Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It's great to be back after nearly a month's absence - our longest break ever! I apologize, but I had been travelling and caught up in an avalanche of work and too many events! I won't be able to cover all of the happenings I wanted to in this newsletter so I will be playing "catch-up" with some of the exciting travel happenings I'd experienced with a band of merry chefs and BBQ enthusiasts who attended the "Jack" in Lynchburg, Tennessee as well as a variety of dining episodes in Nashville in our next newsletter.
It's almost deja vu again as I compose this newsletter against the back-drop of an imminent storm blustering its way in our direction! Yes, Tropical Storm In-Fa is about to make its Marianas debut this coming Saturday afternoon or night, and may only be a minimal strength typhoon as it reaches its nearest point south of Guam. But as the weather forecasters state, the track could always change! Let's hope for the best and that the storm spares us and allows the Japan Club of Guam to hold its Aki Matsuri Autumn Festival at Ipao Beach Park this Saturday!
Ken the "Guam Food Guy"
Japan Autumn Festival
Saturday, Nov 21
2:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Governor Joseph Flores Beach Park (Ypao)
There is no more festive nor colorful event than the Japan Club of Guam's annual Aki Matsuri Autumn Festival, which is celebrating its 36th year this Saturday night. It must be seasonal as there seems to be a trend with inclement weather. Bring an umbrella and big zories! There will be food booths galore offering some of the most popular Japanese treats. Money is not used at these booths nor for the purchase of toys, gifts, and other items from Japan-you can buy tickets (a booklet of 10 sheets costs $10).
One of the exciting parts of the festival is when attendees participate in the bonodori dance procession that meanders through the park as a group of hearty Japan Club of Guam members carry the mikoshi shrine transporting the deity. The chants and music compel you to join in the procession. Admission to the Autumn Festival is free and the event is fun for the entire family. For more information contact the Japan Club of Guam at 646-8066.
PIC Guam's Executive Chef "JR" Taga Wins Chef's Cup
Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort
Kudo's to PIC Guam's Executive Chef Simplicio "JR" Taga on his outstanding performance in creating the winning course, DESSERT, in the 12th Annual Celebrity Chef's Cup. His team's winning submission was titled Spanish Love Affair, which was a glamorous plating featuring Orange Sauce San Juan Pears Poached in White Wine, Spicy Ganache, Red Velvet Macaroon, Spanish Chocolate Cake, Golden Egg Topped with Polvoron, Spanish Egg Custard. As you can probably surmise, the theme for this year's event was Spanish, as a tribute to the late Jerry Calvo, founding father of this popular successful fund-raiser. As part of this fun-filled event, the Celebrity Chefs who were part of Chef JR's team joined him in creating this entertaining video:
Congratulations as well to the other four competing executive chefs who made this event one of the most memorable in recent years. These include Chef Rey Dasalla, Sea Grill Restaurant; Chef Mirko Agostini, Hyatt Regency Guam; Chef Daniel Lenherr, Westin Resort Guam; and Chef Dennis Salenga, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. These chefs are part of the Micronesian Chefs Association, who have partnered with the University of Guam Endowment Foundation to raise funds for both organizations supporting education.
Uri Jip Restaurant
Behind Tick Tock
It has been far too long since I last visited Uri Jip Restaurant! Mama Chang was surprised and happy to see me when I walked in for lunch. She then chastised me for being gone for over a year or two!! The island is full of Korean restaurants and everyone who likes Korean has their favorite. Uri Jip has long been a preferred destination for most who are looking for an unpretentious, home-style Korean dining experience. Uri Jip is not as fancy as some of the Tumon establishments that cater to tourists...Uri Jip is a local eatery, and has one of my favorite Beef Kalbi (Grilled Beef Rib - $22.00) on Guam.
This is complemented by what I consider among the better "pan chan" selections of pickled marinated vegetables and kimchis. The name "Uri Jip" means "our home" and this is a family-run business owned and operated by the Chang family. They take enormous pride in the quality of their food - it's like being invited and welcomed into their home. When you go at night, be sure to watch the Korean TV channel which really helps create the homey ambiance...we usually catch the soap operas and dramas...they are quite engaging even if you don't speak the language.
"Mama" Chang is always there along with her husband,"Papa" Chang, and they usually are relaxing at their table with some of their friends. As I said, it's like dropping by their home. Sit down, have a glass of soju, and indulge in a wonderful Korean flavor adventure!
A Walk Down Guam's Restaurant Memory Lane
I don't know if you were able to listen to Ray Gibson's Breakfast Show on K57 this past Thursday (19 Nov). It was a fascinating and extended walk down memory lane for Guam's restaurants. Many listeners would call in and mention a few of the venerable establishments of the past. This prompted me to want to re-visit one of our earlier GuamDiner newsletters (from 2009), the contents that we'll share with you here:
"Just for some fun, let's take a short trip down memory lane, and see if you can recall any of the following restaurants that used to grace our island: Jim's Island House, Surgose's Italian Kitchen, Istimewa, Kimchi Cabana, Latte Restaurant, M's Steak House, Crow's Nest, Captain's Table, Azuma Restaurant, China House, Malesso Inn, Yakitori House, The Panciteria, Salzburg Chalet, Joe & Flo's Mexican Restaurant, Rocco's Italian Restaurant, Tina Marie's, The Tapa Room, Galleon Grill, Kurumaya Restaurant, Ivory Gourmet Cuisine, J&K Hong Kong Restaurant, Latino's Italian Restaurant, Signature Lounge, American Cafe, Andok's Fast Food, Cool Spot, Mongolian BBQ, Pim's Place, I Natibu, Epicure, Furusato, Papa John's, Greek Freak, The Brig, Ocean Bay Chinese, Sobroso's, Shanghai, Melanzanne, Yakitori Grill, The Pill Box, College Cafe, Joyful Chinese, La Mesa's, Chianti, Planet Noodle & Cafe, Downtown Deli, Bolsa, Wing's, Josephine's Chamorro Kitchen, Wet Willie's, Isabel's Cafe Nouveau, Mini Cafe, Coral Palace, Shiranami, Lotus Garden, Mimi Ramen, Hale Kai Seafood, Korean BBQ, Le Creole, Claret, Pacific Grill, Y Kusina, Shakey's, and Amantes. Do you remember their locations?"
"This clearly shows you how more than 60 restaurants have come and gone (there are many more) over the years, with some leaving this past year. My career in food service on Guam has given me a unique perspective on and a direct involvement with most of these restaurants. Many are like long lost friends and old acquaintances."
One of Ray's suggestions was to have some place in the new Guam Museum dedicated to the vast number of Guam restaurants that most of us have enjoyed with over the years. That's a great idea and I'd be happy to assist with this project.
Sam's Steak & Seafood
Hours: Sunday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Monday - Friday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
It's been about four months since Sam's Steak & Seafood opened its doors to a very appreciative stable of regular and new customers who try to get there early to secure a table before the rush of customers arrives, creating a waiting list of 35 - 45 minutes. This is a place that you'd have to go to believe. It's an all you can eat buffet at lunch and dinner that contains heaps of some of the tastiest local foods you can eat, all for $15.00! I still don't know how Manny Concepcion does it but he has definitely created a niche. I was invited by my pare Joe Barcinas who had been waiting for me to return from off-island to join him for this feast for friends.
The location is fabulous with an incomparable panoramic overview of Hagatna. It's the food though that steals the show. The buffet line up on the day I was there didn't have the King Crab Legs that I'd seen posted on FaceBook. Apparently, the vendor was out. Sam's is one of their bigger demand customers (I can understand this!). The jumbo prawns that were served were sauteed and delicious. There was braised pork that was amazingly tender, almost melting in your mouth! The Certified Angus Beef Striploin was grilled and sliced to a nice pink medium. The Fried Chicken was the kind you couldn't resist and had to have more! There was Fried Parrot Fish halves that would be replenished before they'd run out! There was an Octopus tinaktak that was obscenely good.
They had kimchi, chicken and shrimp kelaguens, salad ingredients, potato salad, finadenes, and endless iced tea. I do understand how they do this...I was so full from my first plate that I was only able to get a few more pieces of fried chicken.
After writing this and looking at these photos, I feel compelled to go back. I hope to get those King Crab Legs this time!