If by chance you are in Austin and you long for some good Thai food, then you need to go to Spin at 14005 North US Highway 183, Suite 100. Austin is booming and the north side is one endless string of strip malls. Except this strip mall is nice.
And this food is not just good, it’s remarkable. Filled with flavor, different from any Thai food you might have had, and very, very reasonably priced. The photo above may be styled, but it’s very representative of the quite lovely plates that float to your table.
The menu changes frequently, but there are some items there you just have to have. Kabocha or pumpkin [Japanese pumpkin] tempura is simply wonderful. It’s an appetizer you want to order twice, but you need to wait and move on. There’s the Salmon Tataki: salmon with garlic, shallot, pineapple and green apple chili sauce. Or Duck Wing Saam Rot: fried confit duck coated in sweet chili tamarind vinaigrette, garnished with sliced green onion and served with pickled cabbage salad. That’s a mouthful to write but a great mouthful to munch on.
To sip away the heat, you can do a Thai Basil Mint Sangria or a Tamarind Lime Mimosa. The list of beverages and dishes is long. It’s best to get a gaggle of friends, order massively, and share the joys.
Spin calls itself modern Thai Cuisine. It’s right there in URL: www.spinmodernthai.com. It’s a very fine restaurant and quite representative of the excellent food scene in Austin. If you can, drop in and be ready to smile.
If you fly, certainly if you fly Jet Blue, then this post is for you.
The afternoon was getting complicated. It was 4PM and we had an 8:40PM flight from JFK. Jet Blue at their sparkling and massive Terminal 5.
“Do we eat now?” I asked Suzen. “Or get to the airport and eat there?”
“Airport? Airport food? What the devil is the matter with you?”
“Suz,” I began carefully here because when Suzen is upset thing can spiral the wrong way, “I read this wonderful review about the Jet Blue Terminal. The restaurants are phenomenal.”
“And this review was in The Post?” Suzen asked. Suzen has certain press prejudices about what is, admittedly, a tabloid. But, you see, The Post is a good tabloid. The girls on Page 3 are always fully dressed. Or at least in bathing suits. Okay, two piece suits.
“You know,” I said, “I’m not sure where I read it. But I’ve heard from multiple people, actually, that there are good restaurants there.”
“We’ll try it,” Suzen accepted. “But so help me, God, if …”
It turns out that, for this issue, I do not need God’s help. At least in the United States, airport food has some remarkably common properties. It is very expensive. It tastes worse that recycled cardboard that has been dipped in runoff water and allowed to dry in an insect filled environment.
Eating at US airports is a lot less safe than getting on the planes.
But, Jet Blue, to its credit, has changed that. There are nine full service restaurants there at Terminal 5, all have intriguing menus posted, and the selection of one is not an easy matter.
We chose Deep.Blue, a modern sushi restaurant decorated in that deep, bold blue color of Jet Blue. The food is excellent, the prices very reasonable — given that it is sushi. We had two rolls —a Dragon and some wonder whose name is forgotten but was deeply appreciated — that were made on the spot, fresh, and radiated flavor. Big, thick rolls with enough content so that two were really a full meal for the two of us.
And then there was the Crab Fried Rice topped with a fried egg. It is quite impossible to convey how wonderful that rice is. Soft, moist but not wet, subtly infused with veggie flavors, and mixed with lovely fresh crab. No one flavor dominates, but all form an orchestra of sensation in your mouth.
Where did this food come from? It’s Buddakan’s Michael Schulson, a recognized master of food. Frommer’s Guides has recognized Deep.Blue as one of the top 10 airport restaurants in the country.
Your travels may well involve a stop at JFK, either as destination or gateway to a distant country. If you can possibly arrange to do it, get to Terminal 5 and enjoy the special flavors and striking quality of Deep.Blue.
If anyone has a recipe for Crab Fried Rice that comes close to Deep.Blue, I would love to share it with everyone on this blog.