Tag Archives: Chinese food

Cathay House in Waco, Texas: Good Chinese Food

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The Cathay House in Waco, Texas, was quaint. If I hadn’t known it was a restaurant, I would have driven right past it. Just by looks alone, it would not be my first choice for an Asian dining experience, but we know not to judge a book by its cover. And overall, this book wasn’t too bad.

We started off with a friendly waitress who was very patient with our large group order. I ordered the cashew nut chicken which came with a choice of soup and either fried or steamed rice. I chose the egg drop soup and the steamed rice.

I’ve never been a soup fan. I’ve never been successful finishing a bowl of soup, even if I like it. There’s a first time for everything, however, because I ate every drop of Cathay House’s egg drop soup! It was eggy, brothy, and not overly salty. I felt the portion size was perfect for the accompanying meal. Some restaurants serve appetizers the size of an entree. This is ridiculous on many levels, and it’s a waste of food unless you’re sharing with someone else. Cathay House did a good job with portion control. The bowl of soup aroused my hunger instead of satiating it.

The cashew nut chicken came with broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and cashews in a brown sauce. The dish would have been perfect if it hadn’t been overrun with water chestnuts. This was disappointing because the amount of water chestnuts overwhelmed the dish. I felt Cathay House’s chef skimped on the chicken to save money. I can’t recall eating a water chestnut, so I’ll give Cathay House kudos for making this vegetable tasty and something I’d want to eat again. The brown sauce was perfectly seasoned and smooth. The rice was fluffy and not too sticky. Our server brought a large bowl of rice for our table of six, but it wasn’t enough. Thankfully my fellow diners were polite and rationed the rice. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been enough.

I try to not be biased when going to Chinese restaurants because I don’t have the greatest impression of them. Granted, the area I live in is just starting to become developed so there aren’t a lot of authentic Chinese restaurants around. My problem with most Chinese restaurants is the food tends to be greasy and salty, which seems to appease most American taste buds. I know this works for some people, but not for me. The only great Chinese food I ever had was when I was nine and Mom took the family to visit a friend in Houston. He took us to a great dim sum restaurant. That was only the true, authentic Chinese food I’ve ever had.

My overall rating of Cathay House is a bit mixed. I liked the service, the soup, and the brown sauce, but not the amount of water chestnuts compared to the rest of the vegetables and chicken. Another bowl of rice for our group would have been nice. I think the owners have a few things to improve, but they are not a bad Chinese restaurant. Maybe it wasn’t their best day and they were a little low on supplies (not a good excuse, but I understand the restaurant biz and it isn’t perfect). I would go back again just to see if the cashew nut chicken dish is a bit better. Next time we are in Waco, Big Grey Horse Media will definitely return for a follow up review.

Laura’s Perspective:

After the first show day of the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II, we (the Coraggio show team) huddled over our smartphones to determine which restaurant we should eat at. I was craving Chinese and suggested Cathay House. I’d never been there before, but the online reviews were strong. Why not give a new place a try?

I’m glad that we did. Cathay House in Waco was a good choice: The food was authentic, the staff was pleasant, and our large group of horsey girls was easily accommodated.

Being the noodle head that I am, I chose the vegetable lo mein with chicken rice soup and an egg roll. The serving was so large (typical at a Chinese restaurant), I took home several leftover servings to eat later. The lo mein was good – I was impressed with the flavor of the overall dish, which was riddled with plenty of fresh veggies to pick through with my chopsticks. It was hard to choose which dish to try as Cathay House’s menu is quite extensive. The egg roll was also good, and a separate order, as my meal only came with a bowl of soup. And speaking of soup, the chicken rice soup was the winner of this meal. The serving portion was perfect, the broth was delicious, and it was mixed with just enough rice to make the soup interesting. I’ve tried other chicken rice soups that tasted like they were made from a seasoning packet. I’ve also had chicken rice soup that was overflowing with rice, which misses the point of this dish. The chicken pieces in the soup were utterly delish, in case you’re wondering.

It’s a shame I was tired and overheated from a day’s worth of showing my horse, seeing old horsey friends, and supporting my equestrian team. I was way too exhausted to explore my egg roll at Cathay House, which means I missed the opportunity to eat it fresh. There’s nothing better than a piping hot egg roll smothered with hot mustard sauce.

Takeaway

Cathay House is located at 825 Wooded Acres Drive in Waco, Texas 76710-4545. The phone number is 254/776-1072. The staff was wonderful at dividing up our group’s order and I paid with my credit card.

Takeout Sushi at Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas

Koy Restaurant on Foodio54

Koy on Urbanspoon
I gambled the the other day. I decided to get takeout sushi from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls. Normally I revel in the sushi bar experience: Eat at the restaurant, fill myself with sushi goodness, and drown in overall luxury with the people I love the most. This time I decided to see how Koy’s sushi would stand up as a takeaway.

Takeaway Sushi Dinner from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
My sushi dinner from Koy Restaurant. Yum!

I ordered maki sushi rolls and nigiri sushi. Putting Koy to the test, I wanted to see if the flavor combination was as fresh and good as if I were sitting in front of the Itamae.

If you’ve read Big Grey Horse Media, you know I’m a stickler for customer service. Gotta say I was disappointed by Rhiannon’s tone when I called to place my order. Granted, I had no idea what was going on at the restaurant (Were they busy? Was she distracted?) but she didn’t seem happy that I was calling. That didn’t leave a good first impression but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

When we arrived to collect the food, I wasn’t surprised to see the parking lot empty save two vehicles. Highway 281 by the Lake Marble Falls bridge is under construction and access to Koy’s parking lot is tricky.

I ordered the sushi appetizer (tuna, salmon, sea bass, and shrimp for $8.50), two regular sushi rolls (yellowtail and tuna rolls each $6.50), the New York roll (tuna, salmon, hamachi, and masago topped with spicy mayonnaise sauce for $9.50), an egg roll ($1.25), and crab rangoons ($4.95 for six).

Egg Roll from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Egg roll.

Somehow I ended up with two egg rolls instead of one, but that would explain why my tab was a bit higher than I expected. I ate half of one egg roll and left the rest for later. The wrapper was crispy and flavorful, but the filling was pretty bland. (Although it’s fair to say that when I nibbled on the leftovers the following day, the egg roll tasted better. There was a distinct, pepper-type spice that I liked. I think you have to eat more than one bite to appreciate Koy’s egg rolls!)

I ordered the crab rangoons for my daughter.

Crab Rangoon from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Crab rangoon dipped in duck sauce.

I wasn’t impressed by the way-too-crispy rangoon tops. It seems that few Chinese restaurants get crab rangoons right. Typically the tops are so crusty they are inedible but the crab filling makes up for it. In this case that wasn’t true. These rangoons need more filling and less frying. I think you can easily see there’s no oomph to this sorry little rangoon. Unfortunately, after one bite, the crab rangoons went in the trash. Thumbs down, Koy!

The main ambition for this meal was to experiment with takeout sushi, and I wasn’t let down. I tried the New York roll first. This roll looked appetizing and it was love at first bite. The fish blend (tuna, salmon, and hamachi) was excellent. The spicy mayo topping was perfect and the masago added that special bit only fish roe can. (I really dig masago – it’s got that salty, ocean taste with a crunchy pop of texture.) The New York roll was perfect.

Salmon nigiri and two pieces of the New York roll - Koy Restaurant, Marble Falls, Texas
Salmon nigiri and the New York roll.

The four-piece sushi appetizer was also delicious. Each piece of fish (tuna, salmon, sea bass) was delicate, fresh, and buttery in taste. Exactly what you’d expect from a great sushi bar. The shrimp nigiri was cooked, of course, but also sweet in taste. The rice was excellent in size and proportion to its accompanying sushi.

Sushi Appetizer Dish from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Top to bottom: Sea bass, tuna, shrimp, and salmon nigiri.

The yellowtail and tuna rolls had a funny smell that I couldn’t identify.  Upon opening the packet, I detected an off-putting, smokey smell. I can’t say what the smell was or what caused it, but after taking the rolls apart to smell the fish, it wasn’t old fish. It was either the rice or the seaweed. However, I wasn’t able to eat the rolls due to the smell.

Yellowtail and Tuna Rolls from Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls, Texas
Yellowtail and tuna rolls.

Despite crappy appetizers and two rolls that smelled weird, I will go back to Koy Restaurant in Marble Falls. I know better than to order Chinese appetizers at a sushi bar (although the restaurant touts its Chinese menu, typically sushi bars are known for what they do best: raw fish). I also know working in the restaurant industry is a thankless, unforgiving job. In Rhiannon’s defense, she was pleasant once I spoke to her face-to-face and squared up my bill.

I should note that when I arrived to a mostly empty restaurant, no one was at the front desk and it took several minutes for Rhiannon to appear and wave me back to the bar to pick up my food.

All in all, my prior experiences at Koy have been positive, and I’m intrigued to see what happens during my next visit.

Chow, ya’ll! (That’s how we say “ciao” in the Lone Star State.)

Takeaway

Update February 2013: Koy is permanently closed at the Marble Falls, Texas, location.

Koy Restaurant is located at 101 North Hwy 281, Suite 102, in Marble Falls, Texas 78654. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.

The original Koy Restaurant location is in Kyle, Texas.

Koy’s mission is to provide affordable Chinese and sushi dishes to the casual dining patron. Both restaurants purposely do business outside Austin, Texas, with the ambition to introduce more people to authentic Asian food.

Happy hour happens Monday through Friday, 2:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. Ladies Drink Special hours are Monday through Friday, 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Koy Restaurant is family-friendly, offers takeout, and holds banquets by reservation. Delivery is available in the Marble Falls area.

Email info.MarbleFalls@koyrestaurant.com or call (830)798-8389 for additional information.