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Where to Eat Now 2014

No. 8 Qui

Austin

Photograph by Jody Horton

Paul Qui’s restaurant is his playhouse—you never know what’s going to come out of his kitchen, but you can count on it being thoughtful, delicious, and a lot of fun. Having won both Top Chef’s season nine and the James Beard Foundation’s 2012 award for Best Chef: Southwest, Qui is having a blast with his first brick-and-mortar place. On a counter near the open kitchen sits a row of ceramic mugs with animal tails for handles, as well as an assortment of rubber stamps for customers to fool around with. The kitchen gets in on the whimsy from the first bite, a crisp nori-cracker amuse-bouche anointed with house-made Cabot Creamery cheddar cheese mousse squirted from a can. Following that, an eclectic menu with strong Asian influences takes you from the pitch-perfect Ode to Michel Bras (an exquisite still life of local farm vegetables in a silken, pale-green garlic dashi) to ribbon pasta tinted midnight-black with squid ink and swirled with minced oysters and smoked trout roe. The evening ends with fun too, whether you choose cheese ice cream sandwiches drizzled with goat’s-milk cajeta or Halo Halo, a Filipino fruit-and-nut snow cone honoring the chef’s birthplace. Qui Opened June 20, 2013. 1600 E. 6th (512-436-9626). D Mon–Sat. $$$

 

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