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East Side Kings at The Hole in the Wall: Fried Brussels Sprouts Salad and Jasmine Rice; Dessert at Teo’s | January 19, 2013

Brussels Sprout Salad $7 over Liberty Rice $4  Together called Veggie Meshi $7

Brussels Sprout Salad $7 over Liberty Rice $4 Together called Veggie Meshi $7

East Side Kings at The Hole in the Wall
East Side Kings at The Hole in the Wall

 

The 9th Season of Top Chef on Bravo Network was exciting for us Texans because it took place almost entirely in Texas. You could follow the contestants right up Interstate-35 on their adventure,  from San Antonio to Austin to Dallas, even stopping along the way to cook something on the side of the road. No, not road kill. We’re not that crazy.  That’s Louisiana. It came down to four final contestants who I had already picked out as my favorites: Beverly Kim of Aria Restaurant in Chicago, IL; Lindsay Autry, 29 — Omphoy Ocean Resort & Michelle Bernstein (West Palm Beach, FL), and I might add the granddaughter of my high school principal in NC; Sarah Grueneberg, 29 — Spiaggia (Chicago, IL) — Runner-up and also a Texan; and winner of it all, Paul Qui of Uchiko Restaurant, right here in Austin, TX.

Paul came back and did exactly what his mentor, Tyson Cole, said he feared would happen: he left Uchiko and started his own restaurant. I think Tyson Cole can only be proud to see Paul’s success. Paul now owns three food trailers and this brick and mortar establishment in the back of  The Hole in the Wall. The Hole in the Wall is on “the drag”, Guadalupe Street,  and is an iconic establishment for students and alumni of the University of Texas campus for the past forty years.  Now the East Side Kings have moved in and are making glorious food at affordable prices, yet maintaining the vibe of The Hole in the Wall. The Foosball table is still there, as are the pinball machines and the picnic tables. But this is not your average bar food. This is Paul Qui’s small plates and noodle bowls, Ramen in a way you can’t find on the grocery store shelves.

The fried Brussels sprouts are hit with a slightly sweet glaze that doesn’t take over and the sulfuric aftertaste that turns people off the vegetable just is not there. The thin slivers of white onion with the thin slices of jalapeno do  not overwhelm the palate and the freshness of the mint, cilantro and basil give a nice finish. Try as I might, I keep eating white starches which I had once sworn off.  However, if I am going to cheat, I really appreciate it being with a memorable rice like the one I had today.   Steamed jasmine rice, ginger, garlic oil, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, jalapeño work in symphony to  make this busted diet so worth it. 

The boys, my two sons, ordered the noodle bowls and the Poor Qui Buns.

Poor Qui’s Buns (2 pcs) $7
Roasted pork belly in steamed bun, hoisin sauce, cucumber kimchi, green onion

Sapporo Beer Bacon Miso Ramen $8
Bacon dashi, white miso, Sapporo beer, corn, butter, bacon puree, pork belly, chashu, garlic, chili bean sprout, scallion, beni shoga

Chicken Tortilla Ramen $8
Bacon dashi, chicken-tortilla-Tom-Yum paste, shrimp paste, chicken thigh, avocado, corn, corn tortilla, pickled yellow onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, lime

I’ll be going back or looking for his East Side Kings food trailers to try more items on the menu. I love that way of using whole leaves of the herbs. It is a feast for the eyes when you first see your food come out and adds such aroma that it takes you to a memory of a country lane or walk in the park.

After lunch, we stopped at Teo to get some gelato and cappuccino. We really didn’t need it. Icing on the cake, I guess I’d say. Everything at Teo’s is wonderful.

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Gelato at Teo, 38th Street, Austin

Gelato at Teo, 38th Street, Austin

Authentic Italian gelato in Austin, Texas

Authentic Italian gelato in Austin, Texas

 

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