Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
It has been some time since our last newsletter! Don't fret, I've just been working on adjusting my schedule to find more favorable writing time. There is so much happening now on Guam and Saipan's food scenes that I have to double and triple down to catch up!! The list of restaurants that I have to visit is longer than it's ever been, and frankly, it has me exasperated! So please bear with me as I work on pacing myself to address this backlog. I have visited several restaurants that I really hoped to cover, one most notably was Tacos Sinaloa in Tumon, which impressed me with its authentic Mexican flavors and ingredients! This place is sensational and I am looking forward to a re-visit soon! One place I do want to mention since we had just written about its opening was The Chamorro Chip Cafe/Boston Pizza Company in Tamuning near the DNA Plaza. They are NOW OPEN after closing their doors to replace their floors.
I am also pleased to have finally stopped by Crust Pizzeria to try out their pizza...certainly worth it and definitely justified all of the buzz and hype extolling this new eatery. I really see Guam's restaurant entrepreneurs getting more creative in developing and introducing new concepts. We are making impressive strides. I believe 2016 will be a marvelous year for restaurant growth. We are going to do our best to keep you informed of these exciting changes...one bite at a time!
Ken the Guam Food Guy!
Chinese New Year Celebrations - The Year of the Monkey
Although the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration time is over, I am still savoring the memories and tastes of my first-hand experience of Chinese New Year cuisine that was genuinely home made by my wife Jin. She was able to prepare a few simple dishes that are traditionally celebrated the Lunar New Year...three different types of dumplings (one was sweet with red bean and another was savory with minced pork, vegetables and shrimp) and her wontons were exceptional. We also had the pleasure of celebrating a Chinese New Year feast at the Hyatt Regency Saipan's Kili Terrace which featured an array of wonderful Chinese culinary creations prepared by visiting Chef de Cuisine, Jacky Yu, from the Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa. His traditional dishes were from Zhejiang Province. My wife Jin and Chef Jacky really hit it off since she is from Shanghai which is close to Ningbo and the food served at this buffet had some of her hometown favorites. I also want to honor and thank my long time friend, Chef Leland Feng, Executive Chef of the Pacific Star Resort & Spa. He is a consummate chef and has enlightened me on many things Chinese. Of course, there is no better dim sum served than Chef Leland and his wife LiFen's dimsum lunch buffet every Wednesday at the Pacific Star Cafe.
GCC Orchid Cafe
GCC Campus (between Bldg 300 and Bldg 600)
Hours: 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. (Monday - Friday)
7 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Saturday)
This is really "hot off the press"!! I was "kidnapped" today...in a fashion. Our neighbor near our business is United Tire and its owner, Joseph Hsu saw me in the parking lot and invited me to lunch (he was already in his car when he stopped me and got me in his car)! We were going to a friend's new restaurant that was opening in GCC! I was both puzzled and curious about the whereabouts of this new restaurant. When we arrived I knew immediately which location but was stunned to find out that the new owner had expanded the dining room to double the size of the previous "snack bar". They have just opened (don't even have a phone # yet). This place is really nice...there are large windows looking out on the campus from three walls. The tables and chairs are new and the interior is cooled by air conditioners and ceiling fans. When I saw the new owner I smiled immediately (as did he when he saw me) as it was Steven Wang, who had opened The Big Stomach Restaurant in November 2003. I have seen him many times since my review back then. I think he's got the right idea and location now.
The menu is simple: Two Choices for $6.50. It is fast food and made in small batches that are served fresh. The entrees vary each day and can include Fried Chicken, Fried Pork Chop, Salt & Pepper Shrimp, Fish Cutlet, Stir Fry Vegetables, Mongolian Beef, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Ma Po Tofu, Beef Broccoli, and Yakisoba noodles. I was able to sample a variety of the prepared dishes. If you want one more dish than the two it'll cost you $2.50. The portions are big enough and the price is targeting the student's budgets. Everything I ate was quite good...they have breaded mahi stir fried with onions and peppers. The Salt & Pepper Shrimp went fast, and I had Shrimp with Stir Fry Vegetables that I also liked. You can buy drinks and packaged snacks here tool, even dry noodle cups and bowls, which is really catering to the students!!! I was glad to have this opportunity to try this new restaurant - I doubt I would have even known about it unless Joseph had spotted me. Now I can have some fairly decent Chinese fast food when I am visiting the GCC campus.
(Steven Wang, GCC Orchid Cafe Owner (left) and Joseph Hsu, President of United Tire)
International Dinner Buffet
Pacific Star Cafe
Pacific Star Resort & Spa
Served Nightly: 6:00PM - 9:00PM
Adult: $25.00* / Child: $12.50*
(*subject to 10% Service Charge)
One thing about the Pacific Star Cafe is that they are always innovating and changing their food service offerings! For $25.00 they have set a new bar for quality and value! I had a chance to dine there this week and was surprised, pleased, and delighted by the array of dishes available for your dining pleasure. Of course I couldn't eat everything so I just focused on a few things...like a superbly prepared bowl of ramen noodles with a little kimchi thrown in! This was great...you don't need a big bowl of ramen to be impressed! This little bowl had BIG FLAVORS!! From the live sushi station I had a sampler of fresh sushi. There is a roast beef carving station every night for you beef lovers! I had seen a photo of their Poki on Facebook and had to try it! It was delicious! My hot food selections were also flavorful...I was hoping to just get a taste of things so I wouldn't over eat. The basa filet in white cream sauce with peppercorn was dreamy.
The hot food selections do change every night, however, the live sushi station, noodle station, and carving stations are always available. The best thing about buffets is you can eat as much as you want. If you were going to a Japanese restaurant for a plate of sushi you can imagine the price when you pay by the piece! I didn't have room for a salad nor dessert...sometimes you just have to say "no"!
When it comes to value for money, you have to say "YES" to the Pacific Star Cafe's International Dinner Buffet! Did you know that this same cafe has a Vegetarian Lunch Buffet every Monday? Wow, now that's an idea for Monday lunch - fresh grilled vegetable skewers, vegetable tempura, a live create your own pasta station...doesn't this sound great? "YES" to Pacific Star Cafe, where fresh dining happens.
Crust Pizzeria Napoletana
356 Marine Corp Drive
Hagatna, Guam 96913
Hours of Operation: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Everything good I've heard about Crust Pizzeria was confirmed tonight in my first bite of a California Style Pizza called the Salsiccia. Why did I choose this pizza instead of one of the Pizzas I'd meant to try that was cooked Naples Style in an 800F degree wood fired Pizza Oven? Why did I go to Crust Pizzeria alone, unescorted, and on a working night? Had I had company we could have ordered more from Crust's impressively eclectic menu. Afterall, I could have eaten the Burrata ($14), which is a tomato compote with arugula and crostino! Or a Kale & Arugula Ceasar salad, or the Crust Caprese salad with hand-pulled mozzarella, with tomatoes, basil, balsamic reduction, sea salt and olio verde! I could have been able to order the Brick Fired Mac and Cheese (that has five cheeses blended with roasted garlic, foccacia crumbs and drizzled with truffle oil! Or a Pappardelle Marsala, with Crust's sausage, mushroom ragu and marsala wine sauce! How about Salmon roasted in a 650F degree oven, or Braised Short Rib? There's all this and more!
So, I have to say I was disappointed by my first visit to Crust - not by Crust Pizzeria, whose staff were more than courteous in greeting and seating me (at the far corner of the bar, the only place left - this restaurant was packed to the brim on this Wednesday night with a table wait of 30-40 minutes). No, I was disappointed by me not coming here better prepared to indulge! So now I know when I come back that I'll bring a gang of folks and we will order six pizzas - the ALBA that has an egg over easy on top of pancetta and mozzarella, adorned with truffle oil (sounds decadent); the Formaggi, the Margherita, The Gamberetto; the Carne, and the Funghi pizza.
The Small Plate I had tonight was just that...a small plate of Bruschetta ($7). This is truth in advertising defined. Of course the three crostini pieces were topped with prosciutto and a sweet chutney, with a balsamic glaze drizzle. This was interesting to eat and I could have had more. As I said, the pizza kind of jumped out at me. It seemed to have the most impressive description (Crust sausage, garlic, roasted red peppers, calabrian oil, ricotta, basil). Then it says this pizza was "inspired by Tony Gemignani, 11-time World Pizza Champion - From Tony's Pizza Napoletana, SF, CA". An $18.00 pizza? Yes, and considering the sophisticated ambiance, the guest's energy, level of excitement and engagement, I'd say this was a reasonable price. Not to forget that extra addition of freshly grated Grana Padano cheese offered and layered over my molten dream pie! There's no question that Brian Artero and his partners dug deep for this gem of restaurant that has redefined pizza dining in a way that bedazzles and befuddles a reviewer who tried dining alone when he should have had an entourage! And yes, I want to thank Chef Dylan Saad for the inviting me...he should have warned me! Crust Pizzeria - I've never left a place wanting so much more!!
Ken the Guam Food Guy