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Apr 4, 2007 02:17 PM

Tell Me About Kai at Wild Horse Pass (PHX)

I have had this restaurant on my radar for some time, but have been hesitant since there was some shake up in the kitchen (or so I heard) and I don't really have much recent history to go on.

The menu is creative and has captured my interest enough to consider it for a very special dinner, but I would like some input.

Tell me about the atmosphere, the quality, the service and the portion size and any menu recommendations.


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  1. sure :D this is one of my favorite restaurants.

    wild horse pass was hte only resort to get a 5th diamond recently, so they've upped their game. for example, when you valet your car, we got it back with a flower, voss water, and the same chocolate carmels you get at the end of dinner. how nice!!

    when you go, sit outside. i feel the same way about kai that i do about sophies: inside is stuffy and a bit uptight, outside is more relaxed. the table next to us on the last visit were even wearing shorts.

    the menu? have the ceviche trio..the cloche presentation is impressive. or the scallop, since the lion's paw scallop is the best i've ever had.

    the service is classic french without being obsequious - there's a team of waiters, they don't leave any bottles on your table *wine, champers, or water*, but everything manages to stay filled..magically ;)

    for an entree, im a sucker for the buffalo with chollo buds, mostly because the chollo buds are so interesting, and where else on earth will you eat chollo? the buffalo is a common special, and always served during slow food week.

    can't go wrong with the kurobuta pork, either ;)

    howard seftel said the menu was a bit heavy handed.. i say no way, its their whole schtick - locally sourced and native american harvested everything. so of course they show it off on the menu *sioux nation raised buffalo, etc*. i think more places should be concerned with where they source their ingredients. of course im a slow food freak so that really matters to me ;) so to have them shown off is par for the course..

    the tepary beans are great. the desserts are fantastic. then you get some chocolate carmels at the end, compliments of the chef...

    if you sit outside, you can see the expansiveness of the resort, and the wild horses that do roam the property. its beautiful, its peaceful, its relaxing...

    im a huge geographic snob. if it ain't central phoenix, why am i there? however, kai at wild horse pass, if i had the cash in my account, im there!!!!! price be damned.

    with wine, i'd say expect to spend about 100 bucks a person.

    the kitchen shake up was pretty mild. the new guy didn't touch anything on the menu for a year, and his additions have been under the tutelage of janos, the original consulting chef. i miss sandy garcia, who left to go to cali. i thought he was amazing. but the new guy? he's doing the place proud.

    7 Replies
      1. re: Seth Chadwick

        i thought they were respectable. its not tiny precious frou frou portions, but its also not enormous overfeed you style....i had leftovers from the buffalo.

      2. re: winedubar

        What does your quote mean "wild horse pass was hte only resort to get a 5th diamond recently." There are several 5 diamonders in town.

        As for Kai, I haven't had a chance yet. It's just too far. I'm enticed though by the most expensive appetizer I've seen in this city. $50 Kobe beef app.

        1. re: AZBconcierge

          they were the newest addition to the 5 diamond family :) sorry that wasn't more clear

          1. re: winedubar

            Thanks for the clarification. IIRC, The Ventana Room and Anthony's at the Catalinas (Tucson), and Mary Elaine's (PHX) also hold that rating, along with Kai. I would think that Janos (La Paloma, Tucson) should be on that list, but I do not think that they are.

            I've yet to go, but hope to do a long-weekend of golf and dining down there. Though neither of us is a "casino" type, from what I've heard, and read, it is worth the time, plus the golf courses are highly rated, as well.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              hi bill :)

              i love reading your posts!!

              to be honest, i was a little worried about the casino factor before we went the first time. but don't worry - the casino is in an entirely separate building that the rest of the hotel proper. the spa is pretty fabulous too, from what i hear.

              1. re: winedubar

                Thanks for the info. To date, I've only been down there for meetings and events, which have all been in the hotel ballrooms, etc. Seems we were there just after opening, but do not recall being back, since Kai opened.

                And yeah, I'm one of those people who accompany the wife to meetings in Las Vegas, and only play golf, dine and attend various Cirque shows. In about 15 trips, I have yet to drop $0.25 in the casinos. I think I'd rather spend my budget on wine and food, than on gaming, but then I the odd one in Las Vegas.

                Great thread - I really MUST get down there.


      3. Kai does everything right from start to finish(note the above poster's comment on getting the car back from the valet for instance).

        One of the Phoenix area's true gems - both pre and post Sandy Garcia.

        Last time we went it was just at was really lovely.

        Everything on the menu is great. Husband has loved he buffalo, the duck and the lamb. I still dream about a honeydew consomme with ceviche garnish that was a perfect start on a summer night. The ceviche starter mentioned above is definitely winner. For that matter I've had seafood each time we've been(three times now) and it's always been wonderful. Even salmon, which I usually don't order out because we eat it at home so often, was wonderful.

        It's definitely a great choice for any special occasion.

        1. Seth,

          I had eaten at Kai twice while Chef Garcia was the top toque and now once with the Chefs O'Dowd and Strong. I rate Kai 25 % better with the current crew. The service at Kai may be the best in town and they have put a tremendous amount of thought into the Native American element of the restaurant. I did the tasting menu while I ate there and enjoyed the experience. If you wish to see some photos then post an email and I will forward them on to you.


          Molto E