Funky fusion foods with local flair
Food has often been made in a way to distinguish a culture. When you eat spaghetti, you automatically think Italian, sushi—Japanese, tacos—Mexican. There’s always been infusions of ethnic recipes throughout history, but as globalization has come full circle the fusions of ethnic cuisines have become more apparent, and more creative. Guam has become more than a melting pot of people. The island is a melting pot of fusion foods in parties and in restaurants. Thus, the local palates have basically tasted it all, exposed mainly to Pan-Asian, Latin, and American fusion. But there are a few dishes in our favorite local restaurants that will take you completely by surprise. You read the menu and infer immediately that some ingredients might make such an odd pairing with another ingredient or should never be added into dessert. The fusion foods selected below were created to offer unique new flavors that will leave a deep impression on your taste buds. You’d definitely feel like you were being taken on a ride to countries from the farthest reaches of the world and back—to the tip of your fork.
Chocolate cheesecake goes double agent
Decadent, dark, rich, and moist, this cake looks inviting and classically stunning on a plate, but be prepared for some swift karate moves on the sinuses. This well-known Japanese spice is often used to liven up the flavors of raw fish. Wasabi adds a nice spicy kick to the zesty-ness of the wasabi chocolate cheesecake, and adds depth and body to the chocolate. Those elements are sure to please chocolate lovers looking for bolder flavors. You can order this cheesecake for dessert after a nice meal at the Proa Restaurant or simply order a slice of it with some coffee at the adjacent café called Sweet Relief.
Mouth-watering margarita goes Hawaii Five-0
The margarita is one of Mexico’s famous exports, and is enjoyed all over the world. The cocktail drink has survived all other cocktail fads, been made into so many fruity variations, but if there is ever one margarita to try it has to be the Li Hing Mui Margarita found underneath the whale’s tail at the Outrigger Hotel’s Sea Grill. Instead of the salt rim, the glass is served rimmed with the Li Hing Mui powder. The name may sound like the heroine of a Chinese Kung Fu movie, but this fusion actually came from another island in the Pacific. Although Hawaiian punch did not actually originate from the islands, Hawaii can get credit for stirring up this explosive flavor that packs more kick and punch than rum punch. Added to classic margarita—tequila, lime juice and Triple Sec is this orange powder that comes from finely grounded dried sweet and sour plums. Then it is all shaken and stirred. The first sip will pack a pucker that’s immediately subdued by the sweetness of sugar and plum. Then you are refreshed with the cool, familiar flavor of tequila underneath all those tangy, bitter-sweet and sour notes. You’d want to savor the drink for as long as you can, and make sure you do.
Show your rolls
An Italian restaurant serving Chinese finger food sounds like a typo on the menu, but that’s not the only item with Far Eastern origin. History has mentioned often of Marco Polo’s travels to Asia claiming credit to bringing to Italy the recipe for noodles. Now, Capricciosa has taken the egg roll and definitely put the “spring” back into it. The smoked salmon spring roll has so much flair and fusion each bite will take your taste buds on a tantalizing swirl. Underneath the golden, crisp fried roll is the filling; a motley blend of strips of mozzarella, smoked salmon, scallion and basil. It is served on a fried egg roll basket garnished with a colorful salad, then drizzled with a zesty red sauce. When the roll is dipped in the accompanying sauce, it’s like your senses have landed the dismount to an acrobatic act with a dip haltingly cool and creamy. It’s another surprise to know it’s made of their Santa Fe sauce blended with secret spices.
Dip with a lot of local heart
A popular starter on the menu in many restaurants is the artichoke and spinach dip, which I’m sure has to do with its hearty fillings of spinach, and oozing cheese. There aren’t many things to do with locally grown banana hearts, but for the locals it is usually added into soup or old school sardine kelaguen. So it is quite an innovative take by Meskla restaurant to replace the tangy artichoke heart for the local ingredient banana heart, exactly alike in texture and absorption of flavors. The appetizer is called Hinetnon Tapun and many locals have expressed their appreciation for this simply prepared appetizer which offers a tropical infusion of clams, and crunchy palm hearts. They also infuse into their homemade titiyas (tortillas) black olives cut into wedges with a thickness similar to focaccia bread which accompanies this appetizer.
We dare you to try our recommendations, and be sure to tell us how it went. But we have to warn you all that these foods aren’t for those with sensitive palates, just adventurous ones. I’m sure there are more exotic, bold and daring fusion foods out there. Dare us to try it, and we’d be more than willing to take on the challenge.
Wasabi chocolate cheesecake at Proa Restaurant:
429 Pale San Vitores Road, Tumon / Tel: 648-2253
Smoked salmon spring rolls at Capricciosa:
Royal Orchid Hotel, Tumon / Tel: 646-9653
Li Hing Mui Margarita at the Sea Grill Restaurant:
1245 Pale San Vitores, 96913 / Tel: 649-6637
Hinetnon Tapun at Meskla Restaurant:
130 E. Marine Corps Drive, Agana / Tel: 479-2652/3