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Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Eve Eve at Qui

It's finally time to eat at Qui!! Chef Paul Qui was my favorite contestant during Top Chef Texas and I was so thrilled when he won. Later I hear that he's opening up his own place! Been following it ever since. It's been open for about 7-8 months now? And business seems pretty great. I was so excited when I was able to get a reservation while in Austin! I basically emailed the restaurant 3 different dates and said whatever is available I'll take!

1600 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 436-9626
Price: $$$

The restaurant is pretty small, but it's very cozy and well designed. All the design elements and decor were so well thought out. There was a fun pattern that they used on their menus that was used throughout the place, on the walls, on the doors, etc. I thought that was really fun. The kitchen was wide open so you can see everyone working in there. I've always liked that type of layout.

We checked in with the hostess and she said our table was being prepped. So we waited at the bar for a little bit. The bar area was pretty small too. But the whole place was very cozy. I had asked the hostess if the chef was in and she said yes! And that she would send him over to our table at some point. OMG OMG OMG!! Excited!!

We were soon seated. And our waiter Kacey was super friendly. She got us started with some drink orders and went over the menu with us. She was definitely very knowledgeable of the menu and restaurant.

Mama Floyd's Cup o'Love (el dorado 12yr rum, lemon, orange, maple, spiced yunnan tea; served hot) $10~ 
My bf got this to share with me. He loved it! It was pretty tasty. If you like spice, mulled wine, cider, or all of the above, you'd like this too. It was very warming. And it came in the cutest bunny cup. Oh I wanted to take it. haha.

That English Devil (pimm's #1, tapatio tequila blanco, allspice dram, lemon, curacao, ginger beer) $12~ One of his sisters ordered this. It was too strong for me, and I'm not a tequila fan. But she is! And she said it was really good.

Kacey came back and gave us some recommendations on how we should order. We decided on the option of everyone ordering something different and share family style. She also suggested on the order of dishes to be served. Everything at the restaurant was thought out. All the plates, utensils, etc were specially designed. I loved how it was eclectic yet cohesive. :)

Kinilaw (amberjack filipino ceviche) $16~ 
Never had amberjack before but this was delicious. It kind of looked like yellowtail? It wasn't a fishy tasting fish. The texture was great and the sauce in the ceviche was creamy and tart and refreshing. The sauce was made of coconut milk, vinegar, yuzu juice and ginger. We all loved it. Kacey told us that the chef would like all raw fish to be eaten with chopsticks. Good! I would do that anyways. :)

Kuruma Ebi (orange, fennel, green garlic, chapulines) $20~ 
We found out that chapulines were crickets so one of my bf's sisters was extra excited. She's always wanted to try cricket. We were informed that the cricket was more of a relish on top of the Kuruma prawns which made it easier for me to eat it. haha. His sister was slightly disappointed in that little detail but it was quickly forgotten. It came 4 to an order which was kinda expensive. But it was soooo good. The body of the shrimp was pretty good. But then Kacey came over and told us that we should also suck the shrimp heads. I never suck shrimp heads. I don't do it with crawfish either... But it was AMAZING. I didn't know such a little piece of shrimp head can have so much flavor!! Definitely one of my favorites of the night.

Cabbage (crispy chicken skin, fennel relish, spiced yogurt) $8~ This was good too. I particularly liked the crispy skin with the fennel relish. Never had fennel relish before. It added a sweetness to the dish.

Rib Rice (pork ribs, koshihikari, sofrito, aioli) $18~ 
Slow cooked rib meat in dashi-pork stock rice? OMG. Sounds awesome. And it was sooo good. The aioli on the side added another layer of richness. This was one of my top 3 dishes of the night. So many layers of flavors. Each bite, I would get a different flavor. I scraped that plate clean!

Pasta (sea urchin (uni), yuzu, chanterelle, squid ink, trout roe) $24~ 
This was my pick. Uni and squid ink? Done! The pasta was nicely cooked, and you can tell they made it in-house. And lots of uni on top! The uni was a little fishier than I've had in Japan. But that was Japan, and I've learned not to compare that with things in the states. hahaha. Everyone loved it. The creamy uni with the salty squid ink and earthy mushrooms. Yum.

Salt & Time Butcher's Cut (pork secreto...shhh) $20~ 
I asked what the pork secret was.. Kacey said it was the piece of meat behind the ribs. It's usually too tough to sell so the butchers take it home to their families. And since it's a tougher cut of meat, they cook it low and slow. It was really great. The meat wasn't super tender, but it had a good texture. And the seasoning on it was pretty light so you can actually taste the meat itself. It came with vinegar potatoes and kimchi which were both awesome. Never had anything like the vinegar potatoes before. That was a big winner at the table. And I ate the kimchi with the rib rice...which also paired extremely well.

I was actually quite full! I think the snack at East Side King helped though. hehe. But can't forget dessert! They only had 2 options so we got one of each.

Halo Halo (seasonal fruit, ice, milk) $6~ 
This had a lot of ingredients in it: rice pudding, pumpkin custard, toasted coconut, waffle crunch, candied pecans, pumpkin seeds, pears, eggnog, sweet potato gelato, spiced pate fruit, candied sweet potato. And a rum sauce was poured on it tableside. Wow... it was a little cup packed with stuff! It's more of a single serving but we all just wanted a bite or 2. Halo halo basically means mix mix, so we mixed everything together. Pretty yum! I got to down the last bit and got a big gulp of the eggnog and rum sauce at the bottom. That was amazing.

Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream (crispy waffles, goat milk cajeta, peanut praline, aged cheddar ice cream) $12~ 
This was the main dessert I wanted to try. It just sounds so interesting. Although I was a little hesitant on the goat milk cajeta since I don't like goat cheese. But it wasn't gamey at all, I didn't even taste any goaty-ness. :P This was the best possible end to an amazing meal. The perfect blend of sweet and savory. The waffles and praline added the crunch factor and all the flavors worked so well together. The perfect ending.

After the meal, the chef came to our table. OMG!!! I'm freaking out. hahaha. I'm such a foodie groupie. :P He was all smiles just like when he was on Top Chef. One of the main reasons I liked him. He seemed like just the nicest guy. And he was! Took pictures with our table and I got another pic with just me and him. :) Definitely didn't disappoint. In fact, we were all pretty blown away.

From beginning to end, the meal was fantastic. The friendly hostess, to our awesome waitress, delicious food, and of course, Chef Qui himself. Even the other waiters/waitresses were super nice. I had asked Kacey to tell me the ingredients in the halo halo and she said she would write them down for me. Within a few minutes another waiter came by and gave me their notes to the entire menu for the night. It had every dish listed with ingredients, the stations it's prepped in, the utensils used to eat it (which we learned was called "marking"), and dietary considerations. Wow!! That's awesome. I will definitely file away these notes.

It was a wonderful meal with some amazing people. We still talked about how great it is the next morning!

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