Let the Good Times Roll

Good food to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras

Hot Boiled Pho & Crawfish

2501 W. Parmer #550, 833-9057
Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-9pm; Sunday, 10:30am-8pm
www.hotboiled.com

Although at first the concept may seem foreign, it actually makes sense. After all, there are an estimated 25,000 Vietnamese immigrants living in Southern Louisiana, many working in the seafood industry. With food being one of the threads that holds every society together, it's only natural that these two delicious cuisines would eventually intermingle. Tucked in the corner of a shopping center and owned by a friendly Vietnamese couple from New Orleans, Hot Boiled Pho & Crawfish is Austin's best example of this culinary crossroads, providing a menu full of interesting and tasty choices. Hot Boiled has all the Vietnamese standards: pho, vermicelli bowls (bun), rice plates (com), spring rolls, and hot pots. Then there are Cajun specialties such as po'boys, fried seafood, gumbo, étouffée, red beans and rice, and Cajun-style seafood boils that include your choice of crawfish (in season), shrimp, or snow crab legs served with corn, potatoes, and sausage.

For me, the most interesting items are the fusion dishes. We sampled the Crawfish Bombs (six for $4.95), ground-sausage-and-crawfish-stuffed wonton wrapper pillows, fried to golden-crisp and served with a spicy, made-from-scratch cocktail sauce with grated onion and horseradish, and perhaps a hint of ginger? The Cajun bun ($9.50) – a vermicelli bowl with shredded lettuce, pickled veggies, and ground peanuts – comes piled high with seasoned crawfish and slices of sausage, and the Cajun crawfish pho ($7.95, small; $8.95, large), chock-full of little crustaceans in a hot and spicy broth, would make the perfect antidote to any bout of allergies – make sure to specify if you want it mild or spicy. Other dishes to try on future visits include the grilled Cajun lemongrass fish, the beef short ribs, and the Vietnamese salads. There is also a small bar, decorated with beads and Mardi Gras colors, that serves Abita beer, and yes, bubble tea. Although Hot Boiled doesn't have plans for anything special during Mardi Gras, it will gladly cater your party, so give the restaurant a call. I fell in love with this place and only wish it were closer to my South Austin home.

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