At first glance, Wu Chow looks like the type of trendy and upscale Chinese restaurant you’d expect to be occupied by a bunch of blazer-clad businesspeople and dressed up couples on dates. And in some ways, that’s exactly what it is. Walk through the front doors on a relatively quiet corner of Downtown, and it feels a little like stepping through a portal into a trendy club. But instead of feeling like a restaurant that relies purely on looks and a buzzy vibe, the food here is excellent.
Sure, Wu Chow is open for lunch during the week, but then you’d be depriving yourself of the weekend dim sum offerings or the large menu of mostly tiki cocktails (unless you’re going for one of those lunches). The food here leans Sichuan, but mostly made with premium farm-to-table local ingredients that often add a subtle Texas twist to classic dishes.
Head to Wu Chow for your first stop on a Downtown date night, or with a few friends on a Sunday afternoon. Just make sure to grab a reservation, especially if you’re showing up for brunch—we’re not the only ones who have stumbled upon this Downtown mecca for soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, and baskets of excellent dim sum.
Shanghai Soup Dumplings
Wu Chow was one of the first spots to bring soup dumplings to Austin, so an order feels almost obligatory. They’re good, but not our favorite in town—the dumpling skins are a little thick, and the broth a bit sweet. These probably won’t blow your mind, but they won’t really disappoint, either.
Dry Fried Local Green Beans
We have yet to make it through a meal at Wu Chow without an order of these. They’re perfectly fried, with just enough natural sweetness from the beans to balance out all the chilies and fermented mustard greens they get tossed in.
Honey Pecan Gulf Prawns
A Texas take on the classic Chinese-American staple, honey walnut shrimp. The prawns are massive, and perfectly fried. We like that the sauce isn’t too heavy on this one, as other versions of this dish can feel a little too rich at times. And the pecans serve as a welcome reminder of where exactly we are.
Seafood Bird's Nest
This is one of those dishes that’s almost as fun to look at as it is to eat. The seafood is seasoned and cooked well, and the taro root “nest” soaks up just enough of the sauce to be a great snack at the end.
Tangerine Peel Beef
Another variation on a classic, here the more common orange peel gets subbed out for local tangerine peels, adding some subtle citrusy notes and texture. And the flank steak adds the perfect amount of bite to it all.