|4534 Westgate Blvd. #105
Austin, TX 78745
Tien Jin is one of the largest cities in China. It’s also the name of one of the best Cantonese-style Chinese restaurants in Austin. My taste normally runs to the spicier Szechuan or Beijing styles of cooking but Tien Jin coaxes a great deal of flavor into the milder Cantonese fare. Owners Michael (he’s also an acupuncturist) and Joanne are gracious hosts, and I always enjoy my dinners there.
Tien Jin’s appetizers and soups provide a tasty and nuanced beginning to your Cantonese feast. I really like the Pan Fried Dumplings (potstickers) with a rich and layered pork center. The key is that the wrappings are light and not too dense. Nice dipping sauce as well. The Crabmeat Rangoon is also a light and flavorful version of this Chinese classic. I like mine with a little hot mustard. The BBQ Ribs are a good take on an ancient recipe. The first bite says it all: abundantly seared flavors, and a rich and rewarding sauce. The tenderness of the ribs is also noteworthy. You can always tell a good Cantonese restaurant by its soups. The Hot and Sour Seafood Soup is a very pleasing and piquant blend of fresh seafood and lip-pursing flavors. I highly recommend it. Another favorite is the Pork and Pickled Cabbage Soup. I like the light touch on this one, and the fact that the cabbage doesn’t overwhelm.
The entrees at Tien Jin cover the more traditional American favorites as well as authentic Cantonese specialties. On the traditional side, I very much like the Spicy Crispy Shrimp. This is their version of the classic Salt and Pepper shrimp and it has terrific flavors with the jalapeno and onion accents. The Szechuan Beef is also a nice dish although it comes off just a bit on the bland side for my taste. But the crunch of the marinated and seared beef in the fresh vegetables is appealing.
On the Cantonese side, you must try the Spicy Whole Fish with Pork. The flavors here are really interesting and the pork and the fish blend surprisingly well. The fish is served in tact however, so be careful of the bones. The Sauteed Scallops and Shrimp is a comforting dish in a smooth, white sauce. The beauty of this preparation is apparent from the moment it arrives at the table and the tastes are indeed authentic and pleasing. I’ve always enjoyed the ancient Chinese art of blending tofu and shrimp and Tien Jin’s version called the Pipa Tofu is light, delicate, yet with enough texture to provide some needed contrast. This should be high on your list.
Another great choice is a dish also popular in Taiwan: the Pork with Flavored Bean Curd. The pork is served in thin strips, and it’s tender and very tasty. The strips of bean curd have nice texture (a critical component) and there’s almost a bit of crunch to this really neat presentation. Finally, the Shrimp Lo Mein resonates with, albeit, a milder flavor, yet it holds up at least partially due to the lack of abundant oil (often a problem with lo mein dishes). Tien Jin gets it!
There’s an enormous lunchtime buffet each day at Tien Jin but that’s another tasty story. Tien Jin is located just south of the Buffet Palace off Westgate (ironically) and under the Funny Bone Defensive Driving joint. Turn into the Buffet Palace parking lot and look for the shopping center just behind it. There you will find Tien Jin. They’ve been getting it right since 1993 and my buddy Cactus Pryor loves the place. ‘Nuff said!