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Austin food truck named one of country’s Top 10 best new ‘restaurants’

Matthew Odam
modam@statesman.com

Bon Appétit has named East Side King’s Thai-Kun trailer as one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the country. Thai-Kun, Qui and Odd Duck had all been named finalists in the Top 50 last week. The trailer is run by chef Thai Changthong, who has told me that it has taken some time to train Western palates to get used to his extremely spicy traditional Thai food. Changthong ran Spin Modern Thai with Ek Timrerk and went to Qui after Spin closed last summer. He previously worked at Uchiko. Check out what Bon Appétit’s Andrew Knowlton had to say about the trailer located behind the Wonderland bar on East Sixth Street.

I’ve always been skeptical of America’s food-truck boom. Whether it’s ten types of poutine or Game of Thrones tacos, the dishes often come across as sloppy or silly. There are exceptions, of course, which brings me to Thai-Kun, a truck parked in the backyard of Wonderland bar in Austin (it’s part of the East Side King family of joints). Chef Thai Changthong specializes in what he and co-owner Paul Qui, who runs Qui restaurant just down the block, call “O.G. Thai” (read: no overly sweet Americanized stuff here). To make an evening of it, grab some tall boys at the bar, head out back to the picnic tables, and order everything on the eight-item menu (grand total: $56). Then prepare to have your senses obliterated by Changthong’s incendiary Beef Panang Curry and Waterfall Pork (grilled pork shoulder with fiery Tiger Cry sauce). For relief, try the black rice noodles tossed in sweet soy sauce and garlic oil, or the grilled bread with peanut curry dip. Better hurry, though—it’s only a matter of time before Changthong finds his way back to a kitchen without wheels. Till then, you’ve got a compelling reason to believe in the mobile revolution.

Also making the Top 10 was San Antonio’s pan-Asian restaurant Hot Joy. When I visited earlier this year, I said that if it was in Austin it would regularly have two-hour waits here.