Photos courtesy of Kembara

The local culinary scene just got a flavorful boost with the opening of Kembara, a new restaurant by celebrated Chef Angelo Sosa, in partnership with restaurant developer Mark Stone. This culinary venture is a heartfelt homage to the diverse and rich flavors spanning from Chiang Mai to Hanoi to Tokyo to Penang and beyond.

Kembara, meaning ‘journey’ in Malay, is a fitting name for a restaurant that encapsulates the culinary travels and experiences of Chef Sosa and Stone. Their shared journey through Asia’s vibrant food landscapes has inspired a menu that honors traditional recipes while infusing them with innovative interpretations.

The ambiance of Kembara, designed by renowned LA-based designer Thomas Schoos, reflects a modern and eclectic approach, with a color palette that brings the lively spirit of Asia’s night markets into Phoenix. Schoos, known for his work on projects like Morimoto and Tía Carmen, has created a space that is both invigorating and inviting.

Chef Sosa, a protege of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, brings over 25 years of rich culinary experience. His journey through prestigious kitchens in Europe and vibrant street food stalls in Thailand has shaped his cooking style, deeply rooted in Asian flavors and techniques. Sosa, a fan favorite on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and the creative force behind several successful restaurants, including Xie Xie and Añejo Tequileria y Restaurante, now brings his expertise to Kembara.

Kembara’s menu is a celebration of Asian street food culture. It features dishes that strike a balance between sweet, sour, and salty elements, creating a harmonious dining experience. Highlights include tuna Thai jewel, a creative twist on traditional Thai dessert; chicken larb infused with exotic herbs; and lamb spring roll, an innovative take on Indian samosas. The menu also offers mouth-watering mains like black pepper Maine lobster and Wagyu beef rendang, showcasing the depth and variety of Asian cuisine.

The beverage program at Kembara is also impressive. Curated by wine and sake judge Eduardo Dingler, the menu includes a variety of Asian spirits and inventive cocktails named after notable Asian and AAPI-centric books. The extensive sake list highlights the best from Japan, along with a comprehensive collection of Asian spirits, making Kembara a destination for connoisseurs.

From the illuminated moon gate entrance to the vibrant crane wallpaper, every detail is crafted to transport diners to the bustling streets of Asia. The open kitchen layout adds an element of excitement, while private dining rooms and an outdoor garden offer varied dining experiences.

Located at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, 5350 E. Marriott Dr., Kembara is part of an $80 million transformation that solidifies the resort as a top destination for relaxation, dining, and entertainment.

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