On a corner of Austin’s East 6th street is a flashing martini glass topped with three olives, the welcoming sign of Ah Sing Den. The famously-named cocktail lounge pays tribute to its opium den Victorian namesake from East London with its lavish décor and old-world Oriental charm. Walking inside is like stepping back in time.
Guests are greeted by the bar, newly reconstructed after the closing of East Side Showroom. Made from exposed brick and delicately carved with an art nouveau-style arch resting upon one hundred year old pillars, the bar is the pride of owner Mickie Spencer as it was her design and vision.
In the dining area, the Tiffany blue velvet furniture, hanging antique oil lamps and small marble tables set with glassware, created an intimate setting reminiscent of 1920’s glamour and bygone eras of dinner parties. Instrumental jazz played in the background. Speckled mirrors lined the main wall, allowing guests a hazed glimpse at the passers by. On the back wall was an intricately painted peacock with cherry blossoms.
Known for its cocktail menu and weekend brunch, Ah Sing Den recently curated new food and drink pairings for their dinner menu, creating a new cocktail program and debuting an all-natural wine list.
A vegetable-based appetizer, Shishito Peppers, were made from seasonal green beans, curried pumpkin seeds and Mongolian brown sauce, and was paired with Kiku-Masamune Junmai Taru Sake. The dish was surprisingly spicy and tangy. The appetizer that could also serve as a meal was an Asian twist on a Tex-Mex classic, Poke Nachos. Made from wonton strips, smashed avocado, sashimi tuna, house tri sauce, cilantro, shishito dust and lime, they consisted of small bites that more than satisfied. The nachos were paired with a Lambrusco rosé from Italy. The Gyoza dish, a slow braised pork thigh, Boston bib lettuce, carrots and house-made pot sticker sauce, was hearty. It was paired with a Rezabal Txakoli from Spain. The Pork Ribs were from wild-caught boar, Filipino barbecue sauce, spring onion and toasted sesame seeds and paired with “Perfect Snow” sake.
The Thai Curry Soba made of green tea soba noodles, coconut curry broth, vegetable and cabbage medley had strong, savory coconut undertones and was a favorite at the table. The Burmese rice bowl was a close second with its house spiced rice, stuffed avocado, seasonal veggies, fried egg and chili garlic shrimp. Both dishes had generous portions and were Asian-inspired comfort foods with authenticity.
Dessert followed with a sweet morsel that resembled donut strips, coated in cinnamon and sugar, with a caramel dipping sauce and fresh berries. It was served with a cup of soothing and aromatic Soho tea, a blend of chocolate, coconut, vanilla and amaranth petals.
The evening’s experience was one to remember with its luxurious ambiance, wafts of incense that filled the air between dishes and delicious bites. I would recommend Ah Sing Den to anyone looking for the perfect brunch to dinner spot. The memory of its charm will follow you all the way home.
Sabrina Reagan is a writer based in Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband.