Martin Wilda, executive chef of Sway, is a busy man. With two new locations of the Thai restaurant opening this year, he’s in the “constant process of researching, finesse, and melding new techniques with classic methods to stay innovative,” he says.
When Wilda isn’t working in the kitchen, he loves to dine at an array of restaurants in Austin. For Asian cuisine, he really enjoys the modern Chinese fare at Wu Chow and the Chinese seafood over at New Fortune.
The most memorable meal Wilda has ever had in Austin comes from another Asian favorite — the Japanese meal at Otoko. “Dinner at Otoko is like nothing else,” he described. “Chef Yoshi [Okai] is incredibly talented and funny, and the intimate atmosphere really makes the experience feel that much more special. Also, who doesn’t want to eat 20+ courses in a meal?”
The dishes Wilda craves the most are from Polvos Mexican Restaurant, Clark’s Oyster Bar, Home Slice Pizza and Franklin Barbecue. “Each offer something different, but are all local and delicious,” he says.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, another regular of Wilda’s, is his favorite bargain restaurant in Austin. The five dollar brisket tacos might just be the best in Texas to him.
As for restaurants that embody the Austin dining experience right now, Wilda looks towards those on wheels. The food trailer scene, he says, “provides simple food done well, with no fuss.”
“So many popular and great restaurants started as trailers,” Wilda continued. “Odd Duck, Torchy’s, The Peached Tortilla … the list goes on. Austin’s food trailer scene is a testament to the fact that good food doesn’t have to be fancy,” he explained.
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