Monday, December 31, 2012

Ramen Tatsu-ya

I'm reluctant to do anything to add to the throngs of people already waiting outside Ramen Tatsu-Ya, but I'm so dang excited about this place that I just have to blog about it. Finally, excellent ramen in Austin!

We wanted to try a little of everything during our first visit, so ordered quite a few dishes. Here's a little tour of what we tasted:

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#1 Tonkatsu Original

The #1 Tonkatsu Original ($8.50), a masterpiece that made me go all wide-eyed and swoony. Seriously, it's been a while since a dish stopped me in my tracks the way this ramen did; the broth is so amazingly smooth that I actually thought there might be cream in it. So much so that I actually asked our server whether it did - nope, it's just that 60 hours of marrow leaching out into the broth that gives it that silky texture. Ohhh, baby. Like buttah.

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#3 Miso-Not

The #3 Miso-Not ($9) - a lovely, flavorful bowl that standing alone would probably have been delightful, but to my palate, this was the ugly stepchild compared to the Tonkatsu Original.

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Chashu Bowl

Chashu Bowl - again, I wasn't as excited about this when I had the Tonkatsu Original in front of me, but we couldn't finish it and took it home. The next day when this was all I had in front of me, I thought it was fantastic.

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Katsu Slider

Katsu Slider - nicely crispy, but ehhhh...I'll probably skip this next time.

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Almond Tofu

Almond tofu with ginger lemongrass syrup - a very refreshing, light bite of sweetness that nicely capped off our meal.

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Things you need to know:

• Unless you get there just as they open or later in the evening (9ish), you'll have to wait. They're very efficient about moving people through (and they've adopted the Hopdoddy system where you have seating ready for you as soon as you finish ordering), but I'd budget 45 mn to an hour in line if you're going during normal dinner hours (they are not open for lunch).

• They will not allow you to take the ramen to go. Something about the noodles getting mushy and the broth, um, congealing. Did I mention how smooth it is?

• This is not a place to show up with a large group, or a place where you'd feel comfortable sitting and talking after your meal, since there will be a long line of hungry people waiting for your seat.

• And a tip from my friend Kristin over at Mad Betty - be sure to check out the bathrooms! (Photos at Kristin's blog, here).

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I can't wait to go back - especially now that we're having weather that passes for chilly! See you there.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Pinthouse Pizza

Pizza and beer. Is there a better combination? Okay, so maybe my mom's homemade potstickers and kim chee are a better combination, but that's not always available, so sometimes you have to settle for pizza and beer. For those days, the new(ish) Pinthouse Pizza is there for you.

My first visit to Pinthouse was on a Friday night, after a particularly stressful day. It was LOUD. It was crowded. We had to hover over people for a while before we finally scored spots at the large communal tables that make up the majority of Pinthouse's seating. All of which, oddly enough, was just what I was wanting that night.

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Full house.

With over 40 craft beers on the menu (including several house-made offerings), there's a little something for everyone. One of my favorite local beers, Live Oak Hefeweizen, was there. I also tried my first (and definitely not my last) Left Hand Milk Stout here. Delicious. 

In the pizza category, we tried a couple of different pies - an Armadillo (olive oil, artisan sausage, ricotta, cilantro, and poblano peppers) and a Cannonball (crumbled sausage, bacon, pepperoni, Canadian bacon). 

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The Armadillo

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Cannonball! (a word that demands to be shouted)

I loved the sausage and the fluffy, mild ricotta on the Armadillo, but wasn't fond of the poblano peppers in this context - I'm usually a poblano fan, but the way these were delivered made them taste too much like green peppers, which I don't love. The Cannonball (!) was surprisingly tasty, and I regretted having written it off as "boring" when I'd heard we were ordering one. 

As we were finishing up, my friend asked, "Top five pizzas in Austin?" Unfortunately, probably not - but maybe top ten? I can easily think of five pizzas I like much better (Bola Pizza, East Side Pies, Little Deli, Giovanni's, and Mandola's prosciutto and arugula), but from there the field drops off pretty quickly. That said, the festive atmosphere, the excellent beer selection, and Pinthouse's proximity to our house (also, their great lunch deal - small pizza, your choice of four generously-sized salads, and a drink for $9.50) will likely mean that I'll be back with some regularity, nonetheless.

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