January 24, 2017
Out of the volcano of mighty fusion between old world Chinese dishes and new age presentation and preparation comes the energetic frenzy that is Old Thousand. With a selective menu of noodles, rice, vegetables, and house specials, the complex dishes have been meticulously chosen and designed. You won’t find orange chicken or sweet and sour pork here.
Located just east of 35 on 11th street, an up and coming area that doesn’t get nearly the accolades it deserves, Old Thousand is perfect for grabbing dinner and heading downtown for a drink. Keep your eye on this area of town over the next few years as I anticipate it will quickly become another Austin mecca for cool new restaurants, bars, and venues. While it may not be allowed, we were able to park in the dirt lot on the corner of 11th and Curve street.
When we first arrived there was about a fifteen minute wait, which isn’t surprising considering the time of day. On the outside, the gorgeous vertical neon sign draws the eye like a fishing lure, setting itself apart from the sleepy building it occupies. Being a cool January night, we waited outside taking in the light breeze and calm location. In preparation of nights like this, Old Thousand supplies two dignified torch towers offering a substantial source of heat.
Since they grab your phone number when there’s a wait you can always take off and come back later. If your patient enough to wait, I recommend ordering a drink, which can be enjoyed outside. Old Thousand has a bounty of confidently concocted cocktails, beer, and wine options as well as tea. Sadly, I was’t able to try any of the tea but certainly will on one of my many return visits.
When the gracious host came to gather us and escort us to our seat, we were fully immersed in the environment Old Thousand has strived to develop. You can opt into a spot at one of the beautiful decorated tables or the bar, which runs the length of the restaurant and provides face to face interactions with the behind the counter staff.
As with most Chinese restaurants, ordering “family style” is recommended. We were advised to order two to three dishes per person to get the full experience, a suggestion that admittedly may be over-doing it. After perusing the menu and getting our drinks, we were ready to order. Between the two of us we got three dishes and an appetizer which ended up being more than plenty.
To say the wait staff is knowledgable would be a severe understatement. When the waitress brought our dishes, not only did she know how every dish was made, she flawlessly described the taste of everything we ordered and what to expect while enjoying it. This same attention was consistent across all members of the staff.
As each dish came out, we were given an audible exploration of the makings and process. I could honestly listen to the staff at Old Thousand explain every aspect of every menu item for hours. The respect and care for each platter, as well as the customer’s experience, was apparent in every member. This level of love is something you rarely find anywhere else.
If you have never experienced your tongue going numb from Szechuan chili oil, you should visit Old Thousand as soon as possible.