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January 31, 2003, Volume 3 Number 5


Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

A little while ago I was contacted by a writer doing an article for the Kansai Time Out Magazine about visiting Guam after SuperTyphoon Pongsona. She wanted to know if I could provide some insight on whether Guam's restaurants are "back to normal", or if not "normal", how "not-normal" they are. I was off-island on Saipan when I received that message and responded that our past newsletters had information describing some of the restaurant conditions, and directed her to research those past articles for her story. Since that time, though, I've given some more thought to her comments about "normal", and it is my observation that we still have a way to go until things are back to "normal" in our restaurants, as well as in our lives. It appears that people have been worn down by the aftermath of Pongsona. Many restaurants still show signs of physical damage as they wait for insurance settlements to pay for repairs. If I were to do a checklist of problem areas it would include flies, tables not yet bused, weary service staff, bland food, carpet odors, service delays and an ambient stuffiness caused by malfunctioning air-conditioners.

There are exceptions, but I believe these are symptoms of the post-typhoon stress, survival issues, and damaged infrastructure that have affected everyone. We need time to recover before we can regain our sense of "normalcy". Time is the ultimate panacea, a remedy for every affliction. We had all just started to feel "normal" again after suffering the ravages of Chata'an when we were slammed by Pongsona some six months later. We need time to heal. I'd be delighted if we can see "normal" service levels in our restaurants by April, and I'm being optimistic. What do you think?

In Today's Issue:

  • Drive for Justice - Saturday, Sunday & Monday at GPO
  • Valentine's Specials - Check out the List at GuamDiner.com
  • Around the Island - Utage Japanese, HRC Pika Pika, Oriental Kitchen
  • New Directions Highlights GFG Pre-Typhoon Restaurant Thoughts
  • Mexican Night at Kili Cafe and Terrace - Hyatt Regency Saipan

Drive for Justice - Saturday, Sunday & Monday at GPO

By now everyone living on Guam has surely heard of young Justice Gofigan Taitague. Justice is 5-years old and has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, T-Cell, a rare type of cancer that requires a bone marrow transplant for effective treatment. The National Marrow Donor Program has come to Guam and will be holding a Marrow Donor Drive at GPO (Guam Premium Outlets) February 1, 2 and 3 from 10am - 5pm. Potential donors must be between the ages of 18 - 60, have general good health and give a blood sample after signing a consent form. If you want to participate, you must be aware of the surgical procedures involved if your marrow type matches a patient needing a transplant. A special needle is inserted into the hipbone to draw a donor's bone marrow. If you become a NMDP volunteer donor, you may be called at any time to donate, and should be prepared to do so. This is a safe operation and is certainly for a worthy humanitarian cause. To help little Justice, the call is out for Asian and Pacific-Islanders, particularly those with mixed Chamorro and Filipino blood, as this would narrow down the matches for her bone marrow needs. Helping Justice by going through this screening could save her life. Moreover, it could help many others who may need this type of life-saving transplant.

Valentine's Specials - Check out the List at GuamDiner.com

In case you've been preoccupied with survival, recovery and stress, we are here to remind you that Valentines is just around the corner. This special day is an opportunity to express our love and affection for those who make our lives sweet. Check out the various specials and you'll see that there is something for every budget and taste. The list grows daily so visit GuamDiner.com regularly and click on the big red heart!

Around the Island - Utage Japanese, HRC Pika Pika, Oriental Kitchen

Vibrant floral adornments welcome you to the newly reopened Utage Japanese Restaurant in the Guam Palace Hotel. The flowers are a complement to the equally-beautiful array of Japanese food displayed for the all-you-can eat buffet that the Utage has launched for its lunchtime service from 11:30am to 2:30pm. For $12.50, you can feast on Teppanyaki, assorted cold appetizers (a variety of noodles--basil, green tea, ginger and udon), "oshinko"(pickled vegetables), sushi, sashimi, five hot entrees, and dessert items. For this week only, "tikoy" (pan-fried sweetened, sticky rice cake) is offered in observance of Chinese New Year.

According to Executive Chef Philip Duong, each week will feature a different food style preparation. This week's theme is Teppanyaki, and future themes will inlcude Tempura and Donburi. The teppan-grilled items prepared were shrimp, chicken, steak, calamari,and mixed vegetables. The miso soup was notably delicious, as were the sweet "mochi" sticky rice balls and red velvet cake from the dessert and fresh fruit table. Call 646-2930 for reservations. Utage Japanese Restaurant offers a relaxing and peaceful ambiance that marries the tranquil garden views outside with the new floral decorations inside.

Chef Singh continues the themed Friday Night Happy Hours at Hard Rock Cafe with this week's "Some Like it Hot". Enjoy spicy hot dishes such as Green Chili and Cilantro Marinated Mussels, Tinian Pepper Rubbed Pork Ribs and Crushed Kashimiri Chili Onion Rings.

If you're looking for a great cheap lunch in Mangilao, don't forget Oriental Kitchen just past Public Health as you travel towards Barrigada. Their Kim Chee noodles are famous and the charsu bbq chicken is really good with many other choices available. With a three-choice plate for $5 it is hard to find a better and tastier value.

January Directions Highlights GFG Pre-Typhoon Restaurant Thoughts

The cover of the January 2003 issue of Directions Magazine has a great picture of Angela Terlaje Perez, founder of Starz Gymnastic Academy, confidently poised in the foreground with Tumon's New Year's fireworks exploding behind her--it's a match for the high energy, powerful spirit of this mother of six who's made her entrepreneurial vision a reality. You can read her story, as well as a host of other compelling articles about our island and its people in this post-Pongsona issue. In the "Heard on the Radio" section, the Guam Food Guy's picture (don't laff at that hat--it reflects the GuamDiner.com checkered brand) is inset within segments of his interview by Directions Publisher and K-57 Radio Host, Jerry Roberts. The interview was aired 2 days prior to Super-Typhoon Pongsona and discussed such topics as what restaurants do prior to and after a storm, maintenance issue, customer service issues on Guam and on Saipan. Be sure to read "The Last Word" by Tony Das, managing director of Startec+PCI. His article is called "You Can't Eat Sunshine, Mon"! It's good reading!

Mexican Night at Kili Cafe and Terrace - Hyatt Regency Saipan

If you've never had a reason to go to Saipan before, now you do. The Kili Cafe and Terrace at the Hyatt Regency Saipan is offering a fabulous fiesta of original, authentic Mexican cuisine, the likes of which I've not seen on Guam. That's not to say we don't have some good Mexican food here - it's just that the folks at the Hyatt Regency Saipan have created something unique that food aficionados (especially lovers of Mexican food) will truly appreciate with their Wednesday Night Mexican All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.

An international team of chefs lead by Executive Chef David Jones, along with Chef Roberto Serrano (aptly named for the fiery pepper), Chef Habib Akbar, and Chef Robert Rios, have pooled their talents and acquired the essential ingredients to prepare a large variety of Cold and Hot Entrees that are highlighted by the Live Fajita and Barbeque stations.

My recent visit to Saipan allowed me the opportunity to indulge in this meal (I learned about it from an article in the Marianas Variety). The menu lists many stimulating offerings, and includes such fare as Ensalada de Res (Beef and Onion Salad with Cilantro); Ensalada de Nopales (Cactus Salad with Mexican Cheese); Pico de Gallo (Jicama, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad); Puerco ala Vinagretta (Pork Hocks in Vinaigrette); Ostiones Frescos (Fresh Oysters), Patas de Cangrejo (King Crab Legs) and Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche). The Pan de Ajo (Mexican Garlic Bread) is a treat, too.

Among the Hot Entrees in chafing dishes are Pescado con salsa de camarones (Fish with Shrimp Sauce); Mole Verde de Pollo (Chicken in Green Mole Sauce); Adobo de Res (Mexican Beef Adobo) - an exceptional dish, with tender succulent meat stewed in a savory sauce that'll make you dizzy; Frijoles Refritos; Arroz Blanco Mexicano (White Rice Mexican Style); and a Taco Station, where you make your own hard-shell taco with fresh ingredients (guacamole, salsa picante, cheese, black olives, sour cream, and a mouth-watering beef and bean mixture). I didn't have a chance to try the soup, which was a Sopa de Ajo con Huevos (Garlic Soup with Eggs). Next time.

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Bon Appetit!

The Guam Food Guy

Don't miss this week's features at GuamDiner.com!

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Copyright 2003 Guam Diner