1618 Asian Fusion Review – Cocktails to Classic Drinks
If you are looking for a good time and a place to treat yourself, your friends, your SOs, or your family – 1618 is the way to go. 1618 is an Asian Fusion restaurant located inside the AMLI South Shore Building and it provides one of the most seamlessly satisfying dining experiences in Austin.
This restaurant wholeheartedly embodies the essence of Asian fusion as the chefs flawlessly integrate flavors from all over Asia. Within the menu itself, you can easily spot classic flavors of Chinese, Vietnamese, Singaporean, and Thai cuisines from appetizers to desserts. This restaurant genuinely sets the bar for what a holistic dine-in experience is like.
The inside of the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. They offer both indoor and outdoor dining options and the lightly stained wood with the open windows provide such a surreal experience, especially during golden hours. The restaurant is sectioned off based on the bar and dine-in with more than enough tables to accommodate large groups and small intimate gatherings.
I think the vibe or ambiance of the restaurant definitely changes based on what time of the day you go. I went from roughly 5 pm to 7 pm and the atmosphere changed so drastically within the two hours. Anything before 5 pm, feels very bright and casual, almost like a nice summer day where you take a casual break from your day-to-day.
And as the sun sets, the casual atmosphere definitely turns a bit more intimate and romantic as the lights begin to dim and the live music begins to settle in.
1618 Asian Fusion Menu
The Fiver Sampler: This is an all in all appetizer that is perfect for first-timers to get a taste of all the options that 1618 has to offer. This Sampler includes 2 egg rolls, 1 fresh spring roll, four fried wontons, two chicken satays, and seared pork belly buns.
My thoughts: This is definitely top value for appetizer dishes and I would honestly recommend this for large groups that are new to the 1618 menu. I think this provided a really nice introduction to the variety of flavors that the restaurant has to offer as each element of the appetizer is influenced and fused by different areas of Asia.
Honestly, everything on there was really good. All the fried pieces were crispy and flavorful, the sauces complimented their respective dishes really well, and the meat in the buns were extremely soft and supple. Something small but makes the world of a difference is I really like how the sauce is placed right next to which item they are used for.
I know that for a lot of other places, the sauces will be given out but for newcomers that may not be familiar with the dish, it gets quite confusing as to what goes with what. But with the orientation of this appetizer, most can skip the science experiment and confusion and jump straight into the eating which I thought was a very nice attention to detail piece on the side of the staff.
Xiao Long Bao (aka: Soup Dumplings)
This is a type of Chinese steamed bun stuffed with a flavor of meat filling on the inside.
My thoughts: A dim sum classic. If you have never ever had soup dumplings before, please try them. They are actually such a classic Chinese dish. I remember growing up eating these for breakfast at my grandparent’s house and I am so glad that they integrated this into their dim sum menu because it is such a staple in Asian cuisines.
When you’re eating the dumplings, you just have to be very careful about the soup that is on the inside. Oftentimes, when the bao is being made, the soup is gelatinized and later turned into soup once it is steamed. You can eat the dumpling by itself, with chili oil, or soy sauce based on your preferences. (I personally really like chili oil) BUT when you are eating it, do not bite straight into it once it is served because it will hurt.
I would recommend letting it chill, biting the top off, cool the temperature, add some chili oil, then go all in with that bite. I do think that 1618 provides a very accurate rendition of this dish.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
Roast duck, shrimp, bell pepper, basic, egg, and pineapple, served in half of a pineapple.
My thoughts: A very well balanced fried rice with a kick. Generally, I think fried rice is relatively generic and you can’t really go wrong. Most places have a solid average on the taste and flavor of their fried rice and my expectation going in was very mid.
But I was genuinely pleasantly surprised by the Pineapple Fried Rice. There was definitely a spice and flavor kick with each bite, it wasn’t spicy but there was a definite heat in every bite. The addition of roast duck and shrimp was also a very interesting but delicious combination.
The duck and shrimp provided some dynamic texture to the fried rice and the meat was very juicy and supple with each bite. One of my favorite parts about this dish would have to be the presentation. Because fried rice is such a standard dish, the extra attention to detail to the way it is being served really elevated the fish itself.
The presentation with the half pineapple and the orchid decor around it really upscaled the fried rice significantly. It was not only beautiful to look at but delicious to eat as well.
Whole boneless roast duck served with buns, peking sauce, and green onions.
Whole Peking Duck
My Thoughts: Delicious and beautiful. These words are quite literally going to be on repeat but holy. This dish was actually so pretty to look at that I felt sad eating off the plate. The whole peking duck was fully cut and placed on the plate alongside steamed buns and sauce for assembly.
Typically, you can either eat the duck by itself with the sauce or wrap pieces of the duck meat and duck skin into a bun with scallions, onions, and peking sauce. Either way – you cannot go wrong. The duck was so delicious. I’ve had duck at other BBQ places before and I would consider my expectations to be relatively high in consideration of preparation and cost, and I was not disappointed.
The duck was super easy to bite into, the meat was not dry and was extremely flavorful, and the skin. The skin was so crispy. When we bit into the duck, you can actually hear the crunch of the roasted skin and it was truly a testament to how carefully assembled everything was. The portions of this were definitely big enough to serve multiple people. I highly recommend trying this if you haven’t had duck before.
Imperial Crispy Red Fish
Batter fresh whole red fish in 1618 specialty recipe. Served with vermicelli, fish sauce, rice paper and fresh vegetables.
My Thoughts: This was hands down one of my favorite dishes of all time. It was the all star if not the MVP of the entire menu. I don’t think I have ever been more satisfied and impressed with an entree than I had been with this. The moment this dish made contact with our table, I just knew that this was going to be good. When they rolled out the food, our mouths quite literally dropped.
The fish was absolutely stunning, the golden crisp of the skin mixed with the 1618 specialty sauce was truly a sight. This dish came with a side of vermicelli, sauce, rice paper, and vegetables. The waiter recommended we cut pieces of the fish up and wrap it with everything else to make a mini spring roll and wow.
Typically, I’ve only had shrimp or fish balls wrapped up in rice paper but it never crossed my mind to put fish in it. And wow, total game changer. Everything wrapped together was literally one of the most delicious and innovative ways to put this dish together. Everything complimented each other so well from the flavor to the experience.
We as the customers have the opportunity to really customize and eat as we will and I think the interactiveness makes the experience very enjoyable. I really would recommend this for anyone in a large group. You cannot go wrong with this dish. The fish leftover was also a definite fan favorite among my friends and we’re all very tempted to go back to eat it fresh again.
My thoughts: Normally, I am not a super big fan of cheesecake, but once again, 1618 surprised me further. This cheesecake presentation was one of the coolest that I have ever seen. At initial glance, it was just a regular cheesecake UNTIL you see the wait pull out a glass with alcohol and a mini blowtorch.
The fire that heated the alcohol that was poured over the cheesecake – wow. The glaze that spread across the cheesecake and the crunch in every single bite. Just typing this now is already making me so hungry.
Thai Iced Tea and Dragonfruit Refresher
My Thoughts: You can never go wrong with green Thai iced tea and I stand by that. The drink was such a nice cleanse from the more savory menu items as it was a nice blend of tea and sugar. I actually really enjoyed the drink because it wasn’t too light or too heavy.
What I am assuming to be the half and half doesn’t coat your mouth afterward or anything either. I will probably go back and keep ordering this drink, to be honest. The Dragon Fruit Rose Refresher was also very good but definitely had a more distinct flavor profile. Each sip has its own flavor and take and it honestly reminds me of the Starbucks fruit refreshers.
In addition to all these dishes, although I am not 21, I was able to see what a shot would look like in 1618. And lets just say, when I turn 21, I know exactly where I am going.
I know this entire article has been filled with nothing but praise. However, 1618 really is a place that deserves nothing but praise. From the moment we walked into the restaurant to the moment that we left, the staff was extremely friendly and welcoming.
Some of the biggest takeaways that I think distinguishes 1618 staff from other establishments would be how they treat every customer as someone new to the 1618 experience. I genuinely think this is really important especially for an Asian Fusion restaurant because the non-judgemental introduction and guidance for all the menu items really does help break down an uncomfortable barrier that some have towards food that they are unfamiliar with.
The staff all introduced themselves, constantly checks in to make sure that you are enjoying your experience, and is always there to answer any questions. The culmination of all these interactions further contributes to the overall experience of the dining. You can sense the top tier level of care in everything that the staff does and this goes for anything from interior and ambiance to food, and overall customer experience.
When you go to 1618, you’re definitely there for a good time.