Category Archives: Chinese

Coo-Coo for CoCo’s Café!

Even the sign is bright and happy!

The “Asian” part of the Drag is the area near MLK Jr. Blvd. with phở, bubble tea, bánh mì sandwiches, and Asian stir fries. One of the popular favorites to visit over there is CoCo’s Café and it’s one of the two main places on the Drag to get bubble tea. Between the two, CoCo’s Café bubble teas tend to be sweeter so be aware of this.

I see the pictures, but what do they match up with? Check out the next pic.

CoCo’s Café is the more modern, Asian chain restaurant between it and Tap House with lots of seating, a brighter atmosphere, and cute Asian items in the back for looking at. The menu is quite inviting, especially since its update from my freshman year to a huge picture menu next to the regular menu. Popular favorites include the peppercorn chicken. I personally recommend the green onion pie and the vegetable vermicelli.

Here's the menu! Prices have gone up since I took this picture.

Looking around the place, it is a rather bright and colorful store. The front of the store is windows and there are track lights above the counter to order that also help highlight the menu. You can order bubble tea, Asian food, or even shaved ice that is a little-known secret of the place. You can get all non-food related needs at the back of the store along with their parking. Utensils are available in the back along with free soup and water. They have also installed a curio case full of Asian products like phone chains and cute animal figures that entice you to buy while you wait hungrily for your food.

Don't I make you hungry? 😛

Now, onto the food! The vegetable vermicelli I first saw when my friend got it. It is kind of like sly-foon if you’ve ever had that. It is basically clear vermicelli noodles stir fried with veggies and egg and quite delicious. It is a little on the salty side, but it’s not because it tastes salty. It is more a need to drink water after eating it. It’s quite a big portion size and it’s lasted for two meals for small appetites and just enough for a big appetite. I especially like to order this when I feel like noodles and veggies since there are a lot in this dish such as bok choy and gai lon.

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the green onion pie, but you can kind of see it in the visual menu at the top left corner. It is quite delicious and if you get the full size, it is like two onion pies on top of each other. Basically, it is an Asian pancake where a rice or flour-based dough is mixed with green onions and fried into slices of crispy deliciousness. The green onions give extra flavor that does not overwhelm to the fried dough and tastes great with the dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, and green onions. It’s a bit oily, but definitely recommended. Actually, all the appetizers are recommended as they are a fair price that go well with the bubble teas.

For some reason, I like to put the straws through the picture's mouths.

Which brings me to bubble tea. The bubble tea is pretty good, quite large in variety and a nice size. It costs a little extra for bubbles/tapioca pearls FYI. I always seem to order almond milk teas at the bubble tea places so in terms of the almond tea at CoCo’s Café, it is quite delicious. There is certainly enough milk in the tea and not a very fake-tasting almond extract flavor. However, I do find CoCo’s Café bubble tea to be on the sweet side and it even gives me a headache sometimes due to its sweetness.

Overall, CoCo’s Café is a great place on the Drag to get some pretty good Asian food and bubble tea at a reasonable price. It is open on Sundays and holidays and actually has parking, which is good if you have friends from off-campus visiting.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for fair prices, sweet bubble tea, and a bright happy atmosphere.

REVIEW: Grass Jelly Drink Or The Chewable Syrup

I did not know you could drink grass...

I remember when I first heard about this strange drink. I saw one of my friends in high school drinking it and I was amazed that such drinks existed. Was there grass in it? Tiny chewy bits of grass? And then the picture…did she literally drink that jelly instead of chewing it up?

Definitely need a big bubble tea straw to suck up the jelly

What a strange concoction. Admittedly, I thought it’d be like sippable jello that was all mushed up like a smoothie, but the drink turns out to be a simple syrup with grass jelly chunks chopped up into almost swallowable sizes. Sweet, but not overly sweet, and what really strikes you is the interesting texture. Not that great at quenching your thirst, but it’s on par with coke quenching your thirst.

Simple and drinkable

Overall, something new and fun to try. If you like texture in your drink like bubble tea, then you will probably enjoy this drink too. If you’ve seen it, be brave and try a sip. It’s not going to kill you. 🙂

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for being not too sweet, not thirst-quenching, and perfect for those who are into texture in their food.

REVIEW: First Chinese B.B.Q.

First Chinese BBQ is one of the two most frequented Chinese restaurants in Austin, at least for college students. When people are trying to figure out where to get Chinese food, the final two fallbacks are always First Chinese BBQ and Din Ho.

Each has their own unique qualities, but today we will stay focused on First Chinese BBQ. It is some ways north of campus in a small Asian square. It is next to a big Asian grocery store and a number of other small Asian restaurants. Apparently, from what my friends have told me, the restaurant’s origins reside in Hong Kong, but have slowly spread its influence across a number of cities including Austin and areas near Dallas. The restaurant is a good size with about twenty tables varying from small tables for four to big round party tables complete with a glass Lazy Susan.

Our group of five was seated at a round table and were quickly handed menus. We all ordered water (with a couple of us getting warmer temperatures) and the restaurant was very accommodating. My roommate who ordered hot water got a special mug full of steaming liquid and we were all set to decide on what to get.

Looking around the restaurant, the place is very nice. It is certainly not a fancy restaurant, but the grunginess of hole-in-the-walls is cleaned up with some fancy light fixtures as well as neatly framed black-and-white pictures of sister restaurants hanging on the walls. However, a quick survey can also reveal the factory ceiling and very open kitchen. Yet I find the open kitchen a plus because it gives a homey feel and makes the place a dress-up or dress-down restaurant. The only real downside was the lighting, which did not give the ambience the restaurant was trying to make and, though not the restaurant’s fault, the sun shone in rather brightly and can be blinding in the wrong spot.

After due deliberation, our group finally decided on family style of five dishes for five people. We ordered a seafood combination crispy noodle, cai lon (or Chinese broccoli), orange chicken, stir-fried Tofu with veggies, and crispy pepper pork. The wait was a little long since we were starving and had a bit of a time crunch, but the food arrived after about 10-15 minutes.

Mmm, the food was definitely yummy and my friend laughed that we didn’t even say anything in the first few minutes because it was so yummy (or maybe we were just that hungry). Our first dish was the crispy pepper pork, a dish only one of us had tried before. It was yummy with small round slices of pork (with bone) covered in crispy golden goodness and spicy pepper slices hidden underneath to give added taste. I avoided the peppers to keep the dish from being overwhelmingly spicy, but I appreciated the flavor it added. If you are a person who can’t handle hot stuff, it’s more spicy than hot. It was also pretty salty so watch that if you’re on a low-sodium diet.

Crispy Pepper Pork

Mmm, mmm. Crispy, spicy, PORK!

It was my first time for crispy noodle and it was yummy! My friend, who has her own blog called A Love-Cake Relationship, eloquently explained how the crispy noodles were dipped in just enough sauced to add flavor and soften the noodles slightly while the warm seafood topping gave the necessary flavor to bring the dish into one bite of delightful goodness. I tried it after she cut out a piece for me and it was GOOD! I liked how it was crispy, but had a lot of flavor and was balanced by the soft chewiness of the seafood. The seafood was just subtle enough to add flavor, but let the crispiness of the noodles be highlighted.

Slice of Crispy Noodle

My First Crispy Noodle!

Next up are the dishes of cai lon, orange chicken, and tofu with veggies. The cai lon was a classic, good and just like you would get in any other Chinese restaurant. It wasn’t undercooked, which can be a problem in some places, and wasn’t completely drowned in oyster sauce. The orange chicken was also good with a crispy outside and perfectly cooked broccoli. I’ll admit, though, the sauce seemed to be more like sweet BBQ sauce than orange sauce to me, but good either way. Finally, the tofu with veggies may have been the weakest point in our meal. I do like bok choy and crispy tofu, but this dish seemed to be a little lacking. The tofu pieces did not seem very well seasoned and some at the table thought the pieces were too big. The dish was also deemed a little bland and I personally found it quite salty. However, it must be given kudos for the large amount and variety of vegetables that may have fared even better if they had been less drowned in sauce and more fresh.

The other dishes

Yum, more than enough for us.

Inevitably, I will have to make some comparisons with Din Ho and this is left to the last paragraphs. Mostly, I would prefer the food at First Chinese BBQ. However, I will admit that I like the tofu slightly better at Din Ho (though that may have been because of the different dish). In terms of environment, each has their own pros and cons. Din Ho is nice for friends and looks more like a Chinese restaurant does, but First Chinese BBQ is probably best for large college groups with its tendency to be loud and trendier décor. Both have spotty service that could be good or bad depending on your server, but at least they all try. If you’re willing to make the trip, go for First Chinese BBQ, but Din Ho is never a bad substitute.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 ½ for good Chinese food in Austin and a nice place for groups to eat.