This week we are doing something a little bit different and are deviating from our Food Truck Challenge. When friends are in town, we like to really bring it up a notch and decided on hitting up Chef Paul Qui’s East Side King at Liberty Bar. In true Austin fashion, this is Asian fusion at it’s finest.
Unless you have been living under a rock, everyone in Austin knows who top dog Chef Paul Qui (pronounced “Key”) is. Top Chef winner and flavor profile guru, Qui has been opening up restaurants and food trucks all around town. While there have been several before him, Qui may have been the one to finally put Austin on the map as a legitimate foodie paradise. (I swear I am not a fangirl. *cough*) With the help of Moto Utsonomiya, they brought East Side King to the forefront of late night foodie snacking in East Austin. With buildings and foodtrucks painted by Peelander-Z’s Peelander Yellow, they are hard to miss.
We made our way to the truck at around 6:00PM. My suggestion is to get there as early as possible because the wait time for your food can get a little crazy. I’m not saying it isn’t worth it but on a weekend night, you can be going through a few pints before seeing your food.
This is what we ordered:
Tongue Buns: Roasted beef tongue in steamed bun, homemade peanut butter curry, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, jalapeno
Poor Qui’s Buns: Roasted pork belly in steamed bun, hoisin sauce, cucumber kimchee, green onion
This is what we stole from Steve:
Beet Home Fries: Deep-fried roasted beets, Kewpie mayo, Shichimi tougarashi, green onion
Thai Chicken Kara-age: Deep fried chicken thigh, sweet & spicy sauce, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, jalapeno
One thing to keep in mind is that this is more like a small plate affair. While Shaun and I were satisfied with our buns, it isn’t a meal for most people. Go with friends and order a bit of everything to share (which is what we did).
I have a small obsession with beef tongue and I was not disappointed with my tongue buns. Tender and flavorful, this has to be some of the best lengua I’ve had (and my mother is a master at making it). Shaun was a little weirded out at the consistency of the buns (as he had never had them before) but by the end he was stuffing his face and licking his fingers clean. The pork belly had a really great, almost crispy consistency which paired well with the soft and slightly chewy buns.
The beet home fries are one of my favorite things that East Side King makes. After repeated attempts to copy it in my own kitchen, I’ve resigned to just ordering them when I get the chance. The Kewpie mayo really drives the flavor home and I always blab about them for the next couple of days. The Thai Chicken Kara-age is what really threw me for a loop. I’m a fan of chicken thighs but I’ve never had something so flavorful and yummy. While I enjoyed my beef tongue, I’m totally ordering that next time (and making Shaun get the tongue so I can have both).
Score: 4/5 (Only because I like their Hole in the Wall Restaurant better due to their ramen.)
Ordered: Tongue Buns and Poor Qui’s Buns (2 per each order)
Favorite thing: Beet Home Fries
Least favorite thing: A bit small.
Type of food: Asian Fusion
The truck we visited could be found here:
While this may not be part of our official Food Truck Friday Challenge, you can view other food trucks here.