Paul Qui finally opened a brick-and-mortar East Side King location on the UT Campus and my friends and I finally tried it out last night. Featuring a full service bar, similar menu items from his food trucks and the addition of a few Ramen noodle dishes, the new East Side King restaurant lived up to my expectations! The ambiance of the restaurant is hip, fun and inviting – perfect for late night cravings for UT students and grown adults who want to enjoy a pitcher of beer and good food. The restaurant is connected to the Hole In the Wall dive bar off the main campus drag, and as a faithful alumni who’s extremely familiar with the UT campus – I can honestly say that I’ve never been to that establishment. But with East Side King out back and its pinball machines, cool artwork, pitchers of Sapporo beer and savory Ramen noodles – I have a feeling I might stop in for a drink one of these days.
- Spicy Edamame
- Ebi Ebi Tacos
- Pho Buns
- Poor Qui’s Buns
- Tongue Buns
- Tori Meshi
- Tori Meshi
- SapporoBeerBacon MisoRamen
- Squid Ink Curry Ramen
One day, I was fortunate enough to run into Top Chef Texas himself. In spite of all of his talent and success, he’s probably the friendliest, humblest and most unassuming entrepreneur/reality show TV star/famous chef you’ll ever meet.
I hope everyone enjoyed their much-needed and well-deserved long weekend because I know I certainly did. I paid a long overdue visit to my underwhelming suburban hometown, ate too much turkey and spent some (but not enough) quality time with friends and family. As I’m sure you’ve experienced, no holiday is devoid of at least some stress or frustration – so I listed a series of pros and cons summarizing my holiday. Cons aside, ultimately, it was wonderful.
Naps – The greatest thing about visiting my suburban hometown and staying with my easygoing old parents is the over abundance of free time. To put it simply, there were just multiple occasions where I had nothing to do. There were no errands to run, no work to attend to and only a few friends to visit. When nothing on TV or my bookshelf looked particularly stimulating, I’d simply just take a nap. As a gainfully employed member of the workforce, I rarely have time to sleep just for the hell of it. I napped at least once a day over Thanksgiving break and it was fantastic (on Thursday it was obviously tryptophan-induced). And yes, that’s my bedroom where I spent a good portion of my formative years. My mother so kindly collected every mismatched pillow and stuffed animal in the house when making my bed and preparing my room for me.
Football – Last week, I watched that new Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence movie, Silver Linings Playbook. I loved the movie, I loved the cast and I loved the humor – ultimately, an excellent, excellent film. However, an ongoing plot point in the movie involved superstitious behavior affecting the final outcomes of Philadelphia Eagles football games. Since I watched that film, EVERY single one of my teams lost on Thanksgiving and the days following. The Cowboys lost. The Longhorns lost. The Packers lost. But Oklahoma and Texas A&M won. Fucking Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro compromised the fate of my football allegiances and I’m borderline hysterical. Hopefully, my Fantasy Team wins this week as our league heads into playoffs. Believe it or not, I’m counting on the Eagles’ wide receiver to clench this week’s win for me. According to Silver Linings Playbook, “DeSean Jackson is the man.” Therefore, DeSean Jackson better show up tonight and break this awful losing streak that almost ruined the holiday for me and my family.
Megabus – I decided to test the Megabus waters for the very first time. Thanksgiving traffic in Central Texas is a nightmare so I thought the holiday warranted an opportune time to try this alternative mode of transportation. The fact that I didn’t have to drive and sit through 5 hours of stop-and-go traffic was a godsend. For $40 round-trip, my friend and I watched 2 discs of the Friday Night Lights TV series, ate snacks and napped multiple times. It even had a reasonably clean bathroom. I don’t mind long commutes – traffic and distance are factors far beyond my control. However, if I have to spend 5 hours in traffic, I’d much rather multitask, watch movies, read or sleep than be alert, focused and bored the entire time.
Megabus – In spite of the pros I just detailed, this mode of transport definitely has some room for improvement. Operationally, Megabus left something to be desired. Long lines, poor communication and logistics just led to a frustrating experience on top of a commute that was already abnormally long. Luggage could have been unloaded more efficiently. The check-in process could have been expedited. There were just a lot of easy fixes to what I considered very trivial problems. I can’t judge Megabus fairly from this one journey, especially because I chose the busiest weekend of the year to try it out. If we’re evaluating cost vs. reward, it’s ultimately still a great service with a few understandable, but fixable glitches.
Family – I’m fortunate that I live close enough to my family where I can always return home for the holidays or any other occasion that warrants a short, weekend visit. I don’t have to deal with expensive holiday travel or taking precious time off, and for the most part, I can see my parents, sister and big extended family with little to no hassle. I’m blessed with a big, loud, loving family, and as my generation grows older, my family continues expanding and becoming closer knit as my cousins marry and have children. Though I’m on the fence about reproducing (the expense, the responsibility and the stress are not things I look forward to), the kids are always my favorite relatives to visit because they grow up and significantly change every time I see them. It pains me that my personal favorite cousin/nephew, Nicholas, will soon approach the age where it’s uncool to give hugs and hang out with his elders, so I’m cherishing these last few years where he still looks up to me and genuinely enjoys spending time with me. Thankfully, Baby Benjamin has quite a while before he starts rejecting my affections. Ha.
Holiday weight - This is a no brainer, but I ate my weight during our family’s Thanksgiving feast and I ate my feelings during all of those miserable football games I mentioned above. A lot of people ask if my family conducts a traditional Thanksgiving, and we do. We don’t cook rice or potstickers or duck though many Asian families do, but every year my parents fry up a batch of eggrolls to snack on while people prepare food in the kitchen or watch the afternoon football games in the living room. As you can see, these delicious morsels are swimming in delicious grease. I’m lucky I didn’t pop any buttons off my jeans or you know, have a heart attack. Good thing New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner.
For the overwhelming majority of my 25 years, I’ve equated Ramen noodles with what most of you would equate Ramen noodles with – the affordable and convenient pre-packaged cup noodles that serve as staple items in virtually every college student’s pantry. However, I was recently introduced to a traditional Japanese Ramen eatery here in Austin and I’m never going back to those economy-sized packages of MSG and beef/chicken/shrimp flavored powder.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya has only been open a little over three months and has certainly lived up to its cult-following calibur hype. Currently, the restaurant is only open five days a week during dinner hours and there’s usually a line of eager patrons patiently waiting out the door. Though this line may look intimidating, I’d advise against giving up and trying again later because the line actually moves reasonably fast. Once you finally reach that sacred cash register at the front counter, it’s pretty smooth sailing from there.
Your food comes out hot and fast and though the waitstaff is busy, they’re also friendly and super attentive. The food is also a force to be reckoned with – the traditional Tonkotsu broth is a hearty, creamy, buttery combination of meaty flavor – up to 60 hours of preparation go into creating the broth alone. In fact, ramen virgins are encouraged to take a few minutes to savor the broth before trying the noodles and other accouterments.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya also features a slew of extra toppings you can add to your dish – spices, extra noodles, you name it – it’s like a Pinkberry, but hotter and much saltier. I consider these satisfying ramen dishes as a nice alternative to Vietnamese pho which is usually my cold weather, Asian comfort food go-to. This place is purely traditional Japanese – they don’t even carry forks because ramen is meant to be enjoyed with chopsticks. If soup and noodles aren’t your thing; I feel sorry for you – but fortunately, this place offers other options that look quite admirable – their edamame (both spicy and regular) is some of the best I’ve had. Their sliders and curry bowls have also received rave reviews. Their cold house sake and mochi ice also add a nice refreshing kick to mitigate the savoriness of the meal.
If you’re in Austin at all during the cold weather months, I would stop and visit this charming little place. Your belly will thank you profusely.
How appropriate that the impending Halloween season and the return of The Walking Dead have, resurrected, if you will, my WordPress. The past three months have extracted almost every ounce of energy out of me. So in true unoriginal, lazy fashion, I thought I’d provide a quick photo reel from my Instagram feed for you to feast your eyes upon. Enjoy!
ACL 2012 wrap-up post coming soon, I promise.
I went on a cruise.
One of my best friends got married.
I went to Madison, Wisconsin.
And Chicago, Illinois.
I went to four Texas football games.
And four tailgates…
I went to ACL.
I ate a lot of barbecue.*
And drank a lot of alcohol.
*Barbecue in order from top to bottom from Franklin BBQ, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, The Salt Lick and Uncle Billy’s
Fall might be my favorite season. I love summer, I love sunshine and I love seeing people walking their dogs and paddle boarding on Town Lake, but I think Austin autumns still trump Austin summers (glorious as they may be) for two operative reasons that both start with F – Football and Festivals.
Though I’m not a student anymore, I still equate opening weekend for Texas football games with Christmas. The long-awaited season finally arrives, beers are cracked and the entire city is blanketed in an unmistakable shade of burnt orange.
My friends and I have attended every home game thus far; I believe there have been three. Two excellent wins and one devastating loss against West Virginia, the newest addition to our humble conference.
In addition to college football and the beautifully tolerable weather, the fall season beckons in Austin City Limits – quite possibly my favorite weekend of the year (SXSW doesn’t count since that encompasses a full 10 days).
Though it’s almost been a full week since ACL 2012, I still haven’t recovered from the exhaustion and euphoria of watching fantastic live music, tasting some of Austin’s best food cart offerings and pounding Bud Light tallboys. This was my third ACL and it certainly lived up to its predecessors, exceeded them even.
I’ll dedicate the next few posts to my ACL activities – lots of photos and (mostly) positive reviews of the bands I saw, so stay tuned. Until then, throw on a scarf, grab a cliche’d pumpkin flavored coffee and enjoy the most wonderful season of the year.
Happy Friday, compadres! If you’re a traditional nine-to-five minion of the workforce like myself; there’s only a few short hours before the weekend kicks into full gear. It’s a big weekend, amigos – Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby being the major pulls – both wildly different celebrations that involve excessively decorated hats and strong alcoholic concoctions. Pick your poison – margaritas or mint juleps? Both sound equally inviting to me – is it 5:00 yet? I know it is somewhere…
I went with a Cinco de Mayo theme for this week’s top five, seemed like an obvious choice. My office started the festivities early by having a sombrero decorating contest during lunch and a happy hour at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Austin, Polvo’s. Hats were required, mustaches were optional.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN (AND MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!)
Beautiful, clear weekends in Austin call for visits to the Farmer’s Market. We tried out a new one this past weekend in Cedar Park. The Cedar Park Open Air Market is still in its infancy, but I expect it will grow in size and popularity as the warmer season approaches.
Delicious food carts, fresh produce and sunny skies were the backdrop for a perfectly farm charming Sunday.
1. Czech Benedict – Fried egg atop smoked pork shoulder and kolache bread from The Zubik House Food Cart
2. Gorgeous and affordable double-stem orchids
3. Quirky birdhouses made of license plates
Contrary to popular belief, Texas weather does not consist of clear skies, sunshine and unicorns year-round. It’s actually incredibly unpredictable, which kind of sucks. But I won’t complain because we get gorgeous weather more often than many less fortunate states in the U.S. – looking at you Minnesota.
This week has actually been pretty drab – lots of drizzle and mugginess, which made the traffic worse and the workweek more monotonous than it already is. But clouds supposedly have silver linings and there were a few bright, colorful moments worth documenting via camera phone. Happy Friday!
- Granny’s Pie doughnut with strawberries from Gourdough’s
- Vietnamese vermicelli bowl from Elizabeth Street Cafe
- My roommate paying for brunch; notice the variety of paper
- The Nocturnal Wonderland lineup was announced on Wednesday and I desperately want to go see Calvin Harris and Royksopp! Above photo was from last year’s festival.
- Fortunately, sad cloudy days almost always lead to the most magnificent sunsets.
Phoenix: Love Like a Sunset Part III
Have a good weekend, kids.