First Look at Old Thousand

First look at East Austin's hotly anticipated neighborhood restaurant, opening soon

First look at East Austin's hotly anticipated neighborhood restaurant

Old Thousand restaurant cucumber salad
Cucumber salad. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant clay pot
Clay pot. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant chef David Baek
Chef David Baek. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant crispy noodle
Crispy noodle. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant sesame balls
Sesame buns. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant Chinese broccoli
Chinese broccoli. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant Szechuan cod
Szechuan cod. Photo by Kristin Vrana
Old Thousand restaurant cucumber salad
Old Thousand restaurant clay pot
Old Thousand restaurant chef David Baek
Old Thousand restaurant crispy noodle
Old Thousand restaurant sesame balls
Old Thousand restaurant Chinese broccoli
Old Thousand restaurant Szechuan cod

Old Thousand, the much anticipated, dream team-led neighborhood Chinese restaurant is finally slated to open on Sunday, December 4.

This is the first project from newly formed hospitality group SMGB, led by Benneth Cachila (Uchi, Nama, Emi); Larry Perdido (Hopdoddy, Moonshine); Tony Pollock (Hopdoddy, Pei Wei); and Christian Romero (Root & Bone NYC, NaiYaRa, Sarsaparilla Club). It features a duo of chefs with extraordinary pedigree: James Dumapit, an Uchi/Uchiko alum, and David Baek, formerly of Thai Kun and Uchi.

We got a first look at the restaurant before it opens to the public this weekend. The space at 1000 E. 11th St., which has housed a few previous concepts, was expertly refurbished to give it a cozy yet vibrant look that incorporates an Asian aesthetic without the usual kitschy traps. Dark wood partitions; bright, flowery wallpaper; and well-spaced tables that give patrons a bit of privacy make it a comfortable place to dine and linger. The expanded bar, topped with a gorgeous wood finish, offers a fun place to enjoy cocktails and bites while watching the chefs at work. 

"We wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant. A place with heart and soul and a positive vibe; a place that gives you a hug and makes you want to come back,” says Cachila.

We sampled a few items from a limited menu and were impressed. From the appetizers, we loved the pork ribs, coated with a finger-licking caramelized honey and black bean sauce and topped with crunchy diced celery and cilantro, and the hamachi crudo with charred grapes and garlic chive oil. A salad of crunchy marinated jellyfish with English cucumber and wood ear mushrooms was outstanding. We felt that the sauce on the braised bok choi was a little thin, but we swooned over the kung pao cauliflower topped with chile flakes, toasted cashews, shishitos, and chile oil.

The entrees are big enough to share, which is a perfect way to try dishes that are different in taste and texture. The classic dan dan noodles get a modern makeover with mushroom puree, crispy tofu, and a soft boiled egg that adds richness and balances the spice, and the hot pot offers a bowl of comforting rice topped with Chinese sausage, crisp pork belly, Asian mushrooms, and tender pulled duck, served with fiery chile oil on the side.

Although dessert is not usually the strongest point in a Chinese dinner, the warm egg custard tart wowed us. Pair it with an Old Thousand, featuring Buffalo Trace bourbon, Aperol, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, oolong tea, and Xocolatl Mole bitters, and thank us later.

We look forward to returning to try the full menu. SMGB partner Christian Romero says: "Hopefully people dig the food and the vibe. It should feel like you're hanging out at your cool friend’s house — they’ve got an awesome record collection, the best weed, and they also just happen to be able to cook you up some of the dopest Chinese food you’ve ever had." We agree.

Old Thousand will be open Sunday through Thursday from 5-10 pm, and the bar will stay open until 11 pm. On Friday and Saturday, Old Thousand will be open from 5-11 pm; the bar will close at midnight