Second Helpings: Chinese
Tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled this week by Mick Vann.
Pao's Mandarin House
800 Brazos, 482-8100
2300 Lohman's Crossing, 263-8869
Daily, 11-2:30pm, 4:30-9:45pm
Pao's is an Austin institution, and one of the big boys in the dim sum wars. In fact, you can't go wrong making a meal of the appetizer menu, with choices like the scallion pancake, dynamite dumplings, fried tofu, and Hot and Spicy Wontons. Be adventurous and try the Subgum Stone Hotpot, Clams With Black Bean Sauce, Hot and Sour Sizzling Rice with pork, or the Spicy and Tangy Scallops. Don't order anything until you peruse the Special Chinese Menu!
Suzi's Chinese Kitchen
1152 S. Lamar, 441-8400
Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10:30pm
Suzi's Chinese Grill
7858 Shoal Creek, 302-4600
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm
We've followed the effervescent Suzi from her days as the waitress at Taiwan Restaurant in the olden days, to the opening of the first Suzi's on South Lamar, and now to the larger Grill at Anderson and Shoal Creek. Suzi's is wildly popular for lunch at both locations, and for good reason. At the Grill, insist on the divine Lettuce Wraps, Grilled Chicken Salad, Eggplant with Curry Sauce, Basil Shrimp With Lemongrass, or any of the grilled entrées. It'd be hard to go wrong with anything at either location.
4006 S. Lamar, 447-3388
Mon-Thu, 11-2:30, 5-10pm; Fri,11-2:30pm, 5-11pm
Sat, 11:30am-11pm; Sun, noon-10pm
Hunan Lion has served South Austin's bubbas in Brodie Oaks for years now. They've got a dependable and popular lunch special through the week, and a Sunday Brunch too. Seek out the more unusual fare for a special treat. Go for the Curried Singapore Noodles with shrimp and barbecued pork, the Hunan Soft-Shell Crab, Crispy Tea Smoked Duck, or the Firecracker Prawns. The creamy seafood soup with shrimp, scallops, and mushrooms is mighty tasty.
8301 Burnet, 458-2263
Mon-Thu, 11:30-2pm, 5-9:30pm; Fri, 11:30-2pm, 5-10:30pm
One of Austin's older Chinese strongholds, Tien Hong rules the roost with the weekend dim sum crowd (arriving even slightly late assures a wait). Skip the 10 most popular dishes (defined on the menu) and go with the specialties. Items like Seafood Spicy Noodle Soup, the incredible Pot Stickers, Smoked Duck With Ginger Root, Lamb in Hot Pepper Sauce, Shrimp and Chicken with Fresh Asparagus, and Whole Steamed Fish With Black Bean Sauce will tickle the tastebuds.
3407 Greystone, 343-9307
Ronald Cheng's devoted diners have followed him around town for years (the Bee Cave bunch still mourns the move). Chef's Specials are where Chinatown really shines -- try the Thai Pepper-Basil Shrimp, the crunchy Rabbit in Orange Sauce, Crispy Whole Fish in Red Chili Sauce, or the Peppercorn Chicken for proof. No meal is complete without a side of Dry-Cooked String Beans With Pork, and the Shrimp With Lemongrass Soup. No oily, cloyingly thick sauces here!
1940 W. William Cannon, 443-8848
Hunan is tops with the Chinese nationals' crowd down South, and for good reason. Solid, dependable Hunanese fare -- big portions done right at a fair price. The best Spicy Bean Curd With Pork on the planet (and nice, tangy Hot and Sour). The spicy House Special Soup Noodle, Mussels With Garlic Sauce, Hunan Chicken and Broccoli (bone-in), and the Seafood With Mustard Sauce are all above reproach. Hunan also has a superb lunch special daily.
Din Ho Chinese BBQ
8557 Research, 832-8788
Don't let the barbecue part fool you -- Din Ho does specialize in all manner of Oriental barbecue (which is excellent), but they also have one of the biggest, most complete, Cantonese menus in Austin -- and it's all great. To leave without tasting the Dried Scallop With Snow Pea Leaves or the Sizzling Beef With Black Pepper would be the mark of insanity. Go with a herd of hungry friends for the House Special Combo Dinners -- a plethora of gut-busting delights for about 10 bucks a head!
T & S Seafood
10014 N. Lamar, 339-8434
Mon-Fri, 11am-2:30, 5-10pm
The reincarnation of the old Rainbow Inn for all of you seafood lovers -- don't go if the sight of your future dinner staring back from the surrounding tanks bothers you. Light yet flavorful, fresh Cantonese fare delicately done to perfection. Seafood Soup With Fish Maw and an order of Salt and Pepper Shrimp should accompany any meal. The Eggplant and Chicken in Garlic Hot Pot is a delight, and nobody in town can touch the tenderness of their squid. Outstanding dim sum served daily from 11 to 2:30.
2414 Exposition, 322-0344
Mon-Fri, 11:30-3, 4:30-9pm; Sat-Sun, 4:30-9:30pm
Formosa is one of Austin's tops, and it's tucked tidily into the city's center. Huge lunch portions for a song, and one of the best hot and sour soups around (best garlic sauce, bar none). Chef Robert Chang has a deft touch at the wok, and where he really shines is with the House Specials and the ever-changing chalkboard, items like Fish Formosa (with asparagus and crawdads), jumbo prawns with the ginger-tomato sauce, or anything with fruits. Silky, clean, flavorful sauces without a trace of grease!
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org