1618 Asian Fusion
1618 Asian Fusion is a family-owned Asian fusion restaurant located inside the AMLI South Shore Building in Riverside. This restaurant first opened in January of 2020, hoping that this would be their year. Things took a turn when the world shut down due to COVID; however, they have not lost hope in their mission to bring different cultures together and share it with the Austin community.
The 1 in 1618 stands for family, they are all a part of one family that loves and supports each other. The 6 is the family’s lucky number, with hopes that their business and family will grow. The 8 represents infinity, hoping to make a lasting impact on the lives around them. During our visit, Kevin, Jon, Kathy, and Brian welcomed us with open arms making us feel right at home.
Upon arrival, we were greeted at the host stand and walked to our table. The interior was hip, modern, and earthy; the restaurant utilized wood frames to separate the space but did not take away from how spacious it was. Floor-to-ceiling windows covering one side of the wall allows for tons of natural light to come in, helping the plants on the other wall grow. Right in the middle of the restaurant, there is a wooden sculpture called the infinity waterfall on the ceiling. It creates a fluid movement and to me, it represents all of the life that they incorporate into their restaurant. From the plants to natural wood, open windows, and the people that come in and out, 1618 is an experience that celebrates life. Like others, in the midst of the pandemic, 1618 practices social distancing with their dine-in experience and has an open outdoor patio.
We came in the middle of the Sunday brunch rush and just in time for their dim sum. They offer a variety of traditional dim sum items and we ordered the chicken sui mai and xiao long bao (soup dumplings). Though it is not cart-style dim sum, everything is made to order and served in steamed baskets ensuring that everything stays fresh! The chicken sui mai was filled to the brim with tender and juicy meat. The xiao long bao that I’ve tried in Austin never has the right ratio of soup to pork; however, the ones here were absolutely amazing! Just the right amount of soup and pork; the soup was packed with flavor and paired well with the pork. We also ordered Thai tea, green Thai tea, and ca phe sua da (Vietnamese coffee).
For appetizers, we were indecisive on what we wanted to try because we wanted to try everything. We ended up with the Five Sampler which came with two egg rolls, one spring roll, four fried wontons, two chicken satays, and two seared pork belly buns. You honestly get so much variety here and it is an amazing choice if you are sharing with friends/ family or just tasting these dishes for the first time without committing to the full dish.
The Main Course
The Peking duck was something that caught my eye on the menu. It takes 3 days to prepare the duck; from marinating, deboning, to frying the skin to perfection, this process is what gets all of the natural flavors out of the duck. Before coming to 1618, I was not a big fan of duck; however, this dish changed my mind, and ever since then I have not stopped thinking about this dish. It comes with a side of steamed buns that you can eat with the duck and pairs well with their special sauce.
Though everything was delicious, the star of the show was the Vietnamese-style red snapper! Traditionally it is made with catfish; however, Kevin Le, owner of 1618 Asian Fusion, was the first person to come up with the Vietnamese-style Redfish. Due to the recent snowstorm, there are no more redfish, so they have substituted it for the red snapper, which was still beautiful. The fish is freshly caught and kept alive until ordered. That’s how you know that the quality here is like no other. The skin is a stunning golden crisp and the meat just melts in your mouth! The ingredients that they use here are fresh and come from different parts of the world.
There’s always room for dessert. The flambeau cheesecake topped with coconut and mango ice cream is a crowd favorite here! The ice cream complements the cheesecake so well. The cheesecake is torched with vanilla liquor that gives the cheesecake a crunch and texture similar to creme brulee. During our visit, Brian torched the cheesecake for us and truly gave us a show. 1618 gives you the experience to take home with you.
1618 Asian Fusion combines different cultures and blends them together to create an experience without ever leaving Austin. The word ‘fusion’ may scare some people off, but I highly urge you to try it out and support local Asian-owned businesses because you never know what you might like. Though they are combining cultures, they are still keeping it as authentic as they can. They want to bring these flavors to us because we cannot travel in times like this. After nearly a year since the shutdown, their goal is to give people an environment to reconnect and sit together talking face to face.
On Friday nights, you can find local Austin artists performing in the restaurant. 1618 wants to give back to their community as much as they can. They celebrate life and emphasize family; they offer a VIP room for those who want to celebrate at the restaurant and can accommodate around 16-18 people. Don’t forget to check out their full bar for any cocktails that you might want to try while you’re there. More details on creating a beautiful experience for your private party can be discussed by contacting them personally.
If you haven’t been here yet, then this is your sign to go see for yourself. I will definitely be coming back here with my family soon as we are always on the hunt for the best Asian food in Austin. 1618 Asian Fusion is a place that transformed me to Asia and brought me comfort because their food reminded me of what it feels like to be home.