Tom and Kenny Lam's recipe for delectable banh mi—Vietnamese sandwiches on a baguette—is a matter of public record. The Arizona Daily Star sought out the father-and-son team to publish their techniques, guiding readers through prepping the bread, pickling the vegetables, and marinating the pork. The instructions stem from the kitchens of iLuv Pho, the restaurant owned by Tom and managed by Kenny, where their variations of banh mi comprise a popular lunchtime segment of the menu.
The sandwiches have been labeled "out of sight" by Tucson Weekly, though they only cover a small subheading of the Lams' authentic Vietnamese plates. Also on the list are hearty bowls of pho, dappled with rice noodles, beef, and seasonings. Curries and stir-fries imbue entrees with fiery aftertastes, combated by the cool sips of slushes in flavors such as mango, red bean, and coconut. Chewy balls of tapioca—or boba—hide inside the frosty drinks, waiting to be slurped through straws or launched into a free-for-all game of marbles.
For one afternoon each year, Lettuce Entertain You transforms one of its famed eateries into a mecca for brides-to-be, collecting the wares of both local and national retailers. Ladies linger over tables laden with dresses and invitations—categorized into vignettes such as elegant and vintage—as gown experts divulge their wisdom. To avoid being cut out of wedding photos, male counterparts sequester themselves in the Groom's Room, where man-friendly vendors toss out wardrobe and preening tips. Lettuce Entertain You disperses appetizers and drinks from a handful of their own top-rated eateries to prevent patrons from drooling over the dossiers of custom cake.
Yellow walls dotted with framed abstract art enclose George and Son’s spacious dining room, whose linen-draped tables host neatly folded napkins and plates piled with upscale Asian fare. Chefs draw culinary inspiration from throughout Southeast Asia, flame-cooking Burmese and Thai specialties and spicy original dishes to double date with libations from an extensive wine list. Flat-screen TVs cast a warm glow on the full bar, and friendly waiters traverse the room throughout meals, ensuring that each patron receives attentive service and balloon animals in the shape of fortune cookies.
At Hana Tokyo, patrons might find the chefs in two different places: in the middle of dining tables, flipping and searing meats on embedded hibachi-grills, or behind a bar, crafting tightly rolled sushi. Special rolls award taste buds with combinations such as spicy tuna, caviar, and avocado, or smoked salmon, crab, and cucumber. Meanwhile, cuts of steak, chicken, or salmon grill in front of patrons, backed up by a cast of teriyaki, noodles, and sake.
Dai Hayashi traveled the world for nearly 20 years before learning that his favorite home wasn't somewhere on a map, but in the kitchen. After leaving Tokyo in 1977 and exploring Russia and Europe, he found himself in Los Angeles, in the kitchen of Hana Sushi, where he became an astute apprentice in the Japanese culinary art of careful slicing and assembly. Dai stayed put in Southern California for 24 years, during which time he worked as a chef and eventually opened his first restaurant.
In 1993, Dai packed up his spatulas, kids, and other inanimate objects and moved to Scottsdale, where he harnessed his years of expertise to open Sushi Ko. Today, he works alongside his children—Ika and Hikaru—behind the sushi bar, slicing fresh fillets and dutifully participating in wasabi-eating contests.