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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Daily 11:00am–3:00pm
Daily 4:30pm–10:00pm

Features Delivery, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, BYO
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Lake Travis Area
2300 Lohman's Spur
Austin, TX
(512) 263-8869
Pao’s Mandarin House
Lakeway Chinese that went from authentic to white-bread in just a couple of years

Pao’s is decorated with predictably cheap “class”: koi-pond-themed stained glass, rosewood furniture, and a huge, ornate jade ship. There’s a sushi bar in the evening, but Chinese is the main attraction, and it can’t compete with nearby Mizu, anyway.

We used to love the authentic menu (which you have to ask for if you’re not Chinese) and its cold shredded pig’s ear, beef tendon, braised sea cucumber, duck tongues with basil, and pig blood with winter chives. But we’ve lately found these items to be less enjoyable than the old take-out standards that we normally eschew. Guess the kitchen’s talents have shifted. Now stick with toothsome pan-fried pao tze dumplings filled with gingery ground pork and served with a tart black vinegar dipping sauce, or addictive spicy wontons.

Pao’s dim sum is still the best option, made fresh to order, and including some Northern conceits like boiled rice-flour balls with lotus seed filling and you tiao (fried dough stick). The dishes are much larger than typical Cantonese dim sum. Also, around Chinese New Year, there are traditional New Year banquet dishes like Peking duck, braised ham hock, eight treasure rice, fa cai (black hair seaweed) and nian gao (rice flour pastries). As for the rest of the year, even without its former glory, this is still the best Chinese in Lakeway.

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