Like the kitchen, which sometimes stumbles because it's trying to do too much, the service is still a work in progress. Although corporate-pedigreed general manager Nick Campisano is omnipresent in his skinny jeans and flannel, the dining room experience suffers from too many servers who clearly aren't communicating with the kitchen. For a menu that practically begs diners to order from each section, the staff was routinely unable to properly course the meal. For a table of two, there is no reason that there should be five dishes brought out at once. And the staff was just as quick to remove plates as they were to serve them.

While the food is of foremost importance, a significant amount of real estate — in the restaurant and on the menu — is dedicated to drinking, and you'll want to imbibe here. I was thrilled with the Koi Reviver, smartly made with refreshing Choya Umeshu plum wine. The Sloe Burn is an excellent version of the rarely seen Sloe Gin Fizz, but made with shiso and Thai bird honey. But if a ride home via Uber isn't in the cards and you're forced to choose just one drink, make it the Donny Wang Fizz. This potent carbonated combination of spiced rum, ginger, and fresh crushed pineapple is as fun to drink as it is to say. There's no better cocktail to enjoy on the expansive patio, especially as temperatures warm up.

It should be noted that I was never offered dessert, and when I inquired about it, I was told that they offer a soft-serve ice cream but that it wasn't available this time. It seems like an afterthought and, besides, soft-serve ice cream? I like clever, but not cute.

Steamed buns look more like tacos, another creative take at Clever Koi.
Jackie Mercandetti
Steamed buns look more like tacos, another creative take at Clever Koi.

Location Info


Clever Koi

4236 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Central Phoenix


The Clever Koi
4236 North Central Avenue, Suite 100
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Long Beans and Duck Tongue: $8
Wood Grilled Octopus: $8.50
Peking Duck Bun: $4
Massaman Udon in Red Curry: $12.50

In so many ways, The Clever Koi is what we have been waiting for: sophisticated food and drinks that push the Phoenix culinary envelope in a new direction. And by doing it all in an architecturally pleasing setting, with quality ingredients in an urban location at a remarkably affordably price point, it's hard to argue against the notion that this truly is one Clever Koi.

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Ana A. Ochoa
Ana A. Ochoa

have you tried their latest soft serve flavor-lavender with honey! it's amazing