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Weekends are all about recharging. For some that means sleeping in and cooking leisurely meals. For others it means setting off in search of adventure, culinary or otherwise.
For me, an ideal weekend is a combination of the two.
Last week I spent Saturday eating my way through Mesa. I picked up pastries from Tous Les Jours — the best, in my opinion, because they have the widest array of hot dog pastries drizzled with sweet Kewpie mayo — before heading to Mekong Plaza. On the way, I drove past the coming soon sign hanging above Tiger Sugar, a long awaited Taiwanese bubble tea shop that has since opened. It's one of many reasons I'll be back in Mesa soon.
The primary reason is Best Hong Kong Dining. More specifically, the Cantonese barbecue that hangs from hooks next to the register. There was the usual char siu red lacquered barbecue pork and whole ducks, along with less commonly seen whole chickens and spare ribs.
They looked exactly as they did in the shop windows of New York's Chinatown and the small, five-table restaurant I frequented in Hong Kong. But I've been burned before, so I reserved judgment until the sliced meats were plunked down in front of me atop a generous scoop of sticky jasmine rice.
I'm here to tell you, this is the spot for Chinese barbecue in the Valley. The flavors transported me right back to that little shop in Kowloon.
And isn't that what we're after when we go on a food adventure? It's more than a flavor, it's a feeling. Sometimes it's nostalgia we're after. Other times, it's the hunt for something that challenges what we think we know about a place. To this end, I highly recommend trying Aspen Bingham's Heat Island Effect cocktail at Garden Bar downtown, and hearing her story about it. And sometimes, we just want to try something new.
Lucky for us, no matter what you're after, chances are you'll find it here in the Valley. We've got a few ideas to get you started.
Here are some culinary adventures and a cozy recipe to help you plan your weekend.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Felicia Campbell Dining with azcentral Newsletter