While Austin may not have the volume of Asian food options that cities like New York and San Francisco have, there are still some great restaurants for Chinese, Japanese, Thia, and Vietnamese food if you know where to look. Here are 7 of our favorite Austin restaurants to get Asian cuisine that rivals any city.
Uchi and Uchiko
Photo credit to Yen P. of Yelp
Uchi, which means “house” in Japanese, and its sister restaurant Uchiko (“child of Uchi”) are hands down, by pretty much everyone’s account, the best sushi restaurants in the city. Chef Tyson Cole has won pretty much every award under the sun, including the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southwest.
Go to Uchi for a more intimate dining experience. It’s located in a refurbished bungalow on South Lamar. They don’t take reservations, but they do take your heart. A night here is 100% worth the splurge. Cole flies in the freshest fish straight from Japan daily.
Our advice: let the servers take the reins and sit back to enjoy the experience; the chef’s recommendations and daily specials are for sure the way to go. One caveat, the yellowtail Hama Chili is fresh and fantastic and you should get it every time.
Uchiko is slightly less fancy; they take reservations, seat parties of 5+, and have more room in general. The food is just as good, but different. Only a couple of items are served at both locales. One is the Shag roll, with sun-dried tomato, shrimp tempura, salmon, and avocado.
If you’re looking for all of the taste but a more manageable price tag, head to either Uchi or Uchiko during the sake social hour, from 5 to 6:30 pm every weeknight. The rolls are available at lower prices and sake is only $3.
photo credit to Sway website
There’s really only one place to get modern Thai in this city: Sway. Everything about Sway is super suave: their fresh and inventive takes on Thai classics, the cool ambiance, and the stellar service. Sway’s communal tables and fun vibe make it the perfect place to go with a large group of friends. Plus, every dish comes out as ready, so it’s ideal for sharing.
The Tiger Cry, a crispy, spicy steak with fresh herbs, is a crowd favorite, as is the Son-in-Law, a sweet and savory braised pork shoulder served with a fried egg and chili sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous – and hungry – try the crispy whole fish.
On the cold side, you can’t go wrong with the dressed raw oysters or the beautiful blue prawns in the prawn miange with grapefruit and toasted cashew and lime on betel leaves. If you’re looking for something with a kick, get the tom yum- a super spicy soup with tamarind and blue prawns. Make sure to get some of the Thai basil in each bite to balance out the heat level!
Sway is so good, they’re opening two new locations this year, one in West Lake and another in The Domain. Whichever one you go to, make sure to save room for dessert. Split the banana split (it serves 3-4 people) or get the jasmine tea pannacotta: coconut-lychee sorbet on a red grape, lychee, palm sugar custard garnished with grapes and crunchy amaranth.
photo credit to Ivy B. of Yelp
You’ve probably seen the lines out the door at both Ramen Tatsu-Ya locations. We’re here to add our voice to the choir – their ramen is absolutely worth the wait. Plus, service is so efficient that the line moves quickly, and you don’t even end up waiting that long.
Tatsu-Ya routinely makes the Best lists not only in Austin but also in The U.S. All of their broths are packed full of flavor (cooked for three days, with love) and their noodles are cooked perfectly each time. The original No. 1 Tonkotsu Original is super creamy pork bone broth with thin noodles, tender, braised pork belly, a marinated soft-boiled egg, wood ear mushrooms, and scallions. Another pro tip: kick your ramen up a notch with one of their “Bombs” and extra toppings – the Spicy and pickled ginger are our faves.
They’ve got other great items on the menu besides ramen. Try the Sweet & Sour Yodas, aka deliciously cooked brussel sprouts, and the Munchie Katsu sliders – the panko beef patties on Hawaiian rolls are SO good, we recommend getting at least one per person. And, no one may come for dessert at Ramen Tatsu-Ya, but everyone should stay for it. The Gotcha Matcha is an incredibly unique and tasty pudding with blackberries and a lil crunch. We also recommend you pair your meal with a sake-based cocktail or a cold Sapporo.
Our katsu slider ($4), a deep-fried burger with slaw and katsu sauce served on a Hawaiian roll, was stellar: The meat was juicy, a texture party of crunchy breading and slaw danced on a fresh sweet roll, and it was all decorated in a tangy sauce.
(fried brussel sprouts with apricot vinegar and curry spice). Orders are placed at the counter of this playfully designed restaurant, and the menu offers a helpful “how to enjoy” instruction section for ramen rookies.
Titaya’s Thai Cuisine
The truth is, there’s only one place to go in Austin for authentic Thai: Titaya’s. They have fantastic curries, their Thai tea is the perfect balance of milky sweet and refreshing, and their dumplings are on point. Their extensive menu has all of the traditional Thai classics, as well as some Asian fusion choices. Plus, service is fast and attentive.
The yellow curry (Gang Garee) is spectacular – not too spicy, incredibly flavorful, and filling. Their red curry and green curry are also on point too. We’d challenge you to find a better curry in Austin. Their fried chicken wings marinated in garlic, peppercorns and fried lemongrass are also incredible – order them extra crispy for added crunch and deeper flavor. Get the black rice pudding for dessert!
photo credit to Loree M. of Yelp
This modern Chinese restaurant is classy, fun and delicious. Every entree for lunch or dinner during the week is excellent, but don’t forget about the sides! The yu xiang, or eggplant, is especially fantastic, as are the fried green string beans. Their Shanghai soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, are arguably the best in all of Austin; make sure to poke a hole in your soup dumpling and slurp the broth out first! Don’t miss out on the Asian-inspired Tiki cocktails either, especially the Mai Tai. What else is great about Wu Chow? They’re open until 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays!
There are a few other spots that offer dim sum in Austin, but as far as we’re concerned, Wu Chow is the only place to go. This Sunday, head to their dim sum brunch and enjoy the wide variety of tasty treats plus their $1 tea-infused mimosas. Pro tip: add chili oil to everything (well, except the mimosas).
888 Pan Asian
photo credit to Drew C. of Yelp
Everyone can get something they love at 888. They offer traditional Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai all in one place. Their huge menu means you can go as traditional or as fusion as you like. Second best part (after the taste) is how inexpensive it is. Portions are large and most dishes are under $10. They offer an amazing lunch buffet for $7.95 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They’re also open late, (until 2 am!) every night except Sunday.
Some favorites: the pineapple, shrimp and duck fried rice, the chicken pho, and orange chicken. If you’re craving comfort Asian food, head to 888 for sure.
If you are craving Vietnamese comfort, Pho Please is pho real. You’ll find all the traditional Vietnamese dishes like Bao, Banh Mi, Vermicelli on their menu, but the real star is their Pho. They offer 15+ different Pho combinations to choose from, including meat combinations and vegetarian options. They’re all delicious. Another reason to love Pho Please is their prices. All of their Pho’s are under $9, and their appetizers are all under $5.