Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
We are all breathing a collective sigh of relief as we dodged a major bullet in the form of supertyphoon Atsani which is churning way north of the Marianas on a path towards Japan. We are still feeling the effects of the feeder bands that are part of this 1200 mile wide mega storm. Had it hit us and Saipan, it would have been hugely devastating, far beyond the damage caused by Typhoon Souledor, which hit Saipan much harder than expected. Although there are many families that have lost homes and possessions, they are grateful for the growing relief efforts underway as Guam has mobilized a vast network of support services that include government agencies, F.E.M.A., the U.S. Military, Red Cross, civic organizations, and businesses that are making cash and in-kind donations to help the people of Saipan. One of the most significant changes I have witnessed between Typhoon Souledor and Typhoon Pongsana is how we have documented and communicated about all stages of storm activities that took place before, during and after. This difference is the advent of Social Media and FaceBook in particular. We have seen postings of photos and videos that have gone viral! Some have hit the major news networks and the reach has been global! This has really brought eyeballs and attention to Saipan's plight. It has also helped many people on Saipan interact and respond more quickly. The wonders of communications technology are amazing. It is still a very big world but we are more closely connected than ever before.
Ken the Guam Food Guy
Terry's Local Comfort Food San Vitores Rd. (across the Bank of Guam)
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sun - 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
"Chocho, Gimen Yan Gosa I Minagof" ("Eat, Drink and Enjoy the Happiness!") is the perfect motto for the recently opened and relocated Terry's Local Comfort Food restaurant, now housed in the odd-shaped building previously occupied by Sushi Ebisu Japanese Restaurant. We decided to stop by one night to see how they were adapting to their new home in Tumon. I had first reviewed Terry's in Yigo three years ago and I really enjoyed how well they prepared Chamorro food. I remember having left overs (balutan) and eating various dishes for several days after.
Although the owner, Tessie Bordallo, wasn't there during our visit, we were able to order some dishes that we thought would give us ample opportunity to evaluate how well they were doing. For a newly opened restaurant, they did fairly well so I can recommend them. Since they put a sign board outside that has photos of their dishes they got immediate results, since tourists could see what kind of food they were serving. We saw tourists eating there along with local families. I suggested to our server that they put food photos on the menu to help guests with their selections. Still, Terry's has a nice, cozy homey feel to it, and the walls are decorated with paintings, art pieces, and local collectibles that reflect the island's culture.
First to come was our appetizer, Hagan Suni ($5.49, which is spinach made local style). This is a tasty way to start and usually has taro leaves (which can be substituted with spinach leaves), which are cooked in coconut milk.
Next came our Fiesta Plate, ($11.89 - Fried Chicken, Ribs, Chicken Kelaguen, Pancit, Shrimp Patty). This also has 2 scoops of red rice and soy finadene. This is a representative "Chamorro Fiesta Plate" and if you showed this photo to any local, they would know exactly how each item is supposed to taste! Best items on this plate were the fried chicken, then the chicken kelaguen. It's a decent kelaguen that has a few chopped boonie peppers inside, so be careful! The rib may have needed more marination as it seemed bland. This dish could have had barbecue chicken instead of fried. My ribs at the previous Terry's was better.
The Parrot Fish w/Rice and Salad ($14.55) was brought out next and I definitely wanted to take this photo! The parrot fish was medium sized, cooked perfectly (crispy and moist), and instead of red or steamed white rice, we replaced it with another side salad (cabbage slaw), which was also very good. The only thing I would have liked with this parrot fish is the lemon or vinegar finadene. We had forgotten to order tatiyas (2) $3.25 earlier so got some and had them fried. These are best with the kelaguens.
Our server let us know about their dinner specials, and the first one we ordered was a Tinaktak dish, which we found out to our dismay they didn't have, so we settled on the other special, the Ham Hocks and Mongo Beans ($13.75). I actually ordered this so I could take its photo. It is a local favorite and Terry's prepares this with pride. This dish we tasted and then packed to take home.
Terry's menu has a variety of other local standards you would find on any fiesta table. This include Kadon Pika, Chamoru Bisteak, Short Ribs with Grilled Onions, Chop Steak with Veggies & Rice, and Beef & Shrimp Kelaguen. We were then offered dessert and decided on the Champulado - $4.99, which is a huge favorite for so many locals who grew up with this chocolate, pudding like dessert made with white rice. This was served hot, although I've had versions of this chilled.
I commend Tessie and her family for taking the risk to put an authentic Chamorro food restaurant in Tumon. Although the parking is limited, they have a wonderful opportunity to attract those walking by their eatery. It's almost impossible to miss the big signboard on the sidewalk in front. Those pictures of the fried & bbq chicken, red rice, ribs, and finadene is all it takes since that is one of our visitor's missions on Guam - to try the local cuisine. It's eating the local food served at the Chamorro Village food stalls, only without flies! For those of us who live in the Tamuning area, Terry's has come to our rescue when we need to order take-out! When you live on Guam you just get these cravings for kelaguen, kadon pika, or local fried chicken. They are open seven days a week! Come down and get your local fix at Terry's in Tumon, a place for local comfort food!
213 Harmon Industrial Park (across Hi5 Logo shop & CAT Caterpillar)
Hours : Monday - Saturday 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
I finally was able to honor a year old commitment to come and try the great food at The Cafeteria. Owner/chef Aileem Euh Cruz had purchased some chef coats at our store and I had told her I would come by and try their food...and I finally did!!! It was not planned as I was in the neighborhood and it was just before lunch ( about 11:00 a.m.). I had never been in here and was immediately surprised by the size of their kitchen. It was a production kitchen (they do a lot of large party trays, which is definitely good to know). Would you believe they have nine different fried rice party trays? You can also get Kadon Pika, Chicken Estufao, Bisteak, Beef Tinaktak, Spicy Squid, Pork Belly, Fried Pork Chop, and Fried Chicken trays, ranging from half trays to full trays, and for really big parties the "Deep Trays"!
When I arrived I thought about breakfast first since I had missed mine that particular day. So I decided on The Cafeteria ($10.95), which is one of their fried rice dishes that is made with Ham, Portuguese sausage, and the breakfast link sausage. You get two eggs any way you like them...I had mine sunny side up. I was making a big exception to my limited rice consumption regimen. It was Friday, and these fried rice dishes reminded me of my early days in Saipan when eating at the Pacific Gardenia Hotel's El Segundo Restaurant. The Fried Rice Supreme was our classic breakfast choice as it had fried rice, a ring of Char-Broiled Portuguese sausage pieces and two eggs sunny side up! So I was justified in eating this. What I didn't know was that the folks at The Cafeteria don't food around!
When my order was delivered, I stopped the server and asked if this dish was mine or somebody else's since it was huge. It looked like fried rice for six! I had them take it back and bring me back 1/4 of this plate. The fourth plate with two eggs was a regular size portion at other restaurants. My first bite was an "OMG" moment. However they managed this, and maybe I've been deprived, but I thought that it was one of the best fried rice dishes I've had in a very long time.
I also decided to order something else that I could photograph and taste, before taking the majority back to my office for my crew. I ordered the Dried Beef and Pork Belly Lunch Combo ($12.95) with Chapchae. When this plate came it had some of their famous homemade dinanche. I did sample the dried beef and the pork belly. The pork belly I liked but the dried beef was much drier than I like, and it was hard to eat! Must be the type of beef or maybe my teeth are getting old! While I was there I ran into a few people I knew and they were raving about the place. What I saw everyone else eating looked awesome so I know this is a serious place for good food.
I had been offered some free ahu (warm young coconut dessert that's like a soup only sweeter), but I'd passed. I was curious about one of the jars that was dark (the other was Donne Denanche). This dark one was Coconut Jam. Both are available for $10.00 and the coconut jam is on their appetizer called Coconut Toast ($3.95). Aileem had given me these to sample. I did put some on toast after sharing some with my office staff. Aileem makes this as one of her specialities. She's amazing and the staff I encountered at the Cafeteria were very outgoing and eager to assist. I've got to go back soon!
Tour of Italy: Umbria
Al Dente Ristorante
Hyatt Regency Guam
Special Set Dinner Menu Served Now - Sept 30
Price - $60.00 for dinner/$70.00 with glasses of white and red wine. (subject to 10% s.c.)
I had a most delightful dinner experience at Al Dente earlier this week when a small cadre of media folks were invited to attend the launch of Al Dente's Chef de Cuisine Cristiano Pozzi's latest culinary masterwork - a tour of Italy through the region of Umbria. This verdant region borders Tuscany and is often referred to as the "green heart of Italy". We are fortunate to have Chef Pozzi transport us to this special region where fresh ingredients are sourced to create unique flavor combinations that have made Umbria a popular destination for food adventurers. The dinner was fun as I really enjoyed the interaction with these young icons of the local media. The timing of the gathering celebrated a special event for me as well as I was at Al Dente 15 years ago doing a review when I was called by my daughter informing me I was a grandfather! I have a lot of history with Al Dente.
Chef Pozzi is a wonderful culinary advocate as he passionately reveals and shares insights to the use of ingredients as well as the significance of the region's culture and history. He's a really nice guy and loves to share his knowledge about Italian cuisine.
Although I will briefly introduce the set menu courses for this Umbrian food tour, I highly recommend that you try this yourself so that you can draw your own experiences based on your taste preferences and palate.
We started out lightly with Warm mozzarella crostini, black olive pesto, orange zest, and baby leaf spinach. These ingredients worked in concert to pleasantly combine with the Campogrande wine being paired.
I was a bit surprised by the "Cipollata" onion soup that came next. It was made with Parmesan cheese and eggs. It reminded me a little of egg drop soup, which is something new in my experience. It was a very delicate and light tasting
A special feature was Chef Pozzi's introduction of the Norcina-style homemade spaghetti made with garlic olive oil, black truffle and anchovies. There's something amazingly seductive in the appreciation of a quality spaghetti. This is simple, good, and fun to enjoy with the wine and companions.
The Herb-crusted codfish, Ceraiola-style red potatoes, fava beans in pancetta sauce will take you to the next level with is delicately moist flakiness of the fish with herbs that do not interfere with its taste. Take your time with this...enjoy the fava beans with the pieces of pancetta, mixed with the fish and potato. I truly adored this codfish!
You will experience a rare treat with this Main Course, the Perugina-style veal scaloppini, with chicken liver, pumpkin mash, capers, Parma ham in white wine sauce. This is one of the only (if not the only ) places serving veal scaloppini so be sure your take your time to enjoy each bite. You will not even recognize that chicken liver is an ingredient as its taste and texture are submerged in an amazing blend of elements. This could be one of the signature dishes for this set menu. It's transformative, especially when paired with the Antinori Toscana red wine served in this course.
Just as all good things must come to an end, so does this Dolce finale bring closure to a grand dinner. Chef Pozzi made a playful creation of sweet rice fritters with vanilla gelato joined by a cup of cinnamon sauce. The vanilla and cinnamon flavors seen to resonate in this dessert. The portions are ideal and don't leave you with those guilty feelings from over-indulging.
Bravo Chef Cristiano! I will keep my passport handy for any journey you'd like us to explore with you!
Ken the Guam Food Guy