Blue Apron vs Plated: Home Meal Delivery Review & Comparison

Home meal delivery services… are they worth it? And which food delivery company is best?

Thanks to quick, inexpensive mail delivery, by now you know someone who’s used a home subscription service for groceries, clothes, shaving supplies, makeup, dog toys, or movies (remember when everyone got Netflix DVDs mailed to them?).

In the last year or two, home meal delivery subscriptions have picked up steam (pun intended). Services like Blue Apron and Plated promise high quality, easily-to-prepare dishes with recipies designed by chefs… all from the comfort of your own home.

Click to find out if Blue Apron or Plated is better!

Counter 3.Five.VII – Outstanding High End Prix Fixe in Austin, Texas

Fancy silverware holder at Three.5.VII

Counter 3.Five.VII Review – Austin, Texas

It’s not every day that you get to be one of the first customers at a new restaurant in town. Last week we celebrated a special birthday at the newly opened Counter 3.Five.VII, a very small, high end fixed menu restaurant where you literally sit at a bar inches away from all of the chefs doing their thing.

As the name of the restaurant implies, you can choose from prix fixe menus that either have 3, 5, or 7 courses.

Find out what we thought of this new restaurant in Austin!

Peruvian Food in Austin – An Introduction

Peruvian Food in Austin - La Chapparita

What is Peruvian food?

That’s the first question most people have when they are introduced to this South American cuisine. Let’s start with what it is not.

Peruvian food is NOT Mexican food or Tex-Mex! You will not find any tortillas, enchiladas, or tacos in Peruvian cuisine. You will find a lot grilled meat dishes accompanied with veggies / garnishes, seafood, corn, potatoes, yucca, and rice, usually served with delicious sauces. You will even find Chinese influence in the cuisine (I know, I was surprised too).

While I’m no expert, I have a feeling that most in Austin are not familiar with Peruvian food. This post is a quick intro to Peruvian cuisine in ATX, written by someone who has recently learned about the cuisine and has been introduced to these delicious new flavors by a couple of Peruvian friends.

Click here to learn more about Peruvian food in Austin!

Discovering New Restaurants via Instagram and #Austin360eats & #AustinFood

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for new restaurants and food experiences in Austin Texas… and one of the best tools to keep tabs on what all your  foodie friends are eating is Instagram.

Everyone knows that Instagram is great for sharing pictures, but for me the best way to find new people and restaurants is by taking advantage of hashtags.

So, What are some of the best Austin Food hashtags to use and follow?

Two that I like a lot are:

Besides the benefits of finding new food, there’s an added bonus of getting more exposure for your social media accounts… especially when using #Austin360Eats.



Addie Broyles of the Austin American Statesman created this hashtag a while back…  and every week she likes to feature the Austin food and the people behind the hashtag.

Recently myself (@supertsai) and @mjsoko were featured in the Relish Austin blog for our photos from Taqueria La Escondida and the brand new Patika coffee bar on South Lamar (one of our new favorite spots).  If you want to be featured too, just tag all of your food photos on Instagram with #Austin360Eats.



So, if you’re looking get more eyeballs on your Instagram account, or make new friends, make sure to check out both #AustinFood and #Austin360Eats.  There’s thousands of pictures under each hashtag, so there’s lots of new things to discover.


Got any other cool hashtags to share? Let us know in the comments…


More reading:


What is Butter Coffee? Where do I get Butter Coffee in Austin?

Butter Coffee in Austin, Texas

I live next door to Austin’s only Paleo trailer, Picnik, and they sell a novel new drink called butter coffee. After walking the dogs by the sign for butter coffee at least a dozen times, we decided to take the plunge to see what this new trendy drink is all about.

Butter coffee is pretty much what it sounds like – it’s coffee and butter blended together with some additional MCT coconut oil extract that is supposed to be very nutritious for you and good for your brain.

So what’s the big deal about butter coffee?
Click here to read about Butter Coffee in Austin

TastingBuds in the Austin American Statesman

Peter Tsai chilaquiles

Before the Internet came along, it wasn’t very easy to find other folks with the same interests. Luckily, we now live in a 24/7 connected world and the smartphone app age, so we don’t have that problem any longer.

Two of Austin’s most prominent food writers, Matthew Odam and Addie Broyles have been connecting foodies in the city for years now via their blogs on the Austin American Statesman.

Recently, I was fortunate to be featured by both of them… I was interviewed on Addie’s Relish Austin blog about how Instagram helps foodies find each other, and I hung out with Matthew Odam to talk about Chinese food in Austin, just in time for Chinese New Year.

With Matthew, we chatted about Austin’s Asian food scene over lunch at Rice Bowl Cafe, one of my favorite Chinese / Taiwanese spots in the city to give advice on his
roundup of Chinese restaurants in Austin.

To find more foodies in Austin that are on Instagram, follow the #Austin360Eats hashtag, check out Addie’s blog link above, or check out my list of Austin foodies on Instagram.

Happy Tasting!

Austin 360 Eats Screenshot

How to find Authentic Ethnic food – the First Rule of Ethnic Cuisine

Crowded Restaurant in Madrid, Spain

My first rule of ethnic cuisine is simple.

An ethnic restaurant is much more likely to serve delicious, authentic food when people of that culture are enthusiastically cooking, serving, and eating the food. Bonus points if they are primarily speaking the language of that culture. Super bonus points if they have either a secret ethnic menu or non translated menu items.

If an ethnic restaurant meets none of these criteria, it’s likely to suck.  You wouldn’t want to eat at a Mexican restaurant in China where the waiter doesn’t even know what a taco is…. would you? (I think they called it a meat onion wrap)

I actually ate at exactly a place like this in 2000 and it was the worst Mexican culinary experience of my life. I don’t think the restaurant owners had ever eaten good Mexican food before, but then again none of their (very few) clients had either.

Ordering Mexican food in Chinese (no English or Spanish on the menu), eating cheese made by people who don’t eat cheese, and the ensuing stomach problems were all NO BUENO.


Read more about the First rule of ethnic cuisine by clicking here!

New Austin Restaurant Alert: Umami Mia Pizzeria on Barton Springs

Since it’s closing in 2012, Austinites have been curious about what restaurant would replace the long standing Romeo’s (which opened in 1993) on Barton Springs at Jessie Street (near Zilker Park). As of this weekend, the long wait is over!

The new restaurant at 1500 Barton Springs Rd, Umami Mia Pizzaria (also Italian), offers a much more modern and casual take on Italian food than Romeo’s did. Gone is the dark cave-like decor, piano, and mediocre food of the old restaurant. Instead Umami Mia offers a bright, hip, colorful decor inspired by the Rome subway line. The food has also improved remarkably and the extensive drink list offers creative cocktails that you wouldn’t expect to find in an Italian joint.

We were invited to preview the new menu this week, and we’re happy to share our favorites with you!

Click through to preview the dishes from Umami Mia in Austin, Texas

The State of Ramen Shops in Austin, Texas

What is Ramen anyways? It doesn’t always come in cheap packs from the grocery store?
Japanese Ramen has it’s origins in the Chinese noodles 拉面 “La-Mian” which literally means pulled noodles (see this picture of this guy the Chinese version). In fact, in Japan Ramen is still sometimes called Chinese style noodles. Somewhere along the way, The Japanese took the Chinese import and morphed it into something all their own.

How is authentic ramen different from instant ramen?
Real ramen broth has a depth of flavor not present in the instant form, which relies on salt and MSG to enhance taste. Good ramen derives it’s flavor from boiling a combination of animal bones and vegetables for a long time to give the broth a richness that that can’t be replicated otherwise. Much in the same way that Texas BBQ meat tastes magical when exposed to slow and low heat, the same is true of soup broth. Good ramen when done right, is a time intensive labor of love (just like great TX BBQ). Good ramen also comes garnished with all sorts of fresh, delicious things as well that complement the broth.

Simply put, great ramen can blow your mind.

For an in depth explanation about Japanese Ramen culture and the different styles of Ramen, David Chang and Anthony Bourdain dedicate 20 minutes to the subject in the awesome series “The Mind of A Chef” (bonus @ 8:45 for learning how the noodles are made in a factory from a man in a bright red wrestling style mask)

There’s also this great how to make ramen article on Serious Eats.

Read more about the state of Ramen Noodles in Austin after the jump