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Rudeboy's right, we need a "favorite dishes" thread !!!

There's 'a most distinct distinction,' as is said, between 'best things you ever ate' and 'your favorite dishes.' For instance, I would never call the $300/bite of kaiseki Matsusaka beef one of my 'favorite dishes.' The latter falls more in the lines of good, comfort dishes (often non-fancy) I could go to on an daily basis:

NS-5 (now S-NS5) at Sap's - pork slices, ground pork, fish meatballs, surimi crab in pork broth. $7.50. Must get w/ the flat rice noodles, and ask for ground peanuts.

#1 lunch special at Sunflower (5 spice chicken) - the most tender chicken I've ever tasted.

Roast pork at Ho Ho Chinese BBQ - a revelation (no take out, must eat in)

Pan fried buns at Sichuan Garden (again no take out, must eat in)

Yukhoe (beef tartare) bibimbab at Korea Garden

Yuca frita con chicharron at El Zunzal

Um pouco de tudo apps plate at Rio's - half price at happy hr

Aji de gallina at La Chaparrita

Frozen mango pudding, ras malai, and shahi tukra at Chola.

Jul 29, 2013
conquer in Austin

Crispy-skinned roast pork to die for

at Ho Ho Chinese BBQ.

Much better than Din Ho's and First Chinese's. The meat is succulent, tender and just slightly salty, and there's not a drop of grease on the skin roasted to perfection, to the point where it almost tastes fried (and there's plenty of it). Puts any Latin American or 'upscale' place I've been who try to do some variation of 'crispy pork skin' to shame. I almost wanted to tell them they're charging too little for this. If you have a small appetite, save the meat for take-home, but definitely finish the skin at the restaurant as it doesn't keep (testifies to its freshness).

Also cleaner/nicer than DH and FC. I would come to this place exclusively if I didn't live south.

Jul 29, 2013
conquer in Austin

I Guess I'm No Longer in the "Cool Group"

They recently repainted (waste of money, imo).

Highly recommend their tamales (wrapped in plantain leaves), fried yuca w/ fried chicharron, and tamarindo. They also serve some of the spiciest salsa (w/ black pepper) I've ever tasted.

One of my top 5 restaurants in Austin right now.

Jun 14, 2013
conquer in Austin

I Guess I'm No Longer in the "Cool Group"

Cafe Josie (revamped)
Rio's Brazilian
Buenos Aires Cafe
Justine's (don't know how crowded they are on Mondays)
Chez Nous (oldie but goodie)

If you don't mind a lack of atmosphere: La Chaparrita, El Zunzal, Hana World Market (cash only)

Jun 14, 2013
conquer in Austin

Favorite Breakfast Tacos

Taco Joint by campus on San Jacinto. Hands down. They make a more Sonoran style flour tortilla (thinner, crispier, dustier, and fattier, kind of yellow and translucent, almost like an Indian paratha) than the doughy white Texan kind.

Anyone know any place else that serves this kind of tortilla?

May 06, 2013
conquer in Austin

Sugartooth Bakery (E 5th St)

I just had the best cupcake I've ever had. Then I found out it's vegan.

Worldview shattered.

The cupcake was from Sugartooth Bakery on E 5th. The chocolate cake was moist and toothsome, but still spongy and airy - like a cake (imagine that). And all of it peeled off from the liner easily. The ample chocolate frosting was smooth and rich, not 'sugary.' The chocolate - of course - ganache filling oozed when you sank in. It actually rested in a pocket in the center, like a lava cake.

I had no idea it's vegan until I looked at their website. Simply puts all other cupcakes I've had (including an America's Test Kitchen recipe) - vegan or not - to shame. Whoever the baker is, is a genius. Whenever I hear someone say a dish is a 'revelation' I usually think they're pretentious. But if anything is 'revelatory,' this cupcake must be it.

That is, you didn't know something could taste this way, but you know it's the way it should've always tasted.

Jan 18, 2013
conquer in Austin

Open bar & tipping...

It's tacky to 'host' a party but leave the tip for your guests to pay. Include 25% tip in the bill and instruct servers/waiters not to accept additional tips.

I never tip tip jars, or as I call them, when-entitlement-meets-guilt jars. People need to work out their Oedipal issues elsewhere.

Nov 21, 2012
conquer in Not About Food

Royal Indian - not quite

That actually sounds more interesting than just plain old Indian. I'll have to give it a try.

Do they have a buffet?

Jun 05, 2012
conquer in Austin

I know it's been discussed before, but... Ramen?

Do they make the ramen themselves?

The best ramen I've had is a kuro ramen in a little strip mall in Milpitas. Black garlic and fresh-made noodles, with a side of tuna sashimi over rice. $10.

Apr 12, 2012
conquer in Austin

Vietnamese beyond pho--Lily's Sandwich

What service? It's definitely more a cafeteria a la Asia Cafe than a restaurant. I've never tipped there. The owner has always been friendly to me though: once when I asked for some cream puffs, he could have given me the ones in the display case, but he went in the back and got me fresh hot ones.
If you want a hot sandwich, it helps if you ask for your sandwich toasted.

Apr 09, 2012
conquer in Austin

Vietnamese beyond pho--Lily's Sandwich

For those interested in pig knuckles, tripe soup, bo kho, bahn cuon, crab and conch vermicelli, curry, fish stew, crayfish, frog legs, and other authentic Vietnamese small dishes beyond pho, bun and com, check out Lily's Sandwich. They have an excellent bun bo hue and bavarian cream puffs too (absent Beard Papa's in Austin) at good prices.

I've had their sandwiches and Baguette House's, and I prefer Lily's. They're bigger and cheaper, and the fillings are tastier. The owner is honest.

No ambiance--but who cares about that?

Apr 03, 2012
conquer in Austin

New Hot Pot Place on Anderson

The prices are ridiculous. It's funny because I saw a few Chinese families at the tables (bringing grandpa and grandma on an outing) who seemed more than a little uncomfortable, and grandpa/grandma looked downright pissed. I have a Sanyo hot pot, bought a load of sliced beef, lamb, tofu, pork blood, bokchoy, watercress, woodears, shitakes, enokis, vermicelli, an assortment of dumplings, and satay and chili sauces from MT and made hot pot for 2 for 2 meals under $30, with almost no prep work.

Apr 03, 2012
conquer in Austin

Single White Vegan Seeks Same

Food choices aren't a deal-breaker for me. Hysteria and excessive neurosis, about food or anything else, however, are.

Feb 28, 2012
conquer in Features

No Drinks = Bad Service

Pay servers a decent living wage (you know, like they do in the rest of the world) - problem solved.

Feb 21, 2012
conquer in Features

The Real Aphrodisiacs for Valentine's Day

Nothing is sexier than being dictated by society on when to have sex.

Feb 13, 2012
conquer in Features

Home Tours: Tacky?

Home tours are only for people interested in buying your home, and exorcists.

Dec 21, 2011
conquer in Features

How to Host a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

The less restrictive party should always host (others can help if wanted). It makes much more sense to have vegetarian/vegan Options, rather than making someone choose between their own preferences and their friendship/relationship with you.

Dec 01, 2011
conquer in Features

Who Should Pay for the Office Holiday Party?

What's next, paying for office supplies? Water and electricity? How about contributing to coworkers' salaries?

Dec 01, 2011
conquer in Features

Phone Etiquette at the Table: The Rules Have Changed

Oh no! If I can't find out the etymology of the word 'martini' RIGHT THIS SECOND I'm going to DIE!!!!!

And I get panic attacks whenever I have nothing to do, so THANK GOD for creating a constant source of distraction in the world.

Nov 09, 2011
conquer in Features

Guy Fieri Has a Friend Named Kleetus, and More Scandalous Accusations

White trash. No more, no less.

(Though he always reminds me of a Tasmanian devil for some reason.)

Oct 26, 2011
conquer in Features

There HAS to be a good Thai restaurant here...

Sorry, there's no authentic Thai food in or around Austin. (PT is American-Thai anyway.)

Not that talent is lacking, just most Austinites probably wouldn't eat it (not to mention fish heads, pork necks, grasshoppers etc).

Try Houston or Dallas, *maybe*.

Aug 26, 2011
conquer in Austin

Taco Bell Previews the Dark Future of Public Dining

People have been complaining about the end of civilization since the beginning of civilization.

Jul 26, 2011
conquer in Features

DEHP/carcinogen in Taiwanese bubble teas, fruit juices, syrups etc

Do you use Google?

For those whom it does concern:






The USFDA had published a list on 5/31 on their site, which was pulled as they are 'doing further testing for an official recall announcement' (I was told on the phone). I have packages of tapioca and bottles of juice and syrup, and jelly candies in the fridge from MT and other places I'm waiting to see if I have to dump in the garbage.

Jun 02, 2011
conquer in Food Media & News

DEHP/carcinogen in Taiwanese bubble teas, fruit juices, syrups etc

Well, it's all over the news (finally, including Western press). I called Coco's to ask if they import their ingredients directly from Taiwan, and they said yes, but have 'no idea' what I'm talking about. I'd stay away for now, from several other places in town that serve shaved ice/bubble drinks etc, as well.

Jun 01, 2011
conquer in Food Media & News

Reform School for Tightwad Tippers

Why tip anything at all for terrible service? I leave nothing, and just write BAD SERVICE on the check.

Jun 01, 2011
conquer in Features

Best Korean

Sommunanjib no longer has a buffet. However, the KFC is delicious.

May 21, 2011
conquer in Austin

A+A Sichuan Garden in Galleria Oaks

I went for the first time. Ordered spicy beef fillet, salt and pepper squid, green bean strips with shredded chicken.

Portions were somewhat smaller than Asia Cafe's. The beef had a coating (meat tenderizing seasoning and/or corn starch) I'm not used to. Salt and pepper squid came on a dinner-size plate--tasted good, but portion and presentation were undercut. The biggest problem I had was with the chicken green bean strips. (FYI the green bean strips are not Western 'green beans' but ground mung beans made into fettucini-like noodles, and are served cold.) The strips were good, but there was barely any chicken on top, and the chicken was julienned, not torn (ie 'shredded') - a big texture letdown. Asia Cafe's version is superior. There's a jar of szechuan peppercorn chili paste (mala) at the table, so you don't have to beg for tiny dishes of it like at AC.

The decor is nice, and the cashier (you know who I'm talking about) seemed a lot happier working here. The place has potential, and I hope it stays (can't have enough Chinese-Chinese restaurants in Austin); they just need to work out a few kinks with the menu.

May 10, 2011
conquer in Austin

But, Mom …

This reminds me of the old Chinese story about the mom of a poor family eating fish heads herself while saving the rest, good part of the fish for the kids. Years later, when the kids are grown up, they take Mom to the best restaurant in town to thank her, and they order fish heads for her. Mom cries. The kids say, 'But we thought you like fish heads...'

May 10, 2011
conquer in Features

Korean Red Bean bread

Frankly, I think the Korean kind/brand at Han Yang/New Oriental is better than the Chinese you can get in Austin (MT, Asia Market, Lucky Bakery). The bread's denser, with a more substantial filling. The Chinese breads are cheaper, though.

Apr 18, 2011
conquer in Austin

Best Bars and Bartenders (Mixologists?) for Serious cocktails

The stiffest drinks I've ever had in Austin are at Oilcan Harry's. But not for your 'family get-together,' probably. Peche's strength's gone down, IMO. I don't usually go for 'specialty' cocktails, but I really liked El Cubico at Condesa. Brown Bar is good for strong classics, granted the scene is a little tired.

208 W 4th Street, Austin, TX 07739

Apr 07, 2011
conquer in Austin