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Statesman Finds Authenticity at Thai Kun in the Midst of a Mall

Critics share their thoughts on Hudson’s on the Bend and Delicious, too

East Side King’s Thai Kun restaurant
Thai Kun
Nadia Chaudhury/EATX

Statesman's Matthew Odam finds credible Thai homecooking at Thai Kun in the least likely of places, Domain Northside’s glossy Rock Rose district. Part of the East Side King empire co-founded by Paul Qui, the brick and mortar is an evolution of the original food truck known for its fiery Southeast Asian fare, though only a few dishes from the trailer days remain. The restaurant features cuisine similar to Thailand — the type chef Thai Changthong grew up eating. Odam explains that Changthong and Qui jokingly call this type of cooking “O.G. Thai,” meaning “Original Grandma”:

And this grandma isn’t the kind to overindulge you with sweetness. That becomes clear the second you envelop yourself in the warmth of tender hunks of beef fragrant with the aromatics of a stinging panang curry ($13). The dish did what so many at Thai Kun do: It finds balance. While there is heat, there is also the cool of kaffir lime leaf, basil and coconut cream.

Odam went on to explain how Thai Kun successfully approaches simple dishes — like wings — by addressing balance, depth, and care. This trifecta helps separate the cuisine from the competition. A warning though: Changthong likes spice and knows how to use it. Of the papaya salad, the food critic writes:

The dish will challenge even spice seekers and send those with sensitive palates flailing for the relief of an excellent Bangkok Bang ($6) sake cocktail with orange, vermouth and bitters, or pleading to skip ahead to the smooth pana cotta with basil ice cream at dessert ($7).

Consider yourself warned.

Jessica Dupuy with Texas Monthly found that sentimental favorite Hudson’s on the Bend is in good hands. The doors recently opened at the revamped Hill Country restaurant last month, now under new ownership, revealing a new wine cellar, updated menu, a renovated front porch, and a brighter more polished space. But does it stand up to the original? Yes.

We savored a delectable menu with exquisite wines and a smattering of dishes including yellowtail ceviche in a tart and tangy “Tiger’s Milk” and blood-orange broth; a white bowl painted green with mojo verde and harboring warm morsels of double-fried punches with grated parmesan and garlicky aioli; perfectly tender braised rabbit with a rich brown gravy and Rosie Gibson’s goat cheese-poppyseed ice cream with amaranth and candied lemon curd with a breathtakingly sweet and savory goat cheese and fig ice cream sandwich to finish.

According to the new owners Billy Caruso and Chris McFall, this evolution of Hudson’s on the Bend is in part a homage to its founder, Jeff Blank and his dedication to Texas hospitality. Sometimes even new places can feel like home.

Chronicle's Brandon Watson found justification in the name at Delicious, the grocery store and restaurant in South Lamar's Lamar Union development. The fast-casual eatery serves up deli-style sandwiches, breakfast tacos, pastries, and a selection of "bites" (e.g. Wagyu tartare and ahi poke) in a chic setting. Of Chef Tyler Johnson's (formerly at Bacon, Hugo's Restaurant y Tequila Bar, Micheladas Cafe y Cantina), Watson exclaimed:

Knowing Johnson's résumé, though, doesn't exactly prepare you for what he does at Delicious. Maybe the shedding of genre gave him new freedom, but his menu here rises above that of any of his previous employers.

Watson pointed to the intrepid bites menu as offering a "cross-cultural tour through current trends," highlighting the scallop aguachile, ahi poke, and wagyu tartare. Aside from a few stumbles — namely the winter squash ghanoush — Delicious earns its name.

THE BLOGS — The Austinot weighed in on newcomer Old Thousand, Sushi in the ATX dished on Grizzelda’s upscale Mexican fare, and Dine with Shayda popped into Forthright Cafe.

Hudson's on the Bend

3509 Ranch Road 620 N, Austin, TX 78734 (512) 266-1369 Visit Website

Delicious

1100 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

East Side King Thai Kun

11601 Rock Rose Avenue #100, Austin, TX 78758 (512) 719-3332 Visit Website

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