Clever Koi: The modern Asian kitchen

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Clever Koi, an Asian-inspired kitchen and craft cocktail bar, got its name from the traditional story of the koi fish swimming upstream to become a dragon, using cleverness and perseverance to achieve its goal. The name of the eatery is also a memorable oxymoron.

Clever Koi opened nine years ago, and co-owner Joshua James is proud of the vibrant energy created in the building. Diners can sit in full view of the kitchen or sit outside to enjoy the city.

James described Clever Koi as a modern Asian kitchen, primarily known for ramen, but serving food from all over the continent of Asia. The bar is the pride and joy of the eatery, with mixologists who know the ins and outs of spirits and cocktail history.

“It’s a very Soho, New York kind of feel,” James said.

For guest Cheryl Mandala, dinner has to start with dessert.

Before the meal begins, Cheryl orders the banana fritters, which come with a dish of miso caramel.

Overall, Clever Koi’s spicy kimchi ramen, pigface dumplings, Korean fried mushroom and softshell crab dumplings all received stellar reviews.

“Check, Please! Arizona” guest Dolores Garcia noted the flavorful kimchi made in-house, along with side spices and “beautiful” ramen broth.

Guest Tara Anderson described the restaurant as “intimate and quaint,” in which diners can watch the activity both behind the bar and in the kitchen. “It’s very much a neighborhood place,” she said.

If the food and the energy aren’t enough, Clever Koi’s cocktails surely will be.

“It’s not uncommon to have more than one cocktail there,” Garcia said.

James takes pride in his modern Asian kitchen’s cocktail bar, with knowledgeable and friendly bartenders, and endless spirits.

Restaurant address: 4236 N Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Phone number: 602-222-3474


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