The Austin Chronicle

More Dope Chinese, Wheatsville Brings the Curbside, Kyoten Sushiko Shutters

By Wayne Alan Brenner, September 30, 2020, 11:30am, On the Range

Here’s your weekly Food News Buffet, culled from numerous PR releases, official posts, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings.

So, JuiceLand is closing … all its shops early on election day.

That’s right, the juicery known for promoting healthy lifestyles by creating organic juices, smoothies, and meals wants to remind you: Hey, go and exercise your right to help decide the 2020 United States Presidential election! Thus, all 33 JuiceLand locations across Austin, Houston, and Dallas will close early on Tue., Nov. 3, ending the business day at 1:30pm instead of 9pm. Owner Matt Shook, we salute you, and we are so gonna vote.

Way before that happens, though, a purveyor of more, ah, recreational juice – we mean the esteemed beermongers of Jester King – will be hosting nonprofit Jolt Initiative at their popular brewery this Sun., Oct. 4, to get people registered to vote in the first place.

Civic duty aside, we’re glad to note that Chicago’s acclaimed Aba, a Mediterranean-style restaurant that’s been raved about throughout the Windy City, is opening its second location ever – right here in Austin, on South Congress … meanwhile, Rainey Street’s got itself a new eatery, too: Idle Hands, a Cuban-inspired joint ready to serve up all manner of tasty noms among the liquid intoxicants … and Easy Tiger, having shuttered its Downtown location, is preparing to open a new, huge venue (15,000 square feet, baby!) in the former Red’s Porch location on South Lamar; of course, that Easy Tiger at the Linc is still rocking the drinks-enhanced, dough-forward gastrobrilliance as their Oktoberfest celebration kicks into fuller gear.

Over at the Swoop House – home to 2Dine4 Catering – the new Happy Foods daily takeout program is resplendent with salads and noodle bowls that are as tasty as they are healthy, not to mention specials like adobo-braised beef short rib with salsa matcha, Spanish rice, and grilled fall vegetables, and – ah, hell, we’ll make a reservation for their refreshing weekend brunch-in-the-garden, too, and try not to smuggle some of the surrounding foliage out after we’re done eating.

Speaking of brunch, you know that chef Nic Yanes’ kitchen at Verbena in the Hilton Hotel’s Canopy on West Sixth is also serving up the Sunday goodness again, right? With dishes like brioche French toast and pita-accompanied shakshuka and potato mille-feuille, the maestro of Juniper and Uncle Nicky’s continues to impress.

Wheatsville Food Co-op has just launched a new online platform for curbside service. Shoppers can place an order online for pickup at the South Lamar or Guadalupe stores, where – for no extra fee – one of the co-op’s “picky picker outers” will shop, bag, and bring out groceries to customers in designated parking areas. Hey, it works well at H-E-B, it’ll work well here, too.

H-E-B, btw, is currently featuring This Saves Lives, a collection of nutrition bars and krispy treats that helps kids suffering from severe acute malnutrition – by sending life-saving food to those in need around the world. We mean, you’re gonna be snacking like a fiend, anyway, citizen, might as well do some good while you’re at it. Along those lines, we’re glad to report that sales of Lazarus Brewing’s Life Together, an American pale ale, recently brought in $7,833 to help local kids by supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin. (And you know that Lazarus outdoor patio is open and now bigger than ever, right?)

But sometimes altruism begins at home, isn’t that true? Like, if mama ain’t happy, then ain’t nobody happy sort of thing? Probably everybody will be happy with the news that Perry’s Steakhouse, pivoting along with the rest of the industry, has launched an online market wherein you can purchase their Famous Pork Chop and have that sweet, smoky, sizzling portion of porcine perfection delivered to your own home. Isn’t it a bit pricey, though? Listen: When you get that Chop in-store, on those special Fridays, they never charge you enough, do they? Here, we’ll suggest, the price is just finally commensurate with the actual, mouthwatering meal.

Now that we’ve all got meat on the brain, so to speak, check this out: The annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest is going virtual this year. The Oct. 24-Nov. 1 event, dubbed “BBQ Fest: Backyard Edition,” will feature livestreams (like free grilling tips and tricks from the TM’s Daniel Vaughn, and other compelling treats) and takeout from more than 50 of the state’s top barbecue joints. Pro tip: Better register early, this thing’s gonna be sold out fast.

Old Thousand, that “dope Chinese” powerhouse of Asian noms that you could probably happily eat every day and night for the rest of your life? They’re doing OK, during this pandemic, due to their fierce shift to a robust takeout and delivery mode. They’re doing so OK, in fact, that they’re opening a second location on Burnet Road, starting Sunday, Oct. 4. And that, too, will be exclusively takeout and delivery – until the whole sorry coronavirus situation has been properly dispatched, and then it’ll be open as a full-service restaurant as well. (And OMG they sell Cheerwine.)

What’s sad, though, is that Kyoten Sushiko in Mueller is the latest den of culinary excellence on the 86 board: The acclaimed sushi restaurant, commanded and served omakase-style by chef Sarah Cook for the past year and a half, started out in 2014 as Otto Phan’s food truck (Phan’s second Kyoten in Chicago is, nota bene, not closing). Right now, in the fall of 2020, all we can do is shed a few briny tears for its passing and follow chef Sarah on Instagram to see what the talented itamae gets up to next.

In brighter, coffee-flavored news, Thomas Gohring’s Kick Butt Coffee on Airport continues to buzz along, surviving on caffeine and baked goods and the sensei’s longtime martial arts dojo moving in next door; and that new Bennu in the adjacent Highland campus is also priming the java scene; and, whoa, now there’s another new cafe in the neighborhood: Spokesman Coffee, longtime denizen of that lively Yard off St. Elmo Road, is opening inside the Crux Climbing Center next to the Brewtorium on October 1.

And finally, wrapping this week’s Chronicle Food News Buffet on an organizational note, the Austin chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier – that international leadership group of culinary women – has named its 2020-2021 board and added 23 new members representing the fields of food, fine beverage, and hospitality. The new board includes President Stacy Franklin of Franklin Barbecue; First Vice President Tabatha Stephens of Nourish; Second Vice President Lorena Llegata of Dish’n Dames; Treasurer Sarah Heard of Foreign & Domestic and Commerce Café; and Secretary Nancy Marr of Central Market. Bon appétit, indeed!

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