From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room
Rodney Hu, an Arizona native, graduated from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe before going on to earn a bachelor of science in finance from Arizona State University. After graduation, Hu spent eight years on Wall Street at firms such as Bear Wagner Specialist/Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, and Cantor Fitzgerald. Then when Hu's father became ill in 2004, he came back to Arizona to help him and fill in at the well-loved local watering hole and live-music venue, Yucca Tap Room, which he still owns and manages today.
Hu is also a founding member of the Arizona Distilling Company, the Tempe-based micro distillery that produced the first locally distilled spirit in the Phoenix metro area since Prohibition. Since launching less than five years ago, the distillery's products have won double gold medals at the San Francisco Spirits Competition and a silver medal at the Gin Masters competition in London.
Today, he dishes on his favorite food city in the world and what he drinks on special occasions.
My go-to place for dim sum in Phoenix is Great Wall.
My go-to place for hot dogs in Phoenix is Ted's.
My go-to place for steaks in Phoenix is Steak 44 or City Hall.
My go-to place for pho in Phoenix is Pho Vietnam, Da Vang, or Khai Hoan.
My go-to place for bbq in Phoenix is Little Miss BBQ.
My go-to place for sushi in Phoenix is Hana or Yasu.
My go-to place for Chinese food in Phoenix is House of Egg Roll.
My go-to place for omakase/tasting menu in Phoenix is Binkley's or Nobuo at Teeter.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is that Gammage Auditorium was the last non-residential project by Frank Lloyd Wright, and there is an underground tunnel system under ASU that helps power the campus. As for best-kept secret of food, the fresh seafood and dinner service at Great Wall is amazing, and Mekong Palace has a really good Cantonese garlic chili crab dish. It is one of the best in town. These restaurants are known for their dim sum, but their dinner dishes are really great.
My favorite food city is New York City because of the diversity, culture, and depth of all the different restaurants, and it's the food city that never sleeps.
Phoenix could use more cultural diversity and a legit XLB (xiao long bao) dumpling place and less chain restaurants.
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My go-to drink is a Tom Collins with Commerce Gin, of course, or a nice glass of red wine. And for special occasions I open a bottle of ... I have a couple of special bottles that I open for occasions; one is an extra anejo that my partner, Jason Grossmiller, and I got from Mexico at a special distillery we visited. It's one of the best tequilas we had on the trip. And probably my Pappy Van Winkle.
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm Shares His Go-To Place For Beer That Tastes "Like Arizona"
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects