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Watson Digs the Details at Emmer & Rye; Odam Gets Shellfish at La Crawfish

Austin Monthly visits Wu Chow

Emmer & Rye
Emmer & Rye
Nicolai McCrary/EATX

The Chronicle’s Brandon Watson wasn’t sure what to expect when he visited Emmer & Rye based on the restaurant’s competing narratives. Where the restaurant’s myriad interests in grains, fermentation, and so on was a bit overwhelming at the outset, Watson finds that all of those narrative threads coalesce into a compelling and pleasurable dining experience. He makes particular note of how chef Kevin Fink turns cliched techniques into sublime dishes:

The chervil spuma (a denser version of one of those much-maligned foams of molecular gastronomy) used with a mushroom-flecked risotto ($12) relieves the rich dish from being leaden, spring shoots growing out of loam. Spuma (this time sunchoke) is used again with lardo-caramelized sunchokes ($11), but here it intensifies the nuttiness of the produce. It's clear that Fink understands that technique should be in service of the dish.

Crawfish season is a few weeks away yet, but that didn’t stop the Statesman’s Matthew Odam from checking out La Crawfish. The Austin franchise of the Houston-based operation, he argues, is an exemplar of the hybrid Vietnamese-Cajun cuisine borne of the Bayou City’s unique convergence of cultures. While he enjoyed the crawfish and the crab legs on offer, he really enjoyed one condiment in particular:

Yes, crawfish take work, but with heightened and electrified flavor profiles like these, the pulling, snapping, twisting and tweezering of meat from the crimson shells is worth the effort. A pound at La Crawfish at Northcross Mall will run you $7.49, and you can substitute that steaming bag of France-meets-Vietnam-meets-Louisiana sauce with a pungent hot and sour or amplified Cajun-style sauce — but the garlic butter is the star.

Jolene Bouchon of Austin Monthly finds Wu Chow "unabashedly posh and hip," and finds the menu thoughtfully curated. While she appreciates Ji Chen Peng’s regional Chinese menu to a point (she just can’t get past that mayo), his Sichuan dishes make her heart sing:

The gloriously silken braised eggplant was the star dish of my visits, and I was also a fan of the fiery mapo tofu and the spicy wontons, bathed in the requisite deep red chile oil, garlicky and hot with the characteristic anesthetizing heat of honest-to-goodness Sichuan peppercorns.

THE BLOGS: MJ and Hungryman pop in to Foxhole Tavern after shopping at Target; Dine With Shayda lunches at Cafe No Se; Fed Man Walking launches a new brunch series with a look at The Bonneville.

Wu Chow

500 West 5th Street, , TX 78701 (512) 476-2469 Visit Website

La Crawfish

2525 W Anderson Lane, Austin, TX

Emmer & Rye

51 Rainey Street, , TX 78701 (512) 366-5530 Visit Website