Guam Diner Bytes: Pilipino Piyesta
Well they've done it again! Done what you say? The Pacific Star Resort & Spa's culinary team proved it could be done with their Wednesday All You Can Eat Dim Sum buffet so they put their collective heads together and wondered, what is the next most popular food everyone would want to eat if it is tasty enough and you have a lot of it? Filipino food, that's what!! The guy who is responsible for conceiving this is Chef Ricky Guevarra, so you can blame him when you step on your scales and see your numbers go up!!
I am not expert on Filipino cuisine...I had to learn to know and understand the fabulous diversity of this cuisine...some of my favorites make me literally crazy - kare kare with bagoong (fermented shrimp paste - not for everyone), but for me, this oxtail stew is divine with its rich peanut-based sauce and fork tender meat and other goodies like tripe, pig feet, and other obscure pig parts along with several veggies including eggplant, bokchoy, and long beans. Oh, just thinking about this makes me want it...it's masarap! The other dangerous ones for me is Crispy Pata (deep fried pig feet and knuckles) and Lechon Kawali! With Mang Tomas and pan de sal! But wait, I digress. This buffet is actually not just about my Filipino Food Fantasies, it's about yours and the good folks over at Pacific Star have rolled out an elaborate and elegant stage for this culinary performance as you travel to the Philippines, home of some of the most flavorful food on earth! Like some things, it is an acquired taste, but once you have it, it will never let you go!!
I did use the word "stage" and I think it is apt since your first true visual when you enter is an erupted "cornucopia" (horn of plenty) and I mean plenty of colorful vegetables and ingredients (sauces, pastes, seasonings, etc), used to prepare the many dishes...it's an advanced preview of good things you are about to experience.
One thing you'll have to try first is a refreshing melon juice (kawaling pinoy). It's cool, a bit sweet, but thirst quenching. Some of the ingredients on the buffet lines will change but they will have always maintain the Palabok station (this pancit palabok is the real deal...so delicious - a creative noodle dish that can have boiled egg, shrimp, pork rind, green onions, and other toppings. I also tried ginisang upo (white squash), Arroz Valencian, Dinuguan (blood stew made with chilis, garlic, vinegar, pork, and yes, blood), crispy pata, Sisig, lechon baboy (roast pig), pinakbet, bbq skewers (one was pork and another was tripe), and yes, my beloved kare kare! There was much I didn't eat (salads and other safe things), but I went for the gusto on my forbidden list! The comment I kept making to myself was just how much value you get for your money. If I was at Ben N Yan's, it would cost me well over $100.00 to get just my favorite dishes!! Probably $200.00 to get as much of the other items you could eat.
I didn't eat much of the desserts (they had another amazing spread (sapin sapin or rice flour cake), cassava cake, pichipichi (cassava balls), palitaw (glutinous rice flour treat), but I had already opted to make my own halo halo (they have a do-it-your-own-self Halo Halo Station), with everything you could ask for (if you only knew what!) What they did have was pinipig (dried rice crisps) - a rarity! Halo Halo (meaning mix mix) combines evaporated milk, coconut, gulaman (tapioca), boiled sweet beans, ube, shaved ice, ice cream, sago, buko (coconut), and fruits. That was enough - plenty! Thanks to Executive Chef Leland Feng's culinary leadership for empowering his team to do great things!
So, now that you know where to go for lunch on Tuesday, who ya going to bring?