First Look: East Side Kings at Hole in the Wall

With plans including a flagship restaurant and tasting room, 2013 promises to be the year Paul Qui conquers the Austin dining scene, a trend that actually started in the close of 2012. Qui & co. expanded their monarchy west with the December opening of their newest East Side King location. Bravely crossing the great 35 divide isn’t the only change the Kings made to their format; housed in the famed west campus bar Hole in the Wall, it also marks the trailer eatery’s first foray into a brick and mortar kitchen

As with its predecessors, this installment of East Side Kings features a unique menu boasting bold dishes inspired by Japanese street food, all for under $10. For this specific location, the menu features a combination of ESK favorites such as fried Brussels sprouts, beet home fries, and pork belly steamed buns along with a trio of ramen noodle dishes. Creative and chocked full of flavor, these ramen noodle dishes serve to put any past memory of Lipton Cup ‘o Noodles to rest. On a recent foray to the new locale, I devoured a bowl of squid ink ramen filled with crispy rings of squid, tender noodles, vegetables, herbs and tons of flavor. Adding an egg on top costs an extra dollar, which is a highly recommended decision as the creamy yolk made the ramen absolute perfection.

Squid Ink Ramen w/Egg - $8 ($9 w/egg)

Squid Ink Ramen w/Egg – $8 ($9 w/egg)

Though each ramen bowl is more than enough for one, it is virtually impossible to avoid ordering at least one or two additional ESK staples such as crispy beet homefries served with a garlicky aioli dipping sauce. An order of Thai chicken kara-age blended with herbs and peppers was a perfect blend of salty fried goodness, freshness, and spice. The only slight misstep in an otherwise standout meal was the order of Poor Qui Buns. The pork belly was tender and not too fatty, but the steamed buns were a bit too al dente and covered a tad too much sweet sauce for our liking.

Thai Chicken Kara-age - $8

Thai Chicken Kara-age – $8

 The new Hole in Wall location also offers a weekday lunch option, which is fantastic news for those of us who might want to avoid West Campus on a Friday night. Thanks in part to a bigger kitchen, dishes come out quickly, making it perfectly ideal for a quick weekday lunch as well. Needless to say, if this newest East Side Kings location serves as any sort of indication of the quality and overall deliciousness we can expect from Chef Qui in his upcoming ventures, then dining out in 2013 is looking pretty darn tasty.

Poor Qui's Buns - $7

Poor Qui’s Buns – $7

Beet Fries - $7

Beet Fries – $7

Ramen FTW...

Ramen FTW…

East Side Kings at Hole in the Wall, 2538 Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78705, 512. Open Monday – Friday 11AM-Midnight and Saturday 4PM – Midnight.


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