3 Best Things We Ate This Week

Nikki BuchananOctober 8, 2021
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Photo by Nikki Buchanan

 

Banh Xeo at Belly
My beau and I put away an impressive number of dishes at Southeast Asian-inflected Belly last weekend, and crispy banh xeo was among the standouts. Banh means “bread” and xeo means “sizzle” — a misleading description for Vietnam’s savory seafood crepe, which surely sizzles in the pan but looks more like an omelet-pancake-crepe situation than bread. The batter is made with rice flour, which gives the crepe a certain lightness and lends its surface a crispy, lacy quality. The thing bulges with Old Bay-sparked lump crab meat, mung bean sprouts, green onions and a squirt of Kewpie mayo (Japan’s inimitable umami-loaded version). We cut the crepe in fat wedges, wrapping each hunk in Romaine leaves and garnishing our wraps with fresh mint and Thai basil in just the way you’d eat cha gio, Vietnam’s own crispy version of the spring roll.  Dunked in nuoc cham — the sweet, salty, sour, savory, lightly spicy fish sauce that embodies the culinary principles of Vietnam — Belly’s banh xeo is juicy, drippy and completely irresistible.
4971 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-296-4452, bellyphx.com


Photo by Nikki Buchanan

 

Pork Tenderloin and Eggs at Joe’s Farm Grill
It’s hard to come by proper Iowa-style pork tenderloin here in AZ, but Joe’s Farm Grill has added it to the menu as a breakfast item, and it’s the perfect carb-heavy breakfast when you feel like throwing caution to the winds. Enveloped in golden-brown, seriously crunchy breading, the moist meat is ladled with flavorful, lighter-than-usual cream gravy, seasoned with herbs and served alongside scrambled eggs, skins-on, herb-flecked breakfast potatoes and your choice of homemade biscuit or coffee cake. The crunchy-topped biscuit is flat and square, which concerned me at first, but it possesses a buttery, flaky quality that wins me over. That said, where’s the extra butter? Was I supposed to grab my own? We’re not being virtuous here.
3000 E. Ray Rd., Gilbert, 480-563-4745, joesfarmgrill.com


Photo by Nikki Buchanan

 

Taco Tuesday at Casa Corazon
I’ve loved Casa Corazon since a handful of review visits a few years ago, when I vowed to come back for happy hour. I finally made good on my promise this past Tuesday for a double whammy of deals: slurpable $5 margaritas, served in old-school bowl-shaped margarita glasses, and $3 tacos, loaded with meat and various garnishes — cilantro, cabbage and garlands of pickled red onion. I loved each one — aromatic pastor, sweetened with tiny bits of pineapple; chunks of juicy asada and excellent cochinita pibil, the Yucatan’s version of pulled pork: succulent shreds of soft, slow-roasted meat that bear the orange-y tint of achiote and the sweet tang that develops from long marination in citrus juices. But the best and certainly most memorable thing about Taco Tuesday was the tacos de canasta (basket tacos) which go by many names, including tacos sudados (sweaty tacos) and tacos al vapor (steamed tacos). They’re street food, sold all over Mexico in baskets to keep them warm. And man, are they sensational at Corazon! Bathed in a deep, smoky red chile sauce that turns the house-made corn tortillas ruddy, they’re lightly fried, a little blackened at the edges, then steamed, rendering them so soft and supple you’ll need a fork to eat them. Filled with beef and cheese, they’re then overlaid with a generous tangle of white and red onions, also coated in that mild but flavorful chile sauce. These luscious babies need no adornment, but who can resist Corazon’s incredible salsa bar, which offers salsa morita (smoked jalapeño, deep red and fiery) and purple salsa hibiscus (yielding sweetness and heat in one thick, sticky pop of flavor)?
2637 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-334-1917, casacorazonrestaurant.com

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