Asian Festival at Mekong Plaza: Stick to the Nearby Restaurants for the Really Good Authentic Food

Arizona Asian Festival is in Mesa this weekend at the Mekong Plaza and on our visit yesterday we found all sorts of things to do -- but if you are planning to eat, we advise you stick to the restaurant fare and avoid the festival offerings. 

There are really just three vendors offering food outside: 

Aside from your typical festival fare -- ice cream, popcorn and hot dogs -- Big Island Grinds, Sekong By Night, and a vendor merely labeled INDIAN CUISINE are the major ethnic food hotspots for the fest. The nice thing about all three is that none of their items are over seven bucks, but none sell beverages so you're stuck trekking from vendor to vendor to get a complete meal.

Big Island Grinds is a small restaurant out of Chandler serving up Hawaiian dishes. Their menu was limited to pork and beef dishes, with a couple of pasteles and manapua thrown in for good measure.

The manapua was light on the meat and tasted like it had been frozen. The smoked meat dish fared a bit better, but was so salty I had to down the water and shovel in the rice just to get feeling back in my tongue. The beef was also chewy and quite a few pieces were just fat.

The vendor marked as Indian Cuisine showed off a meager selection of gulab jamun, vegeterian samosas, and two kinds of biryani. The gulab jamun looked like it had been sitting out for too long and the chicken biryani looked as if it only had a few pieces of chicken in the entire pan of rice. The samosa was an interesting snack, as the potato had a slightly spicy kick to it and the sweet sauce balanced it nicely, but it wasn't anything to flip over.

Finally Sekong By Night -- the new spot on East Indian School in Phoenix -- is offering up Cambodian cuisine in the form of three dishes: grilled chicken, grilled beef, and grilled corn. The beef kabob was a bit sweet like teriyaki so it tastes okay but hardly differs itself as Cambodian cuisine. The chicken, on the other hand, was rich and slightly greasy with a hint of sweetness.

Overall Sekong is probably your best bet if you want to sample Asian cuisines without pulling yourself away from the main stage entertainment, which is where a majority of the action is at for the event.

The Arizona Asian Festival continues today til 6 the Mekong Plaza.

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