Jiao: Ambitious Asian Restaurant Joins Cheeky Palm Springs Co. [CLOSED]

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Restaurant Sign Palm Springs

Jiao is a modern Asian concept from Palm Springs hitmakers Foundation 10 Creative.

The desert isn’t exactly known for fertility, unless you count date palms and wind. However, Tara Lazar and Marco Rossetti must have green thumbs, because they continue to generate growth in barren Palm Springs environs. The design-oriented owners of Cheeky’s, Birba and the Alcazar Hotel finally strayed from their contemporary compound, opening Jiao down Palm Canyon Drive in May at the corner of an Art Deco Complex called The Corridor.

Restaurant Palm Springs

The space features a showcase patio (important in Palm Springs) and an interior sporting a stainless steel counter and newspaper’d walls.

The name translates to English as “dragon,” but sometimes, even fire breathing creatures can’t take the heat. Palm Springs gets brutally hot in the summer, so Jiao took a two-month respite before re-opening for fall.

Jiao’s menu changes every two weeks and primarily draws on Vietnamese and Chinese influences. In August, Lazar and Rossetti hired Ethan Holmes, who worked as chef de cuisine at Congress Austin and now oversees the culinary direction of each cheeky establishment.

Salad Palm Springs

Mizuna Salad ($9) was a solid California-inspired starter, with a fan of sesame-sprinkled avocado served on crisp little gem lettuce with tangy yuzu vinaigrette.

Tangy Sticky Chicken Wings ($10) didn’t photograph well, but they were good, with crispy skins seasoned with Fresno chilies and scallions, plated with shaved cucumber and lettuce.

Asian Food Palm Springs

Oxtail Fried Rice ($8) arrived in a dome, featuring sticky pulled beef, scallions and “dragon sauce,” a savory Sriracha and hoisin mix. This dish was pretty good, but fairly dense.

Asian Food Palm Springs

A well-balanced dish starred meaty Tea Smoked Pork Belly ($14) slabs, which joined crisp shaved fennel, cilantro, bursting chunks of pink grapefruit and a judicious amount of black vinegar, both of which contributed welcome acidity.

Sauce Palm Springs

Sauces didn’t add much, though Jiao does offer a caddy of spicy and tangy condiments.

Soda Palm Springs

House-made sodas are becoming commonplace in Southern California, and we enjoyed tart Calamansi-Mint Water ($3), which Jiao enlivens with a hit of soda.

Maybe “GF” is a Palm Springs thing. Gluten Free appears all over Jiao’s menu.

Cookies Palm Springs

Thankfully, GF labels didn’t stop our server from bringing black sesame shortbread cookies with our check.

We never felt the urge to try Asian food in Palm Springs, but given the goodwill Lazar and Rossetti built with Cheeky’s, we gave Jiao a shot and were pleasantly surprised by the results.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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