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Fortune Seafood closed?

Their answering machine says they are no longer serving lunch or dinner, only banquets for large parties. (I guess that means no dim sum, either.) Anyone know what happened, or if anyone associated with the place will open another restaurant? This was one of our three fave Chinese places in town, and will be missed by us a lot.

Jun 03, 2011
AustinNYCer in Austin

New India Cuisine

Got some takeout last night at a colleague's recommendation -- very very nice people behind the counter, but food was extremely disappointing. In a word, SALTY. My wife, who is an Indian national, pretty much threw away her Konkani Egg Curry because it was so salty. (She's pregnant and her palate is very sensitive right now, but I tried it and she was right.) My Chana Saag was better, but still too salty. Thali platter was, again, better (potato in particular was good), but the green beans were, again, way too salty. The nan was lousy -- flat and chewy, like hard tack. The garlic nan was worse, still -- I'm not 100% sure, but it sure tasted as if they used garlic from a jar, which is inexcusable, given how cheap and easy (and good!) to use fresh garlic is. I'll probably give one more chance, in case this was an off night, but am hardly encouraged.

May 16, 2010
AustinNYCer in Austin

Korea Garden sushi train

Wife and I went tonight for the first time. Kind of a mixed bag. Most of what we had -- salmon nigiri and some sort of pale fish nigiri, spicy tuna roll -- was good and fresh.

But we sure didn't have much to choose from. It seemed like half the options were doused in mayo (a pet peeve of mine) and it seemed like every other plate was a roll with crabmeat (fake? doused in mayo) inside it. (is this an attempt to cater to American palates?) The house was maybe half full, so lots of dishes just kept going around and around again.

We just sat there waiting and waiting for something else to come by that we could eat, and eventually left, profoundly unsatisfied.

As we left, we asked the maitre d about more variety, and she said we could have requested what we wanted. Good to know, but, still, the fun of these conveyor belt set-ups is that lots of great stuff comes along and surprises you. If I have to order stuff to make a meal of it, what's the point?

We'll got again when it's busier and see if we get more options. But I wish I had better news or report.

Feb 24, 2009
AustinNYCer in Austin

The new Kim Son

Report on today's dim sum: Good, not quite great. Chinese broccoli and shrimp with leek dumplings were very fresh and delicious. Everything else was good, but both my wife and I had a sense that the kitchen had too heavy a hand with the salt. At times I thought maybe it was just that the soy sauce on the table was particularly salty, which effected most of the dishes, but even the congee was too salty. Still, the waitstaff was extremely friendly and solicitous toward our infant, and I sure liked dimsumming in a spacious banquet hall, so we'll be back.

Feb 03, 2008
AustinNYCer in Austin

Chinatown dim sum?

Anyone tried Chinatown's new dimsum offering? (I'm interested but skeptical, given that the one meal I've ever had at Chinatown -- the restaurant above Musashina, not the Center -- was one of the worst meals I've ever had.)

Feb 03, 2008
AustinNYCer in Austin

The new Kim Son

Had a good dinner there last weekend, our first try of the place. Our appetizers was Cornish hen with sticky rice -- sick crispy/succulent pieces of hacked up hen and two lightly fried patties of coconut-infused sticky rice. I'm not really a sticky rice partisan, but I liked these. Our entrees were green beans with ground pork (the beans a bit overdone, but the taste was good) and lemongrass tofu (flavorful, not greasy, tofu had fresh tofu taste). My wife declared it better than Le Soleil, which is, like, sacrilege in our house. I'm hardly prepared to go that far -- it'll take a few more visits and a sampling of their hot pots before I weigh in -- but it's certainly a place that we've added to our rotation. In fact, we're headed off now to see how the dimsum is. I'll give a report after I get back.

Feb 03, 2008
AustinNYCer in Austin

Best Thai in Austin

May I second that by encouraging all of you to never spend any of your hard-earned dollars at Mama Fu's? Charmless, feels like a chain the moment you step in, and the food was, at best, one step up from the "Wok in a Hurry" places you see at airports.
The staff was actually very pleasant, and our appetizers (chicken wrapped in lettuce leaf, stir-fired green beans) were passable, but our entrees were unforgivably lousy -- both appeared to be steamed vegetables slathered in whatever sauce we ordered. And parts of the crispy Vietnamese noodles were burnt.
This is too bad. Given that the place is fairly near our house, and having had no prior experience with Mama Fu's, and having had some good experiences with small chains (I'm thinking Ollie's Noodle Houses in NYC, *not* Suzi's Chinese Kvetchin' here in Austin), I went with an open, even optimistic, mind.
Never, ever, again.

Feb 03, 2008
AustinNYCer in Austin

Best Thai in Austin

Has anybody tried Exotic Thai, in the new Asian mall across the street from Chinatown Center? Physically, it looks charmless, and the two times I've driven by it was near-empty, so we haven't taken the plunge. But if someone raved about the food, I'd give it a try.

Feb 03, 2008
AustinNYCer in Austin

New owners at Jenny's Kitchen?

Just heard that my favorite Malaysian/Chinese/Thai restaurant in Austin (like there's much competition) has changed hands, and that the wonderful Jenny has left. (Jenny's Kitchen is the small hole in the wall near the also beloved Asia Cafe.) I've heard mixed reports on what the new owners are serving. Anyone have a report? Anyone know if Jenny is opening another place in Austin?

Aug 21, 2007
AustinNYCer in Austin

Aster's Ethiopian - now open!

Just got back from our first dinner there (we live in the neighborhood, so didn't mind driving five minutes thru the sleet), and I can echo the positive sentiments. The lamb (available for dinner, but not on the lunch menu, apparently) was luscious and the veggie combo (seven or eight different veggie dishes served family style on top of injera) was delicious. Service was friendly, and the place was *packed*. We got there at 8:35, 25 minutes before closing time, and the place was half-filled. (Judging by the high-brow conversations I half overheard, most of the customers were UT-related.) Within 15 minutes every table was taken. When we left at 9:40, 40 minutes after closing time, the place was still 2/3 full. Very encouraging.

Apr 07, 2007
AustinNYCer in Austin

My local under-represented faves

I'll admit, we went to Sunflower once, since we'd heard good things and knew about the Soleil connection, and had a very bad experience. Both of us felt vaguely ill after the meal, by which I don't mean to suggest that the food was toxic in any manner, just that it was greasy and heavy and unpleasant. I'm sure that it was an unrepresentative meal, but we walked out so unhappy we haven't been able to bring ourselves to go back. When we're in the mood for Vietnamese, we go to Soleil; when we're near that strip mall, we go to Din Ho. (Din Ho faves: minced chicken crab meat corn soup (bland-ish but comforting), sauteed water spinach, sauteed snow pea leaves (w/ or w/o crab meat), sauteed shrimp (with the best cooked celery I've ever had), salted fish w/ chicken & bean curd hot pot, prawns with special salt, fresh & dried squid with preserved vegetables. Stay away from anything in garlic sauce, which has an odd (vinegary?) 'off' taste.)

Apr 07, 2007
AustinNYCer in Austin

My local under-represented faves

According to the Shilla takeout menu I'm looking at -- which, I should note, is an old one, so no guarantee that it's up to date -- they do serve dol sot bi bim bap. I haven't had it, so if you go and order it, please let me know how it is.

As for Sasha's, well, I feel a bit dumb; I thought half-sours and new pickles were the same thing. (Could you tell me the difference?) But, yes -- I think these are new pickles; they're bright green and crunchy and still redolent of cucumber. Precisely the sort of pickles I ask for at Katz's and Manny Hattan's and never get.

Apr 07, 2007
AustinNYCer in Austin

My local under-represented faves

Hey, I'm new to Chowhound, thought I'd post on some of my favorite Austin restaurants that, to my mind, have been under-covered (or, in some cases, not covered at all) on the site. Would love to get feedback if any of you have been to these places.

1) Jenny's Kitchen (8650 Spicewood Springs, 257-3647). My wife and I discovered it on our way to Asia Cafe (it's in the same strip mall) and, on the basis of two visits, promptly fell in love. Our first time there, two weeks ago, we had breakfast: Chicken porridge, which is, as far as I can tell, a congee, and easily the best congee I've had in Austin, warm and filling and full of slivers of fresh ginger. We also had a shrimp noodle soup (can't remember the name) that was full of complex Malaysian (I think) spices and was so good we didn't even mind that we had ordered two soup dishes. (Plus, there was a nice peppery "free soup of the day" on the counter that you could help yourself to. No, we're not on a liquid diet; we just ordered unthinkingly.) Our third dish was scrambled eggs with shrimp, which was, basically, scrambled eggs with shrimp, but perfectly respectable for that. Ten days later we returned for dinner, and not only did Jenny remember us, she remembered what we had ordered. (This is a friendly place, and a constant stream of regulars seem to come in all the time.) This time we got completely different dishes: Rendang beef (one of the best red meat dishes I've ever had, period -- a bowl of chunks of meat swimming in broth), sambal eggplant (thumb-sized chunks of eggplant covered with wonderfully stinky fish sauce) and Thai-style fried chicken (basically, really good McNuggets covered with a tart shredded cabbage and seaweed salad). This is a tiny place -- a counter and maybe five tables -- but it's our new favorite restaurant in town.

2) Le Soleil (9616 N. Lamar Blvd., 821-0396). Our favorite Vietnamese place in town. Love the calamari salad, the crepes, the hotpots, the green beans with tofu. Question, though: Anybody who goes there notice a slight drop-off in quality lately? Our last three visits have been a bit disappointing. Dishes a bit oilier, less calamari in the calamari salad, a couple of bland dishes, etc. Not enough to scare us off the place, but enough to cause concern. Just a strong of bad luck on our part, or a genuine trend?

3) Vivi (825 E. Rundberg Lane, in the strip mall located at the SE intersection of Rundberg and I-35, 834-8882). This place must get great lunch business, because there is never anyone there when we go for dinner. I don't want to overpraise this place; it's basically a pho joint, with a not terribly adventurous menu, but my wife can't live without the vegetable and tofu rice noodle soup, which is a well-seasoned vegetarian soup with impeccably fresh, crunchy vegetables. We basically go there so she can get her soup fix, but whatever staple I wind up ordering (lemongrass chicken or tofu, salt and pepper shrimp) always winds up fresh and tasty, too.

4) Shilla Restaurant (6406 N. IH-35, in Lincoln Village Shopping Center, 453-4111). Can't believe this place doesn't show up in the Chowhound search engine; it has displaced Korea House as our fave Korean restaurant. We had one horrible experience with the pancakes and have stayed away from them since, but everything else is great: we always get the soft tofu ji gae (a spicy soup with seafood, veggies and custard-like soft tofu) and then usually order a bulgogi dish or jap chae (all of which are terrific) and if we head over with friends, one of the giant $20+ hop pots, which feed many happy people.

5) Sasha's Gourmet Russian Market (7817 Rockwood Lane, 459-1449). Recently moved from its old 2222/MoPac location to this spot across from the Sun Harvest off Anderson. I basically go there to get a helping of the best fresh half-sour pickles in town (shipped in from NYC every week). Haven't tried the tantalizing looking pickled mushrooms, but I can't hold out much longer . . .

6) Chola (2601 S. I 35, located across from Home Depot in the big Wal-Mart strip mall in Round Rock, off exit 250; 244-2222). Just went there for the first time last weekend for the Saturday buffet. Enjoyed ourselves immensely. My wife, who is Indian, quibbled with a couple of dishes, but was generally very pleased. The goat curry was terrific!

Apr 07, 2007
AustinNYCer in Austin