CreAsian Bar and Grill opened in January, bringing a new Vietnamese fusion concept to Phoenix. And as of April, just months later, it has expanded to a second location in Tempe. The locally owned restaurant offers both traditional and original dishes with an American twist, served up in a laid-back atmosphere complete with drinking games.
Walking in, it’s immediately clear this isn’t a typical Vietnamese restaurant. The rainbow-colored LED beer pong station and disco lights clue you in fast. Then there are the speakers blasting pop hits, the air hockey table, and the decorative tins advertising Four Peaks and Odell Brewing.
Though CreAsian’s menu has staples such as four types of pho (the restaurant’s specialty), fresh spring rolls, and vermicelli noodle bowls with grilled meats, it also features some more unusual dishes.
Stand out appetizers include the deep-fried quail, wild boar baby back ribs, and grilled mussels. The impressive list of more than 20 skewer options includes small bites of camel, beaver, kangaroo, alligator, antelope, elk, and more. Skewers cost $2 to $4.50, so guests can try a few different kinds for less than the price of an entree.
During a recent visit, the staff recommended the plate with baked and grilled chicken thighs over fried rice and an egg. The dish also comes with a side salad and two shrimp. Both thighs are hefty and juicy, with lightly crispy skin, satisfying like a home-cooked meal from a favorite aunt. At $9, this plate is plenty for folks with big appetites and more than enough for people who like having leftovers.
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Daring pho lovers can try CreAsian’s food challenge: Finish three pounds of noodles, three pounds of meat, and four liters of broth – served in a dramatic silver display bowl – in one hour or less. Anyone who succeeds gets the meal for free and their photo added to the Wall of Fame. Unsuccessful competitors must pay a $30 penalty and might find themselves on the Wall of Shame.
So far, at least three people have tried and failed the pho challenge, although the Wall of Shame remains mercifully empty. Staff members predict it will take some strategy to win. They advise contestants to slurp up all the noodles first, to keep them from expanding, then gobble up the meat, and drink the broth last.
CreAsian Tempe opens at 3 p.m. daily, and the dinner rush tends to hit later than most places. It’s open until midnight, making it an ideal spot for a later dinner and a few rounds with friends.
CreAsian Bar and Grill. 1212 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe; 480-758-5117.
Daily 3 p.m. to midnight.