L.A. The prevailing winds in Phoenix generally come slowly from the West, culturally as well as meteorologically. We get movies six months after they've opened in Hollywood; touring shows a year after they've played the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; and food trends two years after they've swept through West L.A.
The last two food concepts that successfully worked their way across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts to Phoenix were bagels and wraps.
What's next? I've just come back from a week in La-La Land, and my guess is that sometime in 1999, the Valley's trendiest restaurants will be serving Sino-Mediterranean cuisine.
I tasted the future at Ciao Yie, at 54 West Colorado, in rejuvenated downtown Pasadena. The menu describes, in perfect California-speak, exactly what Sino-Mediterranean fare is:
A brand new creation of a hybrid of the best of the Mediterranean (Italian, Spanish & French) and the Chinese cuisine has finally been cultivated, designed and conceived. The birth of Sino-Mediterranean cuisine (cucina cinese-mediterranea) symbolizes the coming new age of globalization and rebirth of many countries around the world (the fall and rise of Eastern Block [sic] countries, unification of the European community and emerging of the Asian countries).
Are we ready for won tons stuffed with pork and vegetables in a curry-Alfredo sauce? Are we ready for sea bass sauteed in Chinese rice wine teamed with linguini in a pesto-Alfredo sauce? Are we ready for a sweet-and-spicy eggplant pizza, layered with mozzarella? Are we ready for duck breast sauteed with almonds paired with linguini in an oyster black bean sauce?
There is one local establishment where you can currently try this sort of fare. It's Marco Polo, at 8608 East Shea in Scottsdale (483-1900). The restaurant's "East meets West" cuisine features several outstanding dishes. Two of my favorites: penne alla Szechuan duck (pasta and roast duck stir-fried with cabbage, mushrooms, onions and bean sprouts) and the lobster-and-shrimp special (seafood sauteed in olive oil and wok-fried with bok choy and tea-flavored soba noodles, moistened with a spicy marinara).
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What's New? I'm looking forward to checking out Kiawe Grill, a new place that features Pacific Rim cooking. As you might expect, the menu tilts heavily toward fresh seafood. Among the more intriguing offerings: appetizers like salmon dumplings, lobster pot stickers and deep-fried oysters in a wasabi soy beurre blanc. Dinner entrees include wok-seared prawns in a spicy garlic black bean sauce and roast chicken with a guava-strawberry glaze. Kiawe Grill is near Metrocenter, at 10402 North Metro Parkway. Call 997-8281.
And I'm already salivating over the September opening of Michael's, which is taking over the space formerly occupied by the swanky 8700. That's because the Michael in question is Michael DeMaria, one of the Valley's outstanding chefs, who used to showcase his talents at Lon's at the Hermosa.
Suggestions? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,