Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eat Like a King at East Side King

The things I do for food.

Three of us + an extremely energetic dog were in two separate cars coming from opposite directions at different times and needed to meet up somewhere for dinner. For some reason, that seemed like a good time for me to suggest a foray to East Side King, a trailer on the back patio of The Liberty - despite the fact that I wasn't sure it was dog-friendly (notwithstanding no less than seven attempts over a couple-hour period to call The Liberty and ask).

Despite the extreme potential for this scenario to morph into a Three Stooges episode, it (eventually) all worked out. And I happily, FINALLY, found myself at East Side King, a foodie mecca of which I'd heard much but never visited.

{insert angelic singing sound here}

Of course, the only logical thing to do when confronted with a relatively small menu like East Side King's is to order one of everything.

First, I sampled the beet home fries ($5). To be honest, I'm not particularly fond of the taste of beets, but the ability to smother these in the accompanying kewpie mayo topped with schichimi togarashi helped fool my tastebuds into liking these.

Beet it! These are mine!

Then I tried the Poor Qui's buns ($6 for two buns) - roasted pork belly in steamed buns with Hoisin sauce, cucumber kimchee and green onion. Does that not sound like a combination made in heaven? It is. I love steamed buns, and I really need to find ways to incorporate them into my diet more frequently. They're the perfect foil for rich, fatty meat.

No need to ask "por quoi?" about Poor Qui's.

Next up were the curry buns ($4 for two buns). These "buns" are deep-fried, then filled with a homemade peanut butter curry, basil, cilantro, mint, onion and jalapeño. I enjoyed the flavor of these, but they were overpoweringly greasy - so much so that I could not eat more than a couple of small bites before relinquishing the remainder of my portion. I think I would've liked these better on the steamed buns, although the texture of the deep-fried buns worked nicely with the melty peanut butter curry.

You don't want to know how many Weight Watchers points are in these. Trust me.

I think my favorite dish of the evening was the Thai Chicken Karaage ($7), which is made with deep fried chicken thighs served with a sweet & spicy sauce, basil, cilantro, mint, onion, and jalapeños. The coating on the chicken had a nice, salty tang to it, similar to the coating you'd find on a Chinese salt & pepper dish only with a little more sharpness (possibly from lime?).

Salty, tangy, goodness.

The chicken went particularly well with the ginger garlic jasmine rice ($4), which was pretty mild-tasting and helped mellow the strong flavors and the saltiness of the karaage out a bit. You can buy a half-order of the karaage with rice for $8.

Yes, there is rice hiding under that delicious, herby forest.

Last, but certainly not least, we sampled the fried brussels sprout salad ($5), which paired brussels sprouts with shredded cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, sweet & spicy sauce, and the same panoply of herbs that seems to grace most of ESK's dishes - basil, cilantro, mint, onion and jalapeños. Fresh and delicious.

Brussels Spout Salad.

Definitely an excellent meal, made even more enjoyable by the exceedingly laid-back vibe of The Liberty's patio and the ability to snag an ice cold beer from inside to help wash it all down. And when you consider that ESK is owned by a couple of guys who also work at Uchi, it's hard not to feel just a little smug about having paid so little (comparatively, anyway) for your meal. All this food set us back just $31* (excluding gratuity and our drinks) and was plenty to fill up three champion eaters. Apparently, these guys enjoy habiting the ends of the spectrum - from one of the most exclusive restaurants in town to one of the diviest trailers (yes, divey even for a trailer) in town.

As another King once sang:
"I got to travel, and hit the gravel,
But I'll be back, yeah I'll be back."

*Cash ONLY. Be prepared.

East Side King
1618 E. 6th St (on the back patio of the Liberty Bar)
Austin, TX 78702
5/5 stars on Yelp


  1. You had me at 'beet home fries'.

  2. I love the chicken Kaarage, too!

  3. Love your peanut gallery photo comments. Great post!

  4. Love the brussel sprouts! And your writing. You always crack me up.

  5. really great post Michelle, as always you are on the pulse of new food in Austin.

  6. I'm so glad you made it to East Side King. It's currently my favorite place in Austin. The chicken, Brussels sprout salad and poor qui buns are my staples. The pork buns are just like the ones at Momofuku in NYC. I'm pretty sure that I read that one of the chefs staged there. I wish this were open every day, and especially at lunch.

  7. The steamed pork belly bun and the brussel sprouts sound awesome! I'll have to find time to visit them soon

  8. i swear...everytime i read your blog i can't stop salivating!!! i am so curious now to try those beet homefries.

  9. i need a recipe for the above


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