On the first night of Hanukkah, my wife and I ended up in an alley eating pork buns with a pair of freelance mixologists, a couple of old friends, and Olympic gold medal swimmer Garrett Webber-Gale. The koala and the eye-patch wearing nun couldn’t make it.
But let me explain.
I’m not sure what you’re doing right now but if it’s not driving yourself over to the Eastside King trailer behind The Liberty in Austin, Texas, you’re doing the wrong thing. Ok, I suppose you could bike there. Or walk. Or you might already be eating there and reading this on a netbook or smartphone or something. Or through some small chance may actually be working there. Fine- all of these are acceptable as well.
Crazy freaking "that could not possibly be coming out of a trailer" food after the jump:
The point is, this place is badass and deserves your attention. Started a few weeks ago as a side project for a few Uchi alums (namely Paul and Moto), this little graffitied half-trailer is turning out fun pan-Asian snackery that’s so scrumptious that I’ll even put up with the word pan-Asian.
We descended on the place in a rowdy horde and basically demanded the whole menu. The first little pleasure to emerge was a couple of orders of curry buns. The chefs have been tweaking these for a while but I think they can leave them alone.
They start with one of those soft steamed buns and then deep fry the unsuspecting little guy, smear it with a peanut and coconut milk sauce and stuff in a handful of onion, basil, mint, and jalapeno. Pure chin-wiping, vegetarian addiction.
Next up were a few paper containers full of Thai Chicken Kara-age. Now normally kara-age is all Japanese and whatnot but Mr. Fancy Pants in the trailer decided to jack Pok Pok’s amazing Fish Sauce Wings and whip up some kind of insanely delicious Franken-dish.
Can you say juicy bits of deep fried poultry nibblets tossed in fish sauce, sugar, garlic and fresh herbs? I couldn’t because I was stuffing my face. A word of warning though - the Kings are not timid with the fish sauce. Garrett kept eating it and mumbling, “this isn’t chicken…is this chicken...I don’t think this is chicken…what did you say this was?...chicken huh?...I don’t think so…” A true Thai delight.
As a side dish interlude we then ravished the Beet Home Fries and the Fried Brussel Sprout Salad. The salad was tangy and tasty but its cabbagey bulk was decidedly lacking on the brussel sprout front. More please gentlemen.
The beet fries had a nice soft texture and their natural sweetness was accented quite well by the slightly spicy, togarashi-spiked Kewpie mayo. It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings if a few of the pieces had a bit more crunch to them though.
The second act came on strong with Poor Qui’s savory and unctuous Pork Buns. Inspired by Paul’s stage at Momofuku, these fluffy steamed pockets are filled with slices of roasted pork belly, cucumber kimchee, green onion and hoisin. Nothing to see here people. Move along. If they were good, however, I’m sure they wouldn’t go perfectly with a nice frothy cold beer from the bar. Nope. Wouldn’t happen.
We wrapped up the meal with some adorable little bags of Rootbeer Snickerdoodles baked fresh by the rockin’ pastry chef Philip Speer. They were crisp and chewy and had a pronounced rootbeer flavor. Apparently he switches up the variety on a regular basis and delivers them to the trailer as some sort of trade arrangement. I can’t remember for what though. Drugs I think. Regardless, I’m glad they worked it out.
At the moment, East Side King is only open Thursday- Saturday from 7pm to 2am. There is talk of Saturday specials and expanded hours but it’s probably safest if you just go by and check for yourself. (As of January, it looks like hours have been much expanded - also, follow @pqui on Twitter to learn about specials.)
The East Side King trailer can be found behind the Liberty bar at 1618 1/2 E. 6th Street. You won't see it from the street - go through the bar, grab a beer, and you'll see the trailer set up in the back.