YC’s Mongolian Grill opens a new Scottsdale location

Locally owned YC’s Mongolian Grill returned to Scottsdale last week with the opening its new Loop 101 & Raintree location. Loyal customers couldn’t wait to get back to building their own stir fry bowls as was evident when I visited with owner Geoff Stansic recently. The previous Scottsdale location was at The Pavilions but was shut down with the other 4 locations due to the pandemic. As the pandemic waned and the economy improved Stansic decided to re-open 3 of the locations in Gilbert, Tempe and Scottsdale with a 4th location slated to open sometime in 2023.

“After a tough few years of working through adversity during the pandemic and beyond, we are ready to open the doors to an all-new YC’s experience and reconnect with our Scottsdale customers,” Stanisic said. “We take pride in the food we serve and love being able to provide our customers with the best ingredients and a bowl full of authentic flavor.”

Stansic took over in 1996, five years after the first location in Tempe was opened by the original owner YC. He knew a thing or two about the restaurant business as he was kitchen manager for Hyatt Hotels and Houston’s before going into business for himself. It shows as he greets his returning customers by name, knows what bowls they will build and sauces they will have them tossed with. He even has a few signature sauces named for long time customers. He credits much of the success to his attentive staff, several who have been with since before he took over almost 30 years ago.

YC's Mongolian Grill
Beef & Broccoli bowl

What is YC’s Mongolian Grill?

Folklore has it that in the days of Genghis Khan, his army would cook their food on their shields over a hot fire, similar to how it’s done at YC’s. In each location after you’ve piled high your meats, vegetables, noodles and sauces the cooks will grill them on 600 degree circular flat top grill in full view. During peak times 4 cooks will toss the ingredients on the grill rotating around the grill.

There is no one demographic at YC’s Mongolian Grill as the food has something for everybody. Vegan and gluten free diets can be accommodated as there are plenty of vegetables, noodles and sauces for all.  Want meat in your bowl, add white or dark meat chicken, pork and or beef with shrimp available during dinner. Don’t be afraid to pile your ingredients high, it’s encouraged. Their signature noodles are sourced from Chinatown in L.A. with vegetables coming from local distributors.

A separate bowl is used combine ingredients for your Asian inspired sauce. A menu board offers several signature sauces recommending how much and which water based sauces and rice wines to use. The staff is always nearby to help create your sauce before grilling making tastes and combinations endless.

Free Stir Fry Day

To celebrate the new location, customers coming in Wednesday, November 2nd will get free small bowl from 11 a.m. – 7p.m. The new location is at 14850 N. 87th St., Scottsdale, AZ. For more information visit their website.

Kitchen 602 debuts new cloud kitchen concepts

Two new food concepts have launched for delivery or pick-up from the new Kitchen 602 cloud kitchen. Tater Traderz and Rice D’light come from Highland Food Hub at 720 W. Highland in Phoenix which also doubles a test kitchen for new concepts.

Founder Sam Marrero has been in the global hospitality industry for over 30 years and played an important role during the Covid-19 pandemic consulting with restaurants on how to adapt take-out and to-go offerings. “We aim to offer our guests a high-quality dining experience with approachable food that appeals to the masses and can be completely customized,” says Marrero. “I’ve always felt it was important to do whatever it takes to ensure my guests have the best dining experience possible, and now I’m combining that goal with the to-go dining concept.”

Tater Traderz is the newest concept at Kitchen 602 and uses locally made Frites Street fries in a variety of delicious ways. You can get fries topped with chicken, the Cluck Off!, OG Chili Cheese Fries, Sweet Baby BBQ and more delivered from a third party delivery service or picked up at the Hub. Rice D’light Sweet Rice Creations features rice pudding bowls, Horchata and the Chai Chatta. Rice D’light was inspired by Marrero’s growing up in New York and working with Tokyo Disney.

A new Big Box is offered for tailgating and football parties exclusively during football season. The French fry fiesta serves 6-8 people and $40 gets 3 mix and match loaded fries options. For more information or to place orders visit their website.

 

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

California vs. Oregon: Pinot Battle at Hotel Valley Ho

The hotel’s monthly Versus Series dinner tries to answer the age old question, who makes better pinot noir, California or Oregon? Diners at the Thursday September 15th dinner will help decide. The four course dinner featuring seafood and duck will pair perfectly with the chosen wines. Dinner starts at 6:00 p.m. and is $129 ++ per person. To make a reservation call 480-421-7997.

National Cheese Pizza Day at Streets of New York

All 16 Arizona locations will be celebrating one of the best foods ever made on Monday September 5th. Buy one pizza get another at 1/2 off whether you dine-in or take-out. If ordering online use promo code 50%OFFPIZZA.

Labor Day specials around Phoenix

Take Monday September 5th off and enjoy yourself and save some hard earned money on food & drinks around town.

Fired Pie is giving 20% off entrees when you order online or in person use or mention code LBR20.

Pedal Haus Brewery in Chandler and downtown Phoenix offer its new “World’s Best Happy Hour” starting at 11 a.m. Enjoy $4 select Haus beers, $5 well drinks, $6 Haus margs/Haus wine and $7 steins. Plus, $3 bacon popcorn, $4 Haus mac & cheese, $5 loaded fries, $6 Haus smoked wings, $7 happy burgers.

Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar & Grill celebrates the end of summer all weekend long.

    • Friday, 9/2/2022 – $5 Frozen Thai Mai’s and Ginger-Lime Margaritas all day long!
    • Saturday, 9/3/2022 – BOGO Half Price Sushi Rolls… buy one sushi roll, get another sushi roll for half price
    • Sunday, 9/4/2022 – 15% off Take Out Orders
    • Monday, 9/5/2022 – All Day Happy Hour… enjoy Happy Hour food and drink specials all day long!

Chef’s Table: A Night of Favorites at Hearth ’61

Wednesday September 14th’s special five course dinner will feature each culinary team member’s all-time favorite dish. Start with passed hors d’ oeuvres and sparkling wine before dinner that will be paired with award-winning wines. A complimentary room for the night is also included. The dinner starts at 6 p.m. and is $250 per person, or $500 per couple. To reserve your seat and room visit http://mountainshadows.com.

Everything Lobster all month at STK Steakhouse

The Scottsdale steakhouse is featuring the seafood delicacy until September 30th with a special lobster focused menu. Choose one or all for an appetizer or entree; Lobster Roll ($49), Lobster Caviar Salad ($45), Maine Lobster Ravioli ($42) and Spicy Lobster Rigatoni ($62).

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

The return of Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week in September

As plant-based diets get more popular diners are looking for more restaurants and food options when dining out. The return of Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week, September 11th-18th, people can get a chance to dine on special plant based meals at full service restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, meal delivery services and more.

Founders Jozh Watson (PHX Vegan) and Chef Jason Wyrick (The Vegan Taste) want to continue to bring awareness to plant-based diets get more popular diners are looking for more restaurants and food options to dine out at. “According to Watson, “Last year, Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week was so well received by the community. Every eatery that participated reported a significant increase in traffic during the event. This year promises to be even bigger and better.”

During the week-long event diners will be treated to plant based meals during breakfast, lunch and dinner at participating restaurants not normally found on their menu. Breakfast will be capped at $15, lunch will offer an appetizer, entree and drink for $20 and a three course dinner for no more than $30 with a 5 course meal no more than $44. Reservations are now being taken for the week at restaurants including Salvadoreno Restaurant (Phoenix and Mesa), Dilla Libre (Phoenix and Scottsdale), Early Bird Vegan, Freak Brothers Pizza and others.

A list of restaurants and menus can be found at their updated website as the list continues to grow. Non-vegan restaurants are encouraged to participate to showcase their plant based options. Menus are available for both dine-in and take-out. According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are realizing they need to appeal to a variety of food preferences. Veganism is a lifestyle choice that is here to stay, and we’re proud to show off the amazing culinary mark Phoenix is making.” Photo credit Debby Wolvos

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian opens at former Peking Palace in Tucson

Husband and wife Nattha and Eric Post both grew up around food, she in Thailand and he in Tucson. Both attended Blue Elephant and Napali cooking schools in Thailand and have worked in restaurants in their native countries. They’ve now opened Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian, bringing authentic Thai and Cantonese Chinese cuisine to Tucson.

“Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian is a labor of love and an opportunity for us to invite the dining community in to taste the result of our passion for and dedication to serving authentic Asian cuisine that is approachable and delicious,” says Eric. “We want people to enjoy the experience of trying new things but also feel comfortable eating the familiar dishes they love.”

Tam “Sam” Quan is the executive chef serving a wide variety of “AppeThaizers”, soups, Thai curries & rice and more. Dishes include Yum Nua (grilled beef salad), Yum Woon Sen (glass noodle salad with shrimp and ground pork); soups like Tom Kha (coconut milk) and Tom Sabb (pork ribs); Thai curries including red, green, yellow, mussaman, panang and more; Thai noodle stir fries such as Pad Thai and Pad Kee Mao (drunken noodle); Thai rice stir fries like Pad Prik King (with crispy pork belly) and Pad Krathim (garlic chicken). They serve beer, wine and cocktails along with Thai teas.

Nattha came to the U.S. in 2018 and hopes to be a citizen soon and has worked in several local restaurants. Eric, a practicing attorney learned to cook from his Italian mother and worked at Tucson’s Kipple’s Pizza Parlour. Nattha’s Bann Thai Asian is at 6970 E. 22nd St. Tucson 85710. Hours are Monday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Visit their website for more information.

Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill “Takes a Gallon Off” your meal

John Banquil, owner of Scottsdale’s Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill and Ling’s Wok Shop knows how the high gas prices affect people’s everyday life. With that in mind he came up with the “Take a Gallon Off” promotion during July and August. The idea came to him while at Disneyland after seeing the high price of gas and knowing it’s on the top of the mind of his staff and customers.

Everyday he checks the AAA website for the cost of a gallon of regular gas and emails his managers and those who sign up to be a Wokstar. When customers present the email during the purchase of $40 or more they get the amount off their bill. Many of the meals at both restaurants are gluten free and they offer a variety of dishes for all tastes including vegan and vegetarian eaters. In the first 10 days 5-10 people per day, per store have taken advantage of the promotion. To sign up to be a WokStar visit either restaurants website.

The “Take a Gallon Off” promotion is just one of the ways Banquil supports the local community with donations. The monthly “Cooking for a Cause” at Ling’s Wok Shop has chefs create a special dish and donate part of the proceeds to charity. July’s dish is the Thai Tuna Bowl and proceeds go to Gabriel’s Angel.

Ling & Louie’s have 2 locations in Arizona and one in Idaho and Texas. In Arizona visit Scottsdale at 9397 E. Shea Blvd 85260 and at Wild Horse Pass Casino at 5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd. Phoenix 85048. Ling’s Wok Shop is at 20511 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85255.

 

Tempe Beach Park is the place to be for Foodie Fri-YAY in May

Food trucks, beer & wine and live music is a good way to end the work week. Those looking to unwind can head to Tempe Beach Park Friday’s in May for Foodie Fri-YAY from 5 – 9 p.m. Each week offers different food trucks, breweries and musicians with May 6th hosting Hot Bamboo, Seoul Good Food Truck and Kingpin BBQ. Huss Brewery will be pouring cold beer and Nomadica red, white and rose wines will be available for wine drinkers. Admission is free with food, beer & wine available for purchase. Alcohol purchases will be cashless with only credit card payments.

“Tempe Beach Park has always been a top destination for festivals, concerts and other enjoy all that Downtown Tempe offers,” said Kate Borders, Executive Director of the Downtown Tempe Authority. “With Foodie Fri-YAYs, we’re welcoming everyone back to this beloved hot spot while celebrating the best of local food, drinks and musicians.”

Tempe Beach Park is at 80 W. Rio Salado Dr. Tempe 85281. For more information and to see the complete line-up of food trucks. beer & wine partners and live music head to their website.

Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey is bringing fine dining to the Melrose District

Master sushi chef and owner Engin Onural is bringing his popular sushi restaurant Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey to Phoenix’s Melrose District come May. A hit in Palm Springs the experience includes hard to get Japanese whiskeys, the foundation of the restaurant’s cocktail program. Onural has been recognized by the Sushi Proficiency Institute and certified by the AJSA Sushi Skills Institute. He placed in the Best Chefs America Index in 2015 and was the recipient of the World Sushi Cup and Kuro-Obi Pin in 2017.

“We put an incredible amount of care and attention to detail into everything we do from start to finish at Sandfish to ensure an impeccable experience when guests dine with us,” says Chef Onural. “We look forward to creating an environment where the residents of Phoenix can enjoy an intimate date night or a special celebration.”

What to expect at Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

Guests dining at Sandfish will be taken on a culinary journey that will tantalize all the senses. The expertly curated menu starts with Spicy Tuna Tostada, Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms and more. Signature rolls are where Onural lets his creative senses flow with The Experiment Roll (snow crab with mango, avocado and cucumber topped with tuna, jalapeno, cilantro and yuzu aioli) and the Baby Langoustine Roll (crab meat and avocado topped with tempura-style baby langoustine, spicy aioli, teriyaki sauce and micro greens).

Braised and grilled Spanish Octopus and Hamachi Kama (yellowtail collar) are just a couple dishes that aren’t sushi. Salads, sushi rolls and carpaccio are featured on the menu. The adventurous may opt for the Omakase Chef’s Tasting Menu which includes popular dishes with a few surprises from Onural. Save room for the signature Matcha Cheese cake for dessert. The bar will include signature and classic cocktails, sake, beer, wine and mocktails. Whiskeys from around the world will also be available.

Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey will be at 4232 N. 7th Ave. Phoenix and  is currently hiring staff for all positions. For more information visit their website.

Pyro to be first restaurant at The Grove

The intersection at 44th St. & Camelback Rd. has always been one of the busiest in Phoenix and will get even busier when the mixed-used development The Grove opens later this year. The first restaurant to announce it will open there will be the Japanese bistro Pyro from Omaha-based Flagship Restaurant Group.

“The Flagship Restaurant Group team and I are very excited to bring Pyro to The Grove,” said Nick Hogan, CEO and co-founder of Flagship Restaurant Group. “We felt that it was the right time to bring our brand-new concept to this location, as there is much development taking place in-market and residents and travelers in Phoenix are always looking for the right mix of creativity coupled with responsibly-sourced fare. Everything we serve our guests is fully transparent, from the farms the vegetables come from to the areas where each of our fish is sourced. We are looking forward to another new chapter in the city.”

Flagship’s other concepts in Phoenix are Châm Pang Lanes, Palma and Ghost Donkey in the Roosevelt Row Arts District.

What to expect at Pyro

When opened Pyro will be 4,200 square feet including large outdoor patio with an open hearth and full bar. The restaurant uses an open flame for cooking sustainably sourced seafood and proteins. The fire will give each dish its own unique layers of flavor and texture. The cocktail bar will offer classic and signature cocktails from a wide variety of spirits and wine.

“The Grove is dedicated to bringing innovative and exclusive dining options to the Valley with a sophisticated flair,” said Mike Ebert, managing partner at RED Development. “Pyro is setting the standard for the caliber of culinary offerings we’ll be welcoming at The Grove, we couldn’t be more honored to announce an original concept as the first restaurant to call it home.”

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment

A double header of food festivals coming February 5th & 6th

One ticket is all you need for two up-coming food festivals in downtown Chandler. The double header starts on Saturday February 5th with the Arizona Bao & Dumpling Festival then keep your tickets for Sunday’s Arizona Ice Cream and Donut Festival. Both festivals will be at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park with the Bao and Dumpling starting at 10 a.m. and the Ice Cream and Donut Festival starting at 11 a.m.

Food items can be purchased separately from admission with foods ranging from $5-$14 depending on the dish with many about $8. In addition to the main dishes other Asian foods, desserts and boba will be available. An anime marketplace featuring local artists will be on display.

Tickets for the double header are $14.99 for Early Admission at 11 a.m., $10 for General Admission at 1 p.m., the Night Market starting at 4 p.m. is $10 and Happy Hour admission at 7:30 p.m. is $6.00. Children 7-12 years old are $6 and those under 7 are free. The ticket prices do not include tax and a processing fee with nearby parking is free in lots and garages. To purchase your tickets follow this link and to stay up to date on both festivals follow them on their Facebook page.

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