hush hush dishes
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Hush Hush Dishes
May, 2012, Page 139
Photos by Evie Carpenter
Pssst. Have we got some tasty news for you. Here’s the skinny on some super-secret menus at our super Valley restaurants.
668 N. 44th St.
(Cofco Chinese Cultural Center), Phoenix
You’re not crazy. The people at other tables around you are eating more interesting dishes than your Kung Pao chicken. That’s because they’ve got the inside scoop on a more interesting menu, one that’s reserved for diners who appreciate authentic Szechwan specialties instead of Americanized Chinese foods. To be clear, the gringo-ized sweet and sour shrimp served at this colorful, boisterous eatery near Sky Harbor Airport is first-rate. But if you beckon your waiter over and whisper “menu 2,” you’ll be rewarded with delights like pig ear, fuqi feipian (deeply spiced beef offal), slippery stir-fried pig intestine with pickled chile, earthy tea-tree mushrooms burbling fragrantly in a hot pot, or a plate of mixed mountain vegetables spiked with jalapeño. The menu is in Chinese with vague English translation, and most of the staff doesn’t grasp enough English to help explain, so just trust. Not all menu 2 dishes are offbeat; some treasures include tea-smoked duck, dim sum, impossibly moist twice-cooked pork, and a mix of fresh seafoods atop sizzling rice cake.
Romeo’s Euro Café
207 N. Gilbert Rd.
(in Heritage Court), Gilbert
Chef-owner Romeo Taus trained with one of the Valley’s legendary chefs, Nick Ligidakis, who was known for his menu that spanned hundreds of dishes. When Taus opened his Mesa eatery in 1991, he brought several of those recipes with him (with Ligidakis’ blessing). But in 2004, when he moved to a smaller space in Gilbert, he performed some judicious trimming. Euro’s menu still reads like a book, yet for die-hard fans, it’s not enough. Happily, Taus will accommodate, dishing up special requests for such off-the-list favorites as grilled chicken Ibiza – scattered with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, capers, caraway, fennel seeds and peppercorns in a sherry wine sauce over linguini topped with chilled balsamic beans and focaccia – or chicken Tomas tossed with shrimp, mushrooms, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, onions and capers in tomato cream over linguini. Off-menu recipes aren’t for the faint of appetite, with ambitious and delicious combos like shrimp Toscano Romano brightened with whole garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, capers, basil, pear tomatoes and garbanzo beans in sherry wine sauce over mostaccioli.
7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr.,
All of chef-owner Josh
Hebert’s dishes might be considered “secret,” since his entire concept is improv. Diners choose from a list of daily ingredients (i.e, prime New York strip, short ribs, duck breast, wild boar bacon, frog), and Hebert assembles them in custom tasting menus with impromptu flair. Most dishes are unique, and customers don’t know what they’ll be eating until their plates arrive. But savvy fans know there’s even more to explore at this elegant restaurant, with a slew of whimsical specials starting with late night “staff” meals offering more casual, bargain-priced suppers advertised solely via Tweets and Facebook; treats like ramen, oknomiyaki Japanese savory stuffed pancake, duck gyoza, pig’s ear ravioli, goat tacos and chorizo fundito. Insiders also look for über-valuable Facebook-only promotions, such as when Hebert waives the supplement charge on caviar, foie gras and truffles. The dishes and deals change every week, so your best bet is to follow the chef through his ambitious social media efforts, and be ready to dash in for dinner when your favorite meal flashes across the webpage.
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