Sunshine Moon Peking Pub: Burgers and Bhan Mi, Oh My!
Located in downtown Scottsdale at 4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., Sunshine Moon Peking Pub offers Asian fare with a modern twist. A creation from the minds that brought us 5th and Wine, the restaurant offers a comfortable atmosphere for enjoying a special evening out with that special someone or an exciting outing with the entire family.
We went to the tech performance of Sunshine Moon before the grand opening and thought the food was simply...good. We assumed a few minimal faux pas would work themselves out over time and they have. Having returned a few months later we found a much cleaner and well refined experience. From start to finish everything was tasty and more than pleasing to the eye. Management seems to follow bloggers and Yelp and listens to the needs and comments of patrons. I like that in an establishment and it really shows in the service.
Our night all started with the delicious drinks and mine, the Asian Mist cocktail, consisted of Captain Morgan, Malibu, Midori, Pineapple juice and a bit of Sprite. Now I know this recipe has been done across the board a dizzying amount of times, but my charming bartender Erin made a perfect mix that was flavorful and none to cheap on the spirits. It was good enough to forgo wine which I usually indulge in when my go-to wine guy, Scott Yanni, is available for suggestions. Of course he'll make it up to me later I'm sure. He does love finding the perfect wine for patrons.
On our fist visit the crab wontons were delicious and they seem on par for consistency. I've grown so accustomed to cream cheese puffs with a little bit of Krab meat. (Notice the K). Peking Pub's were packed full of tasty, sweet blue crab with just an accent of cheese. This was a wonderful start.
The great thing about a place like Sunshine Moon is visiting with a large party so you can taste everything. You gotta love that family-style service. They also have a children's menu but none of the youngsters I know would give up indulging in the regular menu items. My daughter chose the Peking Pub Burger which I didn't have much hope for. I mean, this is a Chinese food restaurant trying to meld the neighborhood pub with some upscale Asian flare right? Wrong. This is a happy union of beer friendly comfort foods and elegant wok-worked favorites and some how, some way the match just works. The Pub Burger quickly became one of my new favorite burgers in town. It was cooked to juicy perfection and served on the perfect doughy roll. Our poor little one had to fight off the masses to get a bite in. It came with yucca chips which were a nice change from french fries but really it's all a blur after a bite of that tasty burger.
The Bhan Mi is their pork sandwich sided with pickled chilis and served on that same perfect brioche bun. True swine enthusiasts can go full boar and add the smoked bacon and fried egg on top. Again it comes with those really tasty yucca chips but you hate to put down that gorgeous sandwich to taste the chips. I think this should seriously become their signature dish because I don't recall having had a pulled pork sandwich better than this in the valley. There are so many bold layers of flavor in this piggy treat that it makes every bite an adventure. I can't speak highly enough of this one. If you are looking for a new pork dish to fire up the ol' taste buds than this is it.
The twice-cooked noodles are reminiscent of Chinatown with their familiar flavors and wonderful textures battling it out. Crisp makes way to soft with some chewy thrown in just to keep you going back for more. They've become a favorite simply because I am reminded of a similar dish I enjoyed in The City.
We had the more traditional items like the Mongolian beef served with both yellow and green onions. It follows the traditional flavor and flare of most Chinese beef dishes and served it's purpose to please. The meat was tender and from leaner cuts and is a good choice for less adventurous palates. The fried rice was a nice change from the typical with a smoky flavor that was refreshing and out of the ordinary. Another standout was the Ma Po Tofu which we had served crispy. This dish would be the perfect introduction to those poor deluded folks that find tofu-based dishes lacking in flavor.
We had the fried ice cream for dessert which was a beautifully crisp tempura-coated scoop of vanilla with a simply sweet raspberry sauce. There was no lack of spoons attacking the poor creation and it didn't last very long, even after a superbly filling meal.
Sunshine Moon is not the strip mall fast food spot for everyday Chinese fare. It's a special place to enjoy your meal in an aesthetically pleasing environment on occasion. The meal sizes accommodate the prices but this blue-collar gal always chokes a little on higher priced food. I've paid more elsewhere and walked away less than satisfied. That said, you can definitely split meals here and with the help of appetizers become pleasantly plumped by evening's end. Also, it's good to know that they offer less expensive lunch entrees comparable in price to the market standard for similar eats.
There was some talk of "back home" Chinese fare in comparison to Sunshine Moon Peking Pub. My verdict, in the words of Jon Bon Jovi, is "Who says you can't go home?" Not me. There's always room for new takes on old classics. Sunshine Moon knows the market and as much as many of us culinary geeks would love to see a duck hanging in the window of Sunshine Moon, the masses of Phoenix metro just aren't quite there with us...yet. Yanni has his finger on the pulse of the market though and if tastes change I am sure you'll see Peking Pub bursting with more surprises. In the mean time, it's a great place to escape.