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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Counter service

Daily 11:00am–9:30pm

Features Veg-friendly
Credit cards Visa, MC

Northwest Hills
13376 N. Hwy. 183
Austin, TX
(512) 258-5445
A+A Sichuan Cuisine
Matching Asia Café nearly bite for bite, and doing it in slightly nicer digs

This young star formed when several of Asia Café’s front and back of house staff jettisoned to a nearby strip-mall restaurant, at the time called Sichuan Garden. After objections from the unrelated Round Rock Sichuan Garden, it slapped on a directory-savvy “A+A” and switched to “Cuisine.” Its red glow, from several lanterns hanging out front, is easy to spot from Highway 183. The very friendly, very Chinese-speaking cashier and order-taker will heed your requests of “extra spicy”—just be certain, and sound certain. A few large tables on a semi-private, elevated platform make good party options, as does the generous BYO policy.

As ever, leave the Americanized classics like General Tso’s to the lesser places (and the Cantonese to the Cantonese). Instead celebrate the mouth-numbing, menthol-like Szechuan peppercorn, and its partner, red-hot chili oil. Some items—like dan dan noodles—have so much peppercorn that it’s more of a fun, super-oily mouth trip than it is outright delicious. Don’t miss the chewy black and white mushrooms with baby bok choy, in a thick garlic-ginger sauce. Asian eggplant has the great, mushy texture of baked yams, and its sweetness is surprisingly restrained; pan-fried tofu is spongy, but served with wonderfully crunchy vegetables and a lovely cilantro brightness, whose resulting balance is found ever-so-slightly less at Asia Café. Rice cakes tend to be leaden and terribly undercooked, but missteps like these are rare, and bound to work themselves out as it settles in.

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