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Statesman Critic Enjoys Mouth-Numbing Sichuan Specialties and Good Vibes at Fat Dragon

Historic Mexican restaurant Fonda San Miguel still doesn’t disappoint, per Austin Monthly

Sichuan dry pot
Fat Dragon serves Sichuan dry pot dishes
Luke W. Choi/Shutterstock

Statesman critic Matthew Odam reviewed Spicewood Springs Chinese food restaurant Fat Dragon this week, and found mostly pleasurable flavors with a few stumbles.

Odam said that the restaurant “delivers some of the best flavors from other styles of Chinese and Americanized Chinese cooking,” from mouth-numbing Sichuan dry pot cabbage to chocolate-filled dessert dumplings. He stayed mostly on the Chinese side of things, finding that the Chinese-American General Tso’s chicken held “nominal bites of actual meat,” while the pan-Asian items like kimchi fried rice “needed more oomph.”

Odam had particularly positive things to say about fish dishes:

Despite the numbness brought on by the crimson peppers and oil, you can still sense the crackle of potato-flour dredged filets of fried fish (swai) in a Sichuan dry pot studded with knobs of cauliflower and rings of jalapeno peppers ($16.95).

Odam also enjoyed the miso ramen with thin slices of sous vide pork belly and the dumplings, though he noted the latter were, at times, not consistent and did not live up to the ones found at next-door restaurant Asia Market. Overall, he appreciated the “good-natured energy” of Fat Dragon.

Austin Monthly critic Joléne Bouchon revisited 45-year-old interior Mexican restaurant Fonda San Miguel and found that it was still “graceful.”

Calling its setting “transformative,” Bouchon praised the tender cochinita pibil with “succulent smokiness.” However, her favorite remains the mole:

the profoundly murky mole poblano that I first tried in the early aughts, and which consistently tests my decorum. The sauce’s nutty cocoa alchemy still had me reaching for extra handmade tortillas in order to sop up every last drop.

Bouchon explained that chef Caesar Ortiz returns to Mexico often, hosts visiting chefs at the restaurant, and introduces regional recipes, like a Yucatecan relleno negro in an “inky” sauce, to keep the menu fresh.

Bouchon also sampled the restaurant’s “lavish” brunch, saying the dessert table alone makes it worth the trip. Overall, she found the restaurant has been ahead of its time, calling it “mature, graceful, and never one to disappoint.”

Fat Dragon

8650 Spicewood Springs Road, , TX 78759 (512) 258-7587 Visit Website

Fonda San Miguel

2330 West North Loop Boulevard, , TX 78756 (512) 459-4121 Visit Website

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