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Angelo Sosa’s Kembara Is A Love Letter To His Asian Travels

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Some of the greatest flavors and innovations come from our travels and experiences – and that’s just as much the case when it comes to how chefs find their inspiration.

Kembara, the latest concept from celebrity chef Angelo Sosa, is a spectacular example of this. The restaurant is set to open this week in Phoenix, and it’s already getting a ton of attention. At this restaurant’s forefront is the chef’s intense passion for the ingredients and the history of the cultures represented.

“First and foremost, I have such a deep affinity for Asian culture and its various cuisines,” said celebrity chef Angelo Sosa. “The flavors themselves are very vibrant, and specifically, there’s always a dichotomy within them that really excites me – the pungency and the vibrancy of the sweet, the sour, and the bitter.”

Sosa spent a lot of time in Asia, and it was the beauty and his experiences with the street food in various cities that served as an inspiration for this new venture. “I want Kembara to be a portal to experience Asian street food. I want to transport people to feel like they’re dining in Chiang Mai and having khao soi for the first time, or they’re in Penang and having a Malaysian version of char kway teow,” said Sosa.

Phoenix is the perfect spot for this concept. “Phoenix is a thriving city – it’s one of the top emerging cities in the U.S., and it’s the perfect time and place to unveil the beauty of the city. We currently have our sister restaurant Tía Carmen here, and we thought it would be a beautiful juxtaposition to have a contrasting dining experience here,” said Sosa. “Phoenix’s landscape is so unique. Contrary to popular belief, the state of Arizona is more than just desert – there’s a plethora of micro-climates here,” said Sosa. All these micro-climates mean varying elevations, nutrients in the soils, and a wide range of ingredients. “From a chef’s perspective, it’s so exciting because you can really find anything here, from wild mushrooms to fresh juniper berries, and even amazing native beef and fantastic chicken farmers. The landscape truly lends itself to the opportunity to have impeccable ingredients,” said Sosa.

Much of this incredible range of ingredients is reflected in Phoenix’s exploding culinary scene. “There are amazing culinary and mixology talent, like Scott Conant, Chris Bianco, Rene Andrade, Jason Asher, James Porter, and many more, doing world-class food and cocktails. It’s a perfect moment to unveil the beauty of the food scene here,” said Sosa.

“I want Kembara to be a conduit to places like Singapore, Penang, Osaka and beyond, and to capture that, we place a lot of emphasis on having the best ingredients possible, layering it with great technique,” said Sosa. And certain pivotal ingredients take center stage, such as the curry leaf. “Not only do we grow them in the property garden where farmer Liza meticulously cares for and loves and dotes on, but it is such a prominent ingredient in dishes like our Fish Head Curry, or in our housemade curried salt for our lamb spring rolls,” said Sosa.

Umami is not an ingredient but it is an overarching theme across the menus as well. “You will of course find it in our food, but we also wanted it to be a prominent flavor profile in our drinks as well, such as our Remains of the Day, a riff on a martini using umami bitters,” said Sosa.

It all speaks to a menu of inventive dishes such as a favorite of the chef’s, the Tuna Thai Jewel. “It is very whimsical – it’s an homage to imperial Thai cuisine, and a good example of how, in addition to some classic dishes, we are also offering our modern spin while honoring the origins of a dish,” said Sosa, who shares that the Khao Soi, on the flip side, is very rudimentary. “It’s essentially a chicken coconut soup – but I’m so proud of it. We’re making our own khao soi curry paste in-house, as well as our noodles, both the crispy and fresh versions. It’s divine and magical,” said Sosa.

It’s also about using the right ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. “Our Beef Rendang is a great example of upping the ante on the quality of ingredients. We’re using wagyu short ribs, and braising them in a mixture of ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaf, and chili sambal. We don’t add any water or stock, it just cooks and braises for hours, and at the end of the day, it’s a beautiful stew with accents of citronella flavors,” said Sosa.

Another standout dish is the Fish Head Curry. This is a Singaporean-style fish head curry. I recommend everyone eat it with their hands and get that aromatic presence of the curry leaf – I want you to taste the layering of flavors, the fenugreek, and the passion behind this dish,” said Sosa.

In a fun theme, all of the cocktails are named after novels by Asian authors. “The Sympathizer encapsulates one of our mantras when we were creating the food and beverage menus for Kembara. The past evolves to the present and the future, and we always ask ourselves, how can we pay homage to a culture and a cuisine, but also transform it so it inspires innovation? This drink is our modern take on Japanese tea service. We smoke the spirits with cherrywood in a tea kettle, then place it on a platter coated with rocks to resemble a Japanese garden. We then pour this tableside, served over a block of ice and baby’s breath. The Wild Swan is a vodka-based cocktail with Baijiu. The idea with this one was that we were taking something old but making it new – a vodka-based drink, but adding Baijiu, which is not so commonly found, and we wanted to introduce it in an approachable way,” said Sosa.

Sosa feels a deep love for Asian cultures and its cuisines. “I’ve studied it, I’ve spent years of my life there, and it’s just something I truly have reverence for. Tía Carmen shows one side of me, with an emphasis on heirloom and heritage ingredients. With Kembara, it’s more spice-induced, and it has that tug of war within the flavor dynamics. When I create things, there always has to be a level of tension, constantly pulling you in one way or another, ultimately creating a sense of beauty and harmony,” said Sosa.


Some of the greatest flavors and innovations come from our travels and experiences – and that’s just as much the case when it comes to how chefs find their inspiration.

Kembara, the latest concept from celebrity chef Angelo Sosa, is a spectacular example of this. The restaurant is set to open this week in Phoenix, and it’s already getting a ton of attention. At this restaurant’s forefront is the chef’s intense passion for the ingredients and the history of the cultures represented.

“First and foremost, I have such a deep affinity for Asian culture and its various cuisines,” said celebrity chef Angelo Sosa. “The flavors themselves are very vibrant, and specifically, there’s always a dichotomy within them that really excites me – the pungency and the vibrancy of the sweet, the sour, and the bitter.”

Sosa spent a lot of time in Asia, and it was the beauty and his experiences with the street food in various cities that served as an inspiration for this new venture. “I want Kembara to be a portal to experience Asian street food. I want to transport people to feel like they’re dining in Chiang Mai and having khao soi for the first time, or they’re in Penang and having a Malaysian version of char kway teow,” said Sosa.

Phoenix is the perfect spot for this concept. “Phoenix is a thriving city – it’s one of the top emerging cities in the U.S., and it’s the perfect time and place to unveil the beauty of the city. We currently have our sister restaurant Tía Carmen here, and we thought it would be a beautiful juxtaposition to have a contrasting dining experience here,” said Sosa. “Phoenix’s landscape is so unique. Contrary to popular belief, the state of Arizona is more than just desert – there’s a plethora of micro-climates here,” said Sosa. All these micro-climates mean varying elevations, nutrients in the soils, and a wide range of ingredients. “From a chef’s perspective, it’s so exciting because you can really find anything here, from wild mushrooms to fresh juniper berries, and even amazing native beef and fantastic chicken farmers. The landscape truly lends itself to the opportunity to have impeccable ingredients,” said Sosa.

Much of this incredible range of ingredients is reflected in Phoenix’s exploding culinary scene. “There are amazing culinary and mixology talent, like Scott Conant, Chris Bianco, Rene Andrade, Jason Asher, James Porter, and many more, doing world-class food and cocktails. It’s a perfect moment to unveil the beauty of the food scene here,” said Sosa.

“I want Kembara to be a conduit to places like Singapore, Penang, Osaka and beyond, and to capture that, we place a lot of emphasis on having the best ingredients possible, layering it with great technique,” said Sosa. And certain pivotal ingredients take center stage, such as the curry leaf. “Not only do we grow them in the property garden where farmer Liza meticulously cares for and loves and dotes on, but it is such a prominent ingredient in dishes like our Fish Head Curry, or in our housemade curried salt for our lamb spring rolls,” said Sosa.

Umami is not an ingredient but it is an overarching theme across the menus as well. “You will of course find it in our food, but we also wanted it to be a prominent flavor profile in our drinks as well, such as our Remains of the Day, a riff on a martini using umami bitters,” said Sosa.

It all speaks to a menu of inventive dishes such as a favorite of the chef’s, the Tuna Thai Jewel. “It is very whimsical – it’s an homage to imperial Thai cuisine, and a good example of how, in addition to some classic dishes, we are also offering our modern spin while honoring the origins of a dish,” said Sosa, who shares that the Khao Soi, on the flip side, is very rudimentary. “It’s essentially a chicken coconut soup – but I’m so proud of it. We’re making our own khao soi curry paste in-house, as well as our noodles, both the crispy and fresh versions. It’s divine and magical,” said Sosa.

It’s also about using the right ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. “Our Beef Rendang is a great example of upping the ante on the quality of ingredients. We’re using wagyu short ribs, and braising them in a mixture of ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaf, and chili sambal. We don’t add any water or stock, it just cooks and braises for hours, and at the end of the day, it’s a beautiful stew with accents of citronella flavors,” said Sosa.

Another standout dish is the Fish Head Curry. This is a Singaporean-style fish head curry. I recommend everyone eat it with their hands and get that aromatic presence of the curry leaf – I want you to taste the layering of flavors, the fenugreek, and the passion behind this dish,” said Sosa.

In a fun theme, all of the cocktails are named after novels by Asian authors. “The Sympathizer encapsulates one of our mantras when we were creating the food and beverage menus for Kembara. The past evolves to the present and the future, and we always ask ourselves, how can we pay homage to a culture and a cuisine, but also transform it so it inspires innovation? This drink is our modern take on Japanese tea service. We smoke the spirits with cherrywood in a tea kettle, then place it on a platter coated with rocks to resemble a Japanese garden. We then pour this tableside, served over a block of ice and baby’s breath. The Wild Swan is a vodka-based cocktail with Baijiu. The idea with this one was that we were taking something old but making it new – a vodka-based drink, but adding Baijiu, which is not so commonly found, and we wanted to introduce it in an approachable way,” said Sosa.

Sosa feels a deep love for Asian cultures and its cuisines. “I’ve studied it, I’ve spent years of my life there, and it’s just something I truly have reverence for. Tía Carmen shows one side of me, with an emphasis on heirloom and heritage ingredients. With Kembara, it’s more spice-induced, and it has that tug of war within the flavor dynamics. When I create things, there always has to be a level of tension, constantly pulling you in one way or another, ultimately creating a sense of beauty and harmony,” said Sosa.

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