The Mekong Plaza in Mesa is a great place to get real, authentic Asian food to bring people back to their roots or at least to get them away from crappy Americanized Asian food. And among those more traditional restaurants is something that doesn’t fit the mold at all. It’s called Kingo Bowl, and it has taken the concept of rice bowls with molecular sous vide.
You can pick a pre-made bowl or channel your inner Millennial to customize your own creation. I did the latter, and built mine with steak (essentially beef tataki), brown rice, a hot spring egg, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds. I asked for a sauce recommendation and was pointed to the black pepper sauce, so I went with it.
The bowl was beautiful, kingly even. The beef was incredibly tender, if not quite as rare as I would have liked. The hot spring egg was nothing short of exhilarating. Probably the best thing to come out of a hot spring since me, the last time I was in a hot spring. Of course, it didn’t actually come out of a hot spring, but it was that good.I loved the addition of the cranberries and the sunflower seeds, but there was one aspect of the bowl that just didn’t jive with me: the sauce. Simply put, it was overwhelming. I’ll admit that I am not the biggest black pepper guy in the first place, but I can appreciate it when used properly. In this case it really just covered up flavor without doing much to add to it.
And yet, despite the sauce (and the fact that it was recommended), there was something about Kingo Bowl’s creativity and mildly flawed execution that I truly enjoyed. Perhaps with one of the other sauces I would be proclaiming that the old world cuisine at Mekong Plaza needs to make way for more modernist takes like Kingo Bowl. But alas, that sauce had me a bit soured and looking for more. Yet, I am certain I will find that more with another visit to Kingo Bowl, because I have every intention to return.