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Clever Koi brings hip restaurant vibe to Gilbert; opens Nov. 11


Downtown Gilbert continues its path to foodie paradise with Clever Koi soon joining the mix.

The hip neo-Asian restaurant opens Friday, Nov. 11, in the Heritage Marketplace building at Gilbert and Vaughn avenues. It’s the Clever Koi’s second branch, with the first located in central Phoenix.

Led by three co-owners – chef Jared Porter, general manager Nicholas Campisano and beverage program director Joshua James – the concept melds flavors from China, Japan, Korea, Thai and Vietnamese to create inventive rice and noodle dishes, dumplings and buns.

Nicholas Campisano, owner and general manager for Clever Koi. (Photo: Clever Koi)

“Gilbert and the East Valley have a great Asian community…that is classically traditional for the most part,” Porter said. “With us not being of Asian descent, we have the opportunity to play left and right of the traditional.”

Gilbert is becoming a major player in the local dining scene. Hot spots include Liberty Market, Joe’s Real Farm Grill, Nico Heirloom Kitchen, Postino and Pomo Pizzeria. Porter said the area is the right fit for Clever Koi, and they were ready to expand. At Heritage Marketplace, Clever Koi joins newly opened Even Stevens; coming next are Sushi Brokers and Farm + Craft.

“Gilbert is a pretty hot market for a lot of other pop-culture restaurants that we liken ourselves to be in the same field with,” Porter said. “We saw this as an opportunity to do what we do, where our concept is not necessarily represented.”

Jared Porter, chef and owner of Clever Koi. (Photo: Clever Koi)

The restaurant features:

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  • A three-dimensional tile wall by local artist Matt Noakes.
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  • Modern colors and decor with dark woods, copper and bamboo accents.
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  • A sliding glass door that opens up to the patio.
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  • An open kitchen so guests can watch the culinary team at work.
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  • Banquette seating for larger groups and high-top tables by the bar.

The Gilbert and Phoenix locations share the same food and drink menus, with mainstays including the pork ramen, pig face dumplings, kimchi fried rice, chow mein and tuna chips. But the menu is changed every few weeks, so diners will always see something new.

Joshua James is beverage program director for Clever Koi. (Photo: Clever Koi)

“It’s nice to be able to have a ton of creative freedom, so the sky’s the limit,” Porter said. “There are some things that are never touched, but 60 percent of the menu is up for grabs all the time.”

Other creative dishes on the menu include rabbit gyoza, gojuchang grilled octopus, golden beet and persimmon tart, and smoked Vietnamese catfish. The cocktail menu has signature favorites such as the Enabler and Sloe Burn, and some imaginative concoctions like the Royal Artichoke and Face Planter Punch.

Gilbert’s happy hour will run from 2 to 6 p.m. daily, with discounts on select dishes, cocktails, beer and wine. The restaurant will be open from 2 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 2 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Details: 384 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. 480-284-7529, Also, 4236 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-222-3474, thecleverkoi.com.

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