Despite what its name implies, at least what I thought I’d be getting, The Clever Koi in downtown Phoenix does not serve sushi. It does, however, serve really tasty Asian noodle and rice dishes, and I was pleasantly surprised to love my meal even though I usually am only a Thai and sushi fan when it comes to Asian eats.
The hip spot has a patio overlooking Central Avenue, with the “dings” of the light rail creating the soundtrack to your dining experience if you choose to sit outside – which I love doing. Inside, an open kitchen and bar complements a bustling atmosphere with tables in cozy confines that make neighboring diners your friends.
My pal and I took advantage of the $30 special, which came with a jug of spiked punch, a fruity concoction made with Japanese rice wine, pineapple juice and other fruit flavors. I could tell by my buzz it was strong, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by the sweet flavor of the drink, which was refreshing and delicious.
It was the perfect way to cool off the palate during my meal of vegetable chow mein, which was very filling with a ton of noodles and veggies. I loved the house-made sriracha sauce and also added soy sauce. I cleaned up my bowl, no problem. My only disappointment was I wasn’t able to take advantage of the gluten-free noodles in my dish – our server said with the veggie chow mein, that wasn’t an option.
My pal got tofu fried rice, which he also enjoyed and ended up taking half of it home – his portion was also very generous, so I guess I was just hungrier. Our server said the tofu is marinated, which makes it extra flavorful, and my pal agreed.
The staff was really friendly, but it was a bummer it took about 10 minutes to get hot sauce and soy sauce after our food was delivered. Other than that, the happening spot had an energizing atmosphere and made me like Asian food more than I ever thought I would.