The Clever Koi has opened it second restaurant, in Gilbert’s Heritage Marketplace.

The restaurant, at 384 N. Gilbert Road, was welcomed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce at a ribbon-cutting ceremony recently.

“It’s a great addition to downtown Gilbert,” said Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels. “It’s another fabulous option for residents and visitors to enjoy the Gilbert spirit and partake in all that Gilbert has to offer.”

This is the restaurant’s second location after co-owners Joshua James, Nick Campisano and Jared Porter introduced the Clever Koi to Central Phoenix three years ago.

Porter is the executive chef and described the opening of a second location as a humbling experience that he and his team feel ready to handle.

“We are anxious but we are more prepared than we were at Central; in a sense that we have a model for something that is working very well,” Porter said. “Now we just have to implement what we are doing.”

He added that he wants his restaurant to be an environment that is welcoming to his customers. He also wants his staff to continue to take pride in what they do in order to give their customers the best experience possible.

“We are not a fine-dining restaurant, but we offer fine-dining quality and that’s the biggest aspect for us. Being able to provide that service and having our staff be casual and interactive with our customers is key,” Porter said.

Porter said the decision to open Clever Koi’s second location in Gilbert was an easy one.

Many of their regular customers live in the East Valley. The owners felt Gilbert’s growing consumer market was an ideal choice for their business.

“We have a great momentum at Central and everything is coming together that it just felt right to open up another,” Porter said. “Rather than moving to another market, it was always better for us to stay local. An opportunity opened up in the Gilbert market, and it just made sense.”

Porter believes the Gilbert location is the first in a larger expansion.

“Having this could be the start to truly seeing the full potential of our company and our brand. It’s very humbling,” he said.

Porter added that what makes the Clever Koi unique to Gilbert is the cuisine it offers. The one thing that he wants his restaurant to always be is different and innovative.

“We want you to fee like a million bucks not spend a million bucks,” Porter said. “We personally treat our restaurant high-end but we don’t want that to be something that’s off putting, we want it to be attractive and let our customers feel pampered.”

The Asian-inspired dishes come from a variety of cultures like Korea, Japan and China but are to not be mistaken as Asian fusion, according to Porter.

“We are going to make it the greatest restaurant we can make it,” Porter said.

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Chinese Braised Pork Belly

Posted by February 21, 2016


Two types of soy sauce and a touch of sugar give this dish—beloved throughout China—its signature glossiness and a deep red-brown tint. Serve the tender pork belly morsels and boiled eggs with a light vegetable, like bok choy.

You need:

6 eggs
1 spring onion, white part only
3⁄4 oz. ginger (about a 2-inch piece)
1 3⁄4 lb. pork belly, skin on if desired
1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 tbsp. Shoaling wine
3 cups hot water or stock
2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
3 tbsp. superfine sugar or 1 1⁄2 oz. rock sugar
Cooked white rice, for serving

In a small saucepan, add the eggs and enough water to cover by 1 inch; bring to a rapid boil and let cook 2 minutes. Remove and let the eggs rest in the water for 10 minutes. Let cool, then shell. In each egg, make 6–8 shallow slashes lengthwise to allow the flavors of the stew to enter.

Smack the spring onion and ginger gently with the flat side of a cleaver or a rolling pin to loosen their fibers.

In a medium saucepan, add the pork and enough water to cover; bring to boil, then let boil 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the pork with cold water. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch cubes.

Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over high heat. Add the ginger, onion, star anise, and cinnamon and stir-fry briefly until aromatic (about 2 minutes). Add the pork and cook until the meat is faintly golden and some of the fat is rendering, 1–2 minutes. Splash the Shaoxing wine around the edges of the pan. Add the eggs, water or stock, light soy sauce, 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, and the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and let cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour into a bowl, let cool, then chill until the fat congeals (a few hours or overnight). Remove and skim away any fat that has settled on the surface. Pour the meat and liquid back into a wok, then boil, stirring constantly, to reduce the sauce by half, 10–15 minutes. Discard the ginger, spring onion, and whole spices. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce.

Shortly before serving, bring back to a boil over high heat and reduce the sauce to about 1 inch of dark, sleek gravy. Transfer to a rimmed serving dish. Serve with rice.

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