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crispy fish at asia cafe (asiamarket) rocks

At the recommendations of many here, I have now been twice to asia cafe, and since it's 5 min. from my house, it's going to be a regular.

Last week i tried the crispy fish and greenbeans w/ garlic. The beans are perfectly blistered with a little garlic, and tender (not crunchy) and slightly salted. The fish is outrageously good: very lightly breaded, nicely fried big chunks of catfish fillets immersed in a bowl of red-peppery oil and broth laden with cilantro, bok choy, other greens, bean sprouts, and a nice bit of heat (not overly spicy though). This is one of the best dishes in Austin anywhere. Not sweet, and for me that's a bonus.

I also tried today the pork with flower chive - I think it's garlic chives sliced in 1 1/2 inch straws sauteed with velvety little 1 inch pieces of chopped pork in a slight amount of sauce / starch coating. This is an excellent dish too, but doesn't compare to the intensity of the fish. It's simple, and not too spicy, and not sweet. This became a nice candidate for the pepper/oil on the table to kick it up a notch.

Ma Po Tofu - Outstanding, but again, the fish won. Cubes of Tofu in a very similar sort of red oil / broth mixture as the fish, laced with red pepper, tiny sausage bits, thin slices of the whites green onions, cilantro, maybe some really thin sliced mushroom (not sure). This is a challenge for chopsticks - but my second favorite of the day.

what a lovely restaurant. I work with a Chinese couple down the hall from me here at UT and they prefer Chinese Barbecue (or something like that) in the new N. Lamar sort of Asian Shopping and Dining Mecca to all Austin Chinese places, including Asia Market and Din Ho.

Can't wait to get that pork elbow !!

Thanks for the outstanding recommendations!

Oh, and on saturday mornings get the Tzon Yo Ping (a scallion pancake). That's the phoenetic pronounciation they taught me, and it's close enough to get you by. It's a lovely fried little pancake of dense flour dough lightly salted and laced with the greens of green onions. really a nice little treat. The long doughy fried bread tubes on Saturday morning were at every table in the place - anyone tried that?

happy eating!

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    1. re: singlemalt

      In the back of a grocery store named Asia Market in a run down strip center at 183 and Spicewood Springs Rd.

      http://www.asiamarketaustin.com/index...

      Enjoy

      1. re: rollledspleen

        It's not fancy, it's just a small joint with about 10-12 tablets. At peak hours you will 90% Asians eating there. It must tell you something. It's my favorite place to eat there or take out. Prices have gone up a bit. :( I agree with the spicy fish. First time I tried it had actually ordered spicy beef, when I got home, I said this beef looks strange. Boy, was I in love. Great Place.

        1. re: robbie6805

          [it's just a small joint with about 10-12 tablets]

          I can't imagine how there's any room for those big bowls! ;)

    2. Is that dish really called "spicy fish?"

      2 Replies
      1. re: rudeboy

        It's actually called spicy fish fillet, item 234 on the menu:

        http://www.asiamarketaustin.com/order...

        1. re: professor_ted

          Based on the recs here, the first time I went to Asia Market we ordered the Spicy Fish Filet and have been back since. That's one of the best things I've ever eaten. Also in love with the Zhong Dumplings, green beans with garlic and the twice cooked pork (um, bacon!).

          Last time I was there I saw someone eating the pork with flower chive and decided that was next on my list. Along with the eggplant and pork. I want to try everything! It all looks amazing!

      2. Love this place. I'll have to try the crispy fish though. We went there last weekend and were disappointed for the very first time in our many trips there. The regular crew wasn't working though so perhaps that was the problem.

        1. I'm going today...for the first time.

          1. Thanks for reminding me about the crispy fish, professor_ted. I tried it recently and liked it, although I ordered the whole crispy fish instead of the fish fillets. (Fortunately, I was with a group of good eaters.) The batter on the fish was quite crisp and well fried; the moist fish was cooked through and tasty; the sweet and sour sauce was a fine accompaniment. The pork elbow was very good on this visit, too—meltingly tender and flavorful, with a sweet barbecue-like glaze. As rolledspleen stated on an earlier thread, you get a lot of meat off of this bone-in cut, which makes for great meals with the leftovers. The twice-cooked pork [belly] was noticeably drier than usual, however, with almost nothing in the way of sauce, while the Zhong dumplings were gummier than I remember them being last time. The spicy wontons were good as usual, and the green beans in spicy sauce [I didn't see green beans with garlic on the menu] were prepared just as professor_ted described. My only regret was that we didn't order more spicy dishes since many items seemed sweet to me. Although some dishes were a bit off on this visit, the new discoveries more than made up for them.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MPH

              Okay, so I went up to the counter and confidently asked for the crispy fish. The guy says "You sure? That's a whole fish. You want spicy fish."
              I said, "I heard about a fish dish here that was really good."
              He said, "You want spicy fish" and then pointed to four different tables in the cafe and says, "spicy fish, spicy fish, spicy fish, spicy fish."
              Almost everyone there was hovering over a bowl of spicy fish.
              I wisely took the gentleman's advice and it was delicious! Bite-sized pieces of whitefish sauteed in a spicy red sauce over bean sprouts and bok choy, finished with cilantro and dried chili spices. Large enough to share...but I didin't! I ate until my belly was distended, but I had a satisfied grin on my face :-)

              1. re: curlykerry

                I am a big fan of the spicy fish. I am always amazed at how perfectly cooked the fish is. It is never dry, just moist and barely flaking. And the crust is still somewhat crispy because they only just poured the sauce and veggie mixture in with it. Very tasty. Still want to try the Crispy fish though.