Amuse-Bouches March 2016

Written by Craig Outhier Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: March 2016
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photo by Craig OuthierThe Off-Menu Diaries: Hana Japanese Eatery
Sushi maestro Lori Hashimoto reveals the discrete delights of the Hana kitchen in this new semi-monthly feature profiling the Valley’s best off-menu (but accessible!) dishes.

Hana tamago. Well-known to Hana devotees, this umami-grenade (pictured) is great as an appetizer or dessert. Hashimoto brines a soft-boiled egg in a dashi seaweed broth, then quickly deep-fries it in tempura batter so the yolk stays soft. Its companion: a complex mayo-like sauce made from Strauss yogurt, mentaiko (pollock roe), various seasonings and a dash of yuzu juice, a Japanese citrus, which “gives the dish a punch to lift up the deep fry,” the chef says. Yes. A punch right in our pleasure zones. $12.95

Shabu Shabu. Give Hashimoto at least 12 hours notice to make this hot-pot-style community dish, “so I can shop for all the ingredients,” she says. That mainly entails mushrooms – a glorious rainbow spectacle of mushrooms, including exotics like enoki and shimeji, which participants cook for themselves in a simmering pot of water with freshly-shaved rib-eye. Four-person minimum. $45/person.

Yakitori. A favorite of Japanese robata grill masters, these skewered strips of rib-eye are slam-dunks for protein fans. Hashimoto tenderizes the cuts with shio koji (literally, “salt mold-rice”), a fermented rice paste, then lays them on a charcoal grill with red miso for a sweet, caramelized char. $12.95

5524 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix,



Beer ArtEat with Your Eyes: Beer Art
Having endeared themselves to local craft beer fans by committing their entire tap-line to Arizona brewers, the fellows at Scottsdale pizza pub Craft 64 are now pouring their own, proprietary drafts – a pair of IPAs made in concert with Sun Up master brewer Uwe Boer.

Once co-owner James Swann locked down his formula with Boer, he reached out to Valley artist Michal Mason. A former SanTan Brewing bartender who designed the labels for all of SanTan’s earliest releases, Mason has become the Valley’s go-to beer brander. Just as Pink Floyd went to album-art legends Hipgnosis for Dark Side of the Moon, Swann went to Mason for his IPAs

“Self-taught” as a beer artist, Mason – who has also designed for Sleepy Dog Brewery and the Beer Research Institute – walked us through her process on C64’s Bonkers Double IPA.

Bonkers weighs in at a puckery 90 IBU so “incorporating hops into the illustration was a given,” Mason says. “It’s playful, so it looks like they’re coming at you.”

 “James is really descriptive when it comes to detail. He wanted it to look like a keg that’s about to explode. So in the first draft, I had it explode from the center and he said, ‘That looks like a washing machine!’ The second time around, it worked better.”

Mason added beer bubbles around the edge “as if you’re looking down a beer glass.”

 “Since I knew they’d be in-house, each [illustration] has a Craft 64 logo running though them.” For now, the image will be limited to tap handles – but could be easily adapted for a future can or bottle.

Bonkers and Smooove Hoperator IPA are currently available at Craft 64.
6922 E. Main St., Scottsdale, 480-946-0542,


The Tip Line
Some newborn Valley restaurants to check out this month.
Smokehaus: This “California barbecue” concept from the Brat Haüs brain trust replaces Union Barrel House on a prime piece of Old Town real estate. Now open.

The Orchard on 12th Street: According to food-and-bev insiders, owner Lucia Schnitzer (Luci’s Healthy Marketplace) is working overtime to get her new restaurant/market/coffee compound revving by early spring. ETA: early March.

Crab & Mermaid: Casual seafood, your time has arrived. From Square One Concepts comes this potential Old Town game-changer. ETA: early March.


3 Best Things to Eat This Month: Meat. Grr.
On the morning of March 1, The Revenant actor Leonardo DiCaprio will almost certainly be spooning an Oscar statuette, the oddsmakers tell us. Hell of a movie, The Revenant. So intense and... bear-maul-y. And since Leo’s presumptive win will keep it in theaters for another few weeks, grab one of these manly meats beforehand and make a testosterone-drenched meal-movie pairing of it.

1) The Cattle Baron’s Cut at The Stockyards. Set at the old Tovrea feedlot, The Stockyards is where you take out-of-towners when they want to go to a “real Arizona place.” And this 18 oz. aged prime rib cut is what you order when you want to butch-out in style, served with a ramekin of creamed horseradish that will dissolve your sinuses if you’re not careful.
500 E. Washington St., Phoenix, 602-273-7378,

2) Beef Carpaccio at Tarbell’s. Leo feasts on raw animal liver in The Revenant – alternately, feast on chef Mark Tarbell’s “Beyond Prime” carpaccio: minced raw tenderloin with Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil and little lemon juice.
3213 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-955-8100,

3) Elk Shank at Posh. There are few cuts of meat more manly than the shank. After all: It’s a leg. But that tough, tendon-y leg meat turns positively silky with a little braising. Josh Hebert is one of the few chefs who attempts the feat with elk. Call ahead to see if he’s got it.

7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr., Scottsdale, 480-663-7674,

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