Today's Groupon rewrites the rules of curbside cuisine with $10 worth of sushi for $5 from Sushi A-Go-Go, a specialized cash-and-Groupon-only sushi trailer serving up made-to-order fresh rolls that are 10 times more delicious and 100 times more reputable than that Craigslist ad offering to bring you sushi in bed.
When Martha Millan says, "Beauty shouldn't hurt," she's not peddling a slogan—her first job in the beauty industry literally caused her pain. Working at an upscale salon, her exposure to common hair and makeup products triggered hives and headaches. While searching for more natural goods for personal use, her research revealed unsettling truths about many industry product lines that often use irritating perfumes to mask the underlying odors of harsh chemicals. Feeling that everyone should have the opportunity to look beautiful without fear of harming health, she bought a salon and transformed it into Salon O Day Spa.
Amid Salon O Day's industrial decor, Millan and her team of stylists, aestheticians, and a massage therapist use products so natural that some are even edible, though Millan imagines the taste would leave something to be desired: barbecue sauce. Among the array of certified-organic, not-tested-on-animals, gluten- and chemical-free products, Millan's favorites include Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare, developed by an American physician who advocates against overexfoliation. For hair, stylists use products from lines including Surface Hair and Organic Color Systems, and during nail services, technicians use natural products from SpaRitual in tandem with scrubs made in-house from ingredients bought at a local co-op.
A locally owned and operated chain restaurant, Zen whips up fresh Japanese grub and Southwest-influenced fusion eats. Drop by to kick back amid the welcoming, ultra-modern vibes and percolate palates with tasty and new menu items, which include the likes of customizable rice or noodle bowls, fresh sushi, tuna nachos, and more. Unlike foot-long hot dogs or a bucket of biscuit gravy, sushi or chicken options, such as Redneck Sushi ($7.95) or Chuck Norris Chicken ($3.50), divides tasty culinary concoctions into tidbits so that the palate can better savor the tastetations. With today’s Groupon to Zen Japanese Food Fast, patrons can tickle the taste buds without tasting pterodactyl feathers or licking batteries.
At Oishi Japanese Fusion, sushi chefs decorate plates with geometrically sliced fruit and intricate curlicues of sauce. All this complements the central attraction—sushi rolls with evocative names such as Cherry Blossom, White Fire, and Crunch Crunch. Complex flavor profiles leap forth from such inventive ingredients as sweet potato, tempura-battered asparagus, and prawns. At bustling tables, udon noodles tangle around chopsticks, and lunchtime bento boxes crowd together servings of spicy chicken and teriyaki beef. After finishing off the last piece of sashimi or ending summaries of seven-hour dreams, guests wander out to visit the other shops in Dobie Mall.
Tucked into an unobtrusive strip mall near the University of Texas campus, the character-filled Coco's Café immediately sets itself apart with a colorful, sunny sign and bright purple and yellow interior. In front of the glass-block counter and hanging lights, Coco's Cafe's pictographic menu displays the wide variety of Taiwanese drinks and snacks on offer. The cafe's main claim to fame is their bubble tea, an Asian specialty beverage that involves chewy balls of tapioca served directly inside the drink. There are smoothies, fresh juices and coffees available as well, as well as hearty bowls of curry fried chicken with rice and steamed vegetable dumplings. The campus-adjacent location makes it an easy choice for students eager to grab a quick Taiwanese drink with friends.
In 2008, brothers Yuen and Peter Yung opened the first How Do You Roll? restaurant, devoting it to inventive, customizable sushi. Since then, the eatery has expanded to multiple locations across four states—and in February of 2013, after they pitched their concept to the notorious panel on ABC's "Shark Tank," an investor decided to sink his teeth into helping the business grow even further. The shark-worthy idea? Chefs invite customers to build their own sushi rolls or bowls, beginning with white or brown rice, which can then be topped or rolled with ingredients such as raw spicy salmon, grilled chicken, avocado, and strawberries. Sauces such as wasabi mayo and toppings such as chili powder finish off each roll.
Other favorites at How Do You Roll? come in the form of preset combinations such as the Mango Tango, whose krab stick, salmon, vegetables, and mango salsa are assembled by a chef holding a rose in his teeth. The menu also caters to healthy-minded diners with low-carb bowls, gluten-free options, and 13 rolls that contain fewer than 300 calories apiece.