For 18 years, David Fliger lived the life of an adman, traveling the world and eating fine foods. But inside the Thailand-born foodie lurked a restaurateur, a seed perhaps planted by his mother, Nicha, who also left a career in advertising to start a restaurant. Today, Nicha and David work together in the kitchen of Latitude Eight Thai Grill, named after a region in southern Thailand known for fresh seafood. This regional specialty is reflected in the menu’s ocean-centric dishes, such as crab fried rice, grilled halibut, and garlic prawns. Servers stride from table to table, recommending dishes and wine pairings inside what Phoenix Magazine dubs a “modern and minimalist” dining room. The dark wood floor and tables serve as a stark contrast to the white banquettes and walls. Spotlights illuminate an oversized piece of art that’s textured to resemble rolling waves or a wall made out of pasta.:m]]
Thai cuisine incorporates an endless range of tiny chile peppers, coconut milks, basil, and other ingredients. Thai Buffet’s chef and owner Lumjuan (Joanne) Ritdej, originally from Puntangchai, Thailand, draws upon 50 years of experience to bring those building blocks together into brightly hued and adventurous dishes. Lemongrass and other herbs may lend their flavor and color to green curries, while pumpkin contributes a sunset palette to red curries with beef. The buffet sprawls across the dining room during mealtimes, and sandwiches brim with American or Thai ingredients.
At Pink Pepper Thai Cuisine, spice whisperers summon sauces such as thai curry and lemon chili to grace plentiful portions of chicken, beef, and veggies. Twelve appetizers such as baked mussels glazed with spicy cream sauce ($8.95) and marinated Chicken on Sticks ($5.95) set the course for meals to come, like explorers on their way to a legendary city made of foie gras. Wreathed in shredded cabbage, the pattaya chicken ($9.95) swims in an ocean of sweet-and-sour garlic sauce spiked with curry powder, and Arizona fried rice ($10.95) steeps its wok-fried grains and veggies in a thai curry paste before chefs toss in beef, chicken, or pork. Patrons can also sip traditional beverages such as thai iced tea and coffee ($2.95) or head to Pink Pepper’s full bar to show off their good posture by balancing glasses of beer and wine on their perfectly level heads.
At Satara, chefs preps a plethora of seafood, chicken, and tofu dishes with authentic Thai sauces. Amid walls adorned with abstract and figurative artwork by Scottsdale artist Domingo Domingo, diners relish piquant curries prepared for omnivores, herbivores, and troubadours alike. Between bites ranging from mild to thai spicy, patrons can sip boutique wines fetched from both small and featured vineyards.
Jasmine Cafe's globetrotting selection of Asian fare entrances taste buds with a dazzling parade of authentic Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes made with traditional ingredients and techniques. Treat adventurous appetites to the Chinese menu, which showcases spicy szechuan chicken ($8.50), or peruse the Japanese menu's bounty of teriyaki dishes ($11.95+) and udon noodle bowls ($7.95+). Thai selections form a delicious constellation, whose glittering stars include red-curry chicken on a crimson bed of saucy veggies ($12.95).
Just past the vault door lies The Mint’s most valuable treasures: trays of expertly crafted cocktails and martinis. Housed in 7,000 square feet of a former bank building, The Mint nods to its previous life with money-themed drinks and rich, Asian-inspired tapas from a menu conceptualized by the restaurant's executive chef, Johnny Chu. Small plates of loganberry shrimp, wasabi sliders, and flash-fried sugar-cane pork take their place at booths cut with dark wood and cohiba marble or along seats at the main room’s 30-foot bar. Drinks include The Mint, a mélange of Grey Goose La Poire, star fruit, mint, and lemon, and Liquid Gold, which pairs a pineapple-infused vodka with Grand Marnier, amaretto, lemon, and raspberry, all heated to 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit. After fueling up with comestibles and drinks, diners can explore the patio’s cabana-style seating or take a break with some bubbly at the coed bathroom’s champagne bar.