What is a balut?

A balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. They are considered delicacies of Asia and especially the Philippines, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. They are often served accompanied with consumption of beer. The Filipino and Malay word balut (balot) roughly translates to mean “wrapped”.

ICI Block 3 cns a

ICI Block 3 cns a
Raymart Ruelan

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Kyōten Sushiko – A fine Japanese Restaurant in Texas

Every cut and score was executed with care, from the more familiar aji (Japanese horse mackerel) with the classic shiso and grated ginger, to the lesser-seen iwashi, a clean and vibrant sardine from Japan. As a lover of shellfish innards, I was smitten when Phan accented the awabi (abalone) with a sauce made with its liver, and seasoned the spot prawn’s lightly grilled body with the briny tomalley. The crescendo rose to a peak with the Miyazaki A5 Wagyu and the toro with freshly grated wasabi. Both delicate pieces melted as I chewed and made my eyes roll back. A chorus of “mmm”s cut through the library silence.

ICI Block 3 cns a

ICI Block 3 cns a
Raymart Ruelan

Classic Italian eatery

At first glance, Sophia’s – the Chicago-based BDG (that’s James Brown, Matt Deichl, and Jonathan Gillespie) Hospitality Group’s first foray into Austin – seems to escape those traps. The bones of former occupant Bess Bistro are largely kept intact, as is the imposing pewter bar. Designer Elizabeth Pena Brown (working with the BDG in-house team) fills the space with mostly timeless finishes, upholstering columns in black leather and chairs in sapphire velvet. The shapes are kept traditional too. There’s nary a plastic shell in sight.

 

ICI Block 3 cns a

 

ICI Block 3 cns a
Raymart Ruelan

Awesome Chinese restaurant!

The eclectic atmosphere blends familiar Chinese elements like Forties-style Shanghainese powder blue floral wallpaper and kitschy red lanterns with updated details like contemporary gold chairs. Cheeky humor dots the space, like the prominent painting of a giant panda dressed like Biggie Smalls. Similarly, the menu remixes elements from a range of regional Chinese dishes – some restrained, others loud. Of the starters, the Chongqing chicken ($8) and the tea egg salad ($8.88) were standouts. The former is like a fancy, grownup version of popcorn chicken, the bite-size meat fried in batter, then tossed in an addictive Sichuan chili oil that gives a lip-numbing “málà” or “icy-hot” quality. The creamy tea-marinated quail eggs brought whimsy and umami to the bed of lightly dressed HausBar Farms bitter greens with crunchy radish slices, puffed rice, and edible flowers.

ICI Block 3 cns a

ICI Block 3 cns a
Raymart Ruelan