East Side King blew me away at The Grackle and since then I’ve been meaning to get back out east to try the other two locations (at Liberty Bar and Shangri La). As fate would have it, they were one of
a very select few food trucks invited into the hallowed Austin FOOD & WINE Festival grounds. Their mobile truck, as colorfully graffitied as their stationary trailers, was cranking out menu items from their Liberty Bar location.
To accommodate the crush of people, they cut the menu down severely. Though the options were limited to three choices, it didn’t feel limited. That’s because they were offering exactly what I would have ordered anyway. My festival buddy Travis laughed when I said I planned to get one of each, which made me reconsider pacing myself. I was at a food and wine festival after all.
With a condensed menu I narrowed it down to the Thai Chicken Kara’age and the Fried Brussels Sprout Salad. Sorry Poor Qui’s Buns,
maybe definitely next time. The Thai Chicken Kara’age reminded me of everyone’s favorite Chinese restaurant General Tso’s chicken. The difference with the ESK version is it isn’t unnecessarily heavy, MSG-laden, nor mystery meat-filled. The coating is fried perfectly, leaving its inner chicken moist. All of the pieces are full of chicken. My one gripe, which was my own fault since it’s on the menu, is the forest of cilantro put on top. It was easy enough to pick off, and no strikes against them for it.
The Brussels Sprout Salad was the exact blast of vegetables I needed going into a food and wine tasting. The sprouts were grilled with a charred exterior and the other greens added a nice, leafy contrast. I thought they were a bit overdressed (not a common problem in casual Austin. zing!) but a sweet, tangy dressing all around. Not on the menu, but definitely on the salad, were what I think a few sliced strips of steamed bun. I liked trying them, though they didn’t seem to offer much to the salad. Overall good, not great, and a decent option if you want tasty veggies to go with your fried chicken.
p style=”text-align: left;”>East Side King is a force to be reckoned with. Even in non-ideal conditions, like a large festival in a dust-bowl, they maintain their incredibly high standards. You won’t be disappointed with anything ESK has to offer, so swing by their original Liberty Bar location. Just walk into, through, and out the back of the bar and you’ll find a great patio and graffiti-covered trailer. And who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of the East Side King himself, Paul Qui.