I have a good friend that works as chef and supervisor at the Renaissance Phoenix hotel.
When I was in Phoenix, I didn’t come to stay at the hotel, but instead my friend invited me to tour the kitchen and taste some of his specialities, one of them… Kobe beef tacos.
For many many years (and to this day of course too), we used to navigate Phoenix, searching for the best Mexican food, often devouring plates of tacos at wee hours of the morning.
So this was a much different setting.
On the pool veranda of the hotel, there were troughs filled with fresh herbs, often used as garnishes for certain dishes or appetizers.
I was happy to see a nice assortment of different varieties of basil, all waiting to be plucked.
Then we headed into the kitchen of the Renaissance, a very nice facility with a clean, huge, and brightly lit kitchen.
There, sitting on the stove, bubbling with red overflowing juices, and filling the air with a chili chipotle fragrance, was the creation which was our lunch.
Birria is a Mexican meat stew filled with dry roasted peppers, onions and garlic, and in this case, high quality Kobe beef.
I’ve been a longtime fan of birria, a dish that’s often made with goat, packed with slow churned flavor, and infused with the beautiful aroma of dry chilies and meat.
6 hours or slow boiling, and both the Kobe beef and the pork versions were ready to be dished out.
Birria can be eaten from a bowl like a curry, and is also widely consumed inside tortillas as tacos.
He heated the tortillas on the griddle, garnished them with a few slices of lettuce, and then reached into the pot of beef, letting the red chili oils drain slightly before tearing off a chunk of dark red meat, which came apart with ease.
Before eating, I sprinkled on a squeeze of lime to give it a hint of acidity.
On my first bite, my teeth literally just sunk into the Kobe beef like a pillow.
The tender meat was incredibly soft, and it was infused with flavor. The beef was very lean, just pure succulent meat.
A few Kobe beef tacos later, it was time to move to the pork tacos.
Sliced red cabbage made the foundation, and then a juicy spoonful of tender birria cooked pork was thickly laid down. Again, I sprinkled on lime juice.
The pork was equally delightful, the meat ever so tender, and I liked the crispness of the red cabbage.
Finally, to top off a wonderful reunion with good friends of mine, he whipped us up a few fish tacos, stuffed with a slice of grilled mahi mahi, laying on a bed of red cabbage, and snuggled up with a slice of avocado.
These were by all means the fanciest tacos I’ve ever had in my life, and I have to say, the combination of high quality ingredients from the hotel, paired with the Mexican cooking skills of my friend, made them incredible.