If word of Paul Qui’s upcoming South Lamar dining destination has your stomach grumbling, then may I suggest making plans for dinner at one of the East Side Kings? Founded by a trio of Uchi chefs, including Qui, East Side Kings quickly became known to serve some of the best trailer eats in Austin. ESK has now grown to include three East Austin locations, each with a different menu boasting bold Asian street food inspired dishes.
While one can hardly go wrong by visiting any one of the three locations, the menu at the original Liberty Bar location is a personal favorite. I just can’t seem to get enough of ESK’s highly addictive fried Brussels sprouts. A perfect blend of sweet and heat, these Brussels sprouts are packed with flavor. They are somehow made even better when paired with the fresh ginger and mint flavors of the Liberty Rice.
Running a close second to the Brussels sprouts is the menu’s other standout, Beet Home Fries. Though I normally am not a fan of beets, ESK proves that truly, anything can be made delicious when fried. Served with a kewpie mayo and seasoned with a special schichimi tougarashi spice blend, one order is hardly ever enough if forced to share with friends. My next go-to item is usually an order of Poor Qui’s Buns featuring two steamed buns stuffed with pork belly, cucumber, kimichi, and Hoisin sauce. Since I am suffering from serious pork belly fatigue as of recent, I opted for Curry Buns on this visit. The deep fried buns filled with peanut butter were as good as they were sinful but not quite as captivating as other menu items. An order of the Chicken Gizzard Karaage Buns proved more successful, however. Two light, airy steamed buns are filled with deep fried chicken thighs tossed in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce and topped with a crisp combination of herbs. Well balanced, surprising, and filling, these are a sure winner.
With a menu featuring items price to move at $8 and under, East Side Kings is budget-friendly dining at its very finest. While the trailers are currently anchored at three of East Austin’s best bars, including The Grackle*, Liberty Bar, and Shangri-la, word is there may be a few changes in store for ESK. According to Eater Austin, Qui plans to expand the East Side Kings eateries to include two new locations along with menu changes at existing locations. In the meantime, I’ll just have to double my return visits to ESK to keep the anticipation from killing me….
*The Grackle location is currently closed for renovations.
Photos from a visit to the East Side Kings Liberty Bar location located at 1618 E 6th St., Austin, TX 78702. http://eskaustin.com/libertybar/