Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Old Thousand

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bona fide food snob when it comes to Chinese food. I spent the first 18 years of my life eating my mom's outstanding Chinese food nearly every day, so the Chinese food I encounter has to live up to very high standards.

So I'll confess that when I saw some of the early press about Old Thousand describing it as "classic American-Chinese food," I was a little skeptical. The phrase "American-Chinese food" conjured up images of sickly-sweet pineapple sauces and General Tso's chicken. But then I noticed that the chefs were Uchi alumni, and then the Old Thousand folks very graciously extended an invitation to their soft opening, and I could not resist a peek.

I'm so glad I didn't let my preconceived notions talk me out of going, because WE LOVED IT. The food and service were excellent, and as we left, we repeatedly gushed to our server that we'd be back again soon. Here's a little look at what we tried.

I kicked off my meal with Old Thousand's signature cocktail (also called the Old Thousand), which is their take on an old fashioned. It was smooth and easy to drink and relaxed us into our meal.

Old Thousand Cocktail

The three of us ordered three smaller plates to share: the pork ribs, the Chongqing chicken, and the gai lan (Chinese broccoli). The pork ribs ($8.88) arrived first. They were tender and so flavorful; we all wished for more.
Old Thousand Ribs

The Chongqing Chicken ($7) was one of my favorite dishes of our meal. The spices made my taste buds sing and there was nary a hint of grease on these perfectly fried specimens.

Old Thousand Chong Qing Chicken

The gai lan ($8.25) was nice and crisp, and the oyster sauce - which I don't usually like - tasted housemade. Also, roasted garlic makes everything better!

<Old Thousand Gai Lan

We enjoyed the first of our entrees, the honey prawns ($16), but thought the portion was a little on the small side for the price.

Old Thousand Shrimp

The brisket fried rice also rang in at $16, but I would gladly pay that again for this plate of luscious, unctuous goodness. Chinese sausage is an underutilized ingredient in Chinese restaurants in the United States, in my opinion, and I was thrilled to see it alongside local brisket in this delightful melding of old and new flavors.

Old Thousand Brisket Fried Rice

The Dan Dan noodles ($10) were maybe our least favorite dish of the evening; they seemed a little on the bland side. However, our server and another food writer we saw that evening both raved about them, so perhaps we got a less flavorful batch?

]Old Thousand Dan Dan Noodles

Our last entree was the char siu pork ($26). The dish was plentiful, and I loved that it was served with steamed buns (which my mom also makes). A person could definitely make a couple of meals out of this plate!

Old Thousand Char Siu

Of course we were unable to resist dessert. Old Thousand's desserts leaned away from the traditional, and for me that meant missed expectations. But they were undeniably delicious, and if I hadn't had it in my head that they were going to taste a certain way, I think I would have enjoyed them a lot more. In short, I think you'll like them.

This delicate custard tart (dan ta)($3) was my favorite of the two we tried. It wasn't as eggy as most Chinese custard, and the twist of Meyer lemon kept it light - my dining companions actually preferred it to the traditional version.

Old Thousand Custard Tart

Our server likened the 5 Spice Churro ($5.50) to a Chinese doughnut - another thing I grew up eating, as my dad loves them. I found this version a little on the dry side, though nothing a dip in the pandan cream accompanying it couldn't solve.

Old Thousand Chinese Doughnut

Many years of Asian food cravings have taught me that it's a rare day when you get to enjoy really good Asian food while ensconced in surroundings with any atmosphere to speak of. Old Thousand delivers on this front in spades: it's cool enough that your hipster friends will approve, but then so will your decidedly un-hip Chinese food snob friends (like me). And when you can please both of those camps, you know you've found yourself a winner.  

Old Thousand Marquis

1000 E. 11th Street #150
Austin, TX 78702


  1. That meal just looks incredible! Yall must have had some full stomachs after! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Ha! Story of my life. :) Thanks for visiting, Caitlin!

  2. I'm in the same thought as you when it comes to Chinese food but your post is convincing me otherwise. Can't wait to try Old Thousand!

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did, Anita! :)

  3. Ooh! Now I'm doubly excited to go! The only thing you didn't nail here is the evaluation of your own hipness. You, my friend, are among the hippest people I know.

    1. That hipness you're seeing is the tint of your friend goggles. ;) But I love you for saying that!

  4. I love love your photos and I love love you.

    1. I love love you right back, Miss Thang. Miss you and can't wait to see your face next week! xoxo


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