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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Openings/closings: Crema Bakery opens on Brodie Lane



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Openings/closings: Crema Bakery opens on Brodie Lane photo
Addie Broyles
Dong Nai near the Target in South Austin serves some of the best pho in the city.Tom Kha Gai and Thai Basil Fried Rice at Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe.
Openings/closings: Crema Bakery opens on Brodie Lane photo
Addie Broyles
Dong Nai near the Target in South Austin serves some of the best pho in the city.
Openings/closings: Crema Bakery opens on Brodie Lane photo
Addie Broyles
Tom Kha Gai and Thai Basil Fried Rice at Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe.

By Addie Broyles

American-Statesman Staff

Open: Crema Bakery & Cafe, a new cafe and coffeeshop at 9001 Brodie Lane from Jessica Forkner, who has been running a cake ball and chocolate company called Objects of Confenction since 2009. The cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. (512) 282-1300, cremabakerycafe.com.

Open: Say LaV, a food truck from chef Allison Jenkins and Vilma Mazaite, who are opening a restaurant and wine bar called laV later this year. The food truck is a precursor to the restaurant and is located behind Volstead and Hotel Vegas, near the construction of the new restaurant at the intersection of Seventh and Comal streets. Jenkins’ menu features French and Mediterranean-inspired dishes, such as soft polenta with mushroom ragu, corned beef tongue sandwich and sweet potato doughnut holes, some of which might appear on the restaurant menu when it opens later this year. Say LaV also will be set up at the Austin Food & Wine Festival this weekend.

YOU GOTTA TRY THIS

Dong Nai and Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe

South Austin isn’t known for its Asian offerings, but Dong Nai and Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe are two restaurants trying to change that reputation.

The first is Dong Nai, a Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant at 4211 S. Lamar Blvd., across the parking lot from Target and Twin Liquors, that serves what I believe to be the best pho in Austin.

To be fair, I haven’t had every single pho in town, but my husband and I have certainly tried. Every time he’s feeling even slightly under the weather (and even on summer’s hottest days) he’ll call in an order of rare beef noodle soup ($6.95) from Dong Nai and either have it delivered or he’ll pop over to the restaurant to pick it up. Each order of pho comes with a generous portion of rice noodles and a garden’s worth of Thai basil, green onions, cilantro and bean sprouts, but the rich, not-too-fatty and almost satin-like beef broth is what keeps me and everyone else in 78704 coming back for more. Dong Nai serves the soup broth piping hot, and though the portion is generous, I like to order extra broth when I call in our order.

The interior of the restaurant is a little drab and online reviewers have not been kind about the quality of sit-down service, but this isn’t a first date kind of place. We’ve had other dishes from Dong Nai that are pretty standard Americanized Chinese fare, which is exactly why our neighbors love the place so much, but for us, it’s all about that pho. Even when you’re not feeling down, it will warm your belly and brighten your day.

Dong Nai, 4211 S. Lamar Blvd., 444-1593. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. No website.

Another bright spot on the South Austin Asian scene is Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe, a relatively new restaurant at 5517 Manchaca Road. The small building across from the library on Manchaca Road has been home to a number of Thai restaurants in recent years, but none garnering as much early praise (and four stars from the hard-to-please Yelp crowd) as Tuk Tuk Thai.

I’ve only been there for a lunch meeting, but the Thai basil fried rice with chicken ($7.99), pad see ew with beef ($8.75) and tom kha gai soup, served in a metal doughnut-shaped fire pot ($8.50), were fragrant, fresh and pleasing enough to keep us lingering at the table long after the lunch crowd dissipated. We had a very friendly server and the food came out faster than we could finish our dumplings.

Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe, 5517 Manchaca Road, 326-1619. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Search “Tuk Tuk Thai” on Facebook.

Do you have a favorite restaurant that you think we should highlight in our You Gotta Try This series? Email me at abroyles@statesman.com or call (512) 912-2504.

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