This whole business of eating out, I mean, regularly eating out, is something our kids do without thinking, but something most overfifty-ers did, well…without.
When my mom married my step-dad, we started having roast and fried chicken for Sunday lunch instead of beannie wiennies (I may be embellishing a tiny bit here, but only a tiny bit – lol), and for my Mamaw’s birthday every February 26th, we celebrated at this Chinese place on the Boulevard. That’s where Chinese restaurants were located. It had a large sign situated in the middle of a tall, red Japanese-style pagoda, and a parking lot filled with tumbleweeds and black tar in squiggly stripes where the asphalt needed repair.
It seems like the menu was limited to about three traditional entrees of chop suey, chow mein, and my mom’s favorite, egg foo yung. Whatever I got wasn’t memorable enough to remember it. I mean, it must have good food, because people came from far and wide to eat there and celebrate all manner of occasions. But, here’s the thing:
From Ding How to Wu Chow, Chinese food has come a long way, baby. Or to put it another way:
Wu Chow Ain’t No Ding How.
(I love saying “ain’t” sometimes.)
Here in Austin, Chinese food is vastly different from restaurant to restaurant, creating both a chore to choose a favorite, and a delightful search while trying. Menus are rich with fresh ingredients, adventurous spins on traditional favorites, and always an item or two that requires inquiring of the server, “Tell me about this one.”
Located at 500 West 5th Street in the bottom of IBC Bank Building, it’s an easy walk to Wu Chow from anywhere in downtown Austin. Lunch is served from 11-2, and dinner from 5-10. Reservations are always a good idea in Austin, but we didn’t need them for happy hour. There was already a good crowd developing, but the three of us were able to sit side by side at the window area bar stools.
If there was anything with foo or yung on Wu Chow‘s menu, I didn’t see it. Instead, I was totally enthralled with descriptions of small plate delectables like dry-fried green beans, chicken and taro eggrolls, and a new take on an old favorite, sweet corn and egg ribbon soup.
(Warning: these pictures DO NOT do justice to the food itself. I tried to get some better photos, but it wasn’t happenin’. My hat’s off to food photographers! You’ll have to trust me on this one – the food is amazing, even though the pictures aren’t.)
The egg ribbon soup might have been my favorite of the selections we shared. I love egg drop soup, but this was different. The corn added a layer of subtle sweetness to the brothy starchiness that made me just close my eyes and smile at first bite. It was really, really good. If you like egg drop soup, you’ll love Wu Chow’s version.
However…the dry fried green beans could have been my favorite. They were outstanding.
Keagon’s top choice was the Basil Chicken Dumplings – easy to eat with chopsticks.
Mike is a sucker for good chicken fried rice. This version is very fresh and has a nice buttery finish. Mmmm.
Our total bill was under $35, which would have been less if we hadn’t tried the iced tea, but it was so refreshing. We loved those large chunky ice cubes, too.
From Ding How to Wu Chow, from egg foo yung to egg drop soup, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like good Asian food, and Wu Chow is so much better than good. I think my Mamaw would have loved it!
Encouraging intentional adventure with chopsticks in hand,