A collection of Phoenix food news items to whet your appetite.

Amuse-Bouches

Written by Craig Outhier & Pavle Milic Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: August 2016
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Pav on Juice: MJK Q&A

A Monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.

Most people know Maynard James Keenan as the vocalist for Grammy-winning band Tool, but I came to know him personally because of wine. I performed two public tastings at FnB, where I paired Arizona wines against non-Arizona wines in a blind setting judged by local and national experts. His Caduceus label won the red and rosé categories. Needless to say, MJK is serious about making great Arizona wine – he’s the real deal. Recently I asked him a few questions to find out what inspires him.

Pavle Milic: What first attracted you to winemaking?

Maynard James Keenan: I grew up and worked in the middle of an orchard in Michigan. And I worked with my parents in our vegetable garden. My initial interest was the vineyards. Wine, of course, initiated that interest.

 

PM: How were you introduced to Arizona wine?

MJK: I hadn’t had any Arizona wine before I began planting. I just suspected that the soils and climate could produce some compelling wines.

PM: Other than the wines you make, what other wine from Arizona are you loving right now and why?

MJK: It’s very difficult to single out just one, but gun to the head, I’d have to say Lightning Ridge Montepulciano [from Sonoita]. 

 

PM: What grape varietals do you think we will become known for?

MJK: Well, the obvious white is Malvasia Bianca, and potentially Arneis or Albariño. For reds I’m betting on Italian and Spanish varietals with some regions having success with Rhône grapes.

PM: What has been your proudest achievement in wine?

MJK: Still working on that one, although the Judith block is a one-of-a-kind site. 

 

 

The Tip Line

Valley restaurant openings and closings this summer. 

Coming 

• SoSoBa. The downtown Flagstaff ramen shop’s long-simmering Valley location in the old Centurion space on Roosevelt Row is due for a late summer opening. “It’s loaded and ready to go,” a representative says. 

• Hot Noodles Cold Sake. On the topic of ramen: Improvisational cuisine maestro Josh Hebert will spin his beloved weekly “ramen night” at Posh into its own standalone shop in the Scottsdale Airpark area. ETA: August

• Gadzooks. The popular “enchiladas and soup” purveyor near Phoenix Country Club on Seventh Street announced it will open a second location in Arcadia. ETA: October

• MATCH Cuisine + Cocktails. The flagship restaurant at the new FOUND: RE boutique hotel in Downtown Phoenix will source heavily from local farms. Scottsdale Culinary Institute-trained chef Akos Szabo will helm. ETA: August

Going

• Nello’s Tempe. The longtime outpost of the family pizza chain ended a 33-year run in July, leaving only two extant Nello’s locations, in Mesa and Ahwatukee.  

• Hazelwood’s First Place Sports Bar. The Arcadia drink-and-cheer stalwart shuttered in early summer. Maybe to make way for Gadzooks?

• The pink pony. Is it curtains for the fabled Old Town steak joint? Shuttered in July. Unclear if its replacement will keep the PP brand.

• TK’s Urban Tavern. Mid-June closure leaves the Scottsdale Quarter – and the PM staff – without a go-to beer pub. Other Quarter casualties: Stingray Sushi and C3 Kitchen.

Yelp/Verify:
Harumi Sushi

“It’s my new Downtown sushi go-to place,” a friend recently enthused. That was intriguing, but more intriguing still was Harumi’s 4.5-star rating on Yelp – higher than Nobuo at Teeter House, Hana Japanese Eatery and numerous other darlings of the Valley’s sushi intelligentsia. Could this unheralded maguro monger really best the titans of toro?

The scene: Squeezed into a cozy storefront on the ground floor of a Downtown office building, Harumi certainly has the feel of a big-city sushi counter – minus the counter. It’s all table seating. That may come as a disappointment to sushi fans who like to banter with their itamae during the meal, but the owner/chef – a friendly fellow named Juno – compensates by wandering into the dining room from time to time to engage the customers. 

The food: Somewhat conspicuously – at least if you’re a Hana or Yasu Sushi Bistro devotee – there’s no black board, i.e. no seasonal fish cuts, exotic vegetables, offbeat Japanese delicacies and all the other stuff that elevates a sushi restaurant into the realm of fine dining. What it does have: tasty, creatively-phrased rolls like the Over the Rainbow, basically a tuna/yellowtail/salmon cut-roll arranged around a big gob of pickled jellyfish. The crab-stuffed jalapeños (pictured) are spot-on, with lots of fresh, green pepper flavor, and the small but well-programmed beer list includes a “snow weizen” Japanese wheat beer called Kawaba. Tasty.

The verdict: Not Hana-level by any means, but a terrific value – if $5 tuna belly doesn’t make you suspicious and a little excited, you aren’t human – in an underserved area for sushi. Adjusted Yelp score: 4 stars 

 

114 W. Adams St., Phoenix,
602-258-0131