Chino Bandido Steals Your Heart

Last weekend, my Father, my two brothers and I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to witness one of the best Super Bowl’s of all time.

We arrived in Phoenix on Friday Morning, and decided as always, that the best way to absorb the beauty of the Arizona Desert sun is to indulge in the region’s wonderfully delicious restaurants and cuisines.

To start off our eating adventure, we satisfied our famished stomachs with the classic breakfast food choice, Asian/Mexican Fusion from the one and only: Chino Bandido (chinobandido.com/). Chino Bandido was founded in November of 1990 by dynamic restauranteur duo, Frank and Eve Collins. They specialize in a blend of Mexican and Asian cooking styles that came about from Eve’s Chinese background and both Frank and Eve being native Arizonans. In the fall of 2005, The Phoenix New Times awarded Chino’s Best of Phoenix for “Local Eatery We Wish Were a Chain.” In addition to many awards and commendations, Chino Bandidos was the subject of one episode of the prestigious Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

As I walked into Chino Bandido, I understood why the restaurant was so highly recommended by all native Phoenicians and visiting tourists who are lucky enough to eat there.

Although the restaurant was plain and modestly simple, the tantalizing, full-bodied smell of Chino Bandido’s kitchen in action was reason enough to convince anyone that this was a special dining establishment. The restaurant was adorned with numerous commemorative pictures and knick- knacks that appeared along the walls of the multi-roomed restaurant. In addition, in the entrance of one of the dining halls, was a large statue of the mascot of the restaurant: some sort of un-identifiable panda-like animal with a mustache (priceless).

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My first encounter with the Chino Bandido.

As we approached the ordering line, we were greeted by a helpful, accommodating employee of the restaurant, who immediately welcomed us into the restaurant with open arms and treated us with immense kindness and respect. He started off by asking if it was our first time at the restaurant, and then proceeded to offer us the a taste of the seven most popular items on the menu, along with the two rices and two bean choices they had to offer.

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Choices, Choices, Choices…

After sampling the most frequently purchased food items at Chino Bandido, our favorite restaurant employee explained to us that we were able to obtain either a combination meal which contained two of the meat types, along with your choice of either refried beans or black beans and your choice of either pork fried rice, regular fried rice, or plain rice; or you were able to choose just one meat option and a rice or bean option. Keep in mind, with the combination meal we were able to put one of the meat options into either a burrito or quesadilla.

Our whole family went with the combo choice, except my youngest brother who chose to indulge in just one meat choice.

Amongst ourselves, we decided to order three meal combinations and one regular meal.

The three meal combinations were a Jade Red Chicken/Emerald Chicken, Egg Foo Young/BBQ Pork, and Jade Red Chicken/Jade Red Pork.

The Jade Red Chicken/Emerald Chicken Combination was wonderful. The shiny, tin container that held the treasures of Chino Bandido was plain and was not adorned with any flashy decorations. Fortunately, the container was not the thing that we were focused on. I came into the restaurant with extremely high expectations regarding the food, and after just one bite of the combo bowl, my expectations were blown away. The steamy container delicately cradled each and every morsel of the dish.

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Truly the Jewel of the menu!

The meal contained crisp and crunchy on the outside, rich, heavy and juicy on the inside Jade Red Chicken. The chicken was drowning in a puddle of thick, syrupy, maroon sauce, which encompassed every nook and cranny of the fried chicken chunks. In addition to the Jade Red Chicken, the dish contained a cheese quesadilla filled with Emerald Chicken. Emerald Chicken is made up of tender, succulent grilled chicken breast which is slathered with sauce made up of fresh, spicy ginger and bright, vivid green onions. To complement this dish even further, the two meat options were served with creamy, smooth, leather-brown refried beans, and perfectly cooked, slightly spicy pork fried rice.

Our next combination bowl was the Egg Foo Young/BBQ Pork Combination. For those of you who don’t know, Egg Foo Young is a crisp, pan-fried egg omelet covered in a silky, sticky, syrup-esque mushroom/chicken gravy.

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Unattractive, but so good.

While that description may be a turn off to prospective consumers, the dish was actually quite delicious and I would recommend it to any hesitant customers. In addition the Egg Foo Young, the combo bowl contained hefty, thick slices of sweet Chinese BBQ Pork. The Pork was rich and deep in flavor and the spongy slices of meat were able to absorb the thin, light, vinegar sauce that came with the dish. The dish was also served with the refried beans and pork fried rice duo that the first combo had.

The final combo bowl that we ordered was the Jade Red Pork/Jade Red Chicken Combo. The Jade Red Pork was very similar to the Jade Red Chicken (described above), the only difference of course was the substitution of the pork for the chicken in the Jade Red Pork. The dish, like the other combo meals at Chino Bandido was very satisfying.

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A dynamic duo!

Lastly, my youngest brother ordered a disappointing jerk chicken meal. The chicken was slightly tough and I would not recommend ordering it, with the many delicious meats that the restaurant had to offer.

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Not to be a jerk, but this wasn’t great.

Overall, the food and experience that Chino Bandido presented was incredible. I would definitely return at any time. I would give it ZZZZV- 4 1/2 Z’s.

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