At East Side King at Hole in the Wall in Austin, chef/owner Paul Qui, head chef Yoshi Okai, and partner Moto Utsunomiya are known for turning out slightly gonzo, supremely satisfying ramens like beer bacon miso and chicken tortilla ramen. They're also all ramen aficionados in their own right, clocking serious mileage between Texas and Japan to scope out the latest in ramen trends across the country. We talked to the trio about their most memorable bowls of all time, ramen in the US versus ramen in Japan, and more.
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We go behind the scenes with the Top Chef and James Beard Award winner in his new East Austin flagship.
Food truck empire East Side King expanded westward last month to dive bar and live music venue Hole in the Wall. As the first brick and mortar location, it has greatly increased the quality of food options in the neighborhood surrounding the University of Texas at Austin. So what does a permanent kitchen with running water mean for the menu? Paul Qui of Top Chef fame and partner Motoyasu "Moto" Utsunomiya have revived a ramen program that was originally available at the Grackle location, but they've developed new flavors.
If Paul Qui's fine dining food is like a sweet, quiet, bespectacled, intelligent sister, the food he serves from his three East Side King trucks is like the uncle who crashes the wedding, steals the bride, covers her in Japanese mayonnaise, smokes a joint with her behind the chapel, and carries her off on his motorcycle while simultaneously rocking out on his guitar. Now, don't you want to see?
NYC's City Grit— a "culinary salon" in an old Nolita schoolhouse—hosts a new series of dinners every week. And increasingly, they've been bringing in guest chefs from around the country to cook. This week? Paul Qui, James Beard Best Chef Southeast winner, executive chef at Uchiko, founder of the East Side King trucks, and Top Chef Texas victor. Come take a look behind the scenes at what he's serving (and hear a bit about his new Austin restaurant).