Metro Area Must Try: Toro Ramen And Poke Barn

Tonkotsu ramen at Toro Ramen and Poke Barn

We all know who the frontrunners in the noodle game are in Austin proper, but where can you grab a great bowl when venturing out into the metro area? The frigid temps lately had us jonesing for hot noods, and we decided to give Toro Ramen and Poke Barn a try.

Situated in San Marcos within a stone’s throw of Texas State University, Toro Ramen and Poke Barn is a small shop with a friendly vibe. On our visit, a quick menu perusal had us starting off with the squid leg appetizer. This delicately battered, fried squid is not your normal rings of calamari, but larger sections of tentacles, and served with a scattering of bonito flakes. (There may or may not have been inappropriate Squidward jokes during the course of this meal.) The squid fell just short of overcooked, with some pieces tender and others slightly chewy, but all in all it was a tasty offering and we’ll definitely order it again.

Our table all opted for tonkotsu ramen, a large serving of noodles, pork broth, pork chashu, marinated egg, mushrooms, red ginger, seaweed. The noodles are a straight variety, thin and satisfyingly stretchy. The zing of red ginger in the ramen lifted this dish to a higher level, balancing the richness of the broth, and punching up the flavor of the marinated egg and chasu pork. Red ginger is a sharp, peppery ginger, pickled in plum vinegar, and more intense than its paler sister, the sweet ginger usually served with sushi. It’s perfect for heavier tofu or rice dishes, and would make a great addition to yakisoba.

Toro Ramen and Poke Barn has both vegetarian and vegan ramen on their menu, as well as an option for a ramen combo meal with a choice of side dishes such as poke or agedashi tofu. Gluten-free diners can sub kale noodles in place of wheat.

If you have a Metro Area Must Try, comment below and tell us where and what we should be eating.

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Hot Dish: Today’s Austin Metro Food Gossip

Photo by Ben Moreland on Unsplash

Gather ’round my food-centric friends while I spill the tea on an exciting bit of restaurant news. Austin restaurant royalty, Suzi Yi whose iconic Suzi’s Chinese Kitchen (S. Lamar) and Suzi’s China Grill (Shoal Creek at Anderson Lane) garnered fierce loyalty from patrons for over 3 decades as soon as their doors opened in 1992 and 1997, respectfully, was spotted out on a walk this weekend. Ms. Yi set a standard of professionalism in her restaurants at a time when waitstaff in the metro area had a reputation for being lackadaisical in their performance. Waitstaff for Ms. Yi knew a cheerful and friendly manner was sacrosanct, and customer service was held to the highest standard. A greeting from Ms. Yi as you entered her space was as warm and welcoming as the ones from Juan Meza at Juan in a Million. IYKYK. As one would expect, she was just as friendly as always, even with her walk momentarily interrupted with the hopeful question of when she’d be back in the restaurant game. Folks, Ms. Yi served up the best news we’ve heard in a while: she’s taking over the shuttered Old Thousand II spot at 4805 Burnet Road. No further details are available.

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Austin Food & Wine Presale!

Photo credit: Austin Food & Wine Festival

The Austin Food & Wine Festival presale is live and you do not want to be left hanging! Tickets always sell out for this festival, so get ’em while they’re hot! The talent lineup drops on Thursday, August 24th and I’m hopeful to see a few local favorites in it (looking at you, Chef Kristen Kish) along with rising stars. One thing I can always count on is an abundance of sampling, both food and wine, along with educational seminars for wine and spirits. The festival is an immersive experience, and I’m pleased to see Chef Tim Love back with his Hand On Grilling adventure. The #AFWfest is a gustatory celebration, and you need to be a part of it.

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