ChopShop Co. vs. Naturally Sweet Food Truck: Sweet Smoothie Square Off

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Chloe Nordquist
The "Muscle Malt" drink on the outdoor patio at Original ChopShop Co.
With temperatures heating up and spring pushing its way into the Valley, we pinned two chocolate peanut butter banana smoothies against each other to answer the ultimate question: which smoothie has what it takes to satisfy our sweet tooth and cool us off?

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Shimogamo vs. Harumi: Sushi Smack Down

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Kristy Westgard
Harumi roll at Harumi Sushi

Typically here at Chow Bella we love pitting similar dishes from two different restaurants against each other for a traditional Battle of the Dishes. But this time around, the stakes have risen. In this battle, it is not simply a fight for the best dish, but a fight for the honor of a family name, or in this case, a restaurant name. Two local Japanese joints, Shimogamo and Harumi Sushi, are serving up their own namesake sushi rolls, but only one can roll away the winner.

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The Normal Diner vs. Essence Bakery: Clash of the Quiches

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Kristy Westgard
Quiche at The Normal Diner.
Like the holy trinity, the triple threat or the trifecta, all good things come in three. For the simple quiche, this rule holds true. When you mix together eggs, cream and cheese, nothing can go wrong. Here at Chow Bella, we fully support that breakfast for lunch life, and find that quiches are especially effective at allowing us to continue our breakfast food cravings right into midday.

Two local Tempe restaurants are only fueling our breakfast affliction with one serving up an all-American quiche and the other offering a classic French quiche Lorraine. Let the battle commence.

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Waffle Love AZ vs. Waffle Crush: Waffle Truck Take Down

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Chloe Nordquist
The "Nutella Love" from Waffle Love AZ
These aren't your average waffles. No, these are mobile and more -- gourmet food truck liege waffles with delicious toppings and homemade creams. We put two Valley waffle food trucks up against each other to answer the question, who has the better sweet treat?

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Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille vs. Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine: Jamaican Jerk Battle

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Kristy Westgard
Jerk Hut's jerk chicken.
Jamaican food is hard to come by in the Valley, and whipping up an authentic Jerk Chicken dish at home can be darn near impossible. In any case, you do not "whip up" a dish that is known for having a laundry list of ingredients and should ideally be marinated days in advance.

When the craving hit for a comforting plate of Caribbean fare, we decided to check out these two spots to see who takes the prize for jerk chicken with all the fixins'.

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JT's vs. Long Wong's: Hot Wing Showdown

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Chloe Nordquist
JT's hot hot wings.
Got a post-season hankering for hot wings? We've got you covered. Today we're hosting a cock fight, putting JT's in Arcadia up against Long Wong's on West Indian School to see which lights our fire.

In this corner: JT's Bar & Grill

The setting: JT's is the quintessential small bar setting, with a row of seats at the bar and a couple tables along the opposite wall. The walls are covered with photos, articles, and sports and alcohol paraphernalia. And there are plenty of televisions -- all tuned to sports.

The good: We ordered the wings with the hot hot sauce. The chicken was cooked to perfection and there was not a lot of fat. The wings were crispy on the outside and had an overall great taste and dynamic flavor. They were spicy, but not so much that your tongue was completely on fire.

The bad: Looks were deceiving. The wings looked dry and were lacking sauce, which made them seem unappealing at first. They weren't as spicy as we wanted HOT hot wings to be -- we got a couple sniffles but if you're looking for a light-my-mouth-on-fire taste, try the next level up (suicide hot sauce).


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Chelsea's Kitchen v. Hopdoddy Burger Bar: Ahi Tuna Burger Take Down

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Kristy Westgard
Ahi burger at Hopdoddy's.
With its delicate flavor, yet meaty texture, ahi tuna is a contradiction. Though this ingredient is a restaurant staple, it is at its absolute best when left barely touched by its preparer. The introduction of bolder ingredients to the modest fish can overwhelm it. Instead, ahi tuna effortlessly holds its own.

The virtues of ahi tuna have been celebrated; the only thing left to debate is which of two Valley joints makes the most ah-inducing ahi tuna burger.

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Timo Wine Bar vs. Humble Pie: Butternut Squash Soup Square Off

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Chloe Nordquist
Humble Pie's butternut squash soup.
We aren't quite done with winter eats yet, and butternut squash is a classic ingredient for some popular seasonal dishes -- including butternut squash soup. While soup season is still in full swing, we decided to try out two local butternut squash options and see which one wins our battle.

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Deer Garden Signature vs. Slanted Rice: Clay Pot Clash

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Kristy Westgard
Crispy rice at Deer Garden.
There are two kinds of people in this world -- those who eat the crust, and those who don't. We're not just talking about sandwich and pizza crust. In this case the crust in question is that of the traditional Chinese clay pot rice dish.

In a cuisine full of quick-to-prepare (and even quicker to consume) dishes, crispy clay pot rice requires a bit more labor. Rice is typically soaked in water for an hour before it's put in a clay pot alongside some form of fat, soy sauce, and a touch of oil. After 10 minutes of low heat, and 5 minutes of high heat cooking, the rice forms a crunchy, slightly burnt crust all around the bottom of the pot.

Here at Chow Bella, more often than not, crust is a must. So, with spoon in hand, we set off to try two local restaurants to get to the bottom of the clay pot -- and then proceed to scrape it off.

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The Gladly v. The Mission: Bread Pudding Blow Out

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Natalie Miranda
We can't get over that marshmallow sliding down the side of the s'mores bread pudding.

They say the proof is in the pudding -- and here at Chow Bella we say it's in the bread pudding, a dessert that's hard to pull off. We hit up two favorites, The Gladly in Phoenix and The Mission in Scottsdale, to see which local restaurant does it best.

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