Don’t Order the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe

For twenty years worth of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy, I’ve had good dishes and bad, but never before until this past Saturday had I just sent a dish back as completely inedible.

The Chong Chin Chicken was described as seasoned with lots of hot peppers and peppercorns. I didn’t really see the peppercorns, but I definitely saw the hot peppers; it looked like they dumped a giant fistful into the dish. Though a chilehead, I’ve never had that many dry hot peppers in any dish before.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

The first few bites of the dish seemed incredibly dry to me, and it tasted like they hadn’t used any sauce whatsoever, which was an odd choice.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

After a few bites, my tongue’s taste receptors just seemed to shut off, ruining the taste of the dumplings Dwight and Andrew had ordered. Shortly thereafter I realized what the big problem was: it was the most salty dish I’d ever tasted in my life.

An image of the chef preparing the dish.

Normally my tolerance for salt in my meal is higher than most, but this was beyond the pale. I had my co-conspirators try it, and they all agreed it was inedible salty, even Andrew, who loves salt more than I do.

A dish too salty for Andrew and too hot for me; it was like some sort of anti-miracle.

So I sent it back and got some orange peel chicken instead, which was far more edible.

I wouldn’t discourage you from going to Asia Cafe, but unless you look like this:

The only diner who might enjoy the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe.

I would strongly urge you not to order the Chong Chin Chicken…

(Cross posted to Futuramen.)

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Blue Bell Recalls ALL Products

“Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries is pulling all of its products from the shelves after more ice cream samples tested positive for a life-threatening bacterial infection.”

The voluntary decision, announced Monday, is the latest and most sweeping development to plague the Texas business icon since a recall last month, the first in the company’s 108-year history.

It came after an “enhanced sampling program” that found half-gallon containers of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced on March 17 and March 27 contained the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, company officials said.

Plus this:

“The latest tests mean the company had several positive tests for Listeria in different plants.”

Pretty hard to fathom a wide-spread outbreak in multiple plants. The only explanations I can think of:

  • A hardy new strain of Listeria is running wild in Texas cow herds

  • A mutant Listeria has evolved to survive pasteurization (a pretty scary thought)
  • There’s a problem somewhere in their additive supply chain
  • Sabotage/Eco-terrorism (PETA hates dairies).

Anyway, if you have any Blue Bell in your freezer, it’s probably safest to throw it out…

(Copied from Futuramen.)

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Austin Quiznos Closings

Between Delaware Subs, Schlotzsky’s and Firehouse, I haven’t eaten at a Quiznos in quite a while. So it was a surprise for me to find that almost 3,000 Quiznos stores have closed and the company filed for bankruptcy protection last year. Austin closings include one at Lake Creek at 183 that I never ate it, and one at 1931 E. Ben White that I must have grabbed a few sandwiches from when I worked in the area in 2002.

The only Austin locations still open are evidently in the UT student center, at 922 North Congress, at 3637C Far West, at 8201 Cross Park Dr., and at 11301 Lakeline Blvd.

Personally I blame their decline on the atonal singing vermin:

Posted in Cheap Dining, Closed, Deli, Fast Food, Sandwich | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A double handful of food related randomness.

During one of my dinner conversations over the weekend, the subject of “Family Affair” came up for reasons I have forgotten. (I don’t think the initial discussion started out with Anissa Jones, but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what a sad death.)

In the course of the conversation, I stumbled across this: The Family Affair Cookbook. I’m sure Ms. Garver is a very nice person, but when I think “Family Affair”, I don’t really think “food”. Then again, the show did go off the air when I was six…

Something else that came out of another dinner conversation: does anyone remember The Magic Pan? Yes, it was a chain (owned by Quaker Oats?!) and I don’t believe there was ever one in Austin. There was one in the Galleria in Houston; I ate there a couple of times, and have fond memories of it.

Googling to see if there were any Magic Pans left (spoiler: no) turned up a few links I want to immortalize for reference purposes:

Magic Pan recipes from Uncle Phaedrus. Actually, the whole Uncle Phaedrus website is probably bookmark worthy; if you’re anything like me, you have to kind of like a guy who combines food and Sherlock Holmes.

By way of Uncle Phaedrus, here’s a file that contains some of the Magic Pan master recipes. Just in case you have a steam kettle and want to make 17 pounds of Beef Bourguignon.

The Crepe Cookbook by Paulette Fono and Maria Stacho on Amazon. (Paulette Fono and her husband Lazlo opened the first Magic Pan in Ghirardelli Square.) I kind of want this (even if it doesn’t have any Magic Pan recipes after 1971) but I don’t want it $43.61 worth. Also, I am still prohibited from purchasing cookbooks.

Crepe Cookery by Mable Hoffman, which is at least more reasonably priced.

The Magic Pan Project appears to be offline.

This guy likes the VillaWare V5225 Crepe Maker. If you want to buy one, more power to you. But there’s no way I’m going to cook $90 worth of crepes. And I’m also a subscriber to Alton Brown’s theory of avoiding single-purpose kitchen gadgets.

Damn. Now I’m hungry, and there’s no way for me to get crepes. I think Crepes Mille may still be on South Congress, but there’s no way for me to get there on my dinner break. Flip Happy Crepes is closed (I really do hope they get the brick and mortar thing figured out.) The Original Pancake House has some crepes, but not a whole lot, and they close at 2.

Anybody got any other crepe sources in Austin? (I am aware of that company that sells pre-made crepes at HEB, though I’m blanking on the name right now.)

(Crossposted to WCD, because that’s just the kind of hairball I am.)

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September 20, 2014: Pour House Pints and Pies

Pour House Pints And Pies
11835 Jollyville Rd (Austin, 78759)
(512) 270-4740

Lawrence’s Comments

This is essentially a sports bar that serves pizza. The pizza was pretty good (but could have used more cheese to hold our “four meats plus onions” toppings in place), but the fried mozzarella was undersized for the price, and the service was indifferent at best.

Unless you want to watch sports, there’s no reason to go here instead of Reale’s just up 183.

(Cross-posted to my blog.)

Dwight’s Comments

I can see this being a nice place to sit on the porch and have a couple of beers (they have a good beer selection), or sit inside and have a couple of beers and watch the game.

But I didn’t find the pizza to be that good; the cheese seemed skimpy,the toppings kept falling off, and I felt it was undersized for the money.

If drinking is your primary concern, this might be an okay choice.

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Dojo NoGo.

Two closings discovered by way of Austin Eater, and noted because we’ve had SDCs at both:

  • The Dojo. We went there because I had one of those Restaurant.com coupons. Perhaps I didn’t understand the concept, but I thought it was…okay. Nothing really to write home about, and the ramen was in third place on my list (behind Tatsu-Ya and Michi). The other dishes we had were not compelling enough to make me want to go back. Plus, they were located in the Crossroads center at Burnet and Anderson, which is a nightmare for parking.
  • The Kim Phung location near Lakeline has also closed. We also had an SDC there, and I remember thinking it was pretty swell; as a matter of fact, I even remember thinking I liked it better than the Kim Phung on North Lamar. And you know something? Until I read the closure announcement, I’d completely forgotten it was there. What a drag it is getting old.
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Artz Rib House Founder Art Blondin Dies

Longtime Austin restaurateur and champion of live music Art Blondin has died. An employee discovered Blondin upon arriving for work at Blondin’s Art’s Ribs & BBQ in Florence, Texas, on Saturday morning. An autopsy Monday will determine the cause of Blondin’s death, and police say they do not expect foul play.

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August 23, 2104: Maggiano’s Little Italy

Maggiano’s Little Italy
10910 Domain Dr #100, Austin, 78759
(512) 501-7870

  • Pepper Grinder Rating: 0 (They had several impressive pepper grinders in a server cubbyhole, but neglected to offer any to us.)
  • Bathroom Rating: 3
  • WiFi note: There’s free WiFi…if you’re using the conference room and have a password. Otherwise the restaurant seems to be built within a Farady Cage, as my iPhone frequently was unable to connect to AT&T at all.

Lawrence’s Comments

Maggiano’s offers up tasty, overpriced Italian food. In that sense it’s much like Brio, with the added hassles of being in the Domain, which makes it hard to get to. We also had to wait for a table, even though I had made reservations (though we did get there a little bit early).

The first disappointment after being seated was the free bread: uninspired baguette rounds (though at least they were served warm) with unspiced olive oil. Both Reale’s, with their delicious breadsticks, and Brio, with a more interesting bread assortment and spiced olive oil, do a better job in the bread department.

The crab cakes appetizers were good, but not $15 for two good.

Service was attentive, with numerous free drink refills without having to ask.

For my entree, the veal picatta was both nicely done and had pretty generous portions (which is only fair, considering the price). I thought the angel hair aglio olio was underspiced.

For dessert I had a perfectly caramelized creme brulee with fruit.

It was a very good meal. It also cost some $50, without any alcoholic beverages. That, dealing with the hassle of The Domain, and dealing with the hassle of the crowds (“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”) make it hard to recommend.

If I’m hungry for great Italian food, Monday through Saturday I’m probably going to go to Reale’s if they’re not too packed. If it’s Sunday (when Reale’s is closed), I’d pick Brio over Maggiano’s.

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Schadenfreude watch.

I want to make note of this story, even though it has been covered elsewhere, for reasons I will get to in a moment:

Three Austin restaurants are allegedly thousands of dollars behind on their taxes, according to lawsuits filed by the Travis County Attorney’s office.

Those restaurants are:

The lawsuits seek to place liens on property belonging to each restaurant and, if necessary, sell off furniture and fixtures to pay down the debt and to cover the cost of attorney’s fees.

Any readers out there in the tax office who’d be willing to give me a “heads-up” when they start seizing property from The Goodnight? I want to be there when the taxman starts taking tables and chairs, so I can point and laugh.

Edited to add: Eater Austin now has a comment from someone claiming to be “The Goodnight Management”, and asserting that they have paid their tax bill “in full and on time”.

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WTF, Austin Eater?

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight stories about Obama visiting Franklin Barbecue.

Really. Couldn’t this have been covered in one, possibly two, entries?

Edited to add: Nine!

Edited to add 7/14: I’m going to call this one nine and a half, since it is an Austin Eater item, but links to a KUT interview.

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