Pei Wei Better On Its Own
At the end of 2017, Pei Wei Asian Diner split from its parent company, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and moved its corporate office from Scottsdale to Irving, Texas. Experimenting with a new logo and brand, Pei Wei has been mixing things up, like tapping into the trend of healthy dining with additions to the menu like quinoa, salads and small plate options. In March of 2018, they introduced the Wei Better Orange Chicken, a fresh take on the Chinese American dish developed by Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987. Chopped, battered, and fried chicken pieces are coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce that is then thickened to a glaze in a 650 degree wok. In order to set themselves apart from their competition, Pei Wei emphasizes their use of premium all-natural chicken breast that is cut in-house daily in their made-to-order entrées. They lightly dust the pieces in potato starch, and after a quick fry, add it to the wok along with fresh garlic, ginger, cane sugar, rice vinegar, sesame sauce, Sambal, bird’s eye chili and Sriracha. And let’s not forget the fresh orange slices, a nod (I feel) to vibrant citrus industry of its home state (that would be AZ).
At a recent media dinner for the rollout of the Wei Better Orange Chicken, we were shown all the ways the Wei Better dishes can be ordered. Regardless of your choice, all are priced between $5 and $7, so you can’t afford NOT to try it (I realize writers abhor the use of the double negative, but it was necessary here).
Oreo Show Stopper Milk Shake from Café Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho
For those of you that follow me in Instagram, you may have noticed that in the last few months I have been posting photos of these insane milkshakes from Café ZuZu at the Hotel Valley Ho. Pastry Chef Audrey Enriquez comes out with a new creation each month, aptly named the Show Stopper Milkshake, and for March it was the Oreo Cookies and Cream Milkshake. Yes, it is outrageous and so incredibly good. Plus, a stop at the historic Hotel Valley Ho is a must. Designed by Edward Varney, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Hotel Valley Ho brings a good dose of mid-century modern class to The Valley.
Fired Pie, a local fast-casual pizza concept, has rolled out a few new items on the menu that I tried this week. Garlic Flatbread, BLT Pizza and the Party Pookie. I was not aware until recently that Fired Pie is a local company whose first restaurant was in Deer Valley. Co-owners, Doug Doyle and Fred Morgan, met while working together at California Pizza Kitchen for more than 15 years. A road trip to California led to the inspiration behind being the first company to bring custom pizzas and salads to Arizona.
Every store makes their dough and sauce daily, using fresh ingredients and a secret family sauce recipe. Among the new items on the menu the Garlic Cheese Crisp is on the house-made dough with garlic and oil, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and fresh oregano. The BLT Pizza is truly as good as it sounds: mozzarella cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and romaine and iceberg lettuce tossed in mayo. I wish I could tell you I tried the Party Pookie (pizza cookie), but I was lucky enough just to get a photograph as the kids ate it so fast. For the uninitiated, a pookie is a half-baked cookie dough, with your choice of chocolate chips or white chocolate macadamia, topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
Looking forward, I have some fun travels for April. We are going to San Carlos, Mexico, to dive with the kids as they become SCUBA certified. At the end of the month, I am going to San Antonio for a week to participate in some Fiesta festivities. Fiesta is SA’s annual week-long party celebrating the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, a battle that took place after the Battle of the Alamo (and whose rallying cry was, “Remember the Alamo!”) which ultimately won Texas’ independence. Plus, it is the 300 anniversary of San Antonio and it should be a big party! I have booked a seat at Mixtli, whose chefs, Diego Galicia and Rico Torres, were voted last year by Food & Wine Magazine as Best New Chefs…a first (I believe) for my little home town. Until then, Happy Eating! xoM
Pei Wei Asian Eatery
Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E Main St, Scottsdale, 85251
All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com.