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Any Good Asian Restaurants in S. Austin?

  • q

I've been living in Austin for the past 11 years but have just recently moved south of the river for the first time. I still go up north to get my Asian fix but have been completely underwhelmed by the restaurants I've been to down south.

Any recommendations for Vietnamese(more specifically pho), Chinese,Thai, or Japenese. I'm not even going to ask for Korean, I've heard horror stories about D.K. on First. I want to find places nearby because sometimes I don't want to fight traffic to get my fix.

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  1. On E. Oltorf, there is 888 restaurant. It is a combination of viet and chinese, from what I remember. The viet dishes are much better than the chinese - pretty darn good.

    Marco Polo, on the northwest corner of oltorf and I35 has been excellent every time that I've been there.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rudeboy

      Oh, and you have Madam Mam's south for thai. By Whole Foods in the Ben White/Lamar mess.

      1. re: rudeboy

        Rudeboy, I work in this area and have hit both these places several times. My perception is that Marco Polo used to be quite good and has (over the past two or three years) suffered a rapid decline; 888 has never done me right, even once.

        I know you're a good 'hound, so you won't steer me wrong: what should I be ordering?

        1. re: tom in austin

          Well, I've been to 888 twic in the past couple of years (I don't live or work near there).....I believe that I had a shrimp/papaya salad, which actually seemed a bit thai in a way, but delicious, and the ubiquitous S&P shrimp. We ordered something else that I really liked - I can't remember what that was! I can't find their menu online. I found that the shrimp were a little too "breaded" for me, but they tasted good and were better than regular fried shrimp at most places. Mostly, I like breading, but I like less so it is a we bit healthier....Topped with a buttery garlicy green onion and pepper sauce.

          Honestly, I never order pho or bun, aas I'm always looking for more viet dishes. Pho is usually just a little...uninteresting to me, (although I will try the old tan tan again since it won best broth). Is that what you've had at 888?

          For Marco Polo, I've only been to Dim Sum three times in the past year...I noticed no decline, but that's Dim Sum. I haven't had dinner there in a while, though, so maybe I'm not seeing the decline?

          Mainly, I keep switching between Sunflower and Soleil for Vietnamese, and Asia Cafe for Chinese.

          1. re: rudeboy

            Every meal I've had at 888 has been off for some reason or another and I've never wanted to go back.
            That reminds me, anyone know what happened to 888 on Anderson?
            I know that both were open at the same time so they didn't move. I used to love the old one and never was able to find out if they reopened anywhere else.

    2. 2 Viet places I like...
      Hay Ki on oltorf, unique noodle bowls, generous servings.
      Dong Nai at lamar and 71 next to target, quiet unassuming place with large menu I need to try more of.

      5 Replies
      1. re: chucklesmcfarland

        Hai Ky is quite good. Their tofu is excellent, perhaps my favorite in town (and I'm a meat eater). Plus, as chuckles reports the servings are huge (I usually got two meals for very little cash).

        1. re: ashes

          Yeah, I love the tofu, extremely sweet and savory sauce probably loaded with empty calories and msg...but yum!

          1. re: chucklesmcfarland

            Hai ky's tofu is incredible...with I could do it at home. And those veggie dumplings! I could eat them every day.

        2. re: chucklesmcfarland

          chuckles (and anybody else), what have you tried at Dong Nai ? I had meant to drop in a while back but completely forgot about it.

          1. re: Nab

            My Viet staple is lemongrass tofu noodles, which for me is the yardstick for any place I go.
            Dong Nai's version of this dish is not anything super unique but they are open on Sunday and at least when I've been, very quiet even with the big screen TV.
            The staff is very kind and I just get a good vibe there. Also like I said, they have a large menu I need to explore, oh and it's cheap!
            I get the same exact vibe from Happy Buddha up north except they aren't open on Sunday.
            These seem to be Viet run places that make their money from weekday crap Chinese buffet sales which accounts for the quiet weekends.

        3. 888 on east oltorf is the place to go in south austin. for sure.

          2 Replies
          1. re: littlepiggy

            Does anyone have recommendtions for dishes at 888? I have been once, and I had a very good meal, but I can't remember what I had.

            1. re: El General

              i find their bun to be pretty fresh and delicious. although this option is no longer listed on the menu, i like it best with imperial rolls and no meat.

          2. My favorite Asian restaurants in Far South Austin are Madam Mam's (first and foremost) and Hao Hao (pretty distant second). I and many others have written tons on the subject of Madam Mam's. Seek out and find these posts and you'll get great ideas about what to order.

            Mmmm, now I'm craving Madam Mam's.

            The other places I've tried in the area have been fairly gross. The worst Chinese food I've had down here is Ng House, which is (strangely) often well-reviewed.

            6 Replies
            1. re: tom in austin

              I'd have to say Ng House is worth investigating....I've only been there once, but only because it was so far from my digs. But the food was really quite decent. I think the secret is knowing what to order and staying away from the mediocre dishes. I seem to recall some of the more interesting stuff is not on the menu, but on sheets of paper posted on the walls just like Asia Cafe has non-menu items on their marker boards. And just remember, as great as Asia Cafe is, someone could go in there several times, order some of the clunkers and walk away thinking the place sucks.
              Now, having eaten at Hao Hao several times at two locations, I have to say it is nothing but mediocre. If it's all you have nearby, it serves, but there is much better.

              Regarding another post regarding Madam Mam's---Amexarhos says the pho at Madam Mam's is subpar. Well, it probably really is since it must have been an imaginary bowl....I don't believe they serve Vietnamese dishes there, unless the south location has broadened its menu which I doubt considering how faithful they are to their Thai homeland.

              Java Noodles is a nice change of pace, but I've had uneven results there...would definitely go back though...

              Thai Kitchen on William Cannon is the original and was always better than the Drag location which I never thought was that great, only convenient.

              There is a Chinese place in the shopping center behind MM's that is supposed to be good, that is, if you order from the Chinese menu...but I've never been...my bud Mick Vann at the Chronicle has written good things...and any place that serves pork belly can't be all bad!!!!

              1. re: sambamaster

                I'm not with you totally. Hao Hao's Chinese is bad. Their Vietnamese fare -- especially some of the more oddball dishes -- are better than serviceable. At least, I've had a couple tasty dishes there. Not good enough for me to go more than once every three or four months, and I wouldn't grade them delicious. But my experiences there have been much more positive (chow-wise) than the other Asian places around (sans the hallowed halls of Mam's, of course).

                I'll revisit Ng House based on your glowing review -- you know your stuff, and that means Ng deserves another shot. (Once I've hit Ng and 888 again, I'll make sure I follow up with y'all here.)

                I've never been to Thai Kitchen South, and I'll try it. The Drag location (which I've been to several times) has the rare distinction of serving me a dish so gross that I actually pushed it away and stopped eating. I don't think any other Thai dish I've ever ordered caused me to react like that. To be fair, this was easily four years ago. Perhaps they've improved dramatically since my several visits in the first half of the decade.

                1. re: sambamaster

                  Samba, that's Tien Jin, and it's not bad. I haven't had the pleasure of ordering from the Chinese menu yet, but they make a good mu shu and a pretty good pork egg foo young, my two staples in traditional "Americanized" Chinese joints.

                  I also like delivery from China Hill on Wm. Cannon, and I've gone to the pho place on Wm. Cannon in the strip mall with the Hollywood Video a few times and had good bun and pho.

                2. re: tom in austin

                  has anyone tried the "salad" off the specials menu at Madam Mam's? it's steamed green beans, choice of protein (tofu!) with roasted coconut, peanuts, coconut cream, a sweet/sour sauce that i can't remember (maybe some lemongrass or tamarind or both)? it is so delicious! i didn't really consider it very salad-like, probably because it was so fillling.

                  1. re: NirvRush

                    A friend ordered it once and I had a bite. It was really, really good!

                    1. re: foodiegal71

                      i didn't see it until we had already ordered on one visit. i was so disappointed that i didn't see it first, so i went back a week later to fill that fantasy - and it lived up to the description!

                3. You didn't mention Indonesian, but it's sort of close. Try Java Noodles on E Oltorf.

                  1. The only palatable Asian I have had on the South Side is Thai Kitchen on William Cannon off of I-35. For some reason, the food has always been better at this location than the Guadalupe one. Their house specials are spicy as hell and well worth the pain. Madam Mam's is decent, particularly for the green papaya and dried shrimp salad (mostly for its rarity in Austin), yet their pho is also subpar. Good luck.

                    1. I didn't see any mentions of Little Thailand, so I'll offer it up as a suggestion.

                      1. Lee's Kitchen on William Canon/Mopac has good Vietnamese food but can't speak to the pho. The Chronicle did a good review a while back.

                        Also, the old Swadee has reopened under new management as a new Thai place. I can't remember the name but it is at Manchaca/Stasney. I haven't been but it is on my places to try.

                        Lee's Kitchen
                        4404 W William Cannon Dr, Austin, TX 78749

                        1. We just moved to Temple which is north of Austin - QTG, would you mind filling us in on what your favorites in North Austin were?


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: sabi

                            Asian food up North is covered pretty well on a couple of other threads so I'll try not to be too redundant.

                            I'm Vietnames and am very partial to food that reminds me of my mom's cooking. For that, I love going to Pho Saigon next to Saigon market on N. Lamar. The quail, pho, bun bo hue is what I usually crave but the menu is extensive and all quite good. Although the bun rieu has gone down in quality since it opened, you can get periwinkles with it which is how my mom served it.

                            The Saigon market cafe next door has some Vietnamese home cooking that I don't see at any other restaurant.

                            Other places I miss and still burn gas to get to: Sunflower, Din Ho, T&S Seafood, Korea House, and Sushi Sake(on virtue of the Spicy Susan roll alone).
                            BTW I visit Madam Mam's and Thai Kitchen quite a bit but haven't found a place whose pho broth passes my standards. I haven't been to Hai Ky in a while, my ex lives right next to it but I might take the risk sometime.

                            1. re: QTG

                              P27 spicy green curry fish balls is extremely crave worthy at Madame Mam's. I'm not a fan of a decent bit of their menu, and this one certainly sounds unappetizing, but it is a gem. Other favorite there is the p23 tom kha artichoke hearts(which varies daily in quality).

                              Uchi is very good if overly-priced and overly-trendy doesn't bother you.

                              hai ky also hits the spot for a good cheap meal

                          2. Any 2008 updates to this thread? Thank you

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: RoundSparrow

                              I'm curious about a new place near the giant Wal-Mart at 71/I35 called Hea or something like that. I can't find any information about it online.

                              I wish we'd get a good Chinese BBQ place like Din Ho or First Chinese BBQ down south.

                              1. re: foodiegal71

                                I'm anxiouus to try HEA as well. I believe this will be our first Vietnamese place down South serving Bahn Mi.

                                I've gone quite fond of Pho Thaison lately. I believe they have an excellent Pho broth. Although I still miss being close to Tan Tan.

                                1. re: jscro626

                                  Ahhhhh! So it's Vietnamese! Yay!!!! I have only seen it from the road and wasn't sure exactly what it was. Thanks for the heads up!

                                  1. re: foodiegal71

                                    I got a chance to try HEA Cafe last night for the first time and thought what I had was really good.

                                    It's brand new and reminds me, on the inside, of Wok On Fire. I had the Mi with roast pork and wontons. The wontons were really good, full of porky goodness, and the roast pork was sliced super thin, which is how I like it. I can't say it had too much flavor as it was swimming in my chicken-broth based soup.

                                    My friend had the pho with brisket which I thought was excellent. The broth had a lot of flavor and a lot of depth, which I find lacking at some places. We also tried the egg rolls, which I thought were too mushy on the inside.

                                    I'll definitely be back to try more. Now we've got two good Vietnamese places down south with HEA and Dong Nai.

                                      1. re: NirvRush

                                        It's in that new little strip mall next to the Super Wal-Mart on Ben White, behind the Chick-Fil-A.

                            2. I noticed one restaurant that has hardly been mentioned in any of the Asian threads. Thai Spice at Las Cimas/360 is one of my FAVORITE places to eat. I love their Pad Se Ewe w/beef, and Pad Ke Mao w/beef. At lunchtime during the week, they add a salad bar buffet, complete with Thai soups, spring rolls and sushi. (Price: $12) I almost hate to share this secret but the owner Vicki knows how to make you come back for more. It's so addictive! There is another one in Lakeway that is also good.

                              1. Horror stories about DK sushi? I go there all the time and love it. It may not be fancy, but they are one of the only places with Korean food on the south side. I get the Soon Tofu Chigae all the time and love it. Service is always great too. It's quaint and humble. Hundred times better than Madam Maam's or Chinese food places out there. Peep it.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: speakthetruth

                                  I've probably been to DK Sushi on Lamar 50 times over the years and have never had anything but good food and service. I can't speak for the south location but can't imagine it's that different.

                                  1. re: speakthetruth

                                    Speakthetruth, thanks for resurrecting this ancient post. I always compare it to Dan's Hamburgers because it is right next door. Do you think that it is better than Dan's? I'm usually conflicted on whether to go to DK or to Dan's. What do you think?

                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                      well actually there's some mexican restaurant right next to DK Sushi so maybe you should compare the sushi place to the mex restaurant? Few things compare to a double cheeseburger with grilled onions but most days I'd go with DK Sushi.