Hao HaoJuly 22, 2011
|1901 W. William Cannon Dr.
Austin, TX 78745
Hao Hao has been one of Austin’s great little Asian dining gems for many years. I’m pleased to report that this family owned restaurant at William Cannon and Manchaca continues to operate in fine form. Hao Hao literally means “good good” and what’s wrong with a little redundancy? Nothing at all when it comes to outstanding Chinese and Vietnamese fare from owners Kevin and Lynn Quach.
One of the things I always tell my friends about Hao Hao is how great their soups are. Let’s begin with the Pho (pronounced “fuh”) which is the classic rice noodle and beef broth of northern Vietnam. I love the Shrimp Pho with lots of cabbage, bean sprouts and rice noodles. The first taste of Hao Hao’s shrimp pho gives you this exhilarating flavor rush and then it just gets better. I also enjoy the Pho Bo Bien which features noodles with tender beef meatballs. This has a really engaging flavor and it just looks so good. Then you must try the Mi Hoanh Thanh which is a mellow wonton egg noodle soup. Any of these soups can be a meal as they are served in ample bowls. And the prices are quite reasonable.
The Chinese menu features many tasty and extremely well-prepared dishes. The BBQ spare ribs bring back an old Chinese-American tradition. They are seared to perfection with Hao Hao’s exquisite sauce. Great after taste on these. And you have to love the Scallops and Tofu with Spicy Garlic sauce. This is flat-out delicious with texture that simply doesn’t quit. Another long-time favorite is the Peppery Shrimp. The dish is dry stir-fried with garlic, peppercorn and ground black pepper. It has a very interesting first bite profile, and then the flavors engagingly sneak up on you. I highly recommend it. Another great dish is the Basil Chicken. You want to talk tender with an abundance of interesting and subtle tastes? Fresh basil is sauteed with mushroom. bamboo, and bell peppers. The result is simple yet from a taste standpoint, beautifully integrated. And you’ve gotta try the Shrimp Egg Foo Young, not only because of its rich. smooth flavor but because Hao Hao is one of the few restaurants around that still makes this old classic.
The Vietnamese dishes offer an entirely different type of taste and texture, but they are no less compelling. You have to begin with the Vietnamese Egg Rolls. These are instant taste rushes and are more dense than the Chinese egg roll. And try Kevin’s Bo-Luc Lac. This is cubes of blackened tenderloin with a beautiful seared flavor and onions and tomatoes on a bed of lettuce with a light wine and vinegar sauce. It’s a wonderful preparation and elegant in its simplicity. The Roasted Duck in a clay pot is another terrific dish. The flavor of the duck is exceptionally well conceived and the clay pot style of preparation preserves the moisture without which duck can often be dry. Oh, and lest I forget, please try the Can Chua ga otherwise known as the Vietnamese Hot and Sour Chicken soup. The bright colorful vegetables in this soup not only light up the presentation but the flavors as well.
Hao Hao is open daily for lunch and dinner except Mondays. That it’s stood the test of time can be reflected in the ages of the owners’ teenagers who used to play with their toys as toddlers in a remote corner of the restaurant when I first started dining at Hao Hao. Those toys have given way to smart phones and Ipads but Hao Hao is still just as it always was: good good!