Spring Roll

M.V. MoorheadApril 26, 2020
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Check out these four new Asian eateries while savoring the last fleeting degrees of pre-summer Valley weather.

West Valley
Song Lynn Vietnamese Restaurant

Opened: February 2020
For Asian food fans, it’s always nice to have a Saturday-night pho joint handy, like this new farther-west location of a West Valley favorite (with a slightly modified menu). The aforementioned noodle soup is front and center, notably the chicken dumpling pho ($8.95), ringed with fried potstickers that deliciously lose their crusty resolve while wading in a potent bone broth. There’s also a Pan-Asian selection of stir-fried noodle dishes ($15.95), including a variety of savory xao combos (unfussily labeled “egg noodles”); and the usual selection of cold rice vermicelli bowls, otherwise known as bun. Is it showstopping? Maybe not, but it’s classy and clean, and I enjoyed the appetizer combo ($10.50): two each of spring, egg and shrimp rolls, the last showcased in a curiously formal-looking crust with their tails sticking sportily out at the base.
Must Try: The salted pepper tofu tempura ($7.95), accompanied by a teasingly sweet chile dipping sauce, appears to be a Litchfield-only specialty.
13749 N. Litchfield Rd., Surprise, 623-214-9775, azsonglynn.com

Scottsdale
Khao Thai & Sushi

Opened: February 2020
This North Scottsdale nook successfully navigates the narrow channel between elegance and mom-and-pop unpretentiousness. From the lengthy but not daunting menu, start with the Thai cuisine classics. The flawlessly marinated, peanut-dressed chicken satay ($9.95 for three pieces) is the skewer for what ails you. It’s surprisingly mild, as is the similarly retiring pad Thai ($12.95), available with the usual choice of proteins. More outré selections include chopped roast duck in a Jupiter-orange curry broth. For fans of the raw arts, Khao also offers a full line of sushi and sashimi, plus Japanese vegetarian dishes and deep-fried maki rolls. I opted for a spicy crab roll ($5.95) – like the somewhat timorous Thai dishes, it turned out to be not very spicy at all, but very tasty just the same.
Must try: The tofu soup ($4.95), with the curd cubes swimming in a not-too-salty broth with cabbage, onions and tender slices of carrots, is worth the tummy space.
10855 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., 480-767-3933, khaothaisushi.com

Photo Courtesy Dori Hand Roll Bar + Ramen
Photo Courtesy Dori Hand Roll Bar + Ramen
Phoenix
Dori Hand Roll Bar + Ramen

Opened: February 2020
Billed as the Valley’s first restaurant specializing in the art of temaki – i.e. Japanese sushi hand rolls – this laidback Asian kitchen is replete with tempting vittles. Chef Jared Lupin scores big with his dangerously affordable à la carte menu of fish, vegetables and rice rolled in a square of nori (read: seaweed paper), including the light, elusive sweetness of sea bream ($4.75) and the earthy ube ($4.50), a purple Japanese yam not usually associated with sushi. For a nice basic tour of the menu, get the three-piece hand roll ($12), with salmon, shrimp and bluefin tuna. Or take my advice and go the ramen route with the Goma Love It ($13), a cacophony of braised and roasted pork, noodles and veggies, plus a poached egg in an unctuous soy-garlic-miso broth, with a smear of rich black garlic on the edge of the bowl. It’s triumphantly excessive comfort food.
Must try: The cheerfully green edamame hummus ($8), scooped up with bao or raw veggies, has a luscious legume flavor with a slight after-singe.
1928 E. Highland Ave., dorihandrollandramen.com, 480-508-5536

East Valley
Tasty Pot

Opened: December 2019
If we’re talking Asian comfort food, this Mekong Plaza location of a San Jose-based hot pot chain makes this month’s other corners look austere by comparison. The specialty here is any of several varieties of Taiwanese soup, served in an individual bowl of boiling broth chosen from a five-level spice spectrum. Unstirred, the burbling broth excitingly makes your choice of rice, vermicelli or instant ramen noodles (of the college-kid-at-midnight variety) come alive in the bowl. Once satisfactorily boiled, all this is transferred to a smaller bowl and allowed to cool enough – just enough – to be safely snarfed. Beef hot soup ($13.99) isn’t remotely misnamed: It’s packed with fine lean beef – along with fish cakes, clams, fried tofu skins and other goodies – and it’s really, truly, hazardously, wonderfully hot. Kimchi dumpling hot soup ($13.99), fortified with flaps of the stinging cabbage, pork, shell-on shrimp, dumplings, mushrooms and so on, is even better.
Must try: Everything you really need is in the soup, but: dumplings ($3.95).
66 S. Dobson Rd., Mesa, 480-809-6780, tastypotusa.com

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