Dear "Guam Food Guy" Reader,
This has to be one of the most exciting times this island has seen when you consider the huge influx of people coming to Guam from around the Pacific to attend FESTPAC 2016! The anticipation is quite thick and delegations have already arrived (the PATA Convention has already brought in regional visitors from a number of Asian and Pacific Island countries). As I said, it is exciting and you can see the rush of activities taking place in Hagatna as the finishing touches are put on the new Guam Museum - an amazing edifice that has changed the view of our capital village. FESTPAC runs from May 22 - June 4. For those who want to find out more about this exciting event, check out this link https://www.facebook.com/guamfestpac2016/.
Some things you have to see to believe, and one of them is this photo I took this past week on Saipan of the soon to open BUBBA GUMP's Shrimp Restaurant! Obviously the owners, Triple J Enterprises, have a lot of confidence in the future of Saipan's tourism market and the overall economy. This prime location (across from I LOVE SAIPAN store) has a constant flow of foot traffic! Triple J already enjoys successful tourist patronage at Tony Roma's and Capricciosa, and it would make sense that a new dining attraction located smack dab in the middle of thousands of tourists would flourish. They are also just down the street from the BEST SUNSHINE LIVE Training Casino in the DFS Galleria.
There's a lot happening in Saipan, folks! Next week will be the last Saturday in May for the Taste of the Marianas International Festival and Beer Garden. There will be a professional culinary competition on May 28 that will highlight the final night. This is a fun event and if haven't had an opportunity to attend, this would be a good night to go!
Lot's happening here in our small part of the Western Pacific!
Ken the Guam Food Guy
Another Pizza Place?
Just down across the parking lot from Boston Pizza is the new Pieology Pizzeria which opened in the past two weeks! This is a trendy new franchise that has ridden a wave of success on the Mainland. I have heard a lot of positive feedback from many people who have gone there and crafted their own personal pizzas. The photos I've seen posted look pretty appealing. Can't wait to go try!
A Taste of Vietnam - Thursday Night Dinner Buffet
6 - 9 p.m.
Hilton Guam Resort & Spa
Call 646-DINE for reservations
I can't remember how many times I've gone to Islander Terrace's theme night buffets over the years. It's always exciting though when they change an evening and try something new and different. This time they really nailed it with an impressive spread of Vietnamese classics. Local residents really enjoy eating at their favorite Vietnamese restaurants and we have a few here on island. However, the Hilton team must have recruited some culinary experts who worked on perfecting the unique flavors and tastes you'd expect to have when eating Vietnamese cuisine. The quality of the ingredients used by the Hilton's kitchen team puts them ahead of most Vietnamese restaurants who just don't have the resources to procure them.
There are some things you must try, though, when you come here. Make your own soup - either the Bun Bo Hue (spicy Beef noodle) or Pho (beef noodle soup) start out with rich broths and there separate noodles. The Fresh Lumpia (Goi Cuon) is one of my favorites as it is a healthier option. The combination of vegetables (carrot, lettuce, bean sprouts, shrimp, and chicken) wrapped in a rice skin with basil and dipped in hoisin sauce is a blissful mouthful! I tried the Pan Cake (Banh Xeo) and the Rice Roll (Banh Cuon) - both you have to eat as they have different textures and flavor profiles. You can enhance these tastes with fish sauce. You can even make your own fresh lumpia (they have a stiff wrapper you can moisturize until it becomes pliant to roll and fill with ingredients). I just recall eating a lot of vegetables and even indulged in that traditional local favorite, Fried Lumpia (wrapped up in a Romaine roll with bean sprouts, noodles, and fish sauce!). For variety, diversity, and taste, you are getting a real bargain when you consider how many dishes you'd have to buy a la carte to match this large buffet spread. You really can't beat it! Make your reservations now!
Boba King Bubble Tea Shop
Hong Commercial Bldg (Mangilao Plaza)
Hours : Monday - Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
I am not known to be a big fan of Bubble Tea beverages, however, after trying the Honeydew Milk Tea/Smoothie, with pearls, I can see why so many people want to get their bubble tea fix! I really had no idea that there was a real art and science to creating these refreshing concoctions, and that you can control the sugar level and ice level, or even add ingredients such as Pearl, Grass Jelly, Red Bean and Coconut Jelly (for $.50 ea.). These are the things you can try at the newly opened Boba King Bubble Tea Shop, just on the way the University of Guam and across the street from the Mobil Gas Station on Route 10. Basic prices for beverages are very reasonable, with a regular size costing you $3.50 and Large $4.50, for Milk Teas, Smoothies/ Milkshakes, and Yogurt Drinks.
At Boba King you can be the creator of your own drink flavor or you can try some of the Top 10 drinks served here, which include Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie, Taro Milk Tea Smoothie, Calamansi Fruit Tea, Mango Smoothies, and the Honeydew Milk Tea smoothie I was enjoying. Another mix flavor concoction is Taro & Oreo and even Strawberry and Green Apple. The process is fairly quick and there is no long wait for your drinks. In fact, while you wait , you can browse through the store operated by owner Eric Wang which sells a variety of school supplies and accessories for electronics.
So when you are in Mangilao and heading to UOG or GCC or anywhere on Route 10, turn your car into the parking lot and drop in to Boba King for a refreshing taste and flavor experience that refreshes your palate.
Village Inn Guam Impresses
Dededo - (Next to American Grocery)
Okay, so I had heard some complaints as well as heard the Hype. Complaints were about service. Hype was about food. Maybe it depends on what time you go...I was there mid afternoon so there were only a handful (if that many) of customers so I had no problem with service!
My first impression was that this place is really welcoming in a bright and amiable way. Maybe it's because they are so new but the place strikes you as being really clean! The first thing you see when you walk in are two humongous pie display cases! They are known for their fresh baked pies and desserts!
I visited Village Inn on two occasions. The first time was to try a breakfast item from their rather extensive and reader-friendly menu (makes you want to order everything!). I ordered the New Philly Jack Benedict ($9.99), that has country sausage patties, grilled peppers and onions over a toasted English muffin with two poached eggs covered in Pepper Jack queso. This is served with golden hash browns. Not bad...different...not Hollandaise but an interesting variant. I did eat it all...and liked the hash browns. What I did love was the coffee! I believe they serve Starbuck's coffee. It was just brewed and you get your individual hot pot carafe that keeps the coffee fresh and hot!
It was during this visit that I was "sold" on having one of the pies...had the Apple Pie slice for $3.79. Yes, it was as good as they claimed...plenty of apples, not too overly sweet, and a great crumbly crust!
While I was there talking to one of the managers, he suggested I come back and try the other item I'd almost ordered, the Turkey Bacon Avocado Sandwich ($9.99). This sandwich features hand-carved, slow-roasted turkey breast with savory hickory-smoked bacon, spicy Pepper Jack cheese, red onion, avocado, tomato, and mayo on grilled wheat bread. The wheat bread is a must and also a winner! Delicious!
Eataliano - A New Way to Enjoy Italian
Hotel Belvedere (formerly Feeregalo Euro Dining Restaurant)
Leo Palace Resort
471-0033 Reservations (Dinner Service Only)
Something wonderful has happened at the Leo Palace Resort! It is like a renaissance! Something new, fun, and magical! Is it the tall richly-hued painted murals or the kaleidoscopic colorful star lights? This has happened to a venerable establishment long known and appreciated for its European fine dining and excellent cuisine. Alas, Feeregalo is no more...but fear not, the Chrysalis has arisen and transformed into this delightful, relaxing, and upscale casual eatery...Eataliano! Even the name is a play on words! Created and inspired by relatively new Executive Chef Christopher Adams, Eataliano's thick Italian colored paperboard menu boasts some rather amazing creations you're just going to have to try for yourself! I did attend the May 9 soft opening (most of these photos are from then) as well as the "grand opening" on May 17. Yes, they were still working through some of the new restaurant issues, however, they have some fairly experienced kitchen staff and service staff so service who minimized the "hiccups and glitches".
My emphasis and excitment has to do with the focus, diligence, and persistence by Executive Chef Adams, who is on a mission to transform the waning, low-energy dining options at this enormous property into first-rate, exciting, happening dining destinations. I believe that Eataliano has achieved this with its playful, unpretentious menu and ambiance. I can say that the menu has food items that has been created by a team of experienced chefs. The legendary Chef Makoto Fujigaya has been actively involved in this.
Let's explore what we had (we - this food's all about sharing) so "we" enjoyed a variety!
We ordered the Baby Shrimp & Top Shell Clams Ajillo ($9.50). These are sauteed in garlic & olive oil and plated with pepperoncini (ingredient absent). The menu suggests to order Grilled Pesto Cheese Bread ($6.00) to accompany this awesome mushroom and seafood dream. I could have eaten this all on my own! Dip your bread in the oil! Live a little...eat a lot!! The other "TEMPTING STARTER" we had was the Italian Sausage ($9.00), which has two pieces of Eataliano's house-made sausage, sauteed and plated with freshly made garden salad, pickled vegetables, and mustard. This was one of the surprise treats of the night (there were several) that had us puzzled since we have a perception of what Italian Sausage should look like...this looks more like a meat loaf! Dip some mustard on it and eat the pickled cauliflower or celery stick...delicious!
Eataliano has five major salads to share. We ordered the Soft Shell Crab ($20.50), which has perfectly fried soft shell crab served on a bed of local baby field greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This is topped with a really tasty sweet chili and creamy ranch dressing. It's a terrific creation! Another salad we tried on the second visit was the Mixed Seafood Salad ($23.75). This has sashimi-style salmon, tuna, octopus, squid, hokki clam and sweet shrimp tossed in a spicy and savory dressing spread over local baby field greens and sprinkled with white sesame seeds. What a treat!
We had one of the five Fresh pasta creations on the menu. The Creamy Forrest Mushroom Pappardelle ($18.50) is loaded with assorted mushrooms, shaved parmesan cheese and drizzled with white truffle oil. The pasta is fresh made...they have acquired their own pasta machine and are rolling out the dough!! The pappardelle pasta are wide and broad which makes them ideal for soaking up the rich sauce! Other pastas include the Spaghetti Bolognese, the Spicy Baked Penne and Arrabbiata, the Seafood and Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo, and the Ravioli and Gnocchi!
There are five Pizzas (described as Tasty 10" Pizzas), and we had the Pesto Chicken and Arugula ($18.50) . The toppings were quite good, with fresh herbs picked from their own garden. The pizza dough could have finished a bit more. On our next visit we had one of the Four Cheese Pizzas ($18) which has mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and gorgonzola with fresh tomato sauce. The crust on this was much better than the first night's. I did manage a bite of the Margherita (it had a lot of fresh basil!)
We had invited one of the new chefs joining the Leo Palace Team, Chef Donn Gueniot and his wife Mhay, to our table and he'd brought his main Grilled entree (NEW ZEALAND Lamb Chops 1/2 Rack - $37.50) to our table to share. This entree comes with mint lamb au jus, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and oil-free tomato sauce. I had one chop and declared it superb! The plating of this is a masterful work of art. Other Grilled Entree offered are a 7 oz. Tenderloin, a 9 oz. Prime Rib of Beef ($37.50), a 12 oz. Top Sirloin, and a 16 oz. Herb Rubbed T-Bone Steak.
We were more than stuffed and still managed to order a dessert. We settled on the Eataliano Sweet Calzone ($9.50) that is filled with nutella and homemade ricotta cheese, mascarpone & custard, then sinfully (willfully) drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and fresh whipped cream! (You know when it's not the canned artificial stuff!). This was a decadent treat, reminding me of a cinnamon rolls flavor and doughy texture...! We did sample the Homemade Gelato Sampler which was a refreshing after dinner palate refresher!
There you have it - a fun run down of our dining adventure at Eataliano - Guam's newest Italian destination...we will return!