The executive chef at Imperia emblazons an Asian menu full of fresh seafood and ingredients with a personal flair that has amassed seven Austin Chronicle reader accolades. Inside the stylish urban restaurant, pendant lights illuminate a marble bar winding past Asian decor, and cool slabs of bluefin sashimi stretch out on platters in the arms of attentive servers. Candles flicker across tables, as guests enjoy three-course omakase meals creatively orchestrated and handcrafted by the chef and catapulted directly into awaiting mouths.
With more than 90 buffet dishes including 30–35 hot entrees and more than 10 varieties of sushi, it’s no surprise that Buffet Palace's Austin location has been voted best buffet 12 times by Austin Chronicle readers. The similarly well-stocked Killeen location looks like a grounded spaceship from the outside, complete with a cylindrical metal cage, a Saturn-style ring, and two alien-like statues.
At each location, a modern 350-seat dining room vaunts sleek countertops and high ceilings as well as a buffet so long visiting Lilliputians regularly land planes on it. Items range from Korean-style salads and Japanese sushi to more than 30 primarily Chinese hot dishes such as sesame chicken and pan-fried dumplings.
In addition to these made-from-scratch items, a chef cooks Asian pancakes and dumplings. Before departure, diners can also stock a plate full of the buffet’s housemade desserts, which include cakes, cookies, and fruit so fresh it often gets smacked by older, wiser side dishes.
Broiled or fried. Those are your only options at Pacific Star Restaurant & Oyster Bar. But people who make all their life decisions by flipping a coin don't seem to mind?and neither do the other customers. This includes Rob Balon, a food critic for Fox 7, who said, "Pacific Star is the kind of restaurant where you can get your favorite seafood with a little kick."
He's referring to appetizers, such as shrimp-and-oyster cocktail and fried crab fingers, and entrees, which are divided into fried and broiled categories. On the fried side, there are jumbo shrimp, catfish, and gulf oysters, and the broiler churns out stuffed flounder and jumbo crawfish tails. Plus, the menu even showcases a handful of Cajun favorites such as crawfish ?touff?e and crawfish pirogue.
In 1912, George Kamburis set sail from Patmos, Greece. Once in America, he made his way to Montgomery, Alabama, and began peddling ice cream from a cart. He eventually saved enough money to buy a fruit stand and then a caf??the Coffee Pot. Sadly, that eatery burned down, but with the help of his brother, George soon opened a new restaurant, the Normandy Caf?. Today, George?s grandchildren have recreated his vision, this time giving the restaurant a contemporary name and contemporary cuisine: Satellite Bistro & Bar.
Although the bistro?s menu pays homage to the Kamburis family's Greek roots with Mediterranean dishes such as steak gyros and flaming saganaki cheese, its chefs draw inspiration from around the globe. Entrees of oven-roasted chicken, seared diver scallops, and bone-in french-cut pork chops are glazed in sauces ranging from an orchid beurre blanc to a cognac cream sauce. Latin influences show in fish tacos and enchiladas, and Asian traditions yield thai stir-fry and jumbo shrimp paired with mango and wontons. During weekend brunches, innovative creations such as ice-cream-battered french toast and panko-breaded salmon croquettes grace the table.
These modernized dishes are surrounded by equally modern decor dreamt up by Michael Hsu. Photomurals featuring an astronaut and a cityscape surround diners who perch on azure seats amid cherry-red countertops and stone pillars. On summery days, guests lounge on stuffed couches on the patio and pretend the sun is more than just a giant light bulb screwed into the sky. When the weekend comes round, musicians tickle the ivories on a baby grand in the lounge, evoking Ray Charles and Harry Connick Jr. As they listen, audiences sip wines from California and Argentina or martinis and specialty cocktails.
When the shutters pop up from the side of its rustic trailer, Trai Mai Thai’s kitchen is ready to transport diners to Thailand. The business's owner and head chef, Ning Kongla, purportedly impressed her boyfriend so much with her cooking that he convinced her to pursue it as a career. With that, Trai Mai Thai was born. There, she stuffs crab rangoon with blue crab from the Gulf to prelude the thai soups, dumplings, and noodle dishes that populate a menu that “reeks of authenticity," according to Austin Monthly. Picnic tables and other food trailers populate the sunny area—dubbed the South Lamar Trailer Bazaar—where the sounds of live music drown out the sound of fancy white tablecloths picketing on the street.