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Szechuan House

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Fans of Asia Cafe / A+A might want to check out this relatively new restaurant at the SE corner of Burnet and Kramer. The family there are incredibly nice; exceptionally good, friendly service - almost cloying.

I ordered P10 ("Beef Tripe and Pork Blood In Hot Pot Sauce"). They seemed shocked (but in a nice way) that a gringo would order this. If this item is anything to go by, be warned: when they say something is spicy (hot), they really mean it. Six hours later and I'm still sweating. Awesome!

They have a cold dish "bar" with about eight items, including "pig face" (probably cheek), pig ear, beef omasa, and the like. You can choose three portions for $6.95. Interesting...

Here's the menu:
http://szechuanhouseaustin.com/menu.html

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  1. Looks interesting. It is a lot closer to me than Asia Cafe, so I'll have to give it a try for my next unplanned lunch. Some curious things in the menu. Ma Po Dofu listened as vegetarian as well as Tofu and Pork. Unless I missed it, their category of chef's specialties is empty.

    1. Had lunch here yesterday. For appetizers we had cold noodles and steamed dumplings which were both good. For main dish we had the Whole FIsh Szechuan Style and it was very good. Nice and spicy and perfectly cooked. There were two ladies taking orders, filling water glasses etc., and both seemed to be shocked that we would order the whole fish, and seemed to be delighted at how much we enjoyed it.

      As we were finishing, we overheard orders at the next table, and now, perhaps, I understand why they were shocked at our order. Non-chinese family, like us, and the orders were (not exactly in this order, but I'm not making this up): sweet and sour shrimp, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, etc. So, the staff here really don't expect non-Chinese patron to order the more "exotic" dishes.

      We had ordered takeout from another Chinese restaurant about a year ago, and when the packed food came out, the lady kept looking around and past my blonde wife. Because clearly, we wouldn't order the dishes we did. When she finally realized that we were indeed who the food was meant for, she was mortified. "I didn't put in any fortune cookies," she repeated multiple times, and then stuffed four of five of them in my hand.

      1. happened to be in the neighborhood today, so stopped by to pick up some fuqi feipian to go... that's the "couples lung slices" on the menu, same as the the "spicy honey comb" on the asia cafe / a+a menu...

        it was pretty good, and generously oily which means it's authentic, lol... but it definitely needed more mala... i prefer the one at asia cafe, but i'd come back to this place if i was in the neighborhood or for lunch since it's closer to work. i ordered this dish in mandarin, so the lady was kinda shocked. she was really sweet, so i'd go back just for her. ^^

        1. I had an underwhelming meal here last week. A couple of ho-hum dishes--under-seasoned, very light on the sichuan peppercorn--pretty good red oil wontons, and a slightly above average cumin beef. So-so dan dan noodles. Despite that, had a return trip today as we were curious about the cold station, which is only available Fri, Sat, Sun. Much better meal. Sharper, cleaner, more pronounced flavors. Seasoning was better. And the cold bar was great. We had the cucumbers, soybeans & kale, spicy bamboo, smoked pig's face, pig's ear, and a spicy beef stomach. All good. In addition, the mapo was above average, red oil wontons had noticeably more Sichuan peppercorn this week, and chicken & jalapeno was tasty as well.

          1. Outstanding restaurant.. Food and service top notch.. compares favorably to Szechuan Rest in San Antonio and Mala in Houston.. Had the Cheng spicy dumplings and garlic chx entree.. I have a new fav restaurant in Austin!

            1. We ended up at Schezuan House for Thanksgiving lunch today. The tea smoked duck was fantastic and the dry fried green beans and orange chicken were excellent.

              We tried to get the red oil wontons, but the server told that they would take too long. She also said they were out of orange beef and three cup chicken. The food came out as each dish was prepared, in no particular order, which would have been fine except that the vegetarian in our group waited and waited and waited some more since the veggie dishes came out last (except for the final dish, jalapeno chicken, which was just so-so).

              Overall it was a good visit, with the very friendly service and the afore-mentioned duck making a return trip quite likely.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ashforth

                They seem to do very well with duck. I really enjoyed their "Braised Duck with Beer Sauce", though I'm not certain actual beer was used (language issue, perhaps). I like the red oil wontons, but found "Chung's Dumplings" more flavourful. Given the time it took for them to come out, I think they make their dumplings/wontons from scratch, rather than microwaving.

                Was the orange chicken in a "goopy" sauce? I had a similar order at Asia Cafe once and found the sauce a little too sweet and very thick, though it wasn't really that bad.

              2. We tried this place based on lots of recommendations and ratings last week.

                First, out of Three Cup Chicken, but no problem, we'll get the spicy fish.

                Didn't see the cold dishes until we'd already ordered, but no matter, we'd try next time.

                First out was the fish. It was out in less than 5 minutes. There was absolutely no heat and no flavor to it, literally just oil flavor. The actual fish was soggy and flat-out mushy.

                Rice was brought out, I kept hitting crunchy, uncooked grains throughout.

                Chung's dumplings were next. We ordered with an expectation of Zhong like dumplings. They were frozen, straight from a bag. Thin, slippery wrappers and a middle that tasted like nothing at all. The sauce that accompanied looked like the Zhong sauce, but again, not a lick of any flavor, just oil.

                Eggplant in garlic sauce was the most edible thing and it was quite Americanized, gloppy brown sauce. We each had about three bites and went to the counter to pay the bill. No one was there. When someone finally showed up, she asked if we wanted a box. We said no, and then she asked how it was. I replied, "Meh." She said, "It was too spicy?" I said, "No, it wasn't spicy at all." She looked shocked. I don't have a high spice threshold or anything, but what we had tasted like nothing.

                I won't be returning and am left wondering what everyone's talking about? Give me Asia Cafe any day.

                3 Replies
                1. re: foodiegal71

                  I went for a late lunch one day and saw all the workers eating a "traditional" meal. I wanted to sit down with them. That day, I ordered "stir fried salted pork" and it was pretty badass. But I can see that they could dumb down the menu for us gringos. I still can't stand bitter melon, though.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    Ah, Rudeboy - if it weren't for you, I'd never know shaken beef.

                    I wish someone would organize a big food party to recognize the signs on a good chalkboard menu, so we'd at least know we might have a chance...we poor gringos....

                    btw, we saw something amazing come out at Din Ho and dared to ask the table next to us. She pointed to the second chalkboard special on the left and said it was snow pea leaves. It's now a staple when we go there.

                    1. re: amysuehere

                      Oh girl, I love snow pea leaves. My daughter and I planted snow peas in the back yard and they're just starting to climb. Hope the don't freeze. I'd meet up with folks for a later lunch there and try and have them cook ups they're lunch food.