Palm Cafe's 'A Taste of Southeast Asia' - A Feast of Flavors
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Outrigger Guam Resort
Outrigger Guam Resort's Palm Cafe has done it again by introducing another outstanding theme dinner buffet to island diners. "A Taste of Southeast Asia" offers a remarkable culinary tour throughout some of the nations comprising the South and East Asian region, showcasing dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, India, China, and Indonesia. Every Thursday night from 6-10pm, the Palm Cafe is transformed into an exotic food festival and is adorned to reflect the bright and fanciful colors, imagery, culture and fabrics of Indonesia, Thailand, and India, as well as the other countries. For a price of only $29.95 per adult and $16.95 per child ages 6-12 years (a 10% s.c. will be added to all checks), you can partake of an array of cold salads and hot entrees featuring the distinct spice blends and flavors of these nations from where so many food traditions have originated. (The buffet also includes free-flowing Carlsberg Beer.)
Although it may be possible for someone to eat everything available on this buffet, I have learned to limit myself to only the items I can realistically finish, with a goal of tasting as many new and unusual items as I can. The Palm Cafe is interactive and you can start where ever you'd like. Some of the entrees change every other week, however, there is always a selection of dishes representing each country and the food name tags clearly identify the items as well as the country.
This time I decided to enjoy the hot entrees first thanks to the photos I was taking igniting my appetite! I spooned up some Nasi Lemak (coconut rice) and some Chicken Biryani with spicy yogurt sauce. This was followed by asparagus spears, broccoli and cabbage from the Cap Cay (stir fried vegetables), Bakmi Goreng (an Indonesian standard of seafood, fried egg and noodles). I made sure to get a few pieces of the fried fish with garlic chili sauce. This pan had some egg noodles with vegetables inside along with coriander leaves and lime which added to the visual appeal complementing the spicy fish.
The Penang and Vegetable Curry looked so good with its rich golden sauce with tomatoes and beef chunks floating amongst chopped cilantro and it literally was as good as it looked!
Other items I had to add to my rapidly filling plate were pieces of marinated pork with lemon grass and shallot, spicy Sambal chili crab from Singapore (one of my favorites), Tandoori Leg of Lamb, and some rib roast, both of which were at the carving station along with a variety of dipping sauces.
I also picked up some Gado Gado from the cold salad section. This Indonesian classic had cucumbers, bean sprouts, fried tofu, boiled egg wedges, and shrimp chips along with the traditional peanut sauce. I added a little lemon grass beef salad, some Vietnamese chicken salad and samosas from India. For soup, I added a bowl of Tom Yum, the Thai version of hot and sour soup.
I made sure that I had one of the Vietnamese fried lumpia, which I put into a lettuce wrap, added noodles, shredded cucumber, basil, and bean sprouts, with a little bit of fish sauce with chili tossed in for good measure. There really was too much food here, however, I made a really valiant effort to eat as much as I could! With all of this richly spiced and diverse Asian cuisine, one might ask if there is a visiting chef here from each country making these dishes. Well, the chef responsible is actually a long-time resident of Guam who has been here since 1980 and it so happens that his specialty is in preparing these same Asian dishes. He is Phillip de Duong and he has found his roots at this Thursday night dinner buffet extravaganza.
Although it wasn't possible for me to eat all of the desserts, there were some notable ones that you should try when you visit. One is the Kolak Pisang (banana in coconut milk) and the other is the carrot sweet cake from India. I did have some fresh pineapple, strawberries, and managed to get a slice of some really delicious coconut cake and our local favorite, latiya, which the Outrigger always gets right
The Palm Cafe's Taste of Southeast Asia is in its 4th week and I am sure that it will begin drawing more people as the word gets out about this elaborate and diverse spread of Asian delights. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 649-9000. I recommend that you come to the Palm Cafe on Thursday nights so that you can see and taste for yourself the amazing selection of Southeast Asian dishes, prepared by a chef who prides himself on his regional and international culinary proficiency. And remember, the ice-cold Carlsbergs are free-flowing! And just so you know, other buffet offerings from Palm Cafe include the very popular Hafa Adai Friday Dinner Buffet and the Prime Rib & Crab Dinner Buffet every Saturday.