When restaurateur C.K. Chin opened Wu Chow in downtown Austin three years ago, its modern Chinese cuisine was unique to the area. Shortly thereafter, Kazu Fukumoto—having spent a decade studying the art of preparing sushi and yakitori in Tokyo—opened his eponymous Fukumoto Izakaya on the East Side; there was nothing quite like it in the city at the time, either. Since then, many more Asian restaurants have opened, bringing inventive new culinary options to the city. Here’s six to try next time you visit:
In August the chefs behind Old Thousand launched this brand-new Pacific Asian eatery in downtown Austin. By day they serve grab-and-go bento boxes, and by night they offer a full menu featuring Filipino porchetta, Korean fried chicken, nigiri, temaki, and plated creations such as the gorgeous yellowtail tuna served with lychees, green apple vinegar, and pickled Asian pears. While the restaurant’s façade is splashed with a tropical mural, the Art Deco–inspired interior makes a statement—or rather, understatement—with mint tones, natural wood, and lush vines.
Tatsu Aikawa and Tako Matsumoto were responsible for kicking off Austin’s ramen craze when they opened Ramen Tatsu-ya in 2012 (Houston now has a location, too). Ever since then, everything the duo touches has turned to gold. Case in point? Kemuri Tatsu-ya, an instant favorite upon opening last year. The menu—featuring smoke-infused ramen; shareable bites like kushiyaki skewers and karaage chicken; and mashups like chili cheese takoyaki and sticky rice tamales filled with beef tongue, chorizo, and shiitake—has garnered national acclaim. The space, which pays homage to Texas and Japan in the form of mounted antlers, Japanese pottery, and ads for Japanese beer, is almost as fun as the food.
Chef Teddy Bricker’s ever-changing menu draws inspiration from Vietnamese, Malaysian, Japanese, and Thai cuisine with dishes such as his insanely popular, flavor-packed sambal wings tossed in Thai chiles, fish sauce, peanuts, and mint. His playful “Dippin’ Tots,” sprinkled with togarashi, bonito flakes, and furikake and served with a tsukemen dipping broth, are the perfect accompaniment for a lager or ale—a good thing, since this food truck has been a part of St. Elmo Brewing Company’s beer garden since 2016.
This Chinese eatery from Uchi alums Ben Cachila and Chris Romero has an open kitchen and a funky East Austin twist—in addition to traditional Chinese-American dishes like orange chicken and mapo tofu, there’s Texas-tweaked signatures including brisket fried rice, tomatillo steamed buns, and five-spice Chinese churros with pandan cream. The playful space, opened in 2016, greets diners with gold Buddha statues, panda prints, lucky red seating, and vintage Chinese-apothecary cabinetry.
Inspired by his childhood spent in Japan and Georgia, lawyer-turned-chef Eric Silverstein’s Asian-Southern comfort menu saw immediate success after his food trailer made its 2010 debut. He went on to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2015, and today has not only a second location at the airport, but a full-service catering business. And his signature dishes, including kimchi arancini, banh mi tacos, and the Japajam burger—topped with tomato jam, pepper jack, tempura onions, Chinese barbecue sauce, and a fried egg—still rule the Austin street food scene.
This spring barbecue guru Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) and celebrated restaurateur Tyson Cole (Uchi, Uchiko) teamed up on a new Asian smokehouse, where the Texas tradition of trays and counter service remains, but the barbecue is elevated with beautifully crafted and plated dishes. Get the smoked brisket with chili gastrique and Thai herbs, along with a kale-and-Asian-pear salad, sweet corn fritters with Sriracha aioli and cilantro, and a selection from the list of wine, beer, sake, and draught-cocktails.
Already renowned for its hip hotels in LA and DC, the Sydell Group’s brand-new Line Hotel is a perfect fit with downtown Austin. Take in the works of local art, live music, and infinity pool; have a burger at Top Chef winner Kristen Kish’s in-house restaurant, Arlo Grey; and—when it opens—enjoy a glass of wine atop new rooftop bar P6, overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Rooms from $225.