Skip to content



 

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!
Peter

Austin 360 Eats Screenshot

Posted in Food.


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.

chinese_taco

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

Posted in Food.


Peruvian Food in Austin – An Introduction

la_chapparita_austin

What is Peruvian food?

That’s the first question most people have. 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 there are very few Peruvian experts in Austin. This post is a quick intro to Peruvian cuisine in Austin, from someone who has recently learned about the cuisine and has had help from a couple of Peruvian friends.

At the time of this writing there were 5 Peruvian places in town:

Click here to learn more about Peruvian food in Austin!

Posted in Food.


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

Posted in Food.


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

Posted in Austin, Comparisons.


Photos from the Austin Food Wine Festival 2013 @ Butler Park

The 2013 Austin Food and Wine Festival just wrapped up, and it was full of memorable experiences and excellent tastings & cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.

For Austinites who are fans of the Food Network, the festival was the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars, such as Andrew Zimmern, Marcus Samuelsson, Christina Tosi, Tim Love, and Paul Qui.

Click through to view the photos from the 2013 Austin Food and Wine Fest!

Posted in Food.


Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt Coming to Austin in Spring 2013

Update: April 2013 – Pinkberry is now open in Austin

Pinkberry, the yogurt shop that pretty much started the froyo craze in America 6-7 years ago, is finally coming to Austin. The first location will open at the Westbank Market (3300 Bee Caves Road, Suite 640) in spring 2013.

Why should we care?

We’ve seen many different generic froyo shops come and go in the ATX and even though it feels like the craze has died down, I think there’s still a pent up demand for Pinkberry. Many people say that Pinkberry’s yogurt is the best (myself included), and that the current batch of Austin yogurt shops aren’t up to par.

In fact, in our 2009 Austin Froyo comparison test, we crowned Mambo Berry the best Froyo in Austin because it tasted the most like Pinkberry.

Learn More about Pinkberry coming to Austin after the jump

Posted in Food, News.


Best Asian Noodles in Austin

Where do you go for delicious Asian food in Austin? While the capitol of Texas hasn’t been known for top notch Asian food in the past, that reputation is changing. There are restaurants all over the city with one or two noodles dishes that can hang with the best of them.

So, where do you go for delicious, flavorful Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese noodle carby goodness?

Click through to learn where the best noodles in Austin are

Posted in Austin, Food.


Help MAX’s Wine Dive Retrieve Their Cash (Painting)

 

Beloved Original Artwork Stolen from MAX’s Wine Dive

Reward offered for information leading to the return of “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man” painting.

See the full media alert…

Posted in News.


Austin Foodies on Instagram

How do you discover new restaurants in Austin?

I’ve got a secret to share.

Apart from reading Austin food blogs and talking to friends, I find out about new places and dishes in Austin through the photo sharing service Instagram. While Instagram wasn’t specifically created for sharing what’s good to eat, many Austin foodies use Instagram as a photo diary, which of course includes what they are eating!

Also, because Instagram lets users geotag their photos, clicking on the Geotag of a restaurant allows you easily find the location on a map and browse through many of the dishes at the same place. Hastags allow us to share photos with other users using that hashtags - I’m trying to get more people to use the #austinfood hashtag to better share dishes around Austin.

The following list includes Instagrammers with good taste in food, who help me find new restaurants or help me discover new dishes at restaurants I already love. Many of these folks are first on the scene when a new restaurant opens in Austin and make great recommendations through their pics:

supertsai – shameless plug for my account
austinfoodie
512foodie
atasteofkoko
misohungry
lkreynolds
gourmetfury
thenicolai
pesto88
chaninator
broylesa
subaustinite
polkadotsatx
thecanaryfiles
austinistfood

Finally, I’ve updated the Austin Chefs and Restaurants on Instagram post that I wrote a few months ago. On that list, you can now find:

pqui
eastsideking
whollycowburgers
ramentatsu_ya

If you have other Instagram accounts you want to share, let us know in the comments!

Happy Tasting,
Peter

Posted in Uncategorized.