Austin doesn’t have the best Chinese food. Actually let me rephrase that, Austin is not known for it’s Chinese food. There’s places like First Chinese BBQ, Asia Cafe, and Ho Ho, which are good but not compared to restaurants in Houston. When I heard about Chen Z’s opening, I was intrigued and so was the rest of Austin. We had to wait two hours before getting seated.
Chen Z has definitely splurged on interior design when compared to other Chinese restaurants. You can enjoy delicious Chinese food in a fine dining setting. The restaurant features low table seating and high table seating with an open kitchen. Chef Chen is known for his noodles. His first restaurant is called Chen’s Noodle House after all. You won’t find the typical fried rice here. Chen Z’s menu features appetizers and noodle dishes with Mr. Chen’s famous homemade knife-shave noodles.
Chen Z Knife-Shaved.
Ribeye, chicken, shrimp, Asian greens with buckwheat noodles.
Chen Z Original.
Braised beef, cilantro with knife-shaved noodles. I wanted to love this dish. The broth was hearty and the beef was tender but the noodles were a soggy mess. Not sure if that’s the downfall of homemade noodles?
Hot Pot Bar.
Chen Z is the first restaurant in Austin to feature a hot pot bar. I actually came back the same week for lunch to try out the hot pot. If you’ve never had hot pot, you’re missing out! Though it’s probably not suitable during the Texas heat in the summer.
The menu states that every people eating hot pot must purchase their own bowl of broth ($6), which is pretty ridiculous. However when I asked the waiter if I could share with my friend, he said sure. So they seem pretty lenient on this rule.
As you can see, the price of hot pot can easily add up.
I wanted a light lunch so I only ordered fried tofu pods and homemade spinach noodle.
The great thing about hot pot is that you can enjoy each food item immediately after it’s been cooked.
I went with a Mala 麻辣 broth, which a popular Chinese oily spicy and numbing sauce that consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil.
If you love spicy dishes, you have to get this.
The last time I had Mala hotpot was in Taiwan 2 years ago during the summer. Brings back nostalgic memories.
It was impossible to finish off the entire pot of soup..
Luckily the waiter at Chen Z was nice enough to let me take the rest of the broth home to continue my hotpot madness!
Chen Z is a new spin on Chinese cuisine and upscale dining in Austin Texas. Great place to take friends or clients but I’ll probably stick with my usual spots for cheaper Chinese food.
2700 Anderson Ln
Austin, TX 78757