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International Flavors in Scottsdale

By local contributor
Susan Lanier Graham

Scottsdale might be known for great Southwest flavors, but we also have a world of international tastes at restaurants spread across the city. Here are a few of my favorite places for global bites.

 


Roka Akor


Roka Akor serves up both steaks and sushi in a contemporary Japanese style. They fly in fresh seafood daily to create delicious sashimi, nigiri and rolls. And while I am a huge sushi fan, I was also thrilled to discover the variety of steak offerings at Roka Akor!

You can select prime, aged, domestic beef from Niman Ranch or opt for Wagyu beef, which comes from locations all over the world. The Japanese Grade A5+ Wagyu from Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan comes with a certificate of authenticity – I even knew the name of my steer’s parents. You can also select Wagyu from Australia or Snake River Farms in the U.S. All meats are served with artisanal sauces that add Japanese flair and feature ingredients like soy, chili ginger and black truffle.  While it’s been named as a top sushi spot by Bon Appetit and Travel + Leisure magazines, don’t miss out on the steaks.

 


Prado at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia


Prado at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia whisks you to Europe without ever leaving the Valley of the Sun. It transports me to Spain every time I visit, at least figuratively. I enjoy going for drinks and tapas, the signature Spanish small bites. By starting with tapas, I can sample the variety of food at Prado. It’s also a good excuse to sit at the tapas bar in front of the open kitchen and watch the chefs work.

I usually start with a charcuterie board, which you can build from a selection of your favorites. I suggest trying the filet mignon Carpaccio and manchego cheese. I then move on to my favorite tapas’ menu item, the filet pinchos with romesco verde. If you’re ordering from the regular menu, the must-try item is the crab timbale salad – crab with avocado, micro greens and a gazpacho vinaigrette. For entrees, the paella is classic – Spanish with a modern twist that makes it a great dish for the entire table.

 


Sonata’s Restaurant


Sonata’s Restaurant serves up modern Eastern European cuisine with a flair. While you can still find pierogies at Sonata’s – although these have caviar and truffle essence – you’re going to want to start with the braised korubuta pork belly. The pork belly is served on skewers with pearl onions and is garnished with garlic chip, natural jus and Ryu powder. For your main course, try the braised lamb shank or traditional kabobs, both served with couscous.

Be sure to save room for dessert as you’ll want to nosh on the traditional Spurgos Varškes. These Lithuanian cheese curd doughnuts are similar to beignets, but a bit denser. Deep-fried and served with vanilla pastry cream, organic hazelnut chocolate and strawberry marmalade, these are the highlight of the meal. The waiter told me people come from miles just for these little treats. I don’t doubt it at all.

 


Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar


Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess serves up Pan-Latin cuisine – flavors of South and Central America combined with the Japanese and Chinese-Peruvian cultures.  The suviche bar (sushi + ceviche) serves up oh-so-fresh seafood and I recommend trying the Tuna Nikkei Ceviche with white soy, avocado, nori and sesame.  In addition to the delicious lunch and dinner options, Toro serves brunch on the weekends.  Items worth checking out are the chilaquiles (skirt steak fried egg, tortillas, green sauce and black beans) or Cubano sandwich. Save room for dessert, which becomes a show when you order La Bomba. This chocolate shell is filled with ice cream and sorbets before being dropped onto the table, where is shatters and creates the most abstract dessert for sharing!

If you want a wide range of tastes, topped off with more than 150 fabulous rums, you’ll find it at Toro. The restaurant overlooks the 18th hole of the TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium course and offers spectacular views.

All of these international culinary experiences and more await in Scottsdale. Get out and explore the flavorful bites right here in the Southwest.