clever koi burger

Restaurant of the Week: Clever Koi Gilbert

We already knew 2020 was a bummer when the East Valley was deprived of Clever Koi Gilbert, which was out of service after a serious kitchen fire at the end of 2019 (and then, you know, the pandemic). Months after closing, the restaurant is now open, bringing its incredible cocktails and ramen back to Downtown Gilbert.

Born & Raised Hospitality’s Clever Koi Gilbert, which has a flagship location in Phoenix, is back and better than ever after a fire put it out of commission late last year. Fans will notice subtle updates to its interior design, with softer tones and new lighting, though its warm, hang-for-a-while vibe remains the same. Plus, the restaurant hosts a spacious, shaded 40-seat patio for sipping and savoring while socially distancing in the open air.

Speaking of socially distancing, if dining in isn’t an option, Clever Koi Gilbert offers its full menu for takeout or delivery and even dishes up Family Packs, which include your favorite entrees, steamed buns and dessert for two or four people. 

Riding the Pine

To start, no meal at Clever Koi should be without a picture-worthy cocktail from its award-winning program. The gin-based Riding the Pine is a season-friendly favorite (it seriously smells like Christmas) and a longtime staple of the Clever Koi menu. The Enabler, Clever Koi’s version of a whiskey sour, is a great way to dip your toe into the innovative cocktail menu.

Clever Koi’s menu spotlights Asian-style rice bowls, house-made dumplings, steamed buns, noodles and much more, spotlighting flavors and techniques from regions like Thailand, Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan, and Indo-China. The pork belly steamed bun is a crowd pleaser, featuring delectably sticky-sweet pork belly nestled in a steamed bun cloud. A surprising stunner on the menu is the kimchi cheeseburger, with fukujinzuke relish, kimchi cheese and pickled slaw on a Noble brioche roll (pair it with togarashi fries if you know what is good for you).

Clever Koi’s lineup of noodles features dishes that are from the wok or served in broth. The duck curry, with roasted potatoes, is Clever Koi’s version of comfort food–but comfort food that happens to be bursting with warm curry spices and mouth-watering, tender duck. And one simply can’t go wrong with an order of pork ramen, which will please just about any palate.

Clever Koi Gilbert is open Sunday through Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 3 to 11 p.m. Open at 11 a.m. for lunch on weekends. Nightly happy hour takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. and features $6 cocktails, $2 off wines by the glass, $5 draft beers and $2 off select menu items.    

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