Long before it was cool to do fusion food, Chino Bandido arrived on the scene in Phoenix. This was back in 1990 when interracial marriages were barely okay, let alone interracial food. But Chino Bandido found something that worked – Asian and Hispanic food and hasn’t looked back. So while the name is a reference to Chinese and Mexican food, things like Cuban Beans and Teriyaki Chicken tell a larger tale.
Aside from the deadly temperatures, one major thing I was worried about in moving to Phoenix was how I was going to get my Asian food fix. No, not sushi and orange chicken, but the real stuff. I heard about a place in Mesa called Mekong Plaza, which was supposed to have a bunch of good, real Asian restaurants and as luck would have it, it turned out to be between work and home. So, I paid a visit to Taiwan Food Express to see what they had to offer.
There are a few things that you can always assume I will want to try. One is cheese dip and another is gigantic burgers (among other things). So, when I heard that a place called Roaring Fork in Scottsdale had something called the Big Ass Burger, it didn’t take much convincing to get me there. Getting me to eat outside in the middle of the desert summer, on the other hand, was a different story. But such is life when you want to take advantage of what is one of the best happy hours in the Phoenix area.
My wise wife once said, “You can take the man out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the man.” When I was living in LA, one of the most exciting things to happen was the opening of Coney Dog, a Detroit-style chili dog spot. Due to probably a number of circumstances, that business failed. In Phoenix, however, a spot called Detroit Coney Grill seems to have made all the right decisions because it now has THREE locations in the area. And for some reason the Tempe location closes at 7:00, so I made my way out to Mesa to try it out for myself.
You don’t really associate Japan with fried chicken. I mean, sure, if you’ve spent enough time in Japan or with Japanese food you have undoubtedly discovered karaage and more, but those aren’t exactly Earth-shattering compared to the fried chicken of the American South or even the fried chicken of Japan’s neighbor buddy (kind of), Korea. But Tokyo Fried Chicken in Monterey Park is doing its best to change that perception. So when it came down to choosing new restaurants or eating at old favorites before making the move to Phoenix, Tokyo Fried Chicken is where I found myself eating my last reviewable meal as a resident of Southern California (at least for now!).
In preparation for traveling to Borneo, I wanted to get a taste of Bornean food. This, of course, is not an easy thing to do, but when you live in LA pretty much all food is a possibility. Thus, I found myself with my Bornean traveling companions at Borneo Kalimantan in Alhambra. This place is more focused on the Indonesian side of Borneo, and although we were heading to the Malaysian side it still seemed as close as we were going to get. Plus, it also had Singaporean and Malaysian, so we weren’t completely off.
There can be no doubt that I am a man who loves his poutine. In a lot of senses I am a purist, but when a place gets the right kind of creative I can get behind it. The Kroft in Tustin, Orange County started lighting up my social media feed months ago with some beautiful food pics. It took a while to find an excuse to get down there, but when I did I couldn’t help but make a stop.
A lot of the time, a burrito is just a burrito. Fillings vary in quality and variety, but they are generally the same basic thing. Not so much at Burritos La Palma in El Monte. These burritos came straight from Jerez, Mexico and if you didn’t know any better you might think of them as enchiladas. Burritos La Palma specializes in birria and so that’s what I got.
The latest issue of Los Angeles Magazine boasts an impressive list of the 10 Best New Restaurants in LA. But the magazine went one step further and set up a celebration at the Architecture and Design Museum downtown to feature a number of them, as well as a few other restaurants. Thus, I made my way there to see what passes for “best” and “new” these days. Here are the highlights:
Torta is Mexican for sandwich and there is a sweet semi-new spot in Pasadena that deals pretty much exclusively in that hand food from south of the border. It’s called Tortugas, and is either a reference to turtles, an island in Haiti or a national park (the dry one). Regardless, the place has a great variety of Mexican sandwiches and one in particular screamed out to my unvegan belly.