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Any Good Asian Restaurants in S. Austin?

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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.