Tag Archives: dessert

Front patio of Hula's Modern Tiki

Hula’s Modern Tiki Brings Polynesia To Central Phoenix

With new restaurants popping up on every block of Central Phoenix, it can be hard to tell which are worth a visit and which should be avoided at all costs. Well, I’m here to tell you that Hula’s Modern Tiki, located right off the light rail at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, is worth not just one visit, but multiple.

My companion and I were hooked from the moment we spotted Hula’s from the street. You know a restaurant’s good if the outdoor patio is crowded on a hot Arizona Thursday night. The restaurant was vibrant and energizing, with techno music blaring from the speakers and football playing on the TVs by the bar. Farther inside, there are booths and tables in a quieter — but still very much alive — room.

As we settled in, we ordered our appetizer, the seared ahi wontons with wasabi-ginger cream sauce. As soon as they arrived, we promptly stuffed our faces, forgetting that there would be more delicious food to come. We thought the wontons were the most delicious things we had ever tasted — until our poke arrived.

The poke appetizer came to us on the recommendation from our incredible waitress, Ginger, who took amazing care of us all evening. The island-style poke consists of ahi, soy sauce, sesame oil, avocado, onions and macadamia nuts, and it was truly exquisite.

Before long, our entrees arrived. Hula’s offers a choice of fish and a choice of preparation that you can mix and match. We ordered the mahi; flavorful, firm, game fish. We had it pan-fried with shiitake mushrooms and soy-miso sauce. The sauce and mushroom flavor was absolutely perfect and complemented the fish beautifully. The sides were a hit, too — even my slaw-hating friend had more than one bite.

The star of the evening, though, was the shrimp taco. The sauteed shrimp were cooked to perfection and the tortillas were fresh and delicious. Served with beans and rice, this was definitely one of my favorite meals of all time.

If you’re not a fish person, don’t fear: Hula’s offers beef and pork tacos, too, as well as a wide selection of burgers and sandwiches. There’s definitely something for everybody.

We wrapped up the evening with our favorite dessert — key lime pie. We’ve both eaten a lot of key lime pie in our time, and we both agreed that this was among the best. It was rich and creamy and we fought over the last bite.

So the next time you’re trying to sort through the mass of restaurants in buzzing Phoenix, head on over to Hula’s. No matter what you’re looking for, it delivers.

If You Go:
4700 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012
602-262-TIKI (8454)

MAC Award trophies

Arizona’s Most Admired Companies Awards 2010

The 2010 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies Awards, held at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix on Sept. 14, 2010, was a hit with almost 500 people gathering to celebrate excellence in the Arizona business community. The night honored 43 companies in Arizona that are outstanding in the areas of customer opinion, leadership excellence, social responsibility and workplace culture.

Emcee Brahm Resnik, news anchor with 12 News, recognized the companies and handed the mic off to our four presenting sponsors, who announced our Spotlight Awards. Sundt Construction, American Express, St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center and BeachFleischman were the night’s Spotlight Award winners.

Along with celebrating Arizona businesses, attendees feasted on scrumptious desserts. Here are a few photos from the celebration, but there’s more photos of the 2010 MAC Awards in our MAC Photo Album.

[slickr-flickr tag="MAC Awards 2010"]

2010 MAC Awards

2010 MAC Awards

2010 MAC Awards

2010 MAC Awards

2010 MAC Awards

2010 MAC Awards

sushi platter

Sushi Roku Blends Trendy With Traditional For A New Dining Experience

At the heart of the new W Scottsdale, Sushi Roku is taking the dining world by storm. With various locations in the Los Angeles area, as well as one in Las Vegas, this contemporary twist on Japanese cuisine has arrived to make its mark on Arizona territory.

The architecture and decor are a sleek combination of modern design and traditional Japanese accents. The bar area is comprised of concrete and a large, natural tree-root that sits at its base. Dark wood floors, an elliptical sushi bar flanking the dining area, and a dim, candle-lit atmosphere lure you in. No, this is no ordinary sushi place, but rather a total dining experience.

Sushi Roku dishUpon entering the restaurant, staff members enthusiastically greet diners, yelling out “Irasshai!” This warm Japanese welcome was the beginning of the flavorful journey that we were about to embark on. We began the evening with some traditional starters, including edamame, as well as a unique offshoot of the well-known favorite, edamame hummus, served with vegetable wonton chips. The edamame were warm, crisp and salty — just the way I like them. The hummus was also a hit, complemented by the flavor-packed chips. The standout from the appetizers was definitely the Kobe beef skewers. The tender, moist beef was offset by a punch of spice that woke up the taste buds.

Dining in a restaurant with sushi as part of its namesake made our dinner selection a no-brainer. We began with a natural choice for sushi lovers: the oldie but goody, California roll. After sampling a wide array, including caterpillar, softshell crab and salmon sashimi, we were still hungry for more. We decided on the katana roll, and the signature dish was well received; a combination of tuna, yellowtail, spicy tuna and shrimp tempura, it had just the right amount of zest to please. But the pièce de résistance of the sushi selections was the baked lobster roll. Covered in a creamy miso sauce, the roll had a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth taste that was a perfect balance of flavors — not too spicy, not too bland, but just right. Side tempura dishes of eggplant, sweet potato and carrot made eating vegetables a pleasure rather than a chore. Sure they may have been deep fried, but it still counts in my book.

No meal is complete without dessert and to my delight, it didn’t disappoint. Though we enjoyed the frangelico creme brulee, there was a clear winner in my eyes. A chocolate lover at heart, the lava cake was the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

Sushi Roku can be described as part trendy sushi bar, part elegant dining excursion. All in all, Sushi Roku is a fusion of great tasting Japanese cuisine, sleek design and a hip presentation of meals. As the staff pleasantly says when you leave, “Arigatou!” Thank you! And we will indeed come again.

If you go:
7277 E. Camelback Rd.
Scottsdale
480-870-2121
www.sushiroku.com

Chef Eddie Matney Returns With Eddie's House, 2008

Chef Eddie Matney Returns With Eddie’s House

Chef Eddie Matney, Eddie's House, AZ Business Magazine Oct. 2008

The Valley’s original celebrity chef, Eddie Matney, would like to invite you to his house for dinner. Well, it’s not his actual house, but at Eddie’s House, Matney’s newest Valley restaurant, it’s like eating home cooking as only this chef can make it.

It’s been a couple of years since Matney had an eatery in town that bears his moniker, but the wait was well worth it. Eddie’s House in Old Town Scottsdale combines all the things Matney is famous for, plus some new and comforting elements.

Overall, the decor strives for a stylish, but inviting and casual vibe. Those who sit at the head of the table get to relax in large, comfortable armchairs upholstered in a mix of leather and green and purple striped fabric.

But you don’t go to Eddie’s House for decorating tips. You go there for the food, and once again, Matney doesn’t disappoint. His food has always lived in a region where America meets the Mediterranean.

The appetizers reflect all of these influences. Matney’s flatbread and tartar starters change daily. The day my party went, the flatbread was topped with smoked salmon and roasted garlic, while the tartar selection was a tuna blend that had my dining companions raving.

We followed that with the soup and salad portion of the dinner. I jumped at what the menu dubbed the “serious” lobster bisque cappuccino. Unlike other bisques that tend to have a cream base, this lobster bisque appeared to be made primarily of a lobster stock that allowed the sweet, rich taste of the lobster meat chunks inside to really shine.

On to the entrees, where Matney kept to his tradition of hearty portions. The special that night was a pork chop dish, which quickly became a favorite at the table. The chops were tender and tasty, with everyone claiming more than one bite. Another favorite was the bacon-infused meatloaf. Oh Eddie, you had me at bacon. Add to that Yukon gold mashed potatoes and onion strings and we all forgot our diets that night.

Arizona Business Magazine October 2008 Cover

Earning special notice was the EHC or Eddie’s House Chicken. The chicken was cooked to perfection, but what captured everyone’s attention wasthe presentation. While the breast was served on a dish, the legs and thighs were placed in a small, whimsical ceramic “basket” painted to look like a bucket of chicken from that famous colonel.

Although I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, dessert is de rigueur for me. The dessert that earned the most “ooos” and “ahhhs” was the crème brûlée, so rich and sweet and surprisingly light. While the crème brûlée was very good, my personal favorite was the baked chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. It was almost like a mousse. I became even fonder of the dessert after Matney told the story behind it; he was inspired by his memories of his mother making a similar dish while he was growing up. How appropriate for a restaurant named Eddie’s House.

www.eddieshouseaz.com

Kona Grill opening new location

Kona Grill Opens Third Location In The Valley

By Noelle Coyle and Janet Perez

Despite the sluggish economy, restaurants continue to open or expand in the Valley, and Arizona native Kona Grill is no exception. Originally founded in Scottsdale in 1998, the restaurant has expanded throughout the United States, with locations in Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Louisiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and Florida. In June, it came back to its roots with the opening of a new location in Gilbert, and there are more plans for growth on the horizon. The Gilbert location joins two other Kona Grills in the Valley at Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center.

The new Gilbert restaurant opened at SanTan Village, one of many recent outdoor lifestyle malls built in the Valley. Kona Grill’s interior includes many of its signature features, including soft lighting, a granite sushi bar and a 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish.

Like its decor, Kona Grill’s menu is an inspired combination of American comfort food and Pacific Rim ingredients.

The appetizers exemplify this philosophy with onion rings served with a pineapple chipotle and spicy mustard sauce; blackened catfish or macadamia nut chicken tacos; calamari with a spicy aioli dipping sauce; and Kahuna Bites, beef sliders seasoned with onions and thyme. I was disappointed to see that one of my favorite Kona Grill appetizers is no longer on the menu, a spicy salmon sashimi paired with sour cream and avocado and wrapped in a flour tortilla that is then flash-fried. Here’s hoping Kona Grill brings that delight back.

Kona GrillThe dinner menu abounds with baby back ribs, pizzas, macadamia nut chicken, lemon grass crusted halibut and sweet chili-glazed salmon. The pizza toppings run the gamut of exotic from regular pepperoni to shitake mushrooms and goat cheese. The macadamia nut chicken might sound simple, but it features a shoyu cream sauce and a pineapple-papaya marmalade.

A special treat is the Big Island Meatloaf. If you’re expecting it to be just like Mom used to make, you’ll be in for a surprise — unless Mom hails from Hawaii. The meatloaf is made with sweet Italian and Andouille sausage with a mushroom ragu. The dish is topped off with white cheddar mashed potatoes and wok-tossed vegetables.

If you’re in the mood for steak, Kona Grill provides with 6 and 10-ounce filets, and a 20-ounce, bone-in rib-eye.

Now for me, the real attraction to Kona Grill is the sushi. I love sushi, but I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm, so with its full-complement of non-sushi dishes, friends and I can go to Kona Grill and both be happy.

The basic rolls and sashimi are handled well at Kona Grill, but it’s the restaurant’s specialty sushi dishes that are a real delight.

Called Kona Rolls, my favorites are the spider roll, deep fried soft-shell crab with crab mix, avocado and cucumber wrapped in seaweed and soy paper, and topped with a sweet eel sauce; and the Sunshine Roll, spicy salmon with cucumbers wrapped with rice and seaweed, and topped with fresh salmon and thinlysliced lemon. Of the chef’s specials, I’m a fan of the Volcano, a dish made of baked crab, white fish and yamagobo (pickled burdock plant) and topped with motoyaki sauce, sriracha and eel sauce.

The Asian-fusion philosophy doesn’t extend to the dessert menu. The goodies there are strictlyall-American with fudge brownies, apple crisps, banana pudding and even a root beer float. The one exception is the crème brûlée, in which the traditional custard is infused with fresh passion fruit.