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October 20, 2015, Volume 15 Number 18

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

So much to do and so little time! That's been my modus operandi these past few weeks as I've travelled back and forth to Saipan for business and to spend some time with my new bride! I am always asked how's the married life...not too different than before since she still lives in Saipan! Hopefully things will all work out for her to get to Guam early next year. There are so many more restaurants that have opened both on Guam and surprisingly on Saipan. In fact, Saipan will be seeing a tremendous amount of development in the next 5 - 10 years! Guam will show steady growth as we prepare for the additional population growth from the military build-up. Both Saipan and Guam will see new hotels opening, as well as numerous renovations as some of the older properties upgrade their facilities. These are exciting times for us here...there is still the issue of the shortage of skilled labor. That's going to be the order of the day. Of course, when it comes to culinary, Guam has been doing extraordinary things as showcased in the recent Micronesian Chef's Associations Salon Culinaire 2015, which was truly "The Battle of Mannge Town"!

Ken the "Guam Food Guy"

"The Battle of Mannge Town"
October 15, 2015
Guam Community College

It was an amazing day for the culinary arts on Guam. The competitions were numerous with a field of over 60 competitors, from the secondary school level to the Masters (jokingly called the"manamko" chefs). There were three heats for the Junior Chef competition (Chefs 25 years & under, who are in a non-supervisory position) who were given a Mystery box of ingredients and had to make a main dish with protein, vegetable and starch. There were two heats for the Professional Chef Category, and they had to make a main dish with protein, vegetable, and starch, served hot. Their competition was a "Black Box" competition, where the main ingredient (protein) is revealed five minutes before the start. That's what was so exciting about the event - people were scrambling to get ingredients from the pantry (they had to use all of the ingredients in their black box.

The secondary students were two-man team entries, and there were four High Schools competing. The Masters competition was a "Chopped" style, which meant they only had 30 minutes to complete their dish, which had to be prepared from ingredients in their Black Box. The event was closed to the public and the media was invited. I was heading up the judges committee so I had the opportunity to see and taste first-hand the many creations entered by the chefs. The winners by division were:

Secondary School Competition:
1st Place: Okkudu High School
2nd Place: John F. Kennedy HS
3rd Place: George Washington HS

Junior Chef Competition:
1st Place: Rogerson Sula - Westin Resort Guam
2nd Place: Francis Olivares - Sea Grill
3rd Place : Jasmine Nadres - Hyatt Regency Guam

Professional Chef Competition:
1st Place : Sandy Santiago, Executive Sous Chef, Sea Grill
2nd Place : Ernie Merfalen, Executive Chef, Meskla Chamoru Fusion Bistro
3rd Place : Scott Robertson, Chef de Cuisine, Hyatt Regency Guam

Master Chef's Competition:
1st Place : Paul Kerner, Chef Instructor, GCC
2nd Place : Simplicio Jr. Taga, Executive Chef, Pacific Islands Club
3rd Place : Rey Dasalla, Executive Chef, Sea Grill

Congratulations to all of the participants who made this a successful, well-attended culinary competition.

World Cafe's Sunday Brunch Extravaganza
New & Exciting International World Cafe
Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan
Garapan, Saipan
670-234-7171 Ext. 1585
Price: $35.00 (subject to local discounts)

If you've not been to Saipan's World Cafe at the Fiesta Resort & Spa in a while, you will be amazed by the transformation of the furnishings as well as the state of the art buffet displays. But it is the food that makes all of this work so well and people are talking about the surprising improvements that have taken place in this new World Cafe. Much of this can be attributed to the vision and creative inspiration of Executive Chef Roland Fitz. Although the Sunday brunch themes will change every week, for the month of October you can expect to celebrate Oktoberfest with a variety of German-inspired dishes.

We had the pleasure of dining at the World Cafe earlier this month and had the "German-themed" Sunday brunch, which featured a variety of German dishes from Chef Roland's native country. Among these entrees was Pork Schnitzel Vienna on warm potato salad, Braised Lamb Gigot with Blackeyed Beans Sauce, Boiled Beef in Creamy Olive and Horse Radish Sauce, Cream Cheese Terrine with Capsicum Cream Cheese, Light Mushroom Crepes, Mustard Eggs, Boiled Sausages, and Kaiser Schmarrn with prune compote (actually used apple sauce, raspberry compote, and strawberries).

The buffet boasted a whole roasted pig, rib roast, and crab legs galore, along with prawns, mussels, salmon, and seafood salads. Although some of the ingredients may vary each week, the World Cafe will always have a solid selection of seafood, prime rib, and fresh grilled meats and vegetables.

One of the great pleasures I have when I visit Saipan and the Fiesta Resort is the opportunity to see my long-time friend and living Saipan legend, David "Uncle Dave" Sablan, who is an executive with Tan Holdings. We were able to get a photo with Uncle Dave, who was happy to meet my new wife Jin. He told her he knew me for many years and said that I was a good man! Now that's an endorsement!! I can also endorse the World Cafe's Sunday Brunch spread as being one of Saipan's best! Be sure to make reservations before you come - this place fills up quickly!

Nami Restaurant - Taking Donburi to the Next Level
Beach Road (next to Cha)
Garapan, Saipan
Open Daily : Lunch - 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. \ Dinner : 5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Thanks to social media, namely FaceBook, I was able to find out that Nami Restaurant had re-opened and changed its menu to specialize in making outstanding donburi (rice bowl) selections. I had not been to the original or previous Nami, but I saw a post by the owner of Casa Urashima, Osamu Taniguchi inviting his friends to come and try the new Nami Restaurant's menu which is available for lunch and dinner. I replied to Osamu that I would make it a point to stop by on my next visit to Saipan, and that's what I did...TWICE!!!

On my first dinner visit, I sat down at a table and was surprised by the simple menu choices (there are six) and the reasonable prices, ranging from $10 - $12. I ordered an Asahi, then I ordered the Salmon Bowl ($12). I also had heard some positive things about the Beef Curry ($10), which is also the Chef's Specialty, so I ordered one of these. Nami is a simple place, clean and brightly colored. Diners feel welcome here, like they are stopping by a friends's house. There is a counter facing the kitchen and a few tables.

The curry plate came first - it was so very aromatic and filled the plate completely with a thick brown curry with big chunks of beef and a mound of steamed white rice. A generous pile of pickled red ginger was in a small side dish and bowl of Suimono, Japanese clear broth soup, was provided. All items were served on a wooden plank.

Next to arrive was my Salmon Bowl, which was certainly a feast for weary eyes! The fresh made wasabi was joined by fresh made ginger paste, along with garlic slices and onion. The salmon was so very fresh and I even tried a little of the finadene which was similar in taste to a ponzu sauce. They really are proud of their finadene, which they promote with little educational signs. They are equally proud of their Tinian donne salii. They even have a basket with local raw eggs ($1.00), which is very reasonable.

The Beef Curry was quite good, and I did leave enough to take back to my hotel room. It was a fair-sized portion that was shareable. It was great re-heated later! On this first visit I was happy to have met Gina Ignacio, who was busy cooking and Ayaka Akimaru , who was taking care of the front of the house. They were kind to agree to have their picture taken. I was so happy with my overall dining experience that I had to come back.

On this dinner visit I wanted to try the Local Fish Bowl ($12.00). which featured Yellowfin Tuna, Rainbow runner, and Bonito. The presentation was marvelous and I could see how fresh the fish was. I liked the sesame seeds that were sprinkled atop the sashimi. I ate all of my fish and very little rice...I had another dish coming...the Beef Bowl ($10.00) - with 100% U.S. Certified Angus Beef, thinly-sliced like for shabu shabu. This beef was delicious and I ate all of it with just a little bit of rice.

On this dinner visit, the staff was different. I asked to take their photo as well. The young girl's name was Ayana and the chef's name was Suzuki-san. I will definitely return to Nami Restaurant when I get back to Saipan - I will bring the perfect companion - my new wife!

Ita dake masu!!

Ken the Guam Food Guy

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