Over the course of my years as the Guam Food Guy, I have introduced people to so many new restaurant experiences that I even surprise myself by the total number of restaurants I've reviewed. It's still exciting to go to new places and to revisit the established ones that have introduced new menu items. My work will never be done!!

Bon appetit!! Ken the GFG.

CHINA TOWN - San Francisco Dinner Special - $35.00 (plus s/c)
February 16 - 22, 2015
6-10 p.m.
Pacific Star Cafe
Pacific Star Resort & Spa

If you have ever been to the great city by the sea, San Francisco, it is highly probable that you had an opportunity to go to Chinatown, one of the city's great cultural centers. This exotic place is home to a plethora of souvenir stores, jewelry shops, street vendors, and restaurants. It is the oldest Chinatown in America and has the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. The Pacific Star Cafe is celebrating this Chinese American destination with a food festival that captures the bright colors, aromas, textures and flavors of this glorious "country within a city"! You have to hurry as this special promo ends the 22nd!

Executive Chef Leland Feng, and his wife, Chef Li Fen, both renown for the hugely popular DIM SUM Wednesday Lunch Buffet at the Cafe, have created a vast array of authentic Chinese delicacies and favorites, including succulent roast duck, char siu pork, crispy pork belly, roast chicken, salt & pepper shrimp, tofu in chili sauce, spare ribs, steamed lapu lapu with ginger and soy sauce, hot noodle soup, steamed cold chicken marinated in rice wine, sauteed Chinese broccoli, dim sum, jellyfish and bean sprout salad, and more!

There is so much food that you really have to start with what you desire the most and work your way through the many live stations where the foods are displayed. This is a great time to try something new - have you ever had the chicken feet dim sum? Try it! It's actually pretty tasty and leaves you craving for more!!

One of the great memories I have of going to Chinatown was Chinese Take-out. One of the stations has these little white take-out boxes (with the wire handles), with the contents scrawled out in English and Chinese (BBQ Pork, Roast Duck, Pork Belly, and Crispy noodles).

I didn't have room for dessert (which is displayed in glorious abundance), nor did I avail myself of the free-flowing Miller Genuine Draft beer (part of this promo). I just had hot tea! Tsingtao Beer and Chinese Rice wine are available for an additional cost. Come and enjoy the feast of flavors at Pacific Star Cafe's Chinatown dinner buffet.

The Grill Haiku Fusion Restaurant
Beach Road (next to the Fire Station)

Service Hours: Lunch: 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM Dinner: 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM

In the past year an ultra-modern, futuristic white building was constructed next to the Fire Station and near the American Memorial Park in Garapan. This anomalous structure with the sleek dark glass windows has a sign above with the letters "HAIKU" in bold metal. What a first impression!! I had been tipped off to try this place by businessman Johnny Fong and I said I would on my next visit to Saipan.

I did decide to drop in to check this brand new restaurant and as I was alone, I would have to limit my selections. The owners made a significant investment in this restaurant, with the interior as stark and modern as the exterior. It is clean and the furnishings are pleasing. There is a small sit-down counter for sushi and teppan yaki. This is a "fusion" restaurant. The term has become a bit over-used and whenever I hear it I think the operators aren't quite sure what they are serving! In the case of The Grill Haiku, the owners wanted to serve everything under the sun, so you can get Japanese food, Hawaiian Poke, Baked Mussels, Spicy Calamari, New York Steaks, Salmon Teriyaki, T-Bone Steaks, American style Sushi Rolls, Teppan Yaki, Sashimi, Pasta (Salmon alfredo, Pasta Carbonara, Scampi), and Noodles (udon and yakisoba). Just as I said, they seem to have almost everything! You can get beers, sake, soju, wine and soft drinks. I had hot green tea.

I sampled only a few things, starting out with a bowl of Edamame ($5.95), which is available as lightly salted or tossed in garlic. I also ordered (from the appetizer menu) the Combination Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura ($7.95). The owners definitely are image conscious, and the table and dishware have their name/logo on the table, on plates, on napkins, and on chopsticks. The edamame had a tad too much salt, but they were hot and still quite good. The tempura was passable...with a portion that was reasonable for one person.

There was too much "fusion" on the menu for me to decide on any main course and I decided on a sushi roll, but wait, there is special sushi menu section titled "Haiku Special Roll", and this is where I believe they nailed it!! Yes, if I was to be a marketing person for a Japanese restaurant and wanted to appeal to locals and please the visitors, I would go the way of "Destination Dining", and that's exactly what they playfully achieved by giving their special sushi rolls names of local landmarks! I ordered one of the 7 menu items that was called Banzai Cliff ($12.95), which has spicy crab, cucumber, salmon and pepper. I wasn't quite sure of what the "pepper" would be but found out that it was a thin slice of green pepper that had a little heat but loads of flavor. The roll had a drop of chili sauce on top, too. Actually, it was a pretty decent sushi roll with a nominal amount of rice. There was a yellow aioli sauce that decorated the plate - I just used wasabi and soyu...not one for all the sauces being added to sushi. Other local-named sushi rolls include the Managaha Island, Sugar King, Coral Ocean Point, Lao Lao Bay, Bird Island, and the Mt. Tapochau, which is a deep fried item. These prices are a few dollars more than the other sushi rolls - that shows you the value of a name!

I'll have to return to the Grill Haiku with a small group so we can eat a variety of offerings! Definitely looking to try their teppanyaki! I'll pass on the pasta!!

Chef Takahashi's Special Seasonal Tasting Menus
Caravel Restaurant & Grill
Onward Beach Resort

Did you know that the name Caravel describes a revolutionary sailing ship developed by the Portuguese for use in the 15th and 16th Centuries? Now that I know this factoid, I can relate to the nautical themes and maritime impressions I get when dining in the Caravel Restaurant & Grill, which seems to have undergone a revolution of its own recently. This can be attributed to the culinary passion and expertise of Caravel's Chef de Cuisine, Naoki Takahashi, who has launched a fabulous selection of Set Menus promoting seasonal tastes aimed at satisfying the cravings and appetites of local diners.

I had the privilege of taste-testing Chef Takahashi's European Fusion creations this week and was joined by Aileen L., a fellow foodie who is also a wine vendor. There are four different courses, with two (A&B) priced at $75.00 per person and the other two, C & D, going for $50 and $40 respectively. Dinner does include dessert, coffee and bread, and prices are subject to a 10% service charge.

For this review, we sampled elements from all the courses, which included seafood mains (lobster and salmon) as well as Ribeye Steak, Grilled leg of lamb, and Sauteed Chicken. The chef and his team have done a wonderful job of putting together what I believe is their best effort to date to cater to a local market that wants more value for their money, and in this case, I consider the value of the portion size, which is bigger than the typical Japanese meal size. First to the table came the Seafood Marinade, which is a visually appealing plating with 3 clusters of seafood (mussels, shrimp, scallop and squid) with ikura (salmon roe) in small piles next to a dot of dill sauce. The seafood was layered on iceberg lettuce and I thought this was a portion to be shared, which is what we did. Yet this serving is what ONE PERSON gets, and it's a lot! It is also quite delicious, with fresh tastes of tender seafood pieces that were mostly intact.

We had another menu feature, which is the Green Salad with Roast Duck. This was another tasty dish that is sharable and substantial. We were then brought out a hot toasted roll that came with two pats of different seasoned butter. One was basil and the other was tomato. The roll was as good as they get.

Next came our soup course, which was a Cream of Mushroom Soup. These may vary between mushroom and potato. Shiitake mushrooms were used to make this delicious, flavorful soup, that's laced with truffle oil. While I was eating it, I thought I was seeing things as the bowl seemed to have more soup than is normally served. Think local! Heck, that soup and a roll could almost be a meal itself!

Next in our sampling came the Sauteed Salmon with Capers, which is a hot appetizer for the Course A Menu. This is served with mixed greens and garnished with fresh dill. The salmon is drizzled with a lemon butter sauce. The delicate salmon was cooked right, which is notable as many tend to overcook salmon. This still had moisture and the meat was light and flaky. We'd been drinking Acqua Panna mineral water up to this point when it was suggested we try a Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc! That was Robert's flagship creation and caused a sensation in the wine world.

The next course was Grilled Lobster with Garlic Tomato. These are small lobster tails that are teased with this garlic tomato blend. The tails come with a salad and lemon wedge.

Now was the beginning of the 3 meats, with the first being the Grilled Lamb Chops, the Main Entree for Course C Dinner! These were quite appealing, with the requisite grill marks...these were cooked medium and quite tender. They were seasoned and came with a red wine sauce and roasted potato cubes. A sprig of fresh Rosemary crowned the trio of chops! I had to use my fingers to eat these tasty grilled lamb treats!

The Ribeye Steak was swathed in a thick Onion Butter and flagged by a sprig of Rosemary. It also had a rich red wine sauce that is so tasty (Chef Takahashi loves his sauces!!).

The last protein we had was from the D Menu, which is the Sauteed Chicken with the Herb Bread Crumbs. Again, this is a portion of meat that should be shareable. It was a really well-cooked chicken thigh that was juicy and had the crunchiness from the toasted bread crumbs. I should confess that we did have a little more sharing support from Tora-san, our host and Asst. F&B Manager. If he hadn't been doing some of the sampling, we would't have gotten this far!

So now let's end with dessert (no room for coffee). We a plate of two types of cheese cake and another cake - none of these was sweet like Western desserts. They was light and blended well with the vanilla cream sauce and strawberry coulis.

After all of this eating, it's a wonder we were able to stand up and walk out of there, but not before thanking Chef Takahashi for a wonderful gastronomic adventure! The food was innovative and fresh, as well as surpassing our expectations! Try Caravel's new seasonal tasting menus by Chef Takahashi!

Bon Appetit!
Ken The GFG

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