Best (Top Chef) in Texas

Chefs Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya at new East Side King at Hole in the Wall via Thrillist

Hands down, the best food I’ve discovered this year is Paul Qui’s series of East Side King food trucks. Rightfully earning the title of Top Chef Texas and demonstrating excellence in Asian cuisine, Qui has been rapidly expanding his culinary portfolio. In the short time since he won the competition, Qui has certainly left quite an imprint on the city of Austin. Qui’s food trucks are among the top recommendations I give Austin newbies who want to try something local or check out the flourishing food cart scene in our weird city.
If you follow me on any of my social networks, you have likely been inundated with mouthwatering photos of East Side King’s Asian-inspired street food. The dishes are flavorful, unique and it’s not uncommon for my friends and I to drop $50 or more and ravenously feast (Of note, the menu items are totally affordable – we just collectively order a large variety of dishes and share). There’s something for everyone; there are items appropriate for either a full meal or a light snack at the bar depending on your varying degrees of hunger. There are plenty of vegetarian options as well.
Here are a few photos of my favorite East Side King delicacies:

Chicken karaage and Liberty Rice at the Liberty location

Pho Buns and Fried Rice Balls from the Shangri-La location

Before & After (from Left to Right): Shrimp Ebi Ebi Tacos, Pho Buns, Fried Rice Balls, Spicy Edameme and Chicken Skin Buns at Shangri-La location

Another Before & After shot from the Shangri-La location

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.

East Side King at Hole in the Wall


Personal favorite dishes at all East Side King locations. Try them out – you will thank me later.
Food truck at Shangri-La
  • Spicy Edamame
  • Ebi Ebi Tacos
  • Pho Buns
Food truck at The Liberty
  • Poor Qui’s Buns
  • Tongue Buns
  • Tori Meshi
Restaurant at Hole in the Wall
  • Tori Meshi
  • SapporoBeerBacon MisoRamen
  • Squid Ink Curry Ramen

Me and Paul Qui at The Grackle

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.

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