1618 Asian Fusion on East Riverside wears a lot of hats. Dim sum brunch? Check. Pho, pad thai, and peking duck? On the menu. The menu cites Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Singaporean, and Southeast Asian influences, which means you’ll see a little bit from a lot of places. And despite the location and somewhat rough parking situation, the massive, airy dining room does a surprisingly good job of making you forget you’re in a strip mall at the bottom of an apartment complex on East Riverside.
Show up on the weekends for 1618’s excellent dim sum brunch, complete with all the classics—like xiao long bao, har kaw, and sui mai—plus cocktails and mimosas, by the glass or by the bottle. It’s difficult to wear as many hats as 1618 does without looking silly, but somehow the restaurant pulls it off in a way that’s rare to see.
Xiao Long Bao
This is one of the better versions we’ve had in town. The skins are just thick enough to prevent molten soup from spilling all over your lap on the basket-to-plate journey, but tender enough to break apart with a firm prod of your chopstick (or your teeth, if you have a mouth of iron).
Sugar Cane Shrimp
These are basically ground shrimp meatballs formed around a sugar cane handle. They’re also packed full of fresh herbs that become incredibly aromatic after a bit of steaming. As a bonus, you can chew on the sugar cane when you’re done for a sweet little finish.
Pineapple Fried Rice
Unless you’re a big fan of fried rice, there are probably more exciting things you can get as your entree here. But we like to grab an order to share with the table—1618’s comes served in a fresh pineapple that also makes for a visually fun centerpiece.
Hủ tiếu is one of our favorite Vietnamese noodle soups that only a handful of restaurants in Austin carry. 1618’s is a little on the sweet end, but in a way that brings out some deep, savory flavors in the rich pork broth. Show up in the morning after a long night out and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better hangover cure.