The Austin chefs featured on “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” for bringing delicious Japanese inspired foods to the local trailer scene are at it again – opening their 3rd East Side King trailer in 2 years. While all 3 East Side King trailer locations feature Asian inspired menus, each location serves up slightly different cuisine.
The Liberty and Grackle ESK locations feature larger portions that likely require utensils, but the new Shangri-La location is all about the Bao, which are small, portable Asian Buns that are perfect for eating with your hands.
The menu(Link to Menu) at East Side King Shangri-La keeps it simple with only five $3 items. Each order includes a single bun that comes wrapped in paper (unlike the buns at other ESK locations, which come unwrapped and in pairs). The small portions and the low price make it easy to mix and match flavors.
All of the items are sausage based, so don’t expect anything like the Liberty location’s Poor Qui’s buns, which are chock full of pork belly meat. Each item has unique combinations of ingredients (kimchee with chicharrones anyone?) that work quite well with each other, keeping with the Asian food with a twist theme from the other ESK trailers.
We got invited to the soft opening event of the Shangri-La event where they were serving up their menu(Link to Menu) free of charge for friends of the trailer, so we tried one of everything! Below you’ll find a picture, a description, and some commentary on every item at East Side King Shangri-La location:
1) Gyu Bao – Beef chopped sausage topped with curry cabbage, tonkatsu sauce, kewpie mayo, potato crisps, green onion.
This is my favorite one, but I’m a sucker for Asian curries and kewpie mayo (try it with Fries some day). The potato crisps are similar to ruffles and they bring a great texture and saltiness to the Bao. The sausage is grilled and quite firm in consistency.
2) Bao Boy – pork chopped sausage with kimchee, bacon, Grilled pineapple, gochujang, karashi mayo, chicharrones, green onion
The Bao Boy is my second favorite dish. It too is seemingly all over the place, mixing Korean, mexican and Japanese flavors, but again the flavors work together in harmony. I really liked how the chicharrones added a crispiness to the bun. Also, my Korean companion stated that the kimchee was good, a big compliment!
3) Mr Chicken – Chicken chopped sausage topped with basil, mint, cilantro, onion, ESK sweet chili sauce, crispy shallots.
The 3rd item on the menu is also my third favorite dish. You might think this Bao is too sweet until you taste the shallots, which make this dish for me – so make sure to get some in each bite. The chicken sausage is quite tasty and firm.
4) Veggie Curry – Veggie Chopped sausage topped with curry cabbage, tonkatsu sauce, kewpie mayo, potato crisps, and green onion. This is a good option for vegetarians, but it’s not my thing. The Veggie Curry Bao is the same as the Gyu Bao except you replace the beef sausage with some form of veggie sausage, which as we all know just isn’t the same.
The edamame is really spicy, 4 on a scale of 5. Mysteriously enough though I kept going back for more even though I was on fire. This is great bar food – nice and salty to balance out alcohol.
If you are wondering about size, each bao is about the size of a small fist and you’ll probably need 2-3 to feel full. I would say try to get all of the ingredients in each bite so you can get the intended affect. I can say that the Bao go really well with alcohol, as I was drinking a Dale’s Pale Ale along with mine.
Overall everything was really tasty and there was plenty of seating in the Shangri-La outdoor patio. I have a feeling this place will become popular once it officially opens. I’m guessing that once they hit their stride, the food should also come out faster than the Liberty location (which has been packed since being featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations).
If you couldn’t tell already, the newest iteration of ESK has my approval and at $3 per sandwich, the food is accessible to everyone. I’m excited to see what everyone else thinks – If you try the new ESK out leave us a comment with your opinions!