Champagne taste, beer budget: The Clever Koi upgrades a college staple

Each week, reporter Lindsay Roberts will take a journey to find restaurants that fit her champagne taste but beer budget.

The first stop in my epic food search was the über cool Asian-fusion restaurant Clever Koi. This place is a short Metro light rail ride away from the downtown campus, and it is definitely worth the trip.

The cool, modern feel with a touch of Asian-inspired art set the tone for the open kitchen where chefs are cooking with woks, preparing plates and manning a full-service bar.

Oddly enough, the Clever Koi is nestled away next to a hair salon and an English pub, but it is only a short walk from the Central Avenue and Indian School Road light rail stop.

I have been to the location more times than I can count, but this time was different because I went with a structured budget of $12.

Every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the menu offers a lunch special where one can make their own bowl with a unique choice of noodles, rice or chow mein and it all starts at just $5. One can choose the broth flavor, protein, vegetables and extras, like soft-boiled eggs or kimchi.

My lunch came to a grand total of $9 and fell well within my budget.  For less than $10, I was able to have a balanced meal of fresh ramen — nothing like the cheap ramen made in a sad dorm room.

This dish is cooked to perfection with warm broth and a hearty amount of meat, such as chicken, steak, pork belly, duck or shrimp. Tofu is offered for those on a plant-based diet.

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My favorite way to customize my ramen is with the lemon pepper chicken and a healthy amount of vegetables, topping it off with crunchy, flavorful bean sprouts.

The Clever Koi is a great and cheap option during the lunch special, but the food is well worth it at any hour.

Related Links:

Top five ways to spice up your ramen noodles

Top 5 authentic Chinese restaurants in the Valley


Reach the reporter at larober3@asu.edu or follow @lindsayaroberts on Twitter.

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