Wahsun
It ain't much to look at and the hours are sketchy, but Wahsun is a secret worth discovering for those in search of platefuls of authentic Chinese fare at crazy-low prices. In a sparsely decorated room filled with Chinese regulars from the neighborhood, Wahsun's steaming dishes arrive as if they'd been cooked in a bustling home kitchen, packed with fresh ingredients and zero frills. Start with the mammoth, must-have egg rolls, then move on to Mongolian beef or the house chow mein. Those in the know can ask for the Chinese menu and open the door to more "daring" fare like roasted half duck, crispy-skin pork, and a seafood tofu hot pot. Whatever your adventure, make sure to bring the green in this cash-only establishment, not that you'll need much to get an authentic, exceptional Chinese meal — plus you'll leave with leftovers in tow.
Nobuo at Teeter House
Jacob Tyler Dunn
James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda proves that delicious Japanese cuisine is eagerly awaiting your hungry mouths right here in the Valley. Teahouse by day and self-described funky izakaya (drinking place) by night, Nobuo at Teeter House transports you to the Land of the Rising Sun with elevated versions of Japanese snack foods such as pork belly buns and panko-fried soft-shell crab sandwiches. The menu is constantly evolving and ready to lead your taste buds on a journey to the Far East, whether you're looking for an extravagant lunch or a nosh over sake.
Republic Ramen & Noodles
Alissa Irei
You know the dried ramen that comes with flavor pouches? Toss that garbage in the trash. Real ramen requires a broth injected with meaty flavors and spices over hours. The noodles form a base on top of which succulent toppings like fatty pork, hard-boiled eggs, naruto fish paste, and bean sprouts are added. Republic Ramen in Tempe is the real deal. In fact, Republic Ramen pays tribute to the Japanese noodle soup standard with miso, shoyu, and shio broth varieties as well as branching out with its spicy Republic Ramen broth. If you prefer udon or soba noodles, Republic Ramen has those, too.
Sa Bai Modern Thai
Swing a dead cat in some parts of this town, and you'll hit a Thai restaurant or three. Or nine. There's no shortage of tom yum in these parts, and damned if we can figure out why — but we'll take it. If you want a really special Thai experience, though, head to a part of town where the pickings are slim — east Phoenix. Housed in an old Wendy's (drive-thru still operable for to-go orders!) Sa Bai Modern Thai lives up to its name, offering some new twists on old favorites co-owner Atchara "Holly" Willis enjoyed growing up. Holly is Thai. Her husband is not, but he's got a decade of restaurant management experience, and it shows in the attention to detail in both the food and décor at this sweet little cafe. We are particularly partial to the spicy fried jasmine rice, the pad Thai, and the seafood green curry. Oh, and the tom yum's not to be missed.
Pho Thanh Restaurant
Lauren Cusimano
As delicious as it is inexpensive, Pho Thanh has become our go-to spot for a quick and easy bite of Vietnamese food. It's pretty obvious that we're not alone, either, because this summer, Pho Thanh doubled in size — taking over the adjacent storefront on the Viet-centric northwest corner of 17th Avenue and Camelback Road. And every time we're in the restaurant, nearly all the tables are full of diners slurping down big bowls of meat-filled pho, diving into tasty servings of bun (vermicelli noodles), or munching on $2.50 (not a typo — they really are that cheap) bahn mi sandwiches that rival, yes, those served at a decidedly more famous Vietnamese sandwich shop in the Southeast Valley. For taste, value ($20 will fill up two hungry people and send them home with leftovers), and cleanliness, Pho Thanh is quickly setting the standard for Vietnamese food in Phoenix.
Restaurant Takamatsu
Evie Carpenter
Your quest for kimchee stops here. Tucked away in a Chandler strip mall, Takamatsu has been serving authentic Korean eats for more than a decade. Watch sweet marinated strips of bulgogi (barbecued beef), pork belly, or tongue cook right at your table or try something a little more challenging, like black goat soup or kimchee bokeum (highly recommended). No worries if you're a Korean food virgin; the staff will walk you through the menu and answer any and all questions. Each entrée is served with an array of Korean sides, including delicious little morsels of mung bean and marinated cucumbers. After you have polished off dinner, your meal is completed with a tiny cup of hot cinnamon tea. It's like dessert without the guilt!
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About 10 months ago, the restaurant formerly known as Copper Kettle resurfaced along the light-rail tracks, in the form of Curry Corner. Situated a couple of blocks west of the station at Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard, Curry Corner has become one of our favorite new eateries. This mom 'n' pop joint serves bursting-with-flavor Indian-Pakistani food. We love to grab a few friends and order up a whole mess of dishes to share. The last time we were there, we had four entrées, two appetizers, tons of naan, and a couple of drinks. The total? Just about $40. An unbelievable deal, especially when you consider how good the food is. Here's hoping this joint is still around in 2045, when Valley Metro might get around to laying some tracks in your neighborhood.
Cafe Istanbul
Kyle Lamb
Oh, how we love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food. The flavors, the colors, the freshness — the varieties of spelling! We like to make Mideast staples such as hummus and tabbouleh at home, but they never taste quite as good as they do when made by the pros at the Valley's several fine Middle Eastern joints. And that goes double for the great food at Cafe Istanbul. This longstanding restaurant gets it right every time, from its ever-popular chicken shawarma sandwiches to its fine lamb and beef kebabs. Really, though, when we hit up Cafe Istanbul, we want to try a little bit of everything, so we have to choose the two-person Al Amir Combo, an expansive and beautifully arranged platter of all that's good about this particular cuisine. Check it: There's creamy hummus, minty tabbouleh, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), chunks of feta, baba ghanouj, mujadara, loubieh, moist falafel, chunks of medium-rare lamb, outstanding chicken, possibly the best kefta kebab in the Valley, and all the soft, warm pita bread you want. At $29.95, this generous plate will fill you up just enough that you'll have a little bit of room left to make you want to peruse Cafe Istanbul's lovely dessert case.
Greekfest Restaurant
Diana Martinez
Our romance with Greekfest began with a craving for rack of lamb, and it got messy — in a good way — when we also fell in love with this wonderful Greek restaurant's mousaka. And its pastitsio. And its youvetsi! But back to that lamb: You can have it in any number of Greek configurations exohiko, arni psito, or just a simple, lemony rack of lamb, with the robust spices of this gourmet palace. Fresh seafood (the best halibut, swordfish, and salmon) and superb Greek fare served in steaming ceramic pots vie for attention with the delicious aroma of chicken souvlakis turning over crackling fires. Greekfest offers a long list of Greek wine and a wide variety of appetizers, and if you're there on the right night, live music played on the big, gorgeous grand piano will accompany your entrée.
Blue Nile Cafe
Flavorful, filling, and amazingly affordable cuisine makes for a winning combination at Blue Nile Café. Vegans and carnivores can happily coexist while using moist, tangy injera (a spongy flatbread) in lieu of utensils to scoop up the menu's delectable offerings. We recommend taking in the experience while dining around the colorful woven basket tables called mesobs. There's a multitude of appetizers to choose from, such as the tasty fried samossas (vegetable- or meat-filled fried dough) and vegan Red Sea hummus. After restraining ourselves from licking the hummus bowl clean, we were more than happy to devour our meal of doro wat (tender chicken cooked in a thick, hot berbere sauce) and Blue Nile tebbs (lean beef expertly sautéed in a mixture of onion, green chili, butter, and herbs). The vegetarian dishes are equally alluring, with bean and vegetable dishes infused with aromatic sauces. Be sure to save room for a delicious dessert such as the vegan orange coffee cake and (in true Ethiopian tradition) a drink from the full service espresso bar.

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