tease. which ones did you like better (you mentioned you've found a couple you like better)
old thread, but: the flan at Hecho en Mexico is quite good, and might be the best i've had in Austin
i so wish i could help you and will bookmark hoping for news of a West Indian Roti shop opening ... i guess we lack those immigrants, but i do wonder if Houston might have them, as there is both more diversity and more concentration of immigrant populations there.
loved roti in Baltimore and NYC, loved roti in Toronto. bet it's good in Montreal too. i love the vegetarian roti's best with stewed pumpkin and love with callaloo, which hopefully isn't really veggie and uses crab stock and the like. oh so good. as well as Roti, i would love some Doubles too.
on a different note, and more like most of the posts on this thread, i would also be really happy to find an Indian Bread sandwich, like the ones popularized by the Kati Roll company in NYC ... i loved the unda (egg) "rolls" (more like an indian bread rolled taco) the best, but would totally go for a lamb kabob and egg roll too. wonder if any of the places listed below have anything like that yumminess?
damn, i was planning on going for dinner tonight with a friend
i have had MEH experiences at Uchi, but i do think they are a world class restaurant and i would continue to patronize Uchi if we were in NYC together.
is everything fantastic? no.
i do think that anyone who is focused on the nigiri/sashimi or the maki is misguided. a bit of any of these to round out a meal is fine, esp. if you love the stuff -- but the thing about traditional sushi/sashimi to me is that once a sushi chef is ACCOMPLISHED, there is little difference between quality in any fine establishment. and fusion-maki should be approached as a novelty, there are too many flavors going on in any of them for them to truly sing.
that said, i usually order at least 5 pieces of nigiri and occasionally enjoy a roll ... my favorites are either the Zero Sen (which the OP didn't care for) and the Pitchfork.
when at Uchi, i focus on the daily specials. if there is a scallop dish, you can't go wrong. constructed sashimi with a special fish of the day and herbs is also a sound choice. a curveball, the meat/duck/ribs dishes on the specials page are always impressive.
the foie nigiri is to die for ... the preparation used to change daily/weekly but it has been the same for months now and i pass it up a lot, as the current is one of my least favorite of the combinations.
i have been disappointed by the lobster dish as well and never bother anymore and same with the mussels.
the pork belly dishes are wonderful, and the sweetbread specials (when available) have been truly inspired.... more like dining with David Chang than as a "sushi" restaurant.
the cold tastings that i love, in which the ingredients compliment but do not overpower the fish: machi cure, madai carpaccio, hama chili
i rarely bother with the hot dishes on the regular menu, excepting the bacon sen or the age dofu (their tofu is really good, and filling if you are trying to stretch your food dollars).
a typical dinner for two hungry people may be:
whereas Uchi is sometimes disappointing, it's a much better restaurant in general than i've experienced otherwise in Austin. and honestly, when i try to branch out i end up being so disappointed that it makes me afraid.
they also have a bivalve vermacelli which is interesting and good. i don't know how often i would choose it over the soup, but...
i got another reply interested in grits ...
they are also interested in farro, rice, and/or polenta -- so if anyone has an interest in those things, let us know.
i've been twice so far and i'm not terribly impressed.
i find that their cooked items are best (age dashi tofu, yellowtail collar .... must try the Saba Shio).
as for the nigiri and sashimi ... they are usually "out" of my favorites or the higher end ones i want to try. the fish is certainly not bad -- but it is bland and waterlogged in taste and texture.
the staff is really nice and friendly and are trying hard. but it's just not the quality i've come to be spoiled by.
i will likely return one more time to try again, but if my impression stays the same i'm likely not to bother any further.
i received one email response for some grits.
would be perfect to have one other person...
i disagree that food from a trailer has to be cheap, and i can assure you that the trend of having varied food from trailers, from cheap to upscale, from typical to inventive, from terrible to incredible is not unique to Austin.
the food trailer scene has been busting in NYmetro for years now.
yes, a traditional trailer/food cart serving medicore burgers or tacos or whatever is the common denominator for the region should probably be pretty cheap. most people don't go to those types of trailers with high expectations. some are terrible, some are OK, and a few hit a few distinct notes of great flavor. these are typically locale-oriented trailers, serving the neighborhood or the office, or whatever.
then there's the "new" trailer scene. some of it is hip, kitchey and/or terrible. these are entrepueners who may not have much to starting capital and/or investors. some will make a name for themselves (good or bad). others will tire of it and go out of business.
but it's a way to break out on your own, try your vision on a small scale with a more doable investment.
i will say that i agree that The Mighty Cone is a terrible ripoff. a poor attempt at making haute cuisine / streetfood hybrid at a high price. it carries it's Hudson's association like an endorsement brand. which makes me uncertain whether or not i should ever try Hudson's.
a lot of the trailers have been overly ambitious and disappointing.
i'm excited to try some of the new ones and i hope not to be disappointed. if i am, i'm unlikely to repeat. if i enjoy it, i'll be back. same philosophy with the restaurants.
and, of course, there are the taco trailers, which do tend to be cheap. a lot of them suck. but there are gems out there of two types "good if in the neighborhood" and "worth a trip".
if cheap is an important criteria, then one should not even bother to try the hip or haute cuisine trailers. if trying new things is important, then you should try whatever sounds good to you.
if you are impressed, post about it -- talk about what was was good or bad.
that chocolate maple scotch tobacco dessert is splendiferous. i could have done without the chocolate sorbet, as all the other flavors were so perfect together.
the tobacco is that the "creamy tube" thing is soaked/infused in cigar-tea. the scotch, maple, and pecans are awesome.
for me, the chocolate flavor in the sorbet was too strong to eat with the other dessert components.
luckily, my dining companion was happy enough to eat all of it.
if you are not already familiar with Anson Mills products, you should. they create small batch, stone ground, artisnal, heirloom grains that are delicious. many fine restaurants source from them.
i live in Austin and want more Anson Mills product ... problem is that the retail orders come in 12 oz bags or 10 lb bags... the 12oz bags go too fast, and 10 pounds is more than i can handle.
i would love between 2-5 pound of things like the grits (yellow and white, prefer the long-cooking), and their cut oats are the best i've had.
if anyone is interested in going in and bulk buying, please contact me at kzszczk (at) gmail
in general, i've not yet been very impressed with any of my Asian food excursions in Austin (excepting Uchi, which i think is more New American or New Japanese than Asian)...
i've had the best Vietnamese soups i've had outside of VietNam at Lily's Sandwich in the Chinatown Center (Lamar x Kramer).
not that i traveled extensively in VietNam, or was there for a particiularly long time... but just that some of the soups i had there really made an impression. although i love a bowl of pho, there is much life beyond it.
esp. since i prefer shellfish and pork to beef.
back to Lily's Sandwich.
the Bahn Mi are OK. nothing special, but fine.
but look beyond the $3 sandwiches, and it's a whole, brave, new world.
They have at least 8 styles of noodle soups. so far i have only had 2 of them. 1 of them i have had 3 times this week, it is so very, very good.
so far, my favorite is the #26 Crab Vermicelli. i couldn't even tell you everything in it, but i'll try to replicate. it does not look like the photograph on the wall, which looks good too. a big bowl, filled with vermicelli rice noodles and a seafood broth. the broth is light and fresh tasting in a sense, but also deep and murky and funky in another sense (a good way) -- some fermented fish flavors. it is herbal, peppery, and barely salty. added were pig's blood (easily picked out, and ordered again without -- not unpleasant, but not a benefit to my palate either. at least it taste fresh and "clean"), tofu, shrimp, and loose, falling apart "meatballs" that might be ground pork and crab. fried shallots, cilantro, and a plate of shredded cabbage and lemon-basil.
the first time i ordered it, the guy tried to steer me to #31 -- said it was better. so we got a bowl of that too. it's broth was lighter, sweeter, with none of the funk. it had shrimp and maybe some roast pork slices and some fish-cake and both egg-noodles and bean-thread, i think some water-spinach or similar green...served with a plate of bean sprouts and basil. also very good.
lots of other noodle soups that i may try someday; some that i probably won't.
try anything and everything. the prices are reasonable. the guy (the owner?) is friendly. it is rarely crowded.
all, i appreciate your feedback after my disdain. i do mean to try Titiya's and i'll try Thaitara and i'll try the Thai place on Parmer (probably close-ish to my office).
unfortunately i cannot even recall what we tried at the Anderson location.
very forgettable. i rarely get Pad Thai, as it's usually boring. i usually don't have it unless someone else gets it and it's family style. i had it at the one place (Thai Village) as my friend said they did a great version there, and that was true.
rudeboy, don't be tricked by the "drunken" part of drunken noodles. it's a pad kee mao, but it is often called drunken noodles or noodles of the drunks throughout Thailand. it's typically a street-vendor dish and heartily eaten after a nights drinking.
i think i'll start another thread, because i've fallen in love with the soups at Lily's Sandwich. best Vietnamese soups i've had outside of Vietnam.
i am sorry to sound like a snotty import, but the Thai food i've had in Austin is largely in the SUCK category. maybe i haven't been to the "right places" or the "right locations" of the "right places" or i haven't ordered the "right things at the right places at the right locations" but it shouldn't be so hard.
i find the Thai food at the _Pad Thai_ restaurant at Parmer/I-35 to be passable and acceptable for the occasional lunch near my office. unfortunately, this is likely the strongest contentder for Thai i've found so far in terms of consistency.
i thought _Madam Mam's_ (Anderson Lane) was pretty, but mediocre to poor.
the drunken noodles at _Kaprow_ (Howard Lane) was decent in texture, but low on the hot peppers and fresh basil, and i wouldn't intentionally go back and try anything, esp. with my doubts raised as far as Thai and sushi together.
the pad thai at _Thai Village_ (I-35/Lincoln Village) was very good, but an attempt to try other things on the menu resulted in large disappointment.
my expectations and standards are high. it doesn't help that i've eaten at more than 300 different Thai places across the country over the past 25 years, or that i've eaten Thai at least 40 times a year when i've lived someplace that has the good stuff. or that i moved here from Queens (NYC) which has some of the best Thai food on the continent, and next door to the reasonably-famous Sripraphai, or that i lived in SF for a time before that and WDC before that.
i know i can't set the bar that high here, but i hate wasting my time, money, palate, and calories on sub-par food. hate it. i've all but given up.
my favorite dishes:
also, most of the places i've tried in Austin have used very poor quality meats and seafood. anyone using good, fresh ingredients?
thanks so much for your response...
and the coffee and tea room suggestions will certainly prove to be useful.
my style is probably a little more Elizabeth on 37. i'm deprived of fine dining in Austin TX.
more about the general question and me: i've lived in NYC recently for just over a decade and love fine dining and INVENTIVE dining (molecular gastronomy, creative flavor combinations, and generally the unexpected twist). i have since moved to Austin TX where the food scene is very undeveloped and achingly mediocre for the most part.
i am not particularly concerned about price, i am concerned about delicious.
Hi, i'll be visiting Savannah on the dates above with a friend, renting a small apartment.
looking for recommendations in general, as well as a couple of specifics...
specific 1: Thanksgiving. any ideas what will be open, period? any chance that there might be somewhere that does something semi-traditional but also has choices for someone who hates Thanksgiving food? my travel companion likes the comfort/traditional, and i would prefer something else. almost anything else.
specific 2: Shrimp and Grits. love them. any particularly good renditions?
specific 3: my travel companion doesn't eat fish/shellfish. i want to eat lots of it. hopefully we won't have too much trouble finding places we can eat together.
specific 4: biscuits. likely everywhere, but where will make me swoon?
general -- it seems from some perusal and menu stalking that some good higher-end bets would be Elizabeth's on 37, Noble Fare, and Local11ten.
seems for traditional southern food we should also definitely grabl lunch someday at Mrs. Wilke's.
appreciate any help you can give.
finally. i was begining to fear that no one in Austin knows anything about dim sum.
i ate the most disappointing dim sum meal of my life here. truly disgusting. everything tasted generic, frozen, and overly salted and overcooked.
even the bok choy with oyster sauce was inedible.
i am spoiled when it comes to Thai and a very tough critic. however, i don't expect to be wowed by Thai here in Austin (if i can be wrong about that, i'd be thrilled).
the Thai Kitchen on Quadalupe was the absolute worst excuse for "Thai Food" i've even had. i think it's fair to say that i've eaten at at least 300 Thai restaurants across the country over the years, and it was the pits.
and it seems expensive, although that may have been because it hurts to pay money for food you can't eat. and we were really craving Thai, so we ordered too much of it, hoping for decent leftovers.
Madam Mam's (new location on Anderson / Village) was lower-mediocre.
likely the best Thai i've had in Austin so far is the restaurant called Pad Thai at Parmer and I-35. which is hit or miss...
yeah, he'd be a rockstar here, that's for sure.
yes, i enjoy the varying opinions as well.
OK, i need to respectfully disagree with the comments from ieat...
i am hoping that this doesn't come off of the snobism of a recent NYC transplant, because it really doesn't have anything to do with that. i've turned my Polish husband into a food-snob, god help him, and he emphatically stated that this was one of the most sorry, ill-prepared, uninspired meals he's ever had.
i wouldn't go quite that far, but i think i'm more tolerant than he is. it certainly dissappoints given the effort given to atmosphere and interior design and price point.
i would agree that the service was generally congenial and enthusiastic. with a caveat: poorly handled critism. when, towards the end of the meal, i summed up a few critical comments i had heard at my end of the table regarding the risotto, arctic char tortellini, and the mixed grill (introduced as comments to pass along to the kitchen) -- she actually responded defensively and actually used these words in her response "not that you don't know what you're talking about...".
Lamb's Tongue: the tongue was delicous and a nice consistency. the sauce was fine, but not memorable nor distinctive. the pluots seemed like they would be an interesting balance, but they were not.
Raw Oysters: pathetic. first, i cannot say much, because the oyster i was given was about the size of my smallest fingernail (and i have small hands). at $3 each, this is pretty inexcusable. all i could taste was the mignonette. i can pass along my husbands comments, which is that no self-respecting shellfish shack would serve these. i believe he said that they were bland and flavorless, and the mignonette was overwhelming. a real dissappointment, as the server enthusiastically recommended them.
Mussels: OK. they seemed to be cooked appropriately, but the sauce, although tasty, was overwhelming and overpowered what individual flavor the mussels may have had. a tomato-sauce with mussels is too much, whereas it's fine to have a sauce with tomato-chunks in it -- this was tomato sauce with a bit of brine thrown in. the bread served with this was also very salty (salt-crust on top). i tried another bite of the bread later, when it was served alone -- not only too salty on top, but the interior was just bland dough.
Charcuterie Plate: bland, oversalted, without character. there was one (not sure which, i think the headcheese) was less pleasant than the others ... i think texture-wise rather than flavorwise. the rillettes were oversalted, and the pate was without character.
Green Salad with Goat Cheese: agreed, not memorable.
Filet Mignon: agreed. this was easily the best dish of the night, and i think everyone enjoyed it. if my husband and i had had this dish and little to nothing else, we would have thought Olivia's might be worthwhile. whereas neither of us tend to think much of mashed potatoes, certainly the truffles in them combined as a delight with the sauce and the steak. not a thing wrong with this dish.
Arctic Char & "Shrimp" Tortillini: i actually had to cleanse my pallatte after this one, it was inedible. another commenter at the table said that she wanted to spit hers out. i heard at least two other complaints about this dish, including that the fish tasted spoiled. also there was no evidence of any shrimp in this dish. the pasta was probably nice, but who knows. i wouldn't go near this again.
Beet Agnolotti: i wasn't wowed by this dish, but i found it to be simple, light, and tasty. i've leave my husband's comments out, as he doesn't care much for pasta when it's not whole-wheat, nor for beets, unless in borscht.
Mixed Grill: this seemed OK, but too salty. the "al dente" rice didn't phase me, but i did hear a number of people comment on the crunchy rice, which is one of the comments i had passed on to the server (which i think is the comment that elicited the "not that you don't know what you're talking about) response...
Chicken Liver Risotto w/Bacon: way, way too salty. i had one bite, and couldn't finish my spoonful portion, because of the salt. and i like salt. i wish i had tasted some chicken liver or bacon, because i love those.
as for the desserts, i found them to the be the strong suit of the night. perhaps not spectacular, but a notch above the majority of the meal. we had one of each:
Ducks Egg Creme Caramel: basically a solid flan.
Lemon Ginger Basque Cake: tasty, nicely salty balancing the sweet. nice consistency to the cake, a good crumb.
Chocolate pie w/grahmn cracker crust: i think. it was tasty and good, in the way that you can trust chocolate to be chocolate, and the crust also had a nice texture. not memorable though.
so, basically, the kitchen has a lot of growing to do to meet expectations.
as for pushing culinary boundries, i don't think Olivia is doing that or even TRYING to do that. nothing original nor creatively executed. no unexpected flavors.
as for the David Chang effort comment -- that seems so left-field to me. he doesn't have any plans to extend beyond NYC that i'm aware... and although i did have a lovely meal at the newest part of his empire, Momofuku Ko, and i did enjoy bringing visitors to the Momofuku Noodle Bar, i also find a lot of it to be overrated.
if anyone is still looking for another resource for Guanciale, i purchased some at Central Market (38th/Lamar) this past week, and enjoyed it. i'd never had it before, so i can't compare the quality.
so, i question can you get GOOD natto anywhere in Austin (excepting your place)?
i just moved from NYC and was introduced to Natto by one of my best friends who comes from Osaka ... and some natto is terrible, and some is good. even in NYC it can be hard to find the good stuff.
OK scrumptiouschef, how DID you get the un-menued breakfast tacos at Ramona's?
i went on a Saturday morning the other week, around 10:30am, and asked if they could make a breakfast taco. no, they couldn't.
we got el pastor. which was fine. the tortillas were fabulous as anticipated. the mean was fine, not as you describe in your more recent post.
granted, i speak almost no Spanish, but the woman who took our order seemed to speak English... she greeted us in English and there did not seem to be a major communication problem.
i would have loved to have a bacon bean and egg taco, but would've settled for bacon, egg and cheese.
newish to this board, i just relocated here from NYC (although i lived in Austin 11ish years ago and have posted before) -- it wasn't until this post about El Regio being a "chicken shack" that gave me my aha! -- i suspect the sauce you're trying to replicate is Aji, a Peruvian green sauce served with Peruvian Roasted Chicken. of course, this may be a variation adapted by another nation in the America's.
there is much board discussion in homecooking and on the NYC outerboroughs board (specifically for Pio Pio) about this kind of sauce.
i've had it in two styles, a "creamy" one that i agree is much more likely to be aioli/egg-oil based than dairy based. although more watery, it can also be made without the egg.
a google search will turn up a lot on aji as well.
it's been a while since i've made it, but i always used cilantro, jalapeno, and poblanos to round out the flavor.
traditionally, it's to be made with Peruvian peppers which i think are generally not available in the US. it also doesn't traditionally use cilantro, but uses espazote, which i haven't tried yet (not sure i'd know how to identify it).
some recipes include adding things like lettuce or bread.
this stuff is manna, in all of its forms, so i don't think the experimental home cook can go "wrong" -- or at least they should enjoy consuming their mistakes.
Lau- thanks for the further info and clarification
i've only tried Kuruma once on someone else expense account. i think it's probably a little too rich for me.
i'll give 15 East a try and let y'all know my thoughts.
i'd like to fit in return visits to Yasuda, Sakagura, and Soto before i go, but some of that will have to wait for visits. i also want to return to Aquavit and EMP.
thanks all for your suggestions thus far, however i would like to focus on the specifics i initially addressed. btw, i've already been to Kuruma (didn't like it any better than i liked Yasuda), will likely go back to Yasuda anyway, and am most definitely looking to
1) try a place i haven't been to before
i've already done a fair amount of research, what the missing link is for me is someone who can compare them to each other, preferably based on my stated preferences.
Thank you Lau for specifying that you would pick 15 East over the other two. would that just be based on the uni, or just overall experience and quality?
i probably only have one week left (next week) in which to eat at a few last places.
yeah, i saw a "press release" from their former chef on menupages and a bunch of recent bad reviews.
has anyone been for brunch lately?
i've only been once before (Dec, Jan, or maybe Feb) and we loved both the Chili Colorado and the Green Eggs. i'm moving from NYC in a couple of weeks and we were going to meet friends there for brunch tomorrow (we live in Queens and they live on Roosevelt Island), so it'll be somewhat of a trek for both...
worth going still or should we do something else?
maybe dim sum in Flushing would be more dependable and easier?
thanks for the feedback,
in my years in NYC, i have learned to be a sushi-snob. quality is paramount, selection is important, creativeness is enjoyed, although i love the traditional as well. even the great places tend to excel in one or the other, and i'm OK with that.
my current favorites: traditional/Yasuda; creative/Soto
others i have enjoyed, and why:
places that i may have enjoyed once or twice, but went downhill in a can't-go-back way:
based on the research i've done, i'm intrigued by the following:
so, assuming i only have time to fit ONE of these places in, and based on my preferences and interests -- which would you recommend and why?
it seems obvious/likely i would need a reservation for Ushi (due to restriction of sitting with Hideo), but would they be necessary at the others, assuming it was not a predictably-peak time?