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.
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