First Taste

The Clever Koi in Midtown Opens With a Splash

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: The Clever Koi Location: 4236 North Central Avenue Open: Just over a week Eats: Asian fusion Price: $11 to $30 per person

To understand The Clever Koi, the new midtown restaurant from former Parlor Pizzeria chefs Jared Porter and Joseph Absolor along with co-owners Joshua James and Nicholas Campisano (who also did time at the pizzeria), you should order the Kung Pao Pastrami ($12).

Inspired by a dish of the same name at the San Francisco and New York City restaurant Mission Chinese, it's deliciously inauthentic, paying tribute to its Asian roots as well as taking wild liberties with it. The lamb pastrami is supremely smoky, its flavor mixing with things like confit potatoes, peanuts, sausage, red peppers, and slivers of snow peas for what more or less amounts to a Chinese-American comfort food head trip.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld