Eight more tastes of Asia
If dim sum and Indian curries have you in the mood for food from the vast Asian continent, here are mini-reviews from the Austin subcontinent.
Chen’s Noodle House. Zhao Chen makes noodles by carving them from a living loaf of dough into boiling water with lightning speed, and no two are alike. The combination soup brings together pork, tofu, egg, black mushrooms, carrot, spinach, potato and cilantro in an aromatic beef broth in a big bowl with a low price. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road. 336-8888.
Chon Som. Separate menus of Thai specialties and sushi. And they toss a mean plate of luscious, spicy pad Thai. 2013 Wells Branch Parkway, No. 109. 989-5559, www.chonsom. com.
East Side King. The manic brainchild of three cooks at Uchi. What do you call a place with pork belly and cucumber kimchee on steamed buns? Or deep-fried beets with kewpie mayo? Call that place Asian-eclectic, delicious and about $4 to $8 per dish, because it’s all those things, plus Thai fried chicken and a bowl of ginger-garlic-jasmine rice. Behind the Liberty bar at 16181⁄ E. Sixth
2 St. www.eastsidekingaustin.com.
Fortune Chinese Seafood. The front part is a restrained Chinese bistro with a teapot display and red upholstery; the back part is a bright banquet facility the size of a soccer pitch. The menu offers several hundred dishes, from real Chinese and pan-Asian to Americanized styles and dim sum. 10901 N. Lamar Blvd. 490-1426, www.fortuneaustin.com.
G’Raj Mahal Cafe. Part trailer, part Indian pavilion, part backlit mirage when the serpentine bicycle dragon off to the side glows in the night. A full Indian menu, with curries, biryanis, tandoori meats and Goan specialties. Need a nightcap? Clive Bar and Lustre Pearl are just down the street. 91 Red River St. 4802255, www.grajmahalcafe.com.
Lulu B’s. At $4.50, a banh mi sandwich at this trailer starts with a robust, chewy baguette and a shower of crunch and color: carrot, daikon, cucumber, green pepper, cilantro. It ends with grilled, barbecued or lemongrassstyle pork or chicken, with avocado and tofu vegetarian options. Plus vermicelli bowls, summer rolls and Vietnamese coffee. There’s a convivial, al fresco joy if you have the time, a book or, like several of our fellow trailer travelers, a dog. 2113 S. Lamar Blvd. 921-4828, www.myspace.com/lulubssandwiches.
Mekong River. This Vietnamese/Thai place in the East Sixth Street bar district has so many noodle, soup and stir-fry bowls that it’s easier just to order by number. A vermicelli bowl with sliced grilled pork and pieces of eggroll? That’s No. 87. But No. 22 on the pho menu had my number. Mushrooms, brisket, red bell pepper, round steak, broccoli, meatballs, zucchini in a bowl the size of a wading pool. 215 E. Sixth St. 236-8878.
Zen Japanese Food Fast. Sit-down noodle and rice bowls in the kind of setting you’d get if a feng shui master designed a Chick-fil-A. The place to go for a taste of sushi if your belly and pockets share a certain emptiness. Four locations, including 2900 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 250. 451-4811, www.eatzen.com.
Chen’s Noodle House packs a lot into combination soup; with green onion pancake.
Saag paneer, front, and chicken masala feature on the full menu at G’Raj Mahal.
Bowls come fast at Zen; this one’s the Hibachi Bowl with beef.