Archive for the ‘Asian’ Category

A few months ago, I learned a great new term. Eliza and I decided to go up to NYC and hang out with Jeff and Elizabeth at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. Hearing this, one of my coworkers remarked,”Isn’t that kind of a busman’s holiday?” (You see, living in Austin, we get our fair share of barbecue.) Fair enough, but this was really just an excuse to go to New York and hang out with some friends. Our first night there, we took Jeff’s advice and checked out the latest addition to David Chang’s Momofuku empire, Ma Peche.

Before dinner, we spent a few minutes at the bar, which overlooks the main dining room a floor below. It creates a nice effect, making the place feel huge.

We started off with the foie gras, in an effort to eat something not offered in Austin barbecue joints.

In keeping with the busman’s holiday theme, Eliza had a beer that was imported by an Austin company.

The ribs were nice. The meal was nice. The ambiance was nice. And maybe that’s why I wasn’t crazy about it. It felt like something was missing at Ma Peche, and I think that missing piece was attitude. In David Chang, we’re talking about a guy who makes a dessert called “Crack Pie.” But Ma Peche felt a little conservative.

We did stop at the Milk Bar on the way out for some of that Crack Pie, though. There’s a reason they call it that.


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At Asia Cafe, it’s best not to ask the staff for recommendations. The typical response is a blank stare. But don’t fret. The first unwritten rule of ethnic food is that the harder it is to communicate with restaurant employees, the better the food will be. Not to mention, you can’t really miss at this place. So throw a few darts at the pages-long menu and enjoy.

Asia Cafe used to be located in the back of Asia Market, a Chinese grocery store tucked away in a nondescript strip mall off 183. Recently it moved into its own space next door. We can’t go a month without stopping by.

Another unwritten rule of ethnic food: there is an inverse relationship between the effort put into decor and the quality of the food.

Only recently did they start translating their specials menu into English.

A final unwritten rule of ethnic food establishments: the higher the percentage of foreign-branded beverages, the better.

This visit, we tried a few new things, like pan fried sesame shrimp.

The shredded pork with bamboo was another first, and a definite highlight.

For some reason, what are normally referred to as steamed dumplings are “boiled dumplings” at China Cafe. Whatever you want to call them, they’re pretty great.

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I’ve had some photos stacking up lately, but no time to do proper writeups. So here’s a nice copout: a breezy tour through some of the recent additions to the food truck scene in Austin. Oddly enough, all of them are Asian food.

A better title for this post might have been “How We Tried And Failed Repeatedly To See Music During SXSW.” On the Friday of SXSW, we decided to take the afternoon off and head downtown to check out some day parties. On the way, we stopped off at Sushi A-Go-Go. Unfortunately, right after we showed up and started to order our food, I got an email from a co-worker that said “Where the hell are you guys? Is anyone going to be able to do this conference call?” So we took our food to go and went back home. Strike one.

Stevie bravely faced down some ferocious wind.

The sushi was great, but spending my “afternoon off” at home on a conference call put a damper on the experience.

No big deal, we figured. There’s still plenty of time to see some music. So on Saturday night, we went to east Austin for the Todd P Showpaper party. I was hoping to see Real Estate, but we ended up seeing a few minutes of some other band whose name I can’t remember. (Something about Cleveland, maybe?)

What I do remember is that it was absolutely frigid outside and we weren’t dressed for it. Luckily, we were able to warm up with some delicious Korean BBQ tacos from Chi’Lantro, which we had been meaning to try since sampling Austin’s other Korean BBQ truck, TaKorea.

The last stop in our food truck roundup has nothing to do with failed attempts to see live music. East Side King is located behind east Austin’s liberty bar and has been making waves with their take on something we love dearly, the steamed pork bun.

They also have a cow tongue bun. Yum.

And then there’s the fried beets.They’re beets, so it’s healthy right? Especially when you dip them in mayo.

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On our very last night in New York, we visited the small factory that is B&H to find a new camera lens and bag for Ben. Then we stumbled down 9th Avenue to Grand Sichuan International searching for some soup dumplings. Ben enjoyed lots of soup dumplings on his trip to Shanghai, and I was eager to give them a try.

Here’s a shot of the restaurant scene with the new lens. Pretty nice, huh?

This one is not so nice. I need a nap. And maybe a hairbrush.

This little bowl arrived at the table with our hot tea. We had no idea what it was or what to do with it, and we were too embarrassed to ask the surly waitress, so it will remain a mystery.

Some very tasty wontons.

And then the soup dumplings. They were served in a bamboo steamer and, unfortunately, a lot of their soupy goodness leaked out before we had the pleasure of slurping it. But nonetheless, they were very good and still soupy enough that I managed to spill some on my sweater.

We shared one entree – twice cooked pork. VERY spicy and delicious.

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Takorea, Austin TX

The taco truck is no stranger to Austin, but the Korean taco trucks that have become popular in LA are a new development here. We recently checked out TaKorea, which is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of 2222/Koenig Lane and I-35. It’s a little hard to find, but worth hunting down.

Kogi, the LA Korean taco truck that put this stuff on the map, really doesn’t like to be called fusion but apparently that label doesn’t bother the folks behind TaKorea.

The seating consists of a few folding chairs and no tables. The nearby traffic provides a steady soundtrack.

They were out of the beef and pork tacos the day we went, so we went with the spicy chicken and a Korean hot dog.

The hot dog was the big winner. It’s a Hebrew National frank with a lot of fun toppings. Can’t say that I know what they were exactly, but it was tasty. The spicy chicken taco was good, but I’d like to go back and try the beef and pork versions.

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