Charoen Express Restaurant In Austin – Detailed Review
Large warehouse style buildings are being reinvented into food delivery hotspots. These buildings have been converted into facilities with around fifty kitchens in each. These kitchens are then leased out to restaurants who operate on a strictly takeout and food delivery basis. This concept has been popping up all over Los Angeles, as the demand for food delivery skyrockets. These large warehouses are being named virtual kitchens, and they are now in Austin! At the intersection of I-35 and highway 290, is a delivery drivers paradise. Right when you walk in there is a front desk, where you pick up the food orders. Rows of insulated lockers line the wall to keep your order hot and fresh. No matter which of the 50 kitchens you order from, it all is picked up at one location which increases efficiency for drivers picking up multiple orders.
As of today, there are two kitchens currently operating out of this brand-new virtual kitchen. Charoen Express is an authentic homemade Thai kitchen that has a wide range of soups, noodles, and curries. However, I had the opportunity to tour and taste in the other operating kitchen in this space, Chicken as Cluck.
Chicken as Cluck really specializes in variety. They have three different level of spicy seasoning that they toss all their chicken in, and eight dipping sauces: Sweet Chipotle BBQ, Golden Honey Mustard, Ranch, Spicy Ginger Garlic, Thousand Island, Chipotle Aioli, and their Secret AF sauce. My favorites were the Spicy Ginger Garlic and their signature Secret AF sauce. Their best-selling items are the Nashville Hot Breakfast Burrito and the Evil Ex-Girlfriend Chicken sandwich (it’s as spicy as it sounds).
Something really unique about Chicken as Cluck is their appetizers. They double dredge their French fries and sweet potato fries in the same flour and spice mix they use on the chicken which makes the fries extra crispy and nicely spiced. The Big Poppa Jalapeño Poppers live up to their name, they are enormous, almost the size of my hand! Also, if you order on the weekends you can get their ‘secret’ fries, which are covered in cheese, bacon, jalapeños and their secret AF sauce.
To cool your mouth off from the spicy sandwiches, get the Bavarian Churros. They are filled with a sweet cream and are served hot, tossed in cinnamon sugar. They are accompanied by a side of chocolate sauce for dipping.
The virtual kitchen concept is consolidating and digitizing the way we eat out. Fifty kitchens for fifty restaurants all in one building will make food delivery more efficient, with more variety, than ever before. It also cuts down on space as these restaurants won’t be requiring their own individual storefronts each with parking lots, dining rooms, and a large staff. This not only incentivizes new small restaurants to open up, due to the attractiveness of the low cost to operate a virtual kitchen, but also cuts down on the need for space in the ever-expanding Austin, Texas.