austin: lin’s asian bar + dim sum

Dim sum is a huge part of Chinese (especially Southwest Chinese) culture — there’s early morning dim sum, afternoon dim sum, late night dim sum, so growing up, we were always on the lookout for good dim sum in the area. Here in Austin, there aren’t that many places that have good, authentic dim sum, but fortunately, Lin’s is one of those few.

Lin’s is located on West 6th Street, so parking is a bit limited (street parking is available, if you can find it). We usually try to go around 5 pm without a reservation, when they open in the evening for dinner. There’s not too many people there around then, and you can get seated and helped quickly. On weekdays, they have a limited dim sum menu, and the full dim sum menu is available for brunch on Sunday only. Usually, though, we only a few dim sum items in addition to items from the rest of the dinner menu.

For appetizers, we’d recommend the shrimp with mushroom bao. We added it after seeing someone else order it, and after they told us how good it was, we decided we had to try it too. It consists of a small portion of sauteed onions, mushroom and shrimp, of which you can scoop a small amount into the lightly-fried baos — kind of like a “make-your-own-bao.” The subtly sweet baos pair perfectly with the salty filling of mushroom and shrimp, making for a wonderful appetizer.

For dim sum, the Shanghai Soup Dumpling is an absolute MUST try (especially if you’ve never had it!). It’s a staple in most dim sums, consisting of a dumpling with a small amount of delicious soup inside — eating it without the soup spilling takes a couple tries, but even if you spill it and eat it without the rest of the dumpling, the rich soup by itself goes well with the red vinegar sauce they provide. Other staple dim-sum items are the shrimp har kaw and the chicken shiitake sui mai — since they’re all small portions, you can definitely try a number of the items.

It’s hard to get full just off of dim sum items (it can also get kind of pricey…), so we’d recommend a couple of the entree items as well. The Hakka eggplant is great since it’s pretty light and good for cleaning your palate, and you can add the braised pig leg with steam bun afterwards. The sauce has a sweet, tanginess that doesn’t quite overwhelm the pork, and here you can make your own pork buns with the steam buns that come along with the dish. Finally, to top it off with dessert, egg custard tarts are a must. There’s only two, and it’s a crispy pie-like, flaky crust filled with sweet egg custard inside.

Overall, Lin’s is definitely an experience — and a good place if it’s one of your first time trying dim sum or looking for somewhere downtown for authentic Asian food. Certainly, it’s more expensive with less options than some other places more North, but it’s a one-of-a-kind place that makes a great place for celebrations or a date.

Type of food: Chinese

Location: 1203 W 6th Street, Austin, TX 78703

Price: $$


Rating: 4 out of 5.

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