Review: Hai Ky

I’ve been going to Hai Ky since they opened their Guadalupe location in May 2009. Convenient to my office at the time, I regularly popped in for an affordable vegan lunch, and was continually amazed at the portion sizes, tangy sauces, perfectly-fried tofu, and hassle-free service.

Since then, I’ve found that the freshness is a bit hit-and-miss, but when they get it right, they really get it right, and, for $7.25, you can’t really complain. Often one order is enough for me to make into two meals. It’s really a great spot for a quick lunch near campus. The space is clean and neat, and they have cozy little two-person booths in the front window that make for a perfect people-watching spot. The vegetarian menu is impressive, with clearly-marked vegan choices, and they have the usual selection of Vietnamese meaty favorites, including a variety of pho dishes, all types of bun, a “create your own stir-fry” choice, and several Chinese-inspired items such as General Tso, Kung Pao, and Sesame Chicken. Hai ky also serves up your standard Asian restaurant appetizers, so you can satiate your spring roll or edamame cravings here, too. Personally, I like the Cream Cheese Rangoon:

Pictured up top is the Beef Satay: tender, flash-grilled beef in a spicy satay sauce with onions and chives, served on a bed of steamed rice, carrots, cucumber, and cilantro. It was as good as it looks, and is also a steal at only $7.25. Another meat dish I enjoyed is the #70 lemongrass and vegetables with stir-fried chicken:

Even though I’m now an omnivore, I can’t resist Hai Ky’s tofu dishes. Their fried tofu is so perfect, I rarely even look at the meat menu. In fact, there is one dish that’s so good, I rarely look at the menu at all. I just order the #83, bun goi cuon tofu. It’s a heaping bowl of vermicelli, served with chunks of fried tofu and onion in a tangy brown sauce, plus your choice of spring roll or egg roll, and a side of peanut dipping sauce, all topped with fresh grated carrots, chopped green onions, sliced cucumber, and bright cilantro.

This is probably one of my favorite lunches in Austin. It’s fast, affordable, and filling – a great value for hungry college students or time-poor wage slaves who need a quick but satisfying meal.

Did I mention the perfect fried tofu?

Hai Ky
2000 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78705