Indo-Chinese lunch & murder on the lake

crispy chili baby corn

One of the things I miss most about New York is living in a city so saturated with different cultures.  No, in fact, that is the number one thing I missed about it.  

However, it's definitely exciting to be in a newer city as it "comes of age" and starts to represent a wider spectrum of cultures.  I get so excited whenever I discover something new here in Austin-- whether it's something tucked away and "new to me" or literally just opened.  And Inchin's Bamboo Garden is a little of both-- tucked away in Round Rock proper, but also opened pretty recently.  And Indo-Chinese cuisine is something I've only enjoyed once before, so I knew I had plenty to learn... 

Luckily, I was in the hands of some experts-- a group of Indian friends who certainly know the intricacies of their cuisine, whether in its pure form or fusion like this.

First of all, if you only get one thing, make it the crispy chili baby corn in the very top photo above.  With just the right amount of kick to it, each little package burst open when you bit into it, releasing heat and that baby corn flavor I've loved since I was a kid. It's about time this peculiar, miniature vegetable was the center of attention!

Chicken 65

We got several different chicken dishes to share-- I believe this one was the Chicken 65, which came with big juicy pieces of chicken, torn basil, and a bit of spice.  The crispy spicy chicken was very similar to a General Tsao's  and the chile chicken was not very spicy at all!  (The Chicken 65 had more of a bite to it.. though where the 65 name comes from...nobody knew)  In general, when I'm at a new Indian or Southeast Asian restaurant, I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to spices... the last thing I want is something too spicy to taste or enjoy.  But believe me when I tell you-- their "medium" is mild as all get out!

Hakka Noodles

These Hakka Noodles were quite gingery but lacked anything more then some strands of veggies.  We also got the Burnt Garlic Shrimp Fried Rice.  I loved the notion of burnt garlic and kind of wished the pieces of garlic had come much bigger.  The veggies mixed into the long grain rice seemed super fresh but the shrimp definitely seemed frozen.. now I want to recreate this dish at home though!

Veg Coins Manchurian

One of my favorite dishes, after the baby corn, was something that is apparently a very standard Indo-Chinese plate.. vegetable "coins" cooked in a Manchurian sauce made with ginger, garlic, cilantro, chile, and soy.  Though the menu describes them as "dumplings," they were much more similar to small veggie pancakes, fried up to a delicious crisp and then submerged in the sauce.  Yummm!

pre-murder grocery shopping

I had to rush off from this feast of a dinner to lead a training at work, but later that night I got an impromptu invitation to another murder mystery dinner planned by my Organizer-of-Fun-Things-Friend-Extraordinaire Monica.  If you recall the last one I'd attended, I had ended up being the (knife-wielding, foodie) murderer, so I could rest assured I'd probably be off the hook this time. :)  And this dinner was out at an amazing house overlooking Lake Travis!

sunset on the lake

This time there were many more guests in attendance and so many characters it was honestly hard to keep track of everyone (and there were certainly some I never even encountered)!  All I know was I was the pom squad captain in rivalry with the cheer squad captain.. at our high school reunion.  The guy in the middle is-- you guessed it-- the high school football captain.  None of us ended up having anything to do with the murder, but of course the scenario is scripted to make everyone seem potentially guilty...

pom girls

theatre --and karaoke-- nerds unite!

As for the dinner part of this murder mystery dinner, I forgot to get a photo of the food spread while it still looked nice (I know, not very typical! I was out of my element!)-- but there is a whole chaotic smorgasbord of snacks behind this group photo (which is a good amount of the characters involved but not even everyone!)

All this murder mystery dining has gotten me thinking...Monica purchases these online (I can't imagine how convoluded it would get to write all these characters into the plot, discreetly disperse clues, etc!) but I kind of want to write my own story with a much smaller cast of characters and host a little something of my own...

Because I really need another project in my