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A+A Sichuan Garden in Galleria Oaks

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PappyAustin Nov 5, 2010 11:23 AM

This place recently opened in the space formerly used by the Tea House. It almost seemed like a knock off of Asia Cafe right down the street. Anyone know if there is any relation? The menu was very similar and the food was actually quite good

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Sichuan Garden
110 N Interstate 35, Round Rock, TX 78681

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  1. s
    Steven Dilley Nov 5, 2010 12:25 PM

    Is this a branch of Sichuan Garden in Round Rock? If it's as good as the latter, it's arguably better than Asia Cafe. Or does the 'A+A' designation refer to a separate entity? Either way, this is news to me.

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    Sichuan Garden
    110 N Interstate 35, Round Rock, TX 78681

    7 Replies
    1. re: Steven Dilley
      rudeboy Nov 5, 2010 02:43 PM

      Someone told me that the chef and "front desk" of Asia Cafe left to start this restaurant. If that's true (reliable source), it may be unrelated to the other place.

      1. re: rudeboy
        v
        verily Nov 6, 2010 01:34 PM

        It's indeed "A+A Sichuan Garden". They give a URL on their menu, but it's improperly formatted, so who knows what it really is... http://www.sichuangarden/austin.com . Trying permutations of sichuangardenaustin.com and sichuangardentx.com/austin didn't work.

        I'm pretty sure one of the 'front of house' folks is from Asia Cafe, so I don't think this is affiliated with Sichuan Garden in RR. She was a lot friendlier than normal, so I was thrown off a bit. ;)

        The menu is very close to Asia Cafe's (some items are even listed in the same order!) with a few additions, such as four kinds of hot pot for $25ish. The image paired with it leads me to believe that it's the fondue 'cook your meat' style. I'll try to scan the menu in a bit.

        Instead of ordering dishes I was familiar with to do some kind of comparison, I decided to try something new instead: Stir fried beef with red hot pepper & pickle and also eggplant w/ garlic sauce.

        I think the beef dish is misnamed. I suspect it's supposed to be "stir-fried beef with pickled red pepper". There is definitely a strong red pepper presence and I am glad that they didn't hold back on the heat (this made my mouth burn in a fiery way, not a mala numbing). It's stir-fried with pickled red pepper, fresh red pepper, and the usual stir-fry veggies (snow peas, onions, and carrots) and dried mushrooms. It was all heat and soy sauce saltiness, but I enjoyed it...especially the bites of sweet pickled pepper here and there.

        Eggplant in garlic sauce was a pretty straightforward version of the dish--slightly sweet and garlicky.

        1. re: verily
          e
          earter Nov 28, 2010 02:40 PM

          There is always a reason for big turn over. If the people work there were happy, they will not leave. They just need to work, to have a job, but people usually work for better. I saw more than one who used work for Asia Cafe now work for A+A. Like them before, like them now. They are always good to people, very helpful.
          I think A+A's food are really good, real MALA, to me, feels like eat at Asia Cafe before, of cause Chef Zhou was the one cooked there before. Very sad that Asia Cafe lost their best Chefs ( Bao, and Zhou), food taste no MALA anymore. So, we are happy that Chef Zhou still in Austin, so we can have place for real Sichuan food.

        2. re: rudeboy
          r
          ran183 Nov 17, 2010 12:18 AM

          They are not related to Asia Cafe. I know that as a fact. Their head cook use to be the 3rd string cook at Asia Cafe and their cashier use to work at Asia Cafe too. They also seems to have completely copied Asia Cafe's menu (put together by Asia Cafe's owners and actual head chef) and even listed the items in the same order. I asked them about it and they said they came up with it.... which doesn't really make sense to me... but whatever. Their take on the dishes are different. Personally I prefer the originals, but some might like this though.

          All in all, if you've tried Asia Cafe before then this place is nothing special. With the rumors floating around about Asia Cafe having some sort of "special event" happening soon, If this place wants to succeed they have got to come up with something better very very soon.

          1. re: ran183
            s
            ssouth Nov 17, 2010 05:56 AM

            Interesting..... Definitely someone 'close' to the situation.

            1. re: ran183
              e
              earter Nov 28, 2010 02:24 PM

              You are right, they are not relate to Asia Cafe. But, the chef use to work there and he is a real Chef, Sichuan food chef. We use to eat at Asia Cafe all the time, but after they lost Chef Bao, then Chef Zhou, the taste changed big time, the name are the same, but not taste good anymore. we were really sad because we could not find good Sichuan food in Austin. Then friend of us told us Chef Zhou is working at A+A SDG, we went, very happy with their food, taste very good, very real. The reason you feel the menu was the same, that is because those name start with Chef Bao ( who is back to Sichuan) and Chef Zhou. They did not copy the menu, they just take the name they create with them, I think. I follow the chef who can cook good food, not stay with the restaurant food do not taste good anymore. Anyway, I just glad now I have place to eat real Sichuan food again, from a real chef.

            2. re: rudeboy
              e
              earter Nov 28, 2010 02:52 PM

              My understanding, the chef was force to leave, he had to find a place to work, guess what, his friend invite him to open this one. So be careful, if you do not treat people right, it can set back fire to you. I think that was what happen.
              But I do not care what what happen between them, I care I can eat really good Sichuan food at A+A Sichuan Garden!

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              Sichuan Garden
              110 N Interstate 35, Round Rock, TX 78681

          2. c
            conquer Nov 8, 2010 11:04 AM

            This is quite odd. Sounds like a feud or something.

            North Austin has enough authentic Chinese places! They could have opened one South!!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: conquer
              rudeboy Nov 8, 2010 12:31 PM

              Yeah - it would be nice if they opened on Burnet Rd, near my house, although the current location is closer to my work than Asia Cafe.

              Anyhow, we went today. The menu is a replica, almost, of Asia Cafe's menu. Thre was a flub with our order, but luckily, we got an extra dish out of the deal.

              The people running it are real nice.

              The salt and pepper pork was predictingly amazing. Pork with sour mustard greens were tasty, and I liked the hot and sour sweet potato noodle. Sorry, I don't have time to write a critic's review!

            2. c
              Craenor Nov 9, 2010 10:24 AM

              Not a full review, but my wife and I had lunch there today. It's very much like Asia Cafe in terms of setup and menu. We didn't get adventurous this time around, we split Zhong Dumplings which were really good.

              I had General Tso's Chicken and my wife had Kung Pao Chicken. Both were excellent, best General Tso's Chicken I've had in years, much better than that at Asia Cafe last time I tried it.

              Portions were huge. We'll definitely be back.

              1. c
                Carter B. Nov 11, 2010 11:27 AM

                We tried it for lunch today. It is close to Reale's Pizza for those that are not familiar with the area. The interior was nicer and more quiet than Asia Cafe.

                Having been a fan of Asia Cafe before boycotting them due to a service problem, I'm glad to see a new place with a similar menu. We tried:

                * Dan Dan Noodles -- an option not on the AC menu. Despite being listed in the Cold Appetizers, these came out piping hot. Probably my favorite option we had today. I'm not expert on Dan Dan noodles but these seemed more oily than I expected.

                * Zhong Dumplings. The dough was much better than the ones at AC. Another AC lover at the table commented the flavor was not as strong.

                * Stir Fried Beef with chile and pickle (as someone commented above). This was pretty good. Reminds me more of the water boiled beef than stir fried. Similar to spicy beef filet at AC but with more interesting veggies.

                * Ma Po Tofo. Very similar to AC and a good version.

                * Chicken with Hot Chiles. This one is hot and good. Lots of red chiles.

                * Pan Fried Shrimp with crushed chile: I did not have a bite but a friend said the AC version is better--these were too breaded

                * Asian Eggplant. Good and garlicy.

                Overall, the place is a winner--better surroundings, equal food, they bring food to your table (and even do limited delivery). We'll be back.

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                Reale's Pizza & Cafe
                13450 N Highway 183, Austin, TX 78750

                2 Replies
                1. re: Carter B.
                  donnaaries Jun 9, 2011 05:00 AM

                  Dan Dan noodles are suppose to be served cold. I ordered this dish from A+A and it's a shame, they basically do the same thing they do to the water boiled dishes and call it dan dan noodles. I guess I have to drive to Dallas or Houston for some real dan dan noodles.

                  We also tried the twice cooked pork from A+A which was slightly better than the Asia Cafe version but still lacking. The pork belly strips were limp, not a great texture.

                  I wish we had semi-decent Sichuan cuisine in Austin. I've been to Asia Cafe on three visits and A+A on one visit, and none of them seem to hit the spot.

                  1. re: donnaaries
                    abidonfood Jun 9, 2011 04:57 PM

                    that's a shame... have you had the Spicy Honey Comb at either? I preferred the Asia Cafe version over A+A's, but still doesn't compare to 888's version in Houston...

                2. e
                  earter Nov 28, 2010 02:45 PM

                  No, they are not relate to Asia Cafe. But, the chef use to work there and he is a real Chef, Sichuan food chef. We use to eat at Asia Cafe all the time, but after they lost Chef Bao, then Chef Zhou, the taste changed big time, the name are the same, but not taste good anymore. we were really sad because we could not find good Sichuan food in Austin. Then friend of us told us Chef Zhou is working at A+A SDG, we went, very happy with their food, taste very good, very real. The reason you feel the menu was the same, that is because those name start with Chef Bao ( who is back to Sichuan) and Chef Zhou. They did not copy the menu, they just take the name they create with them, I think. I follow the chef who can cook good food, not stay with the restaurant food do not taste good anymore. Anyway, I am just so glad now I have place to eat real Sichuan food again, from a real chef.
                  If you like Cantonese food, eat at HO HO, if you like Sichuan food, A+A Sichuan Garden is the only place you can enjoy real Sichuan food!

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                  Sichuan Garden
                  110 N Interstate 35, Round Rock, TX 78681

                  1. c
                    conquer May 10, 2011 07:32 AM

                    I went for the first time. Ordered spicy beef fillet, salt and pepper squid, green bean strips with shredded chicken.

                    Portions were somewhat smaller than Asia Cafe's. The beef had a coating (meat tenderizing seasoning and/or corn starch) I'm not used to. Salt and pepper squid came on a dinner-size plate--tasted good, but portion and presentation were undercut. The biggest problem I had was with the chicken green bean strips. (FYI the green bean strips are not Western 'green beans' but ground mung beans made into fettucini-like noodles, and are served cold.) The strips were good, but there was barely any chicken on top, and the chicken was julienned, not torn (ie 'shredded') - a big texture letdown. Asia Cafe's version is superior. There's a jar of szechuan peppercorn chili paste (mala) at the table, so you don't have to beg for tiny dishes of it like at AC.

                    The decor is nice, and the cashier (you know who I'm talking about) seemed a lot happier working here. The place has potential, and I hope it stays (can't have enough Chinese-Chinese restaurants in Austin); they just need to work out a few kinks with the menu.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: conquer
                      c
                      Craenor May 10, 2011 07:44 AM

                      If you had reason to complain about the size of portions, maybe it was just an off-night? When we order from A + A Sichuan, they give us a TON of food. I'm a notorious overeater with left over echoes from childhood of "clean your plate" in my mind, and yet I still make at least two meals out of an order from there.

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