I had blissfully NOTHING planned today - I can't even remember the last time I had a day with a completely empty agenda. With all the free time on my hands - not to mention perfect weather, it seemed like a great day to check out some of the eateries on my rapidly-growing "to try" list.
We started at Gourdough's, a little airstream trailer on South Lamar that's been getting lots of buzz for their made-to-order doughnuts in all sorts of wacky combinations. Whether you want Canadian bacon or gummy rattlesnakes on your doughnut, Gourdough's has it all, and they'll gladly pile it on for you.
A freshly-made Gourdough's doughnut, in its purest form.
Three of us tried two doughnuts - the Sara's Joy (coconut flavored filling with fresh coconut and fudge icing) and the Funky Monkey (grilled bananas with cream cheese icing and a brown sugar baste).
Sara's Joy - like a candy bar in doughnut form.
The Funky Monkey was by far the crowd favorite - the grilled bananas were beautifully caramelized, and the flavor combination was just excellent. The Sara's Joy was good, too, but so sweet as to be almost too too much. And the coconut "filling," if you could call it that, appeared to be just a sauce on the bottom, rendering the entire thing a gooey, drippy mess.
'Course, we ate it all...so there IS that.
Full Yelp review of Gourdough's here. (4/5 stars.)
* * *
Next up, we decided to try Bite Mi, a new banh mi place on the Drag. Yes, we ate dessert first. Don't try to understand; just follow along.
Full Yelp review of Bite Mi here (3/5 stars), but the short version is that it's OK, not great. Too much bread, too skimpy on the fillings, making for an unbalanced, overly carby meal (unlike those doughnuts, right? Like I said, don't ask too many questions).
Still, not a bad place to tide over those banh mi cravings until you can drive up north to Thanh Nhi and get my favorite banh mi in Austin.
Pretty tasty spring rolls - three for $3.25
#1 Combination Banh Mi - three kinds of ham, liver paste, Vietnamese mayo, a carrot/daikon mix, cilantro, and jalapenos.
After this, a nap was in order.
* * *
For dinner, we drove out to Chen's Noodle House, which I've been meaning to try forever but never seemed to be able to get to. Wow - I was SO glad we finally made it.
Again, full Yelp review here (5/5 stars). This unassuming place and its owners turn out amazing, totally authentic Chinese noodle dishes. I was utterly charmed.
Store front - in an old run down strip mall (same mall as Asia Market/Asia Café).
Order here - in Mandarin if you can!
The owner/chef, expertly hand cutting the noodles and flinging them into the boiling water.
A ton of won ton soup.
Lamb noodle soup.
Extreme noodle close-up!
From the hole-in-the-wall surroundings to the wonderful, authentic food, Chen's made me feel as if I'd been transported to China (without the onerous commute). We are so lucky to have a specialty eatery like Chen's; I hope Austin foodies give them the support they deserve.
Now, has anyone seen my muumuu?