By Sara Benner
“OMG. Fried stuff. And it’s Gluten-Free? Where?!”
East Side King’s Tori Meshi combo features cornmeal fried chicken thighs on a bed of ginger rice.Last year Qui won Top Chef: Texas, a popular cooking reality TV show on Bravo, the James Beard award for the best southwestern chef, and is the executive chef for Uchiko, a contemporary Japanese and sushi restaurant.
While the formula of Asian street food plus a bar is the same, this is the first brick and mortar location in the series. Their menu is a mish mashed borrowing of dishes from their other locations, like their beet home fries and pork belly Poor Qui’s Buns. Though their menu choices are less exotic than their other East Side King locations (where’s the tongue sandwich?), this is the first time they’ve offered ramen— which is surely in response to the rising trend of quirky reinventions of the ubiquitous noodle dish. They have three takes on it: Sapporo Beer Bacon Miso, Chicken Tortilla and Squid Ink Curry ramen. They’re definitely intriguing, but not gluten-free.
However, their Thai Chicken Kara-age and Liberty Rice combo is gluten-free and yummy. The cornmeal fried chicken is crispy and juicy, covered in a sweet and spicy sauce with whole leaves of basil and mint. A little cilantro, onion and jalapeno round out the stylized Thai flavors of the chicken, which is heightened by its light and gingery Liberty Rice.
My order of fried chicken was $8. While that’s a little on the expensive side, it’s about how much a good lunch on the drag costs these days, and probably among the cheapest gluten-free meals around. Any time I’m craving Asian food, or even just something fried on my gluten-free diet, you can bet your shoelaces this is where I’m going. Who knows, you may even run into Qui himself. (I did. Teehee.)