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Chinatown chef worth writing (by hand) about

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 13, 2012

In this age of instant social media communication, a letter that has actually been typed and mailed tends to attract attention. I recently received correspondence from a reader who was very distressed by the closing of Chinatown West­lake earlier this year, but delighted to discover the former chef and much of the staff working somewhere else. Indeed, former China­town chef Eddie Chao took over operation of Hunan Lion (4006 S. Lamar) in March and staffed it with many of his Chinatown co-workers. Chao's many fans and friends are encouraged to visit him there. I can't guarantee that any Chronicle review would include the constructive criticisms the reader advocates to turn his new favorite Chinese restaurant into a fine-dining mecca, but Hunan Lion is certainly on our radar.

Dishcrawl is an online platform that organizes progressive dinners through restaurants in several cities in the U.S. and Canada. The foodie social networking start-up debuts in Austin on July 15. The first local Dishcrawl features a walking tour of four restaurants in one evening; the $40 ticket price covers food, but not drinks. For more info or to buy tickets, go to www.dishcrawl.com, or follow them on Twitter @DishcrawlATX.

The Eastside bar and dining scene boasts two new food trailers. Thunder Heart Bison: Ranch to Trailer (1104 E. Sixth) has recently relocated from Downtown, and chef Cat New is serving up bison dishes inspired by various cuisines, made with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, Wednesday through Saturday, 7pm-3am. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to hear about menu specials and discounts. A few blocks further east, Pink Avocado Catering has re-launched the former late-night food destination, Go Bites, as a food trailer outside the Grackle (1700 E. Sixth). Go Bites' signature item will be five different meat or veggie Rockets ($7) and an assortment of seasonal side dishes. They'll be open weeknights, 5pm-1:45am, and weekends, noon-1:45am; credit cards accepted.

Some little bites of restaurant news: Not only is beloved pit man Art Blondin serving up his signature barbecue at Jax Neighborhood Cafe (2828 Rio Grande), we've just been informed that he'll join Jon Emery's Red Hot Revue and special guests during early shows on Saturday afternoons, 4-6pm... Trace at the W (200 Lavaca) is rolling out locally sourced summer food and drink menus developed by chef Ben Hightower and libationist Joyce Garri­son. Check out Kate Thornberry's reaction to some of these great new offerings on our blog... Hillside Farmacy (1209 E. 11th) recently launched Oyster Mon­days, with the delicacies half-price from 6-10pm, plus a new happy hour menu available weekdays, 3-6pm... Out of concern for her staff, patrons, and visiting musicians, Sharon Burke has turned the legendary Poodie's Hill­top Roadhouse (22308 Hwy. 71 W.) into a smoke-free zone. Smokers can still hang out on the deck, and we're betting there are still no bad days at Poodie's... My birthday is this week, so follow me on Twitter @ACFood to see how many different celebrations I can squeeze out of it.

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