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Monday, November 5, 2012

#Austin Ethnic Food Round Up - The Secret List

These aren't necessarily a list.  Rather these restaurants don't typically have a big web presence or a team of public relationships professions getting the word out.  *Secret list subject to change.  *List isn't a secret anymore.  In bigger cities like San Francisco, Houston, and New York City, there's a wealth of traditional ethnic foods in breath and depth.  Ethnic food in Austin is not always easy to find.  However, in the last decade or so, the ethnic food landscape in Austin has improved drastically.  Unfortunately, marketing and public relations for some of these ethnic restaurant isn't always a priority.  I put together this list of restaurants that either I like or have been recommended to me.  None of these restaurants have a fancy marketing plan or even a website. So here I am, giving you list of current ethnic foods in Austin. 
  • Asia Cafe  8650 Spicewood Springs Rd #115  Austin, TX 78759   (512) 331-5788
    • This restaurant has been around for a while, so you might have heard about it.
    • I have noticed lately that the level of spiciness has dropped significantly.
    • This restaurant is also BYOB. 
    • My favorite is the 759. Salt and Pepper Eggplant with Pork filling.
    • I also like 699, the Seafood Combination pot. 
  • Asiana Indian Cuisine 801 East William Cannon Dr. Austin, TX 78745
    • This restaurant isn't "pretty," but I assure you that this is one of the best Indian buffets in Austin.  The flavors are really interesting and distinct.  Weekend lunch buffet for an adult was $11.
    • The saag paneer is incredibly creamy, and the naan is perfect with it.
    • The lentil donut is fantastic.  It is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  Dip these little babies into the tandoori sauce for some fun.   Do beware of the whole peppercorns though.
    • The mango cream is also really tasty.  I only had three servings. 
  • A+A Chinese Sichuan Garden  13376 N Hwy 183 Ste 100  Austin, TX 78750   (512) 258-5445
    • I haven't eaten here yet, though a friend has recommended it many times.  She recommends mapo tofu, spicy fish fillet, the eggplant and ground beef with brown sauce stuff, and twice cooked pork.
    • Supposedly, the previous chef from Asia Cafe opened this restaurant.  The menu is pretty similar to Asia Cafe.
  • Coco's Cafe  8557 Research Boulevard  512-833-6588 and 1910 Guadalupe Street  512-236-9398
    • I used to love Coco's, but the food has been pretty inconsistent lately.  I still get the shaved ice. 
  • Curry in a Hurry  2121 W Parmer Ln  Austin, TX 78727  (512) 821-0000
    •  Two words: Thali Special.  Get it.  Thank me later.
    •  All menu items are vegetarian. You won't miss the meat.
  • Ho Ho Chinese BBQ  13000 N IH-35  Bldg 6  Austin, TX 78753  (512) 339-9088
    • My parents like this place, so it has to be passable to their high standards. 
    • I've only been here a few times, and I thought it was pretty good.  It isn't quite like Houston Chinese restaurants, but quite tasty. 
  • Michi Ramen (location pending)
    • Before they closed the trailer in hopes of a brick and mortar location, this was rumored to be amazing, authentic ramen. 
    • I had it once, and it was quite tasty, though I'm not a ramen connoisseur.  
    • Let's hope they open up another location. 
  • Milano Cafe  4601 Southwest Pkwy  Austin, TX 78735  (512) 428-6076
    • I cannot say that I'm a connoisseur of Italian food, but dang, do I love this restaurant.
    • The owners lived all over Europe, and the menu is a mash up of different European styles.
    • Get dessert.  Talk to Sami.  Tell them I sent you. 
  • Pakwan Indian Restaurant 3601 W. William Cannon Dr., Austin TX 78749 (512) 366-5204
    • I tried this restaurant twice with some friends, and I liked it.
    • I can't vouch for its authenticity.  It is a little bit more mainstream. 
    • The lunch buffet (occasional coupon on their website) is a steal at $10.  It does have a large meat selection, and the dishes are well-executed.  I would eat the lunch buffet everyday, but then I would start to waddle around. 
  • Ramen Tatsu-Ya 8557 Research Blvd. #126  Austin, TX 78758
    • I thought much about whether or not this restaurant should be put on here.  They have gained quite a bit of attention, and I was trying to focus on restaurants that didn't have a big media following. 
    • I haven't tried it yet, but many people really like their ramen.  I'll update this once I try it. 
  • Rice Bowl Cafe  (pic below) 11220 N Lamar St   Austin, TX 78758 (512) 835-8888
    • This place was recommended to me by Peter Tsai and Michelle Cheng.
    • I love the mapo tofu and the spicy fish and green onion pie here.  The Hunan chicken and Sichuan chicken are also fantastic. 
    • A knockout dish here is the three cup chicken.  It makes me glad that I'm FOB. 
  • Sichuan Garden  110 N Interstate 35 #240, Round Rock, TX (512) 238-0098
    • Michael Chu recommended this place to me.  Here's what he's recommend. 
    • E1 - House Special Crispy Chicken
      G13 - Boiled Fillet with Spicy Sauce (shuizhu yu)
      B1 - Sliced Beef & Mow with Szechuan Style (fuqi feipian)
      H2 - Lamb with Hot Cumin
    • I've only been there once for a pick up order, so I haven't really solidified my recommendations yet.
  • Swad   9515 N Lamar Blvd   Austin, TX 78753   (512) 997-7923
    • I love the samosas and the masala rice here. 
    • The menu is vegetarian, just in case you were wondering where's the meat.
    • The Thali here is great too.  I'd get it if you like to try a little bit of everything. 
  • Taste of Ethiopia   1100 Grand Ave Pkwy  Pflugerville, TX 78613  (512) 251-4053
    • This restaurant is a little gem way out in Pville. 
    • Woinee, the owner, is incredible kind and generous.  She is a wealth of knowledge, and you'll love her as much as you love the food.
    • If you like coffee, try the coffee ceremony (not just a cup of coffee).  It is about $30 for groups, and it takes about 25 minutes.  Woinee roasts the green coffee beans on the stove for this ceremony!
    • A group of friends and I went to Taste of Ethiopia for lunch on New Years Eve.  Check out the photos below. 
  • Texas Bakery 10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, Located in the MT Market Shopping center on the north corner. (pic below)
    • This is not really a "Texas Bakery."  There are no kolaches.  There are no giant cheesecakes.  This is really an Asian bakery in Austin, TX.
    • Asian desserts are much less sweet and less rich as compared to American style dessert.  However, the breads tend to contain eggs, and they tend to be more like a brioche. 
    • Some of the items are not as tender as I like, but they are fairly new.
    • Please keep this place open so I can enjoy my comfort food.

  • Rice Bowl Cafe

    Texas Bakery

Taste of Ethiopia

Taste of Ethiopia

More Taste of Ethiopia as the last 2011 meal.

The before.

And the after.

Green coffee beans, prior to roasting.

After roasting the beans.

Traditional coffee ceremony.

Pouring of the coffee.

Post coffee mess.


  1. I am so glad you posted this! It's not even funny how close I was to going to Rice Bowl to get Three Cup Chicken this weekend. I haven't had it in Austin and love it so.

    While I prefer Asia Café, my husband loves A+A. We usually get the spicy fish filet, cumin beef or pork with flower chive, zhong dumplings and green beans. I need to try their ma po, but I'm addicted to it at Asia Café.

    This is a great list, and I feel lucky to have eaten at most of these places.

  2. Thanks for the shoutout.

    Michi Ramen is supposed to open soon in the old A-Fin / Korea Garden location

    Also, Beef noodle soup at Rice Bowl is very tasty - handmade noodles!

  3. So excited about Michi Ramen! I hope they are open late.

    And what Peter said about the beef noodle soup at Rice Bowl...I have a hard time ever ordering anything else. The. Best.

    (and my thanks for the shout-out, as well!)

  4. My, those foods look delectable! There really is a thrill when it comes to exploring secret restaurants that the greater public doesn’t know of. Perhaps it’s because of the privileged feeling we get when we find such amazing meals. I’m always hoping to bring my friends over to places like these to spread the secret love! =)

    Berenice Ponder

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