Monday, February 8, 2010

Just like Mom's

My friend Elise introduced us to Asia Cafe about six months ago. It's in northwest Austin -- on the exact opposite end of town for this southeast resident -- and it's worth the drive, especially if you've got a group you can carpool with. And you'll want to go with a group.

This Sunday, a group of 9 met up for lunch. Huebscher and B were there, too. This was my third or fourth time to Asia Cafe (each time I've gone with a group of 6 or more), and I've finally nailed down a few of my favorites.

Pork fried rice. Sounds simple enough, and theirs is just that. Not too browned from soy sauce, their rice is almost crispy, salty, oily and just about the best I've ever had. You won't find peas and carrots here; just a bit of green onion and some tender pork.

Eggplant in brown sauce. I don't know what it's actually called, but it's also about the best eggplant I've ever had. The brown sauce is about the best brown sauce I've ever had. That's all you need to know.

Beef noodle soup. This is a must-have for Elise's significant other, Matty, and I finally learned why. You'll find a lovely broth - not too salty, a little hot and tangy - with a generous heaping bowlful of noodles, tender beef and some greens to make you feel good about eating it. A new favorite.

Dumplings! This past trip was my first time to sample the dumplings. I'm a dumpling lover, and these are now among my favorite in town.

Elise loves Asia Cafe, saying it's the closest she can get to her mom's Chinese cooking here in Austin. I'm no expert, but this place definitely rivals my previous favorite, Din Ho, where I've spent more than one Christmas surrounded by some of Austin's finest Jews, and where my dad likes to go for Peking Duck when he's in town.

I'm looking forward to the traditional Chinese dinner we'll have in Amsterdam this May. Mike and I are going for Elise and Matt's wedding, and we were told this past Sunday that the 11-course rehearsal dinner just got adjusted to include 14 courses! You can bet I'll be blogging about that.

*Thanks to Mike for the before & after photos.

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