Pat’s Picks Round 2 – Asia Cafe

January 08, 2011

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Sup guys, Patrick here again. In Austin your choices for good Chinese food are pretty limited… but be sure to check out Asia Cafe.


I’ll admit that I was born and raised in Houston, TX and not in Asia, but our Chinatown is pretty over there is pretty decent from what I’ve seen. Bleh… screw the credentials, I just like places that make me want to jump up and yell “Wow!” or make me say nonsensical statements of joy.

-Asia Cafe:

Located in a run down shopping strip just off of the Spicewood Springs exit on Mopac, Asia cafe serves up some serious Chinese food. It’s one of those places you’ll find packed with Chinese people, if you go to an restaurant and don’t see copious amounts of “the natives” digging in… you’ve gone to the wrong place.

Be aware that if you’ve never had Szechuan food before, the peppers they use may taste quite weird, and they tend to use a ton of oil, but don’t get put off by that! It’s friggin’ good. Anthony Bourdain loves this stuff ya’ know ;).

Alright, so when you go to a real Chinese place, you must must get veggies. Water Spinach what I usually opt for, but it’s generally best when the weather is warm, ask the ladies at the register if it’s good that day. The pic is of snow pea tips, another solid choice. Love your veggies for once.

Beef with flat noodles have been my favorite since I was a little kid. They do it pretty well here, but I wouldn’t put it on my top list. The crispy bean sprouts offer a nice contrast to the soft flat noodles. Good choice if you’re with picky eaters.

The spicy lamb here is ridiculously good. The earthiness of the cumin in this dish could be considered overwhelming, but I think it matches very well with the Szechuan peppers.

So if you were wondering what the main picture above was… it’s the spicy fish. Fried fish fillets, on top of bok choy, covered in a delicious concoction of sauce, cilantro, oil, and Szechuan peppers. Man this is good. F***… it’s so good.

The salt and pepper squid isn’t that great here. It took a really long time for it to come out, probably since people don’t order it much.

For those who don’t know what “Salt and Pepper ‘___'” is, it’s basically like saying “battered and fried ‘____’ topped with an amazing jalapeno garlic sauce.” You can get chicken or squid. In Austin I’d rather get it at TnS Seafood on Lamar, but in any case I definitely prefer this dish over the Italian counterpart.

-The inside scoop:

The interior of Asia Cafe is very big, they have large tables that can seat big groups, and even some private rooms for larger parties. No waiters or waitresses here! You order at the desk in the back, and you’ll receive a number that they’ll call out when your order is ready. Before or after you order, pick any table you want, and while you wait, you should get the essentials for your table. Water and hot tea are located to the right of where you order. Grab chopsticks or other utensils along with some rice bowls in the same area as well. When your number is called they’ll place it on this table to the left of where you order.

They’ll give you a nice big pot of steamed white rice too, don’t be afraid to go up and ask for more once you’ve finished it. I also like getting a big cup of ice and putting hot tea in it… yeah… it’s iced tea.

A lot of the negative reviewers of this place complain about the service, LOL WHAT? The ladies at the register are generally really nice and speak good English, the prices are cheap, and the food comes out relatively quickly… what more could you ask for? Some others complain about the size of the egg rolls, wut, you ordered egg rolls here?! Aiya… Feel free to order other stuff though, I’m really confident that it’ll be good, even the Americanized kung pao stuff.

-Here’s a pic of Jane pigging out =D

Location: 8650 Spicewood Springs Rd. Austin, TX 78759
Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/asia-cafe-austin
Mon-Sun 11 am – 9 pm

-Other Chinese places: 
Must go: Ho Ho Chinese BBQ (ROAST PORK!!!!!), seeing as I might not do an extra post for it…

Crispy skin, fatty pork belly goodness. MMMM….

Other places worth checking out: Chen’s Noodle House, Din Ho, China Palace, TnS (their salt and pepper squid is really good)
Meh: Hoa Hoa, Fortune, Coco’s, First Chinese BBQ
No!!: Crave, Ming’s

***If you have suggestions on your favorite places, please post! I’ll go check it out soon.
My yelp page:

My site and blog:

-Previous East Side King 2
**NOTE: East Side King 2 is in the middle of changing locations, keep in touch on their website: http://www.eastsidekingaustin.com/
-Next up… TACOS.

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Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.