Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
WOW! It has been quite a while since I've been able to plant myself in front of my computer screen and type out a Guam Diner newsletter! I am beyond busy with my day job (which has also become my night job!!) I am still eating and am backlogged on my reviews, which include some wonderful experiences at the Dusit Thani Guam Resort's Soi Thai Restaurant, the Hyatt's Chef Counter (I could write a book about this), and a few more (apologies to my friend Eddie Chien of Rotten Apple, which is now open for lunch!!) I am chomping at the bit to write about the new Surf Club in Saipan, where the Pacific Gardenia was in Chalan Kanoa! You won't believe their "aquarium" bar counter! I have eaten at the iHop in Saipan, as well as at Stingers Hot Chicken & Ribs in Tamuning. I can't stay away from food...just haven't been able to share it with you in real time!!
One of the recent activities I enjoyed this past weekend was judging the Boy Scouts Chili Competition at the Chamorro Village. This was actually a major paradigm transition for me, since I've spent nearly 15 years on the board of the Guam Girl Scouts before retiring earlier this year. Being surrounded by Boy Scouts brought back an incredible sense of pride and excitement since I had been a Boy Scout many years ago while living in Japan. I did enjoy the judging as well. There were 12 contestants and we had to sample each and every one. Congratulations to Jamaican Grill (1st Place), ASU Smokehouse (2nd Place) and the Leo Palace Resort (3rd Place) for your winning recipes, and thank you for supporting the Boy Scouts of Guam! This may become an annual event!
Ken the Guam Food Guy
Farewell Dorothy Horn
Long-time local Food Critic and Cook Book author Dorothy Horn passed peacefully on August 17. I had known Dorothy since the late 80's. We were both members of the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay, and I had invited her as a special guest at our cooking seminars when I worked with AK Commercial Division. She was also a guest at the opening of our AK Warehouse Outlet in Tamuning, where we sold her books and had her autograph them. Dorothy was an icon and known for her fire engine red dresses and Cadillac. She was truly an original character. She was my predecessor in doing these restaurant reviews...I was the new kid on the block, and had taken over writing food reviews for the Pacific Daily News and also doing radio reviews on Jon Anderson's K57 Morning Show. She wasn't too thrilled about this but was able to put aside any hard feelings when we asked her permission to post some of her recipes on our Guam Diner website. Dorothy was passionate about life and she lived it to the fullest! She had even dived the SMS Cormoran (something you may find hard to imagine). I will definitely miss that grand woman who commanded so much attention (and a little consternation) from restaurant owners and servers when she would enter a dining room. They respected her power and authority. Farewell Dorothy Horn and may you rest in peace! Your memory will forever be a part of Guam's culinary world.
Rising Stars Event a Resounding Success!
September 02, 2016
Hyatt Regency Guam
What a night to remember! This was the first-ever PHR Event that showcased the amazing talents of their young junior chefs who created a five-course dinner that was paired with Twomey Wines. Kudos to Chef Richen B. Granil, PIC Guam; Chef Judith Caoleng, Hyatt Regency Guam; Chef Alvin Almazan, Hilton Guam Resort & Spa; Chef Arlen Laguador, Hotel Nikko Guam; and Chef Joshua Sablan, Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. They made us all so very proud that night. I want to share some of the highlights of the night. Master of Ceremonies Ray Gibson interviewed each chef in the front of the Hyatt's Ballroom as they were preparing to serve their course to the waiting audience.
The first course was a salad made by Sheraton Chef Joshua Sablan. His Lobster Fusion Hubete was made with fresh ingredients enhanced by sauces and paired with Twomey Sauvignon Blanc.
The Dessert Course was a Verrine of Dark Chocolate and Green Tea, prepared by PIC's Chef Richen B. Granil. Definitely a dessert you almost didn't want to eat since it was so pretty! His creation was phenomenal, combining lemon sponge, dark chocolate, green tea mouse, illy coffee, raspberry gelee and garnished with strawberry lemon aspic! I liked his terminology - "It does add a funky flavor play...satisfying your palate."
I am looking forward to the next event of this type that puts the spotlight on our amazingly talented young culinarians! All for a good cause of raising funds for the Farm To Table organization.
KN's Sandwiches - Vietnamese Banh Mi & Coffee
Old Tamuning Cinema
Marine Corps Drive
Open Daily 10AM - 8PM
A new Vietnamese sandwich restaurant recently opened in Tamuning (Cinema Arcade). I visited on a Sunday and they had only been open maybe just a week or two. They had spent some serious money on equipment(there is no other restaurant with the bread baking equipment they have to make bread for their famous Banh Mi sandwiches. I was so impressed with all the visuals in the room...the food pictures, the social media address and contact information, the fancy menus and brochures, their logo! I was thinking that these folks really did their homework just from the looks of things! You could see big giant French loaves which they also serve with all of their soup dishes. You could hear the loud crunch of the crisp crust of this fresh baked bread! Sounds good, right? Well a word of caution. If you want to enjoy your lunch or dinner here, sit near an air conditioner. It gets really hot in some areas of the dining room.
Also, when I ordered my Fresh Lumpia (three pcs for $5.50), I had thought they would have shrimp inside. They make theirs with pork. (What if you don't eat pork?) You need to ask for shrimp in advance (they don't tell you to do that though!). The Hoisin sauce with Sriracha was pretty tasty with the nuts sprinkled in. I did tell one of the partners that they need to use a plastic or melamine plate for the fresh lumpia since the skin is so sticky it would lift paper off the paper plate!
I did order the Special Combo Banh Mi Sandwich for $8.50. It had BBQ Beef, BBQ Chicken, and BBQ Pork Belly. It wasn't bad...just a disproportionate amount of bread compared to any sauce. I ordered the Vietnamese Iced Coffee ($5.50) which was not up to the standard. Also, and I'm sorry for being a little hard on these hard-working folks, but they need to improve their Fried Chicken Wings Appetizer (eight pcs for $8.50). These were wimpy and tasteless. There are some people who would feel insulted if they got the plate I was served. I did tell them that as well, so I hope they took heed and now offer something better.
I'm sure you can navigate your way through their limited (17 item) menu to find something you may enjoy. They have smoothies (not easy to mess these up) and some Rice Plates like Grilled Pork Chop ($12.50).
I think this restaurant will do much better once they pay more attention to their customers.
Mosa's Joint - The Best Thing I Ate All Week!
I need to put this in context. I had not yet eaten at Mosa's new location. My arrival was a long time coming and way overdue. In fact, I didn't go there to write a review and didn't expect that I'd be eating my late lunch here. But once I walked in after having a particularly grueling day, I felt I was transported to another dimension and I began to immediately feel relaxed and at ease! I saw Sara Pleadwell after delivering an order and said I was hungry and ordered a Lamb Gyro ($9.75). I had a glass of deliciously flavored Iced tea and read my paper until my plate came. Seeing that colorful plate filled with fresh greens, feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion slices, and drizzled in a creamy yogurt dressing I was compelled to take a photo before putting down my smartphone and grabbing my gyro for the first bite! Yes, it was even better than I recalled, and it was excellent then!!! Surely the best Gyro on island!! Sara and Monique have made this place a destination for superb food ! This new location has allowed them to really expand and flourish! It was 3:30 p.m. and customers were still coming in and eating!
Now, talk about clever merchandising! They have a table tent promoting the LEBRON JAMESON BURGER for $16.95. This is a juicy all beef patty topped with their Jameson caramelized onions, crunchy bacon and a Jameson glaze with Blue Cheese crumble and gooey Brie cheese! Dang, if that don't sound enticing!!! You get this with a side of steak-cut fries and a Jameson shot or cocktail! Going to give that a try and bring down a gang so we can share through Mosa's kickin' menu!
Try the Carrot Cheesecake - talk about LOVE!!!
Tumon Bay Center
Open for breakfast and Lunch
Gabriel's House of Pasta has branched out into the "big leagues" of Tumon by opening Gabriel's Restaurant in the Tumon Bay Center, next to Collosseum and down the hall from Kracked Egg & L&L Hawaiian BBQ. I have not been here and the photos of the food are courtesy of my friend and fellow foodie, Yuka B., who shared them with me as an enticement to come...I will one day!! But you can go now! Open for breakfast and lunch , and dinner eventually, I'm hearing good things about Gabriel's Restaurant. One of the photos shows a Croque Madame, which is a toasted ham & cheese sandwich served with Mornay Sauce and a fried egg. Another is a photo of a breakfast platter with two fried eggs over a bed of home-style potatoes.
The menu has Eggs Benedict (one with Smoked Salmon and the other with Italian Prosciutto); they have Corned Beef Hash and Crab Cakes; they have a Monte Cristo, Stuffed Brioche French Toast, Pancakes, and omelets. Sounds really good.
For lunch they have Salads, and appetizers that include Fried Calamari, French Onion Soup, Fried Ravioli, and Mussels Bianco. They feature Sandwiches and Wraps, Crab Cake Sliders, Grilled Veggie Gyro, French Dip, Sausage and Pepper Sub, and Grilled Chicken Shawarma (shown in the photo).
Well, now we have another place to go eat an intriguing breakfast and lunch! Check it out!!
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
Restaurant & Market
Beach Road, Garapan
"Bubba taught me everything there was to know about shrimpin.'" - Forrest Gump
I've always admired Tom Hanks as an actor. His performance as Forrest Gump is among the best life-story films ever made. The fact that this epic movie was the model for a restaurant chain named after the movie is mind-staggeringly ingenious. It all fits so well into the real world love for shrimp. And now, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is on the idyllic tropical island of Saipan, right in the heart of Garapan (it would be akin to Guam's Pleasure Island location), which optimizes the tourist foot traffic which will surely increase once the Grand Mariana Hotel & Resort open their doors just behind them!!
If you are like me and have never gone to a Bubba Gump's in the Mainland or anywhere they've opened in Asia (like the Philippines), you will be completely swept off your feet by the sheer magic and wonder of Hollywood celebrating Americana and the charming culture of the South! I've talked to people who have seen the movie 20 times! That should help them answer the trivia questions Bubba Gump's energetic and engaging servers pose after you've settled down and had an appetizer or two.
I was invited to try out Bubba Gump's by my friend, Mike Sablan, who is an executive with the franchise holder, Triple J Saipan. Joining us was another Saipan friend, Jay Santos, with whom I've collaborated judging and emceeing the Taste of the Marianas Culinary Competitions over the past 10 years. Another Triple J Saipan Manager, Perry Inos, also joined our group. I knew his late grandmother from Rota, Diana, as well as his grandfather, Joseph, who were customers of mine for their bakery. Rounding out our gathering was Ringo Medina, restaurant manager, who had managed the Philippine location.
Let's get to the food! The menu is weeks long - that's how many time you are going to have to come back to try everything you want! We barely scratched the wood table tops with our sampling of the menu, which started off with the Bubba Gump Traditional Shrimp Cocktail ($12.95), which has Classic Jumbo Shrimp served with Bubba's own Zesty Homemade Cocktail Sauce. Definitely a high quality shrimp that lets you enjoy the natural sweetness and firm meaty texture without frying, sauteing or grilling.
Next we had the Seafood Hush Pups ($11.95) - Not quite Hush Puppies - "we make 'em better" ! These Hand Rolled tasty Shrimp and Fish with golden Corn are deep fried and served with a Remoulade Dippin' Sauce. They were alright - I've been trying to avoid fried foods but these were given a pass!
The Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich ($14.95) has a Fresh Toasted Baguette stuffed with warm, hand-breaded Shrimp, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Pickles, & Mayo. It's served with Fries, and costs $14.95. I really liked all the ingredients...the Baguette needed a little more work (it's been about two months since I ate there for this review) so they probably resolved the bread consistency issue by now.
One of my favorite shrimp preparations is scampi, and their menu boldly pronounces: "...Of Course we have Scampi!!" Yes, they prepare Tender Shrimp sauteed with Capers in Lemon Garlic butter, served over a bed of Linguine ($19.95). I really liked this dish...it's a natural marriage - pasta, shrimp, garlic and butter. I could (and will) eat this again. There is a profusion of big shrimp throughout the pasta in this dish! With the garlic bread it's more than enough for two or more people to share as a meal on its own.
A classic Cajun standard for me is Jambalaya, and Bubba Gump's has Aced this one with Blackened Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille Sausage, sauteed with Bell Pepper, Onions, and rice in Bubba's own Spicy Sauce. It's generously Topped with Tomatoes and Green Onions, and you can have it for only $18.95! It is absolutely shareable. In fact, I recommend you go with several friends and just share the dishes so you get a taste of many things!
Our last entree was Lt. Dan's Surf & Turf, which is made with Bubba Gump's award-winning Dixie Style Baby Back Ribs, slow roasted to perfection along with succulent Grilled Shrimp and Fries ($25.95). I don't think the photo does justice to the actual amount of food is on this hot platter! There are right jumbo shrimp (they're so big they are skewered off the plate). I have to admit they did right by their ribs. "Awesome is as awesome does"!! - and awesome did these ribs!
I can't say how it was possible but we were persuaded to save room for dessert - at least a taste! They should have twisted my arm harder - the Key Lime Pie ($8.95) is to die for! Imagine, going all the way to Saipan for Key Lime Pie! It's that good! We also had Mama's Bread Pudding ($9.95), which was respectable. This place seems destined to succeed by virtue of their novelty. It also gives Saipan another theme destination - it's a fun place and you want to remember your time here, so get a souvenir or two, or three! Come enjoy the excitement of dining at Saipan's newest enterainment destination! You'll be running across the country like Forrest Gump in not time!
Ken the Guam Food Guy