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December 18, 2015, Volume 15 Number 20

Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,

You don't need to see snow falling to know it is Christmas...just listen to the sound of the cash registers at the malls! Christmas shouldn't be only about spending is also about sharing the spirit of Christmas...about being kind, loving, and respectful of your fellow human beings! It would be wonderful if we could have the Christmas spirit every day...the feeling of giving something special and meaningful. A kind word...a compliment. How about paying attention and really listening to someone talking to you! Sure it sounds easy to say and hard to do, but it should be easy to do if we would only slow down from our hyper-velocitized lifestyle.

If only! One of the wonderful things about this time of year is our fabulous displays showcasing Christmas. The Hilton train, the Hyatt's Gingerbread House, the Westin's tall Christmas tree, the miniature Christmas village scenes at the Pacific Star Resort, and the Christmas on Guam lighted display across from Ypao Beach and PROA Restaurant in Tumon. Eating is an anticipated tradition on Christmas and New Year's. Reservations should be made at your favorite places if you haven't made them already. Prego and Taste are renowned for their fabulous culinary offerings. There may still be time! Most importantly be sure not to over-imbibe and drive. Get a designated driver, call a cab, or stay in the hotel where you are partying.

We at GuamDiner want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Ken the Guam Food Guy

Furusato Japanese Restaurant
Garapan Saipan

Lunch : 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.

I was power-walking through Garapan on a recent trip to Saipan (have to get my 10,000 steps in) and I had passed Furusato Japanese Restaurant again. This time though I stopped and looked in the window at some food displays and further inside at guests enjoying their dinner experience. It was the prospect of getting my Yakitori fix that was motivating me, as well as my craving for ramen. I went in and was seated at a table. Oddly enough, for as many times as I've been to Saipan I had never eaten here. This restaurant has been here for well over a decade. Perusing the menu, they must have had over 100 menu items!! The first thing I ordered was an Asahi beer (small can-bottles were out). This really helps to relax you after a brisk walk!!

My choices were already set. I ordered the Pork Belly BBQ (2 pcs - $4.00) with salt. I also ordered the "Yakitori" which was listed on the menu as "Chicken & Onion BBQ" (2 pcs - $4.00), with Teriyaki sauce. I also ordered the Hot Soba w/Tempura ($13.00). As I sipped my beer, I gazed at the surroundings, admiring the decor and all the elements that made this place feel like you were in an izakaya outside of Toyko! There were business men drinking sake and eating sushi at one table and a young family from Japan eating at the table next to mine.

First to arrive was my Pork belly (buta kushi) which had a slice of local lemon, which I deftly squeezed over the grilled meat. This was very tasty and I sprinkled some red pepper on my skewer to give it a kick! Two pieces had to be need to overdo it...there's always another day. Besides, all I really needed was just a taste! Then came my real treat...or what I had anticipated. It was the grilled chicken with onion. The sauce was a light teriyaki so it was good and there were charred parts where the meat, onion, and sauce caramelized. This was yummy good, but not as good as I'd had in Sapporo. But good enough that I could enjoy it!

My server brought out my bowl of Hot Soba with Tempura. I was starting to question why after walking for nearly an hour I would want a hot soup (tensoba) and not a cold one!! Too late...I had made my choice so I began to eat. My first spoon of the broth brought back a flood of memories of Japan...the dashi was perfectly light and had a flavor depth from years of tradition. Talk about food for the soul! I would have to say this was the therapeutic part of this meal. If you've not had this dish, or had your tempura bathed in hot soup, you should try this - it is delicious (oishi!).

I will have to return to Furusato another time with some companions as eating alone is quite limiting. Also, I will return when they have the lights fixed on their sign!

Certified Angus Beef Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Al Dente Ristorante
Hyatt Regency Guam

It's been over a month since I had this experience and if it is no longer available, I apologize! I just had to write about it since when it happened it seemed so unreal! The amount of succulent, unimaginably tasty beef that was placed on a large wooden platter was overwhelming and an assault (a welcome one) on my about a sensory overload!! I have been in recovery, thus the late review. But the write-up had to happen so that I could one day look back on this and tell my great grand kids that I did in fact eat this fabulously prepared meal!! Thank you, Chef Cristiano Pozzi!! Grazie mille!!

From what I had heard, this meal (Porterhouse 32 oz.) was priced at $100.00 and was designed for four people to share. As there were only two of us, we were already out-numbered. Since I wasn't over-indulging, it only meant we would have some serious leftovers. The temperature of the meat was Medium rare and it had never been frozen, so the freshness was amazing and yes, refreshing!! Specially lightly seasoned by Chef Cristiano, it was sliced in thick, edible chunks and accompanied by crisp asparagus spears, sliced red potato, and marinated portabello mushrooms, underscored by a carpet of fresh arugula! There were four salts available to enhance the natural flavor of the steak. One was sea salt, another was the pink Himalayan salt, and other was a smoked salt. Not much was needed...just a small tab as the meat's natural goodness jumped onto your palate with a flavor boost ignited by the salt! It was an indulgent meal that was appreciated in measured, well-savored bites. This was certainly one of my most memorable steak experiences!

Pho Basi Vietnamese Restaurant
On Marine Corps Drive (in the former Sugarnomics location)
Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. (Mon-Sat)
Sunday Closed

I had first heard about Pho Basi while listening to Ray Gibson describing his favorable dining experience there shortly after they had opened. They have only been open for about two months, so it was time to go and visit. We left the office (I'd invited Aileen to join me) as I needed to share this food experience. When we arrived there were a few customers eating. The place still had a just painted odor to it, so it's sense newness was evident. It is bright inside and there are several flat screen monitors showing video without audio. There is a long bar on one side of the restaurant which fronts the entrance to the kitchen. It is a well-stocked bar, however, it is so bright I don't think anyone wants to drink at it. The official name on the sign is Pho Basi Vietnamese Restaurant & Lounge. They would have to open later and dim the lights for the lounge business to pick up.

While sitting there and reviewing the menu, our server came and asked for our drinks. There is a reason why I wait for restaurants to be operating for a few months before reviewing...they have service issues to address. This is part of the case here as the servers are still a little shy and aren't paying a lot of attention to the tables that need clearing. They also don't keep an eye on their active customers...they are caught up in the process of taking orders and filling them, not of staying tuned into the customers. Just a few first impressions. The menu at Pho Basi is extensive and has most of the Vietnamese standards. The co-owner/chef, Linh Le, told us that she had first started out with soups being their focus, with other foods following. She really takes pride in her soups.

We only ordered four dishes to sample for this review. They were an appetizer (Vietnamese Sandwich - $7.50); the Pho Dac Biet (Special Noodles Soup with sliced beef, beef tripe, beef tendon, well-done beef and meatballs - $11.95); Shrimp Lemon Grass - $11.95; and Deep Fried Pork Chop ($9.95). I also ordered a Vietnamese Coffee(Iced) for $4.00.

Here's a quick assessment of the food we had: The Vietnamese Coffee - was outstanding! One of the richest and best tasting I've had at a local restaurant.

The Pho - Very Fresh with a light broth that I was able to complete with my add ins - Hoisin Sauce, Sriracha hot chili sauce, bean sprouts, squeezed lemon, and fresh basil. This was for the bowl we shared. I added additional donne peppers to my bowl. The beef was good and the portion was quite large. The prices seem to be higher than other places, but that may be something that's been going up for everyone. There was left over soup and noodles - more than two of us could finish.

The Shrimp Lemon Grass was just fabulous, not because the shrimp were huge (they weren't), but they were clean and plentiful. It was the actual lemon grass sauce...this was not made in haste, but made with TLC. If I knew how to make it, I'd be a fanatic about making it this good! So intensely flavored you'd want to run anything you could grab and mop up this sauce! Also, the onions were sauteed and were so sweet and tasty we just kept picking these pieces up and eating very good! Now I want to try her beef and chicken lemongrass. They score highly on this item.

The Fried Pork Chop - Not too impressed. Kind of tough and not that well flavored or marinated...dry. They needed finadene. I actually broke up pieces and dipped them in the lemongrass sauce...much better! Zozo's has excellent deep fried pork chops! If you are going to eat unhealthy food, make sure it's the best!

The Vietnamese Sandwich - known as Banh mi, this is another carefully crafted treat! It is a single serving (sliced in two halves), and served as an appetizer, not a main course. I think it would be more loaded and priced higher because of the ingredients. The baguette is toasted, warm, and crisp to the touch and bite. There is pate, mayonnaise, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots, sliced pork and onions. We both were amazed and pleased, and had a hard time putting our halves of the sandwich down it was so good!

Salad Dressing - middle bottle between Sriracha and Hoisin. This is the salad dressing made with cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, and lime juice. Very tasty on the greens! I've had this before on beef salad...great! Try it!

So, overall we were greatly impressed. This restaurant already has a following and social media has been quite supportive in referring business and new customers. We will come back for sure. The other partner is George Basile and they have worked hard to get this place operational. I will come back and try what Linh says is her hottest soup seller - the Bun Bo Hue (spice beef soup with beef and pig's feet) for $10.95! Pho Basi Vietnamese Restaurant is a great new discovery!!

Me and Linh Le

Ken the Guam Food Guy

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