East Side King – The Grakle reopening.
Here’s a little history lesson for yall. (Hopefully this is accurate, and sorry for the long rant!)
I’m going to make the assumption that if you live in Austin you have heard of East Side Kings.
It’s the brainchild of Paul Qui, pretty much our most popular celebrity chef, and the original location at The Liberty bar has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
Currently, there are 4 East Side Kings, which is comprised of 3 stationary trailers next to bars on East 6th St. and one mobile trailer which they use for special events and catering.
The first East Side King location is at The Liberty Bar, which features pork belly buns, fried chicken (karaage), and beet fries.
The 2nd location, which is now at The Grackle has gone through a lot of iterations over the past 4 years. At first it was located on Rainey St, and they served wonderful yakitori(Japanese shishkababs).
The thing is business wasn’t that great at that location, so they relocated to the East side where did away with the skewers, and had a menu of grilled meat which was similarly prepared, but not as fun to eat. I wasn’t a fan of this change, and I guess the people of Austin weren’t too impressed either as the menu has gone through a revision, which I will go over in a little bit (wait a sec!).
The 3rd location is at Shangrila, which used to serve pretty mediocre buns until they redid their menu to feature AMAZING dishes, including sous vide pork belly and tounge, the best damn shrimp tacos I’ve ever had, and pho buns(that actually work and taste great!).
Onto the preview of the new Grackle menu.
Before I went I discussed it with my friend Jasmin who works for Food & Wine in NY. Immediately we decided that the tongue sando and the quail were the most interesting. I decided to get the mackerel just to see if they did it right, and also picked up the broccoli as well to get some veggies in.
Uzura – Quail and roasted edamame with shrimp paste
This dish is quite tasty, but I really don’t think it’s worth 12 bucks. First of all quail is really tiny… and the edmame/shrimp paste combo, while filling… doesn’t really pair well with the quail overall. Mint, even though not listed on the menu, seemed to be the strongest flavor in this dish to me. Not sure about this one!
Panko fried beef tongue in brioche, kewpie mayo, karashi mustard, served with shira-ae.
First bite into the buns is quite surprising and nice since “karashi mustard” actually tastes a lot like wasabi. Shira-ae is a mashed tofu salad, which kind of pairs nicely with the bun, but in my opinion it doesn’t offer much flavor or add to the dish at all except for adding a smooth mushy texture which contrasts to the crunch of the panko-breaded tongue. As you eat more of the bun, I sort of got the feeling that the tongue could have been more fatty and dense, but this is probably a problem with the beef tongue they had, and not them.
The thing is, the beed tongue at their other location is always pretty darn good and moist. Overall I think this dish is worth it since it’s interesting, and provides a quite a bit of flavor and textures.
Saba Don – Mackerel, beni shoga, and furikake on rice.
This dish is indeed nice. It’s a great piece of grilled fatty fish with the skin still on. The “beni shoga” pickled ginger is a no brainer addition to the dish, as it adds a ton of flavors that cut the fattiness of mackerel very well. “furikake” is that seaweed sesame seasoning that you can get at Chinese food marts, it’s a good addition cause it adds a nice bit of salt which goes a long way with the fatty fish. This is PERFECT drunk food.
I do have some complaints about this dish though. It’s advertised as a “don” which in my opinion should be a rice bowl with stuff on top. I really believe they should get some larger styrofoam or plastic bowls, fill them with rice a lot of rice, and then top it off with the mackerel and other toppings. This for one will fill up the person more eating it, and give a better presentation of the dish overall. Maybe add some lemon on top! Or something!
Broccoli Pop – with sweet chili miso
Really flavorful grilled broccoli, would eat again.
-A Side Note…
As I sat down I noticed some really pretty light, as well as a really fashionable girl.
Turns out it was Deana! Who manages all the social media for East Side Kings.
Gettin down to business! Ooh ooh!
Again this is just a preview since I’ve only had 4 out of the many dishes that they have. Overall I think the new menu at ESK – The Grackle is refreshing, but it still needs some tweaking. The ability to get a nice piece of fried mackerel after a night of drinking downtown is an unbelievable thought. (Also this place is like 3 blocks away from my coworking space).