8650 Spicewood Springs Rd. #114A
Austin, TX 78759
Asia Cafe will not win any ambiance points, and it’s in a fairly downscale strip mall at Research and Spicewood. Nothing elegant or fancy. But the food here mostly rocks!
The soups are by and large good. I like the Spicy Beef soup. There’s real flavor here, and the meat has a nice texture. The Seafood Tofu soup is also good although the tofu could be a bit firmer for my taste. I’m normally a fan of pan-fried dumpling, but at Asia Cafe I’d go with the boiled dumplings (pork) with the proviso that they’re piping hot. Very impressive flavor and terrific texture. The Pork Slices with special garlic sauce are also simply too tasty to pass up. They also make their own sausage here: try them. The flavors are broad and really engaging. And the noodle dishes, especially the Stir-Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Beef, are generally very good.
And there’s always something new at Asia Cafe. The Diced Twice Cooked Pork in Black Bean Sauce with steamed bread is quite remarkable. We are talking amazing flavors: pork like you may never have envisioned it with textural perfection. The Teppan Black Pepper Beef has that familiar grilled/charred first bite pop to it that really sears the the taste buds. This is a new favorite.
And the seafood dishes here resonate between wonderfully nuanced and occasionally boldly spiced options. I love, as did my late friend Frank Yi, the simply named Spicy Fish. These are slightly thicker than usual slices of fish, but they are exceptionally tender and just about perfect with the spicy chili sauce. Hard to resist this one. Another very exciting dish is the Mango Jumbo Shrimp. Lovely flavors on the softer side here with a beautiful presentation.
I am also very partial to the Asia Eggplant with Ground Pork. The eggplant is smooth with just the right texture: not too mushy, as can sometimes be the case with this dish. The taste is a paean to eggplant lovers everywhere. One dish I’m not really crazy about is the Braised Meatballs with Veggies. They are a bit too dry for my taste and surprisingly, lack flavor. But that’s a minor blemish on a pretty damn good scorecard.
Asia Cafe is more than worth a visit. Just leave your tux at home.