By Benjamin Leatherman
Fresh Mint's version of a balanced meal.
To me, there are only two kinds of fake meat in this world: good or bad.
By “bad,” I mean bland clumps of tofu (or a similar soy-based substance) which have been fashioned into a substance that vaguely resembles in some fashion a piece of beef or chicken. Conversely, the good stuff is so similar to the real thing that my eyes or taste buds can’t tell the difference.
Thankfully, the folks at Fresh Mint (13802 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, 480-443-2556) create some delicious soy-based meat knockoffs that fall firmly into the second category. This is to say, it’s very good. Mai Ly, owner and executive chef, incorporates soy versions of beef, chicken, and fish into many of the dishes on her eatery’s repast. Fresh Mint specializes in healthy Asian cuisine that’s heavy on the fresh veggies and pretty much 100-percent vegan friendly.
Its menu is laden with such Far East selections as Vietnamese sweet and sour soup, vegetable fried rice, pad thai, hot pots, and kung pao soy chicken. It was hard to pick just one thing during my recent lunchtime visit, since everything sounded f’n good. I went with the “Golden Soy Chicken Delight.”
I only had to wait around 10-15 minutes for my food, but if felt a little tortuous as exotic and sumptuous aromas kept wafting my way from the purple-and-green restaurant’s tiny kitchen. (Bastards!) The people in the next booth other also got the phenomenal-looking “Vegetarian Citrus Spare Ribs” and some of the “Curry Apple Tofu.”
As for my meal, the “Golden Soy Chicken Delight” consisted of artfully-arranged slices of the faux fowl, topped with diced green onions and huge dollops of Fresh Mint’s zesty and tangy “special sauce.” (It resembles soy sauce to a certain degree). A large scoop of brown rice and some freshly steamed veggies -- like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots -- came on the side. (Jasmine white rice is also available).
Fresh Mint doesn’t have any salt or pepper shakers on their tables, and after taking a few bites of my meal its easy to see why: Everything was already savory and flavorful. The chicken was juicy and the vegetables were cooked perfectly, with just a little crispness to them.
From what I saw, the restaurant does some pretty brisk takeout business during lunchtime, particularly from people who work within the shopping center where Fresh Mint is located. If only the Phoenix New Times were based outta north Scottsdale, they I could hit this place up everyday for my noontime meal.