The strip mall dining scene in greater Phoenix got even better with newly opened restaurants adding Filipino barbecue, Bangkok street food and Chesapeake Bay blue crabs to the menu.
Two of the venues let you get up close and personal with your food. In Phoenix, grill your own Filipino barbecue skewers over a repurposed Korean barbecue grill. And in Ahwatukee, crack into steamed Maryland crab flow in fresh from the Chesapeake Bay.
Over in Mesa, Jinnathip Phuprasert, the new owner of Thai Food Corner has transformed the neighborhood Thai restaurant into a beacon of Bangkok street foods, serving the likes of moo ping, glistening pork skewers served on a wooden plate with a little bamboo basket of sticky rice.
As you plan your dining adventures, make sure these newly opened options are at the top of your list. Here’s what to order at each one.
Order the Lechon at Flaming Pig in Phoenix
A staple of night markets and street stalls in the Southeast Asian country, Filipino barbecue is a flame-licked buffet of skewered meats like pork, fish cakes or crispy offal bits that are marinated in a sweet banana ketchup-based sauce that’s tempered with calamansi citrus juice or vinegar. Flaming Pig’s barbecue menu includes: liver, chicken and pork, fish cakes and hot dogs, along with veggie skewers like eggplant and peppers.
Beyond barbecue, the menu includes a selection of traditional Filipino dishes, including a plate of crispy pork belly lechon that you should order no matter what.
Details: 1534 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 623-999-7446, flaming-pig.com.
Read more about Flaming Pig:Filipino barbecue on Camelback
Order blue crabs at Chesapeake Bay Bistro
Chesapeake Bay Bistro in Ahwatukee specializes in an East Coast custom called the Maryland blue crab feast, a summertime celebration much like a crab boil, except that the crab is steamed rather than boiled.
Owner James Brown picks up a weekly shipment of the Maryland blue crabs at Sky Harbor, and steams them with beer, apple cider vinegar and Old Bay seasoning.
You crack them yourself at the table, tearing off segments of shell with a crab pick and pulling out chunks of white crab meat, which taste a little ruddier than your average snow crab but have a nice salty flavor.
Order a bucket for a taste of the East Coast.
Details: 5033 E. Elliot Road, Phoenix. 480-590-3065, chesapeakebaybistro.com.
Read more about Chesapeake Bay Bistro:An Ahwatukee seafood shack
Order khao moo dang moo grob at Thai Food Corner
Jinnathip Phuprasert took over this Thai American restaurant in Mesa in April, reworking the menu with her mother, Dang, to include more than the standard Thai restaurant fare. The back page of the menu showcases specialty dishes from Isan and other street foods from Thailand’s capital Bangkok.
The menu includes three different types of papaya salad, prepared in both Thai and intense Laotian style, with ingredients like pounded pickled field crabs and moo-yor, a thick and fatty Thai pork sausage patty. There are also a variety of noodle soups, hot pots and so-called “single plate wonders,” including khao moo dang moo grob.
Influenced by neighboring China, this barbecue pork and rice dish features meats you’d see in the window of a Cantonese barbecue stall, like crispy pork belly and char siu red barbecue pork, which are served with sweet Chinese sausage, hard-boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers and green onions for garnish. It’s all drizzled with moo dang sauce, a sweet soy-based glaze that’s also used to marinate the pork.
Details: 5253 E. Brown Road, suite 104, Mesa. 480-969-0087, thaifoodcorners.com.
Read more about Thai Food Corner: Secrets to ordering at this Thai gem