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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Counter service

Daily 11:00am–9:00pm

Features Veg-friendly
Credit cards Visa, MC


Northwest Hills
8650 Spicewood Springs
Austin, TX
(512) 331-5788
Asia Café
Superb, authentic Szechuan with room to experiment...and party

Despite a recent staff exodus to A+A Sichuan Cuisine, this is still just about Austin’s best Szechuan. We aren’t especially fond of the large, bland space, with its flourescent lighting and overhead TV (frequently tuned to Fox News). We do love to come with groups, where we can order more dishes (they won’t all come at once) and sit in the semi-private rooms with Lazy Susans and our own wines.

There’s a confidence-inspiring proportion of Chinese here; they’re eating the twice-cooked pork, and so should you. There are also some Cantonese dishes, but they’re not the point (XO sauce isn’t as shellfish-strong as it can be). Order from the signs behind the counter—the pictures help; if it’s glistening with chili oil, get it (it’s not that hot, sadly). Handmade dumplings are good; crispy, pork-stuffed salt and pepper eggplant is outstanding. Don’t shy away from Dongpo “pork elbow,” bone-in pork shank slowly cooked in spices; the rendered skin fat gives a wonderful aroma, flavor, and gelatinous chewiness. Ma po tofu, the most famous dish from Szechuan, is silky and red with lots of mouth-numbing peppercorns.

Prices are among the cheapest in town, and we’ve made vegetarians very happy here, as well (even carnivores love the black and white mushrooms with bok choy). And when in doubt, if it sounds strange, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

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