So you've got a craving for Asian food, but you're sick of the places that fill your usual rotation. Perhaps it's so bad that your go-to spots know your takeout order by heart.
Well, we've got the solution. Here are eight places for Asian eats that you might not have tried before. Whether you're looking to try a new international cuisine, or just want to break out of your dining rut, give these places a try and you will be rewarded.
Taiwan Food Express
There aren't many places in town that serve Taiwanese food, but for an approachable and affordable foray into this cuisine try Taiwan Food Express at Mekong Plaza in Mesa. The counter service restaurant has a pretty lengthy menu, and if you're a first-time Taiwanese food eater you'll love that there are photos of many dishes hanging on the wall. Start with some easy-to-like dishes such as the beef roll, scallion pancake, or a hot bowl of beef noodle soup.
In Japan, an izakaya is a drinking establishment that serves small plates of Japanese comfort foods. DOZO Izakaya delivers on at least the food portion of this concept, with a menu of grilled small plates such as sunagimo, or chicken gizzard; hotaru-ikayaki, or baby squid; and one of our personal favorites,tako-yaki, or fried octopus balls. We wish the restaurant stayed open later to give an even better Japanese izakaya experience, but if you hit the restaurant during happy hour you can score pretty good deals on both food and drinks.
Ding Hao Shanghai
This relatively new Mesa restaurant serves a selection of Shanghai-style Chinese dishes that are hard to find elsewhere in the Valley. In addition to the Chinese food staples you probably already know, Ding Hao serves Shanghai-styled wine marinated chicken, Shanghai-styled cold simmered duck, and even housemade soy milk. There's also a small menu of Szechwan cuisine, which includes excellent dumplings in pungent chili oil and cool, and crunchy garlic sauteed cucumbers.
Though most of our favorite Chinese restaurants are on the east side of town, King Wah Express serves up some of the city's best Chinese eats in Glendale. The no-frills strip mall restaurant looks a little rough on the outside, but venturing in means enjoying a real culinary adventure. You're more than welcome to order off the English menu, but the better option will be to let the chef decide what to serve you. Just ask for the Chef's Special, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
If a casual Chinese is dinner is what you're looking for but you don't want to hit the usual spots, Heng's Kitchen in Mesa will let you eat like a king on the cheap. Located inside the food court at Mekong Plaza, this simple restaurant serves top-notch Chinese food including quite possibly the best chow mien we've ever tasted. For a more adventurous meal try the cold scallion chicken or an order of xiaolongbao, or Chinese soup dumplings. Heng's even sells frozen dumplings by the dozen so you can take them home and enjoy some later.
You don't have to look hard to find pho in this town, but for Cambodian specialties, the go-to place is probably hiding right in front of your eyes. Located off Indian School Road in Central Phoenix, Retherey Sekong looks quiet -- almost too quiet, from the outside. But turn into the parking lot and you'll find the entrance, which leads to a quaint dining room decked out in Cambodian style. If you're a fan of pho, try to Phom Peh Noodle soup, which is similar but made with difference spices. The restaurant is also BYOB, should you wish to enjoy a little alcohol with your meal.
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There are several other well-known Korean restaurants in town, but Chandler's Chodang restaurant is a true gem. The specialty here isn't Korean barbecue, but rather excellent bowls of bubbling tofu soup. Though the soup can be ordered with an array of different ingredients, your bowl will always include an abundance of of soft, creamy tofu. Served in hefty black bowls, these soups will have you wishing you never have to leave. Also worth trying are the bibimbap and the cold noodles, which make a perfect balance to the hot soup.
Halo Halo Kitchen
This west side restaurant makes exploring Filipino food as easy as ordering at Chipotle. Halo Halo Kitchen is a fast-casual restaurant, where you can build your own plates of Filipino specialties including pork sisig, lechon kawali, and chicharron bulaklak. There's also an array of breakfast platters, or silogs, to try. The meals usually include eggs, garlic fried rice, and your choice of meat. Try the spicy sausage called longanisa or a satisfying order or corned beef.