Uncle Sonny and Aunt Winnie, both medical professionals of Chinese descent who spent their formative years in the northern United States and Canada, respectively, greet me with big smiles as they pick me up on a sunny Sunday morning. They've been living in Phoenix for seven years.
As soon as I step foot into the car, he hands me a neatly typed pocket-size list labeled "Places to eat in PHX." It includes about 20 or so recommended favorites, including a couple of worthwhile chains, along with addresses, cost range labeled by dollar sign, and a handy column of "What's so good or special about this place?" Very official! Most impressive.
The list primarily includes Asian eateries like TeHaru Sushi and Sekong by Night, but it also has a couple of bakeries and outlying items like Persian Room Fine Wine and Kebab, Pizzeria Bianco, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana and the Asian/Italian Cherryblossom Noodle Cafe.
Their tastes are pretty much spot on with my own -- I love all kinds of food but am easily pleased by Asian comfort food at any given time. We're all also firm believers in the fact that there's always room for dessert.
I grew up eating my mom's cooking, which consists of delicious Vietnamese and Chinese dishes from the countries where she grew up. As a temporary Phoenician transplant, I began to grow homesick for our semi-regular brunches together of Chinese dim sum and, most of all, her home-cooked pho. It's my ultimate comfort meal on par with her wontons and bun thang -- vermicelli soup with chicken, egg and pork. What can I say? I love me some noodle soup. Luckily, her younger brother Sonny has me covered on the Asian food front.