1618 Asian Fusion Happy Hour Review
I was fortunate to attend 1618 Asian Fusion’s happy hour this week. Located in Riverside, 1618 opened in the fall of 2019 and has earned an excellent reputation. Last year, 1618 was listed at number eight on Yelp’s top 100 restaurants in the United States. Since then, they have been growing their menu and welcoming folks from all over the country to experience their incredible service and delicious cuisine.
Happy hour: Monday through Thursday 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Address: 1618 E Riverside Dr., Austin, TX 78741
Ambiance & Service
1618 Asian Fusion is an upscale urban restaurant with simple yet artistic decor and lively staff. The service I received here was impeccable and I enjoyed chatting with my server as I dined. It was clear to me that the staff is proud of the service they provide and happy to share their delicious menu. I did feel slightly underdressed, but the classy restaurant welcomes folks in suits as well as those in a t-shirt and jeans making it a fine-casual dining experience.
Happy Hour Bites
The new and improved happy hour menu at 1618 has lots of options varying in size and flavor. I appreciated that it included some full meals and not just appetizers and snacks, not to mention everything is reasonably priced. One could easily fill up on 1618’s happy hour menu alone.
Shrimp Jicama Salad $7
Shrimp, jicama, carrot, fried onion, roasted peanut, rau rǎm, served with fish sauce
The first item on the menu I tried was the Shrimp Jicama salad. It was light and refreshing making it a perfect mid-afternoon bite. The flavors blended nicely together, no one ingredient overpowered the rest.
Salmon Salted Pepper $8
Batter salmon, serrano chili, red bell pepper, scallion
I was a bit nervous to try this dish as I have never been a fan of salmon, but I actually really enjoyed it. The fried salmon was not fishy at all and paired nicely with the sauteed veggies. The dipping sauce was my favorite part, a simple mix of lime juice, salt, and pepper really brought out the flavors of the rest of the dish.
Beef Dumplings $9
Beef, cabbage, scallion, ginger, served pan-fried with sesame soy sauce
Whenever there are dumplings on a menu, I order them so I was very excited to try 1618’s beef dumplings. Panfried, these dumplings were perfectly crisp on the bottom, but the flavor left a little something to be desired. Not bad by any means, the dumplings gained back some points when I tried them with the chili oil and soy sauce.
Salmon Tom Kha Soup $6
Salmon, grape tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, basil, dried chili flakes, coconut milk in spicy Thai broth
I am a self-proclaimed soup enthusiast so I was excited to try 1618’s Tom Kha, but still a bit nervous about the salmon. I will admit the salmon in the soup was not for me but every other flavor was spot on. A soup can only be as good as its broth and I could have drank this broth from a pitcher. Very coconutty with a kick of spice and a twist of lime, the broth and all the veggies alone made for a delicious and filling bowl of soup.
Shrimp Fried Rice $10
Shrimp, onion, corn, egg, scallion
I LOVE fried rice. I especially loved 1618’s shrimp fried rice. The flavors were perfect with no need to add spice or soy sauce. In my book, if fried rice can stand alone, you’ve hit the jackpot. With jumbo shrimp and the perfect ratio of egg to veggies, 1618 hit the nail on the head with this one. Buttery and very filling, the shrimp fried rice was my favorite dish of the evening.
Filet Mignon Green Curry $15
Red bell pepper, yellow onion, eggplant, oyster mushrooms, white mushroom, kaffir leaf, galangal, lemongrass
Last but certainly not least, the filet mignon curry was exceptional. Served with a side of rice, I was pleasantly surprised to see such a large dish on the happy hour menu. The tender meat and vegetable were abundant, making every bite flavor-packed. The curry itself was coconutty and spicy, coating each bite with an excellent pan-Asian flavor.
Happy Hour Sips
When you order a cocktail at 1618, your server will come by with a fancy bar cart and make your drink table side. I loved how interactive this experience was and was tempted to order drink after drink.
Lavender D’Blanc $6
Empress gin, lavender syrup, lemonade, moscato d’ati, lemon wheel
I love gin, I love lavender, and I love lemons so this cocktail immediately jumped out at me. Very fruity and refreshing with a heavy pour, the Lavender D’Blanc checked all of my cocktail boxes, not to mention its pretty purple color.
Empress gin, Campari, vermouth, coffee liquor, espresso shot
This was my first Negroni and after this experience, the bar is pretty high. Not yet on their menu, my server explained that they wanted me to try this experimental drink. I thought my server was done making the drink when the glass was full but then he put it in the smoker where it was blasted with rosemary smoke for essence. It was indeed very fancy and resulted in a combination of flavors I didn’t know I needed. If you go to 1618, ask for the espresso Negroni.
Limoncello & Licor 43 $4
As I was finishing up my meal, my server brought the bar cart back around and poured me a shot of limoncello and Licor 43 which is a honey vanilla liquor. Both of the bottles were encased in ice ensuring they stay cold. This time he had a smoke gun which he used to top the shots with rosemary smoke-filled bubbles. They were almost too pretty to drink. I loved the limoncello, but the Licor 43 was a bit too sweet for my liking.
Now, this wasn’t on the happy hour menu, but I guess I made a good enough impression to earn some dessert. Boy, I’m glad I did because I got a show. My server came out with the cheesecake, and a second shot of Licor 43 which he ignited as he poured over the plate. Paired with coconut pineapple ice cream, the carmelized and creamy cheesecake was the perfect way to end the evening!