At the recommendations of many here, I have now been twice to asia cafe, and since it's 5 min. from my house, it's going to be a regular.
Last week i tried the crispy fish and greenbeans w/ garlic. The beans are perfectly blistered with a little garlic, and tender (not crunchy) and slightly salted. The fish is outrageously good: very lightly breaded, nicely fried big chunks of catfish fillets immersed in a bowl of red-peppery oil and broth laden with cilantro, bok choy, other greens, bean sprouts, and a nice bit of heat (not overly spicy though). This is one of the best dishes in Austin anywhere. Not sweet, and for me that's a bonus.
I also tried today the pork with flower chive - I think it's garlic chives sliced in 1 1/2 inch straws sauteed with velvety little 1 inch pieces of chopped pork in a slight amount of sauce / starch coating. This is an excellent dish too, but doesn't compare to the intensity of the fish. It's simple, and not too spicy, and not sweet. This became a nice candidate for the pepper/oil on the table to kick it up a notch.
Ma Po Tofu - Outstanding, but again, the fish won. Cubes of Tofu in a very similar sort of red oil / broth mixture as the fish, laced with red pepper, tiny sausage bits, thin slices of the whites green onions, cilantro, maybe some really thin sliced mushroom (not sure). This is a challenge for chopsticks - but my second favorite of the day.
what a lovely restaurant. I work with a Chinese couple down the hall from me here at UT and they prefer Chinese Barbecue (or something like that) in the new N. Lamar sort of Asian Shopping and Dining Mecca to all Austin Chinese places, including Asia Market and Din Ho.
Can't wait to get that pork elbow !!
Thanks for the outstanding recommendations!
Oh, and on saturday mornings get the Tzon Yo Ping (a scallion pancake). That's the phoenetic pronounciation they taught me, and it's close enough to get you by. It's a lovely fried little pancake of dense flour dough lightly salted and laced with the greens of green onions. really a nice little treat. The long doughy fried bread tubes on Saturday morning were at every table in the place - anyone tried that?