If you have been to Hawaii, finding Poke is not difficult. In fact, it is probably more accessible than Mexican food is here in AZ (crazy, I know!). From grocery stores to the local gas station, poke is literally everywhere in Hawaii. Well poke started making “waves” on the mainland last year in a big way. It has finally found it’s way to AZ with Ahipoke Bowl in South Scottsdale!
What will you find at Ahipoke Bowl?
First off, let’s set correct expectations. This is not your traditional poke you find in Hawaii. What you will find at Ahipoke Bowl is exactly that, a bowl of your choice of rice or organic greens topped off with your selection of cubed raw fish, scallop, octopus (cooked) or shrimp (cooked).
When you first come in, you will see the large printed menu showing how to order and what your options are. Ahipoke Bowl follows suit with the popular Chipotle style of ordering and customizing your order as you move through the line of options and ingredients (in this case with a bowl versus your burrito or burrito bowl next door).
First, choose from white rice, brown rice, organic salad or half rice and half salad as your base.
Next choose your protein. A regular bowl comes with two items. A Large bowl comes with a choice of three.
“I have always liked real estate; farm land, pasture land, timber land and city property. I have had experience with all of them. I guess I just naturally like ‘the good Earth,’ the foundation of all our wealth.” ~Jesse H. Jones
Earth, the place so many unique creatures are proud to call home. Founded in 1970, the Earth Day movement has raised awareness and channeled a collective energy towards global environmental issues and concerns. Earth day, a day we humans celebrate our beautiful, well appointed home called planet Earth for providing us with such a protective, comfortable shelter. There’s really no denying our spacious, shared living space is an amazing place, chock full of awesome amenities! Just like any home, abode or residence our Earth needs regular maintenance and a little TLC every now and again. Let’s join together to honor our gorgeous, life sustaining home. To keep our home looking “showroom” ready for as long as we can, here are a few simple ways to celebrate our Earth in Arizona on it’s day...
Just in time for the warmer temperatures and the summer months ahead, Jamie Votaw and Ariana Cooper have opened up a local ice cream parlor called Ice Cream Sammies in downtown Chandler on Boston Street, just the next block east of popular downtown Chandler destinations such as Paletas Betty, Vintage 95 Wine Lounge, and recently opened, The Brickyard Downtown.
What will you find at Ice Cream Sammies?
Homemade style ice cream and cookies that are made from scratch daily in small batches is what you will find at Ice Cream Sammies.
Ice Cream Sandwiches or “Sammies” are the staple here. Choose between roughly a half dozen cookie options and up to sixteen different flavors of ice cream. In case a scoop of ice cream between two cookies was not decadent enough, one has the option to “top it off” with several selections of toppings. If Sammies are not your thing, Ice Cream Sammies also offers sundaes, shakes and ice cream by the scoop in a bowl or waffle cone.
Arirang Korean BBQ & Sushi has taken over Takamatsu, the Korean and Sushi bar and restaurant in Chandler. The change of management/ownership occurred towards the end of 2015. Signage and menu was changed out in February to reflect the regime change. Prices and menu are comparable to before. The primary focus is Korean food and Korean BBQ with table top grills. However, there still is a sushi menu with the miniature sized sushi bar that stands out when you first walk in. The interior has remained exactly the same.
I have been there twice since the change. Service at the front of the house is less than desirable, but the food seems to be a step up than before. This is probably your best bet for Korean food and Korean BBQ in AZ. Truth be told, K-Town (“Koreatown”) in LA and 32nd St in NYC is still top dog when it comes to Korean food in this country (Sorry! Can’t include Flushing since I’ve never been). It's just significantly better Korean food than what we have in AZ.
Look out! A more detailed blog/review on Arirang Korean BBQ & Sushi is still to come!
In the long forgotten basement of the San Marcos Hotel in Downtown Chandler, a nationally recognized local mixologist, Brandon Casey (formerly of Citizen Public House and The Gladly), has revived the dormant basement which once stored ostrich feathers. He is paying obeisance to the space’s former use and Chandler’s unique history, with the large flightless bird from Africa by opening up a speakeasy called The Ostrich.
The Ostrich is across the street from the San Tan Brewery’s outdoor patio area and around the corner and below Crust which is at street level. In true speakeasy fashion, there is no signage. Look for the staircase going down the side of the exterior of the building to the basement. Usually, there is someone checking IDs at the top of the staircase.
I remember it like it was yesterday...July 2005, it was your typical hot and muggy afternoon day in the city. I was in Flatiron, Madison Square Park (“MSP”) to be exact, and that is where it happened. Where I fell in love...fell in love with Shake Shack.
Maybe it was the setting, luscious green park with New York’s skyline as the backdrop. Maybe it was the anticipation as we waited in line to order and pickup our food. We had just picked up our order when a torrential downpour came out of nowhere. The crowd dispersed running in every direction looking for cover. We took cover at the 23rd St Station. And like any “real” man would do, I protecting you from getting wet. I mean, come on. Do you think a gentleman would let you get wet and rained on? And then it happened, under the cover of the 23rd St Station, I had my first bite of Shake Shake; and I knew then, that there was no turning back...
Just outside of the hustle and bustle of Mill Ave, Cafe Lalibela has been a Tempe staple, providing some of the best Ethiopian food in AZ. Cafe Lalibela offers traditional Ethiopian vegetarian and meat dishes that range from a mixture of vegetable dishes (Diblik or Kilkil) to a selection of various wats (stews and curry dishes), all properly spiced and full of flavor. Berbere, a mixture of slightly spicy red peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt and onion seasons many of these dishes.
Eating at Cafe Lalibela is a hands on experience. Traditionally, Ethiopian food is eaten by tearing a piece of injera and either grabbing or pinching your food with the injera and putting all the food (including the injera) in your mouth or in the mouth of another, which is called gursha.
Ethiopian food is typically served communal style, on a platter known as a gebeta. Injera, a sourdough tasting, spongy, slightly chewy crepe made from a mixture of teff and wheat flour, is placed on the gebeta and the dishes ordered go on top of the injera. Additional injera is provided for tearing. Cafe Lalibela does offer a Gluten-Free option as well per request!
What?! Chandler has a Puerto Rican restaurant? Yes, I know AZ does not have a burgeoning Puerto Rican community. Yes, this is not the Bronx, Brooklyn or Orlando. But the Valley, specifically the Southeast Valley, can find Puerto Rican home cooking at FrinGo’s Kitchen.
FrinGo’s Kitchen is a small, clean, unpretentious family owned restaurant located in an inconspicuous strip mall in NoCha (“North Chandler”), just north of the NWC of Warner & Alma School.
FrinGo’s offers traditional Puerto Rican dishes such as Pollo Guisado (Puerto Rican style braised chicken with potatoes), Bistec Empanizado (thinly sliced breaded and floured beef steak served with peppers and onions), Bistec Encebollado (thinly sliced and pounded beef steak smothered with caramelized onions marinated in adobo mojado, and Chuleta Frita (fried pork chops).
If you drive down San Tan Blvd in Queen Creek, you're likely to drive past one of the highest rated restaurants in the city, and barely realize it. Tucked convincingly in the back corner of a strip mall sits the “The Deli”. Quietly and out of plain sight. The Deli opens their business every day from 9am-3pm. But don’t let its inconspicuous location fool you. This family run business is very well known amongst the locals and offers some of the highest quality menu items in the area. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel like you’ve found something special.
At The Deli in Queen Creek, most menu items are south of ten dollars and support a nice variety of both warm and cold sandwiches, flatbread pizzas and an impressive breakfast spread.
The Deli supports a quaint dine-in experience with a rural cafeteria type setting with tables and chairs. They also have outdoor seating under a covered patio. Because seating is limited, it’s not a bad idea to allow for some time if you plan on visiting during prime dining hours.
AZ Key Team Recommendations (Ryan Henrickson)
Although I’ve been to The Deli enough times to try a good portion of the menu, I’ve sadly ordered only two different items. I haven’t been able to get past the cuban and reuben sandwiches. Most of the time I get the reuben with a side of Louisiana hot sauce. All sandwiches come with homemade pickles which by themselves make the visit worthwhile. So my recommendation is the reuben sandwich (louisiana hot sauce is optional). The cuban is a close second in my opinion and is popular with many of my fellow foodies, as is nearly every item they’ve tried on the menu.
The Deli is a family run business with two generations of experience. They own another restaurant called The Bistro located on Ellsworth Rd in Queen Creek. The Deli is partnered with a local organic produce farm in San Tan Valley.
Overall, I am very impressed with the Deli as it is one of my favorite places to go in Queen Creek. The staff is always awesome and the menu does not disappoint. Personally, I love the location...because anything this good in life shouldn't come easy!
Finally! AZ finally has it’s first Korean Fried Chicken joint!
If you happen to watch any cooking shows or networks like Top Chef, the Food Network or the Cooking Channel, you have seen chefs making or talking about Korean Fried Chicken, aka (“KFC”). Yes, Korean Fried Chicken is a thing in cities like LA and NYC. If you have been to Korea, you know exactly what I am talking about.
What is Korean Fried Chicken (“KFC”)?
Korean Fried Chicken is chicken that is lightly coated with potato or corn starch and is typically cooked twice. Cooking the chicken twice renders out the fat in the skin, which gives it a lighter and crispier skin. It is not as heavily breaded like southern style fried chicken. Korean Fried Chicken is typically prepared two ways, one is your more standard or traditional fried chicken and the other is with a marinade called yangneom (sweet and spicy).
Crazy Chicken & Crab is a family owned restaurant located in Chandler, AZ on the SEC of Chandler Blvd and Dobson Road in the old Chino Bandido space tucked all the way in the back, behind Walgreens, The Goddard School, Break Masters and Desert Car Care.
Crazy Chicken & Crab offers half or full chicken orders served in smaller chopped pieces. Half an order should be enough for one adult. Half order is enough for two younger children. They also have a mix of more American appetizers and sides like fries, corn, coleslaw and mozzarella sticks as well as some Asian sides like egg rolls and various fried rice dishes.
All chicken orders come with a complimentary side of cubed sweet pickled radish in sugar and vinegar called mu (pronounced moo) or danmuji.
RECOMMENDATIONS (Joseph Yu)
If you want more heat, try the Sweet & Spicy Chicken. I have yet to try the Extreme Spicy Chicken. I initially attempted to order it, but the waitresses eyes got really big and suggested I order the Sweet & Spicy instead, which I did. It is spicier than the Sweet & Mild, but did not satisfy my craving for spicy.
One item I would suggest not ordering is the Honey Butter Garlic Chicken. I ordered some for my kids and after one bite, they did not want them again. I tried them myself. I suggest you pass on this item.
I highly recommend the Padak Chicken. It is your standard Korean Fried Chicken with a nest of shaved scallions on top. It comes with a side of Padak sauce which is a soy dominated sauce with enough wasabi (in terms of flavor, not heat) to let you know it’s there, a hint of garlic, vinegar and lemon juice. The sauce is not overly spicy and compliments the scallions well.
The Sweet & Mild Chicken Korean is a must! The chicken is slathered with sweet and slightly spicy sauce made out of a Korean chili paste called gochujang. If you can’t handle spice or if you have young kids, this may not be for you.
Crazy Chicken & Crab currently does not serve alcohol, however, they are working on getting their beer and wine license. They believe they should have it in a month or two. In the meantime, I was told if you bring in your own beer, they would be happy to open and serve! FYI, I haven’t tried this myself….yet.
In the past, if I wanted to get my fix of Korean Fried Chicken, I had to go to places like OB Bear and KyoChon in Koreatown (“K-Town”) in LA. Now I can get my fix down the street at Crazy Chicken in Chandler, AZ.
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