Cafe Reviews

The Clever Koi in Phoenix Is Innovative but Sometimes Overly Complicated

We've been excited about The Clever Koi since as soon as we heard that chefs Jared Porter and Joe Absolor, both formerly of The Parlor, were opening a modern Asian eatery in Central Phoenix. The restaurant was one of the most-anticipated in recent memory for many a food lover, but high expectations can be a recipe for a disaster.

Fortunately, that's not the case here, as our guest reviewer Eric Schaefer reports this week. The Clever Koi's menu of progressive, ingredient-driven Asian food offers some dishes that hit the mark -- and when they're good, they're really good. The Massaman Udon/Red Curry/Roasted Duck is the kind of dish you'll want to return for with its massaman paste, coconut milk, pickled peppers, and perfectly firm noodles. Unfortunately, other plates will leave you wondering if the far-reaching menu that covers Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese spin-offs has the kitchen stretching a tad too far.

See also: Croque Famous Sandwiches in Scottsdale: A Sandwich Shop with a Korean Kick

Here's an except from this week's review by Schaefer:

Diners will be mesmerized by the theatrics of bonito flakes that take on a life of their own, reflecting the light from above and dancing around from the heat rising out of the hot and sour broth beneath the Wood Grilled Octopus, while the underlying rice cake gradually deconstructs. Thick chunks of perfectly cooked octopus have a rustic blistered char from the grill that lends a mildly acidic flavor. I almost severed our server's arm when she tried to remove the bowl before I was done.

Hungry for more? Read our full review of The Clever Koi.

This post has been edited from its original version.

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Eric Schaefer