We took so many pictures during our lunch at Ginger & Spice in Marble Falls, Texas, that I decided to include a pictorial review post, too.
Ginger & Spice is oh-so nice, and well-deserving of all the publicity the restaurant can get. Get ready for our Christmas party order, because I’m already drooling over what we will eat!
Enjoy the pictorial. It’s one of my favorite types of posts.
The front entrance of Ginger & Spice Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar.
Ice cold water with a lemon slice, fresh lemonade, and strong Thai tea.
The salad bar.
Appetizer plate from the salad bar.
Tom jerd with tofu soup
Spicy tuna roll
Chef’s choice 7-piece sushi platter
Ginger & Spice is located at 909 Second Street in Marble Falls, Texas, 78645. The phone number is 830/693-7171. The hours of operation for lunch are Monday thru Friday, 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. The hours of operation for dinner are Monday thru Thursday, 5:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.; Friday thru Saturday, 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.; Sunday 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Long ago and far away, a small, yellow gas station located on Hwy 281 in Marble Falls, Texas, began serving Thai food to hungry patrons. I moved to Sunrise Beach in late 1996, and sorely missed the opportunities city living afforded. It had been so easy, so convenient, to pick up any ethnic food I wanted on the way home from work. I was on the hunt for something I could sink my teeth into, an ethnic food that would satisfy my yearnings for the extraordinary.
Not too long after I moved to the Highland Lakes area, LBJ Food Mart, the yellow, unassuming gas station, started making magic in a small, hot kitchen. Was this the answer to my prayers?
I made my way over to try give this dive a whirl. To my surprise, the food was some of the best Thai food I’d ever eaten…just as authentic as the good Thai restaurants in Austin. For years, I spread the word about the yellow gas station and its marvelous dishes, encouraging others to try it out.
Mind you, this happened at a time when most folks in the Highland Lakes area were happy to eat Americanized Chinese food at China Kitchen. Not many people were interested in something as exotic as Thai food, much less from a gas station. In small towns, however, word spreads fast. And if you’re good, well, you’re a rock star.
Earlier this spring, I called the gas station to see if the cook was in town and serving hungry patrons (she makes trips back to her native country at least once a year). I was told that she was opening her own restaurant. Lucky me!
This month, my daughter and I made the journey to Thai Niyom. The restaurant is not so conveniently located next door to the Texaco gas station at the intersection of FM 1431 and Hwy 281. You enter by a side door as the front door is not accessible. However, there are small parking areas on the right side of the building and in the back.
We went to Thai Niyom restaurant on two separate occasions. Unfortunately, both the owner and the cook were not available for an interview. Also, both the owner and infamous “mama” who cooks did not want their last names used for this piece. However, I was told that Orathai is the cook, and her daughter, Khanittha, is the owner of Thai Niyom.
My long-time, favorite dish by Orathai is the geuw teow gai. I’ve tried like hell to find a recipe for this dish, exactly as Orathai cooks it, and have come up empty handed. I order my geuw teow gai as medium spicy, and sometimes I forgo the bean sprouts. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken. This flat noodle dish is to die for!
Phad Thai is my daughter’s favorite, and she prefers it cooked by Orathai over any other Thai restaurant we’ve frequented. Orathai makes it about as authentic as it comes. There’s no greasy residue or red coating like you’ll find on some Phad Thai. We’ve had this dish with both chicken and shrimp, and I’ve ventured to have it vegetarian, too.
You cannot visit Thai Niyom without having an order (or two) of the baby rolls. These bite-sized, tiny rolls are the epitome of Thai heaven, I think. This is another recipe I’ve search high and low for, without avail. What I do know is each roll is about three inches long and is packed with ground meat and carrots. The rolls come with a slightly spicy, sweet sauce that’s great for dipping. Top off the baby rolls with a few drops of Rooster (as my family lovingly calls Sriracha hot chili sauce), and you’re good to go.
The cheese rolls are very good, too. This is a two-roll appetizer filled with a warm cream cheese and carrot mixture. I detect hints of garlic and perhaps a bit of onion in this roll, which is wrapped in rice paper and fried to a crispy, golden brown. The same dipping sauce you get with the baby rolls accompanies the cheese rolls.
Our waitress, Jessica, suggested on our second visit that we try the egg rolls. She quickly explained that these were not ordinary Chinese rolls. Evidently Orathai used to serve a more traditional Chinese egg roll, the type filled with cabbage, meat, and veggies. Since I adore egg rolls, I was game to try them out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Instead of cabbage, Orathai uses glass noodles. The rolls are wrapped in rice paper and deep fried to a crispy, delicate texture and served with the spicy, sweet sauce.
We also gave the kaw-phad pineapple fried rice a go. My daughter was interested in trying out a fried rice with pineapple chunks. Among a sea of well-seasoned rice, pineapple chunks, shrimp, and pieces of chicken, you found chunks of ham. This is a dish we could have shared by itself and been perfectly happy with.
Just to top off the order, my daughter wanted an entree of cashew chicken. Although my daughter ended up not eating many of the bamboo shoots, the dish was very good. It had a rich, smoky flavor reminiscent of the toasted cashews with a bit of sesame thrown in. A thin, brown sauce flowed into the mound of steamed rice next to the chicken. Yum!
If you love Thai food, give Thai Niyom restaurant a go. Staff are friendly and helpful, and service is prompt. The restaurant is clean and comfortable. I await the day when I can meet Orathai! That’s my new goal, as well as re-visiting some of her curry dishes. I’ve smiled and thanked her through the ordering window at LBJ Food Mart, and I hope to see her again someday soon.
You rock, Orathai!
A separate pictorial post will soon be posted with photos of the various dishes we sampled.
Thai Niyom Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and features six entrees served with an egg roll, soup, and steamed or fried rice. Dinner is served Monday thru Saturday, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Alcohol is not served by the restaurant, but you can BYOB. Thai Niyom Restaurant is located at 909 Hwy 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654. The phone number is (830) 693-1526.
Most Texans know what Happy Hour means — a few cold ones with friends after work and if you’re lucky, stale peanuts as a snack. Looking for a new twist? Blue Bonnet Cafe’s Pie Happy Hour in Marble Falls, Texas, offers a slice of pie and a drink for $3.50. Held Monday through Friday, it’s not just the locals who line up for a treat.
That’s what the Cafe is all about: Community. Wonderful things happen at the Blue Bonnet. Locals buy meals for active duty personnel, wait staff check up on regular customers and people come from all over to enjoy homemade pie. Hostess Terry Daughtry says, “The tourists, the outsiders, changed the look of the restaurant. People were coming in specifically for the pie.”
What might a hungry traveler find on the pie menu? Fruit, nut, creme and meringue pies including apple, cherry, pecan, coconut, banana and lemon. For chocolate lovers, the Cafe offers fudge, chocolate and German chocolate. If you love peanut butter, Blue Bonnet has that, too.
Pie Happy Hour’s secret weapon is Maura Dominguez. She’s baked the Cafe’s pies for 18 years. Since the inception of Pie Happy Hour, Dominguez produces 75 to 100 pies daily and double that amount on weekends. The mother of five proudly discloses, “This is my first job, and I like it so much, it will be my only job.”
Dominguez makes the pies from scratch without the help of measuring utensils. Brent Klett, Blue Bonnet Cafe’s manager, says, “She does everything by touch.” Dominguez is also responsible for making donuts, biscuits and breads.
Small in stature with a shy smile, Dominguez easily manages the Cafe’s bakery. Her work day begins at 5 a.m. and ends between 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Dominguez admits she doesn’t cook at home and allows family members to spoil her.
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dominguez stays busy making pre-ordered pies. In addition to the regular pie menu, Blue Bonnet Cafe offers a seasonal pumpkin pie. “Thanksgiving is our biggest, busiest time for pies. Typically we cut off all pre-sales on pies 4 to 5 days before Thanksgiving. We’ll have pie boxes stacked everywhere,” owner John Kemper says.
Blue Bonnet Cafe was built in 1929 on Main Street and moved to its present location on Hwy 281 in 1946. Kemper bought the establishment in
1981. About four years ago, Kemper and his wife, Brenda, brainstormed new ways to bring in customers during weekday afternoons.
“We thought, why not a Pie Happy Hour? It’s brought us a lot of attention, because I don’t know anybody else that has Pie Happy Hour,” Kemper explains.
Kemper recalls some funny pie stories. “I’ve seen lots of different people come in and they’ll order pie before their meal. I had one guy that ordered a whole coconut creme pie and sat there and ate the whole thing. That was his meal. He said, ‘Bring me a coconut creme pie.’ And he ate it right out of the pie shell.”
The Cafe’s success is due to Kemper’s fine-tuned people sense coupled with business savvy. “I enjoy my customers and my employees. The thing about [the Cafe] is we’re lucky that we have so much business, and that we’re always geared up for business. These waitresses and cooks, they’ll work six, eight hours straight. That’s pretty amazing. To this day, every day, I’m amazed at this place.”
Kemper adds, “It’s not a reflection of me, it’s a reflection of the employees. It’s very touching, because they work so hard.”
The good feelings and vibes are mutual. A waitress who wished to remain anonymous left a short, handwritten note, expressing that everyone who worked for Kemper felt the same way.
“John is a true hometown hero. He genuinely cares about all his employees, and the community as well. He has a heart as big as the history of Blue Bonnet.”
The next time the urge to eat pie hits or your sweet tooth calls, the Blue Bonnet Cafe awaits you. Instead of the typical Happy Hour, try some pie with good friends. Feeding customers and nurturing souls is what the Blue Bonnet Cafe excels at.
The Blue Bonnet Cafe is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Friday and Saturday (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and Sunday (6 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.). The Cafe is located at 211 Highway 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654, with parking behind the establishment. Checks and cash (no credit cards) are accepted with an ATM on site for customers’ convenience. Pie Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Cafe, visit www.bluebonnetcafe.net or call (830) 693-2344.