For someone who loves music, the outdoors, and UT basketball courtesy of my childhood best friend, Chico Vazquez, I was highly anticipating Austin’s street food invasion of Toki Underground this past Friday. With a line down H Street well before dinner service, it appeared as if the East Side Kings mashup with Food and Wine’s “The People’s Best New Chef: Mid-Atlantic” nominee would be a huge success. Even though the line marveled that of Cronut™ proportions, I passed on acquiring frostbite in the arctic cold and opted to wait indoors at a nearby watering hole. By 5:30, my name was on the list and 2 hours later, I received the coveted text that our table was ready. By 7:40, the wait for a table for two was already six and a half hours. As we finally made our way into Toki Underground, I said what’s up to fellow Couch Sessions contributor, Chef Erik Bruner-Yang (we go way back) and then sat down.
Onto the food…the Beet Home Fries were phenom nom nom. The appetizer was utopian: a balance of heat, spice, and everything nice. The kewpie mayo was the quintessential accompaniment to the lightly crisped, spicy beets. My homie Sam ordered the Beef Tongue Kare Kare Buns and by the look on her face they appeared to be stellar. For the main course, I crushed the Tori Meshi (i.e., 1/2 Thai Chicken Karrage and Liberty Rice). It was so fresh and so clean. The palate pleaser provided a myriad of flavors that were easily recognized. The jalapeño, ginger, basil, cilantro, mint, and garlic formed the perfect union with the steamed jasmine rice.
The SxNE takeover of Toki Underground was bananas. Epic wait times in below freezing weather. If you weren’t lucky enough to indulge in a piece of heaven on Friday, check out the East Side Kings the next time you head to Austin.