The Austin Chronicle


Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, September 10, 2004, Food

Chooby Doo International Cafe

3610 W. William Cannon at Brodie #175; currently no phone;

Monday-Friday, 11am-9pm; Saturday, noon-10pm; Sunday, noon-9pm

People are becoming more and more aware of what they eat; seeking a healthy alternative instead of following the latest carbless fad diet seems to be what the experts recommend. Luckily for the folks in Southwest Austin, Chooby Doo International Cafe is here to provide just that: a healthy alternative to fast food that will neither break the bank nor deprive the population of great flavors. With the objective of bringing a fun, fresh alternative to the standard fast-food places in the area, they devised a menu that incorporates multiethnic "fast foods" and is full of interesting and tasty options that focus on interesting flavors rather than grease.

The place is impeccably clean and the atmosphere is youthful and modern. Asian pop music streams out of the speakers while a friendly attendant recommends the best bubble drink or fruit "slushie." The owners pride themselves on having created a tapioca minipearl for their bubble drinks, which is about a third of the size of the ones commonly used. They make the pearls fresh everyday to guarantee that their customers get the best product possible. The array of flavors and combinations is mind-boggling. I ordered a Mango Slushie ($2.50) without pearls while I waited for my food. It was not too sweet and had a pleasant fresh mango taste.

The food was efficiently and quickly prepared, and all ingredients looked fresh and appealing. The Chicago-style Hot Dog ($2.75) included a plump, all-beef hot dog dressed with the works: mustard, sliced tomatoes, pickles, and sport peppers. The Greek Gyro ($3.75) was loaded with tender meat and sliced tomatoes, but the yogurt sauce could have been more flavorful. I am a big fan of Vietnamese sandwiches, and the ones at Chooby Doo ($3.50) did not disappoint. Available in pork or chicken, they both feature a crusty French roll, shredded marinated carrots, and fresh cilantro sprigs. I usually like some thin slivers of jalapeño as well, but I had to add them at home since they were missing in the original presentation.

The folks at Chooby Doo also prepare good salads. The Asian Chicken Salad ($3.50) is a dinner-sized portion of fresh, crisp lettuce, topped with sliced cucumbers, water chestnuts, tomatoes, and strips of grilled chicken. These are nicely flavored with Chinese five spice and star anise. The dressing is a slightly sweet and tangy vinaigrette. The Japanese-style Marinated Cucumber Salad ($3.50) was absolutely delicious and refreshing. The rice-vinegar-marinated cucumber slices were slightly soft but still crisp, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and a hint of sesame oil.

Desserts include Asian candies, cookies, and cheesecakes. But for those with a sweet tooth, I recommend Chooby Doo's specialty drinks to satisfy the craving in a healthier, yet delicious way.

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