The Austin Chronicle

Claudia Alarcón's Top 10 International Food Mash-Ups

By Claudia Alarcón, January 7, 2011, Food

Of course, cross-cultural gastronomy is nothing new. Practically every culture's cuisine is a mixture of international ingredients and techniques, but lately I've experienced some new and interesting culinary crossovers.

1) Queso con chutney at Whip In Northern Indian meets Tex-Mex in this addictive version, made with Austin Slow Burn's green chile queso topped with homemade garlicky cilantro chutney. Great with a pint or two from Whip In's superb beer selection.

2) Korean Barbecue tacos at Chi'lantro I absolutely love this truly inspired Mexico City-meets-Seoul mash-up. Its spicy pork taco is one of my favorites; there's something about sesame oil, kimchi, and corn tortillas that really works, like a Korean taco al pastor.

3) Shime saba at Uchiko These guys have chosen to forgo wasabi and soy sauce in favor of more interesting seasonings for their nigiri sushi. My favorite has an Italian accent: cured Norwegian mack­erel, thinly sliced grape tomato, paper-thin truffle, and fresh basil. Swoon-worthy.

4) Huitlacoche risotto at Zandunga Italian technique + Aztec ingredients = amazing stuff. Creamy, earthy, and just downright satisfying, huitlacoche risotto could be featured in any fine-dining restaurant in Mexico City. Well done, chef!

5) Bulgoki burger at Burger Tex Burger Tex is the pioneer in Korean food mash-ups. If you haven't had its Bulgoki Burger, you are truly missing out. Add grilled pineapple if you're feeling extravagant.

6) Crispy fried chicken at Saigon Kitchen Fried chicken is often seen as a quintessential American dish, but this crispy, crunchy version, served with steamed rice, pickled veggies, and fish sauce, is just awesome.

7) Ice cream at Thai Fresh Classic French technique and Asian ingredients in amazing flavor combinations like mango-lime, blackberry-coconut, Thai basil, peach-mint, and sweet corn. Best ice cream in Austin, no doubt.

8) Crepes at Crepes Mille Fusion crepes are not particularly nouvelle, but these guys take it over-the-top with fillings like Penang curry, beef or tofu bulgogi, shrimp scampi, and the popular pork floss.

9) Thai Curry Shrimp Boudin Blanc from Kocur­ek Family Charcuterie I love charcuterie of all sorts, and this one really spoke to me: ground Texas Gulf shrimp seasoned with shallots, garlic, Thai chile, peanuts, palm sugar, cilantro, lemongrass, fish sauce, and coconut milk. As good as it sounds.

10) Artisanal bread from Panaderia Chuy Aside from the best bolillos and Mexican pastries in the city, Chuy Guevara also bakes European-inspired artisanal breads like baguettes, sourdough, cranberry-walnut, and more.

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