Most recently, you've got Pocha 54 from New Culinary Concepts, which is somehow taking over the city with really mediocre Asian joints (Zu Izakaya, Bei, Zu and Pocha, etc.)
But I'm more interested in Hanshin Pocha:
- Because Mesa seems like an unlikely destination for a Korean celebrity chef (Baek Jong-won) to make U.S. inroads. (I suppose if you're willing to pay the franchise fee..)
- Because I'm interested in any restaurant that's open until midnight on weeknights and 2AM on the weekends.
- Because the menu is actually really interesting and doesn't seem as though it's been heavily filtered for the local audience.
The room is a bit of a train wreck, at least on a Saturday night. The lights, I can deal with. The painfully loud music, I can deal with. (I listen to most of my music painfully loud.) Club volume music pumped through what sounds like bookshelf speakers, however, is a less than pleasant experience.
Still, I am here to eat!
With one of my kids, who is maybe not so much into the chicken feet. So we bypass a couple of the signatures (mistake?) and get a trio of dishes I think he'll enjoy.
The Chicken and Green Onion Muchim is soild. Those scallions come in a little hot (I think they'd balance better with a quick soak), but crispy chicken thighs with a little wasabi... there's nothing here not to like, I suppose.
Tomato Sauce Gyeran-Mari (rolled omelet) was just disappointing. It's mozzarella-stuffed eggs, which come off a little underpowered to me, and you'd think a meaty tomato sauce would help, but it's almost impressive how weirdly flavorless it is. Pass.
The Pork Barbecue with Cheese and Gochujang Sauce was the consensus favorite, though it's hard to call it anything special. Pork and onions sauteed in gochujang, add a giant skillet of melted mozzarella that's caramelized and crisped on the bottom. It's inartful, but hey, cheese and gochujang is tasty.
I dunno... it's only been one stop for me so far, but I'm not finding much here to pull me away from Drunken Tiger at the moment. Anybody else get in here to try anything?
1130 W. Grove Avenue
Mesa, AZ 85210