Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Don’t Order the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

For twenty years worth of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy, I’ve had good dishes and bad, but never before until this past Saturday had I just sent a dish back as completely inedible.

The Chong Chin Chicken was described as seasoned with lots of hot peppers and peppercorns. I didn’t really see the peppercorns, but I definitely saw the hot peppers; it looked like they dumped a giant fistful into the dish. Though a chilehead, I’ve never had that many dry hot peppers in any dish before.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

The first few bites of the dish seemed incredibly dry to me, and it tasted like they hadn’t used any sauce whatsoever, which was an odd choice.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

After a few bites, my tongue’s taste receptors just seemed to shut off, ruining the taste of the dumplings Dwight and Andrew had ordered. Shortly thereafter I realized what the big problem was: it was the most salty dish I’d ever tasted in my life.


An image of the chef preparing the dish.

Normally my tolerance for salt in my meal is higher than most, but this was beyond the pale. I had my co-conspirators try it, and they all agreed it was inedible salty, even Andrew, who loves salt more than I do.

A dish too salty for Andrew and too hot for me; it was like some sort of anti-miracle.

So I sent it back and got some orange peel chicken instead, which was far more edible.

I wouldn’t discourage you from going to Asia Cafe, but unless you look like this:


The only diner who might enjoy the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe.

I would strongly urge you not to order the Chong Chin Chicken…

(Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

Highland Mall Closes Tonight

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Tonight the curtain falls on Austin’s Mall of the Living Dead. Highland Mall will close tonight to complete the conversion over to an ACC campus.

Once Austin’s premier mall, Highland was killed by changing demographics, bad management, online shopping, and the inexorable march of time. I worked retail sales there my last year in college, and pretty much all the stores were leased out then. It’s been a shell of itself since the last anchor stores closed in 2011, and the last time I visited it only seemed to be 1/4th full.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Reminder: Don’t Try Driving on Ice

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Austin is going to hit lows in the 20s and low 30s this week, so here’s a timely reminder: Don’t try driving on ice if you don’t have tire chains and don’t know how. (Or maybe even if you do.)

And here are several video reminders from the last year of why that’s a bad idea:

Why Austin Traffic Will Suck This Weekend (Plus: William Gibson Signing at BookPeople)

Friday, October 31st, 2014

If you were planning on driving anywhere near downtown or the airport this weekend, be aware that Formula 1 is in town. That also includes Fanfest downtown, so expect major street closures. Plan accordingly.

And speaking of downtown, William Gibson will be signing his new book The Peripheral at BookPeople at 5 PM on Sunday, November 2. Hopefully the traffic won’t be too horrible on that side of town…

Shoegazer Sunday: Explosions in the Sky’s “The Birth and Death of the Day” Live

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

How do you feel about six minutes of intermittently pleasant guitar noodling?

Tough.

They’re an awful lot like a strictly instrumental version of Midsummer.

Restaurant Review: September 20, 2014: Pour House Pints and Pies

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Pour House Pints And Pies
11835 Jollyville Rd (Austin, 78759)
(512) 270-4740

This is essentially a sports bar that serves pizza. The pizza was pretty good (but could have used more cheese to hold our “four meats plus onions” toppings in place), but the fried mozzarella was undersized for the price, and the service was indifferent at best.

Unless you want to watch sports, there’s no reason to go here instead of Reale’s just up 183.

Restaurant Review: Maggiano’s Little Italy

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Maggiano’s Little Italy
10910 Domain Dr #100, Austin, 78759
(512) 501-7870

  • Pepper Grinder Rating: 0 (They had several impressive pepper grinders in a server cubbyhole, but neglected to offer any to us.)
  • Bathroom Rating: 3
  • WiFi note: There’s free WiFi…if you’re using the conference room and have a password. Otherwise the restaurant seems to be built within a Farady Cage, as my iPhone frequently was unable to connect to AT&T at all.

Maggiano’s offers up tasty, overpriced Italian food. In that sense it’s much like Brio, with the added hassles of being in the Domain, which makes it hard to get to. We also had to wait for a table, even though I had made reservations (though we did get there a little bit early).

The first disappointment after being seated was the free bread: uninspired baguette rounds (though at least they were served warm) with unspiced olive oil. Both Reale’s, with their delicious breadsticks, and Brio, with a more interesting bread assortment and spiced olive oil, do a better job in the bread department.

The crab cakes appetizers were good, but not $15 for two good.

Service was attentive, with numerous free drink refills without having to ask.

For my entree, the veal picatta was both nicely done and had pretty generous portions (which is only fair, considering the price). I thought the angel hair aglio olio was underspiced.

For dessert I had a perfectly caramelized creme brulee with fruit.

It was a very good meal. It also cost some $50, without any alcoholic beverages. That, dealing with the hassle of The Domain, and dealing with the hassle of the crowds (“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”) make it hard to recommend.

If I’m hungry for great Italian food, Monday through Saturday I’m probably going to go to Reale’s if they’re not too packed. If it’s Sunday (when Reale’s is closed), I’d pick Brio over Maggiano’s.

[Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.]

Shoegazer Sunday: The Swells’ “Golden”

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

The Swells were an Austin-based Shoegaze band. Here they are with “Golden.”

Evidently they’re now known as Seaholm Electric.

Yelp’s Top 100 Places To Eat Include Six from the Austin Area

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

So Yelp has release a Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list. Their ratings, being based on actual diners, are very different than high-end restaurant critics, and include six places around Austin:

  • 8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
  • 35. Turf N’ Surf Po Boy, Austin, TX
  • 85. Uchiko, Austin, TX
  • 86. Little Deli & Pizzeria, Austin, TX
  • 91. Taste of Ethiopia, Pflugerville, TX
  • 99. Uchi, Austin, TX
  • Quick thoughts:

  • Yeah, because it just wasn’t hard enough to get Franklin BBQ already.
  • Uchiko and Uchi are run by the same people.
  • I’m really happy to see Taste of Ethiopia on here. It’s a swell joint run by great people.
  • By comparison, only one place made the cut in Houston, and none in Dallas…

    (Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

    Prima Pizza Pasta Relocating, Mi Pizza Taking the Space

    Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

    A double-dose of restaurant relocation news I don’t think has been reported anywhere else:

    Prima Pizza Pasta has relocated from its location at Parmer and McNeil to a new location at Anderson Mill and 620 as of February 1st. (The news is so new they haven’t updated their website yet.)

    Taking the old Prima space on Parmer (as well as their phone number) is a new restaurant called Mi Pizza, which seems to focus on custom-designed 11 inch pizzas cooked in 5 minutes for $6.99.

    (News in route to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)