Phoenix Adventures

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So I went up to Phoenix this last weekend. Again. Can’t resist the delicious food…erm I mean amazing friends that are in the city just North of me. While up there I got to see some friends who have gone off to the East Coast for grad school, hike South Mountain and try new restaurants!

This was actually my first time hiking in Phoenix. Though I’ve meant to explore the trails for the last several years it just never worked out timing wise. XP But I have done it now! And it was… interesting. Much different from the hiking trails I’m used to in Tucson.  First of all, South Mountain is more of a large hill than an actual mountain. I could easily reach the peak of this “mountain” whereas I’ve never been able to scale to the top of any mountain in Tucson (without the aid of a car.) The first third of the path was paved. Which is abominable. If you want somewhere paved go to a PARK not a hiking trail, jeesh. After that it starts to get rather steep and rocky, but the trail is so short it isn’t terribly exhausting. I only needed one rest and then just some breathers.

The interesting bit about the South Mountain trails is that there is actually one trail that is 14 miles long!!! It goes around the range in a mostly flat and even trail. That just happens to be on the very outside middle part of a small mountain.
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After hiking we went to SUSHI. Our usual place is Teharu the revolving sushi bar but we decided to mix it up and try someplace new. Mido Sushi on Ray and Kyrene. We got there for happy hour and BOY was it DELICIOUS.  We all got full on under $10. On fresh and good quality sushi! Elizabeth and I split four rolls – to have the greatest variety of flavours. There was a spicy tuna, a gyoza roll (a sushi roll with gyoza inside. BRILLIANT!), jalapeño tuna, and the pancho roll (which has shrimp tempura and avocado). They were all delicious. I don’t even care much for shrimp and I loved the pancho roll. Since then one of us has gone back 3 times. I am incredibly jealous and can’t wait to go back up and enjoy the happy hour again.

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Then we had BOBA TEA. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH. I don’t actually care much for traditional boba balls. But I love milk tea, I love mini boba and I love popping boba/fruit caviar. I try a different combination almost everytime I enjoy a tea. This time it was a coconut taro tea (the purple one in the back) with mini bobas (yay Boba Tea House for having mini boba). Taro is such an interesting flavor and I am obsessed with the beautiful color it creates. If you have been wary to try something so exotic, don’t be. It’s a mild flavour, slightly sweet and it tastes… opaque? or ever so slightly chalky? It’s extremely unique. Please, give it a try!

 

 

IMG_2696 (2)And then for dinner one night we tried a local Italian place – Floridino’s. I split a steak sandwich and was pleased at the dinner. The steak was not dry, the peppers were still crisp and not overcooked, the bread was nice and toasty… but it lacked something. It was dry (and even marinara sauce wouldn’t have added much to it) and not very flavourful. It tasted like something I would throw together from  leftovers, honestly. The pasta salad was rather nice… again extremely simple to the point of being bland. It was pasta and oil and vinegar and some herbs. I won’t be going back there again. The price just does not reflect the quality of the food. If it were 5 dollars for one of their sandwiches I’d be game, but even 7.50 seemed excessive for something so terribly bland. I also have to admit that I was thoroughly let down by the lack of veggie dishes. I just was not in the mood for something entirely bread and sauce and cheese. I have come to expect something more layered. Is it really so much to add some broccoli or zucchini to the pasta at least? GIMME VARIETY and nutrients.

However their calzones did look promising. They are ginormous and worth two meals. If I do ever end up there again, that is what I’ll try.

And so we have our third post of the new year. I’ll try to add some more life anecdotes with my recipes and reviews. If you have any comments on what you’d like me to make, bake or suggestions of restaurants in Tucson or Phoenix areas, lemme know!

Hope your new year is going splendidly!

 

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Pho 68

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Like every Lee Lee’s Market I’ve been to (that would be two) there has to be a Pho place and a Boba tea shop right next to it. In the case of Tucson and Chandler, the set up is nearly identical. Connected to the left of Lee Lee’s is the Vietnamese restaurant and in the adjacent L connected building to the left of the Pho place is a Boba shop.

It’s eerie how much the same they are.

But. The pho bowls at Pho 68 are absolutely delicious. A close second to Un-Pho-Gettable (which has the best vegetable pho soup I have yet to try), the beef pho here is delicious. The broth is rich and full bodied, the noodles are cooked perfectly in the boiling broth and the meat is quite good too. Though I can’t say I’m a fan of the meatballs, the beef slices are very tender and delicious.

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There is a perfect portioning of bean sprouts, thai basil, lime and jalapeños to add into the soup. I also like how they serve you a preportioned side of sauce (usually sriracha and hoison sauce) that you can either use as is or add more of either condiment.

 

 

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Chodang

Bulgogi and banchan

Look at that glorious spread of my most favorite ethnic cuisine!

Chodang is a tiny hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant on the East side of Chandler. Parking in the lot is limited and spreads out into the neighborhood streets and it really doesn’t look like much on the outside. Or the inside, for that matter. But you can tell it’s really authentic because of the small scale, the amount of Koreans (and other Asians) in the restaurant and the amount of English in the menu (just enough to get the idea of each food across.)

My dear friend and I set out on this lunch excursion because we are both huge fans of Korean food. We decided to split the Bulgogi platter. It came with the above pictured banchans — dried seaweed strips, a dish of spiced sliced radishes, soybean sprouts, house kimchi, what I can only assume is potatoes cooked in sugar and soy sauce (the taste is similar to kongjang) if anyone knows what this dish is called please let me know!, and what tasted like sliced apples and mayo.

All the banchan were delicious (even the apple salad was surprisingly addictive) and the bulgogi was as tender and flavourful as I could hope for! It was served on top of caramelized onions and left steeping in its natural juices. Which I naturally mopped up with my leftover rice. It was a filling meal and at a really affordable price.

While the staff wasn’t overly friendly, neither were they neglectful. They took our order, served us food and let us be. And sometimes that is all one desires out of a restaurant experience. Much less annoying than the owner or waiter who visits your table every ten minutes (until you finish your meal, then you are left waiting and waiting for the check!)

All-in-all I recommend Chodang for an inexpensive and utterly delicious Korean meal!!