• September 8, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Exploring Austin’s Asian Food Landscape: A Local’s Guide to the Best Asian Cuisine in Town

Dear foodies! Bernie’s Bytes is your to-go-world cuisine forum and today we are peeling the layers off Austin’s bustling Asian restaurant scene. If you’re ready for a journey of culinary exploration, spiced with fiery excitement and savoring experiences, then strap in tight!

Austin’s food scene is known for its diversity and eclectic mix, much like the captivating music vibes pulsating from every corner on a Saturday night at Sixth Street. Yet, amongst this cacophony of tastes and fusion, Asian cuisine has firmly carved out a delightful niche for itself that amazingly caters to all – from health-conscious vegans craving sushi to the die-hard food enthusiasts eager for that perfect Thai curry or soul-stirring Vietnamese pho.

In this elaborative guide, we will sip, savor, and discover the best corners of Austin’s Asian culinary landscape. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Uchi: Sushi Sophistication Reinvented

Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole has been riding the wave of success with Uchi since 2003, bringing not just sushi, but an entire masterfully curated contemporary Japanese dining experience to Austin. With an emphasis on featuring the freshest ingredients, Uchi transcends traditional boundaries offering an avant-garde menu that’ll melt the heart of every sushi lover.

  • Noteworthy Dishes: Hama Chili (baby yellowtail, ponzu, Thai chili, and orange supreme), Machi Cure (smoked baby yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, and Asian pear), and Madai Ussuzukuri (Japanese red sea bream)
  • Must-try: Yoko-Yoko Flight – A hand-picked array of sake, curated by Uchi’s in-house experts providing a perfect accompaniment to your sushi journey.
  • Insider-tip: Don’t miss out on their Sake Social daily from 5-6:30 PM for discounted sushi rolls and drinks!

Elizabeth Street Café: A Harmonious Fusion of Vietnamese and French Delights

Imagine a Parisian cafe marrying a street-side Vietnamese pho stand and settling in a vibrantly colorful bungalow. Voila! That’s the Elizabeth Street Café for you. Delighting Austin since 2011, this unique destination offers a harmonious fusion of traditional Vietnamese recipes with a French twist centered around delicate baking qualities.

  • Noteworthy Dishes: Bánh Mì Sandwiches (house-baked baguettes generously filled), Bún Bowls (rice vermicelli served with Vietnamese herbs, cucumber, and a wide choice of toppings), and Fresh Spring Rolls.
  • Must-try: Pork Belly Bún – The perfectly prepared pork belly accompanied by the crunch of fresh salad and soothing vermicelli noodles is a culinary masterpiece in its own right.

Swing with the Flavors at Sway Thai

Don’t let the industrial exterior fool you! Inside Sway Thai, you will find a vibrant, modernistic interpretation of traditional Thai fare. Built around communal dining, Sway sports large oak tables that reflect its ethos – that food is a shared experience, bringing people together.

  • Noteworthy Dishes: Son In Law (crispy farm egg, braised pork shoulder, thick soy, and nahm jim), Jungle Curry (Aussie grass-fed wagyu, baby corn, tiger prawn, and wild ginger), and Crab Fried Rice (soft shell crab, farm egg, cilantro, and red fresno chile).
  • Must-try: Thai Tea Affogato – A clever spin on the classic Italian dessert, with traditional Thai ingredients, that perfectly sums up the Sway experience.
  • Insider Tip: Gluten-free folks rejoice! Sway’s menu is over 90% gluten-free.

Ramen Tatsu-ya: Transforming Ramen Into Soul-food

Step into Ramen Tatsu-ya, a joint that single-handedly altered the perception of ramen in Austin from a cheap quick-bite option to a delightfully cherishable entree. Revel in the relaxed, funky ambiance while you slurp your ramen and reverence the beautiful melding of broths, meats, and noodles.

  • Noteworthy Dishes: Tonkotsu Original (Pork bone broth, chasu, ajitama, marinated, soft-boiled egg, and woodear mushroom), and Miso-Hot – A spicy counterpart with ground pork, ajitama, scallion, napa cabbage, bean sprout, and corn.
  • Must-try: Mi-So-Hot Ramen – An impeccably spicy blend that pairs perfectly with the rich tonkotsu broth.
  • Insider Tip: Try their seasonal and exclusive menu, which often features some daring and innovative ramen options.

Austin’s Asian Food Festivals: Celebrating Asian Culinary Traditions

A gastronomic exploration of Austin’s food scene would not be complete without enjoying a vibrant food festival. There are two Asian food festivals that are worth marking on every foodie’s calendar.

Austin Asian Night Market

Enjoy the authentic Asian street food experience without having to travel halfway around the globe at the Austin Asian Night Market. You can try everything from Japanese takoyaki to Chinese dim sum, Korean galbi, Indian chaat, and so much more.

  • Must-visit: Surprise pop-up stalls – Local chefs often pop up unannounced here, grilling their signature items to serve the crowd.
  • Insider Tip: Come hungry and early – The best treats often run out before the night is over!

Luckyrice Grand Feast

Held annually, the Luckyrice Grand Feast is nothing short of a culinary soiree. This catered evening turns Austin into a runway of glamorous Asian food and drink culture.

  • Must-experience: Cocktail Feast – Here you’ll find mixologists from all over experimenting with Asian-inspired ingredients to create vibrant concoctions.
  • Insider Tip: It’s a popular event and tickets sell out fast – Make sure to buy in advance!

Asian Grocery Stores in Austin: Feel Asia Right in Your Kitchen

You’ve savored the meals. Now, how about crafting some in your own kitchen? Austin offers a selection of excellent Asian grocery stores to fill your pantry.

MT Supermarket

Conveniently located in Chinatown Center, MT Supermarket is the largest Asian supermarket in Austin. Divided by country/region, their aisles are stocked with an extraordinary range of fresh exotic produce, seafood, and hard-to-find Asian ingredients.

  • Must-buy: A walk through the seafood section is a must. It brims with various fish, eels, and shellfish. Their array of Tofu products is also impressive.

Asahi Imports

Offering a complete Japanese grocery experience, Asahi Imports has been an integral part of the Austin community since 1967. You can find nearly every Japanese culinary item here, from pantry staples to fresh ready-to-eat comfort food.

  • Must-buy: Check out their homemade miso paste and don’t forget to explore the widest collection of Japanese beers and sake in the city.

Final Thoughts: Austin’s Asian Cuisine Adventure

Unabashedly highlighting Austin’s love for diversity, the Asian food scene is like a symphony composed of fiery notes and harmoniously intertwined flavors. This guide offers a mere snapshot into this dynamic culinary world. The exploration, however, is endless. Be it the crowd-pleasing sushi at Uchi, the harmonious fusion dishes at Elizabeth Street Café, the fiery Thai curries at Sway, the soulful bowls of Ramen Tatsu-ya, food festivals, or a trip to Asian grocery stores, there’s something for everyone. So put on your comfort wear, bid adieu to dieting, because Austin’s Asian cuisine adventure awaits you!

Savor the city, one Asian dish at a time. Enjoy Austin’s bustling Asian food scene, your unforgettable culinary adventure!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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