Thursday, August 14, 2008


1200 West Howard Lane Suite O
Austin, TX 78753
(512) 990-2111

When I first started at my job and people asked what I did, the answer was always met with a twisted expression that border-lined between severe sympathy and pain. Individuals would almost always have an anecdote about a friend they knew who had a mental breakdown while employed by the company. I always brushed off their warnings. In comparison to my last job it seemed like a place full of lollipops and rainbows. I’m not exactly a martyr these days, but I am starting to understand what they were talking about. At times I find myself drowning in my to do list dreaming about running off to art school or joining the Peace Corps or just spending a few months lying around at Barton Springs contemplating my navel. So when Jenn suggested we meet at Kaprow for lunch, my response was “Yes, OMG, Please get me out of this office!”

I had heard about Kaprow from several people. Jenn’s office orders it in quite regularly and her coworkers love it. Also, my coworker Brandi recommended it as a good place to take vegans/vegetarians. I had wanted to try it for a while, but never got around to it.

Jenn and I and her 5 year old daughter met at Kaprow at noon on a Thursday. It’s in a small unattractive strip at Howard Lane and I-35. When we walked in, the place seemed normal and nice, with the requisite Pan-Asian fish tank at the entrance, which we sat next to so that the youngest of us could make faces at the fish during lunch.

The lunch menu items contained noodle dishes for about $8-$10, sushi, soups, spring rolls and the like. Their specials included among things a really tasty sounding papaya salad with lime, garlic, and fish sauce. Vegetarian, soy-free and wheat-free items were marked appropriately on the menu.

I debated between Pad Woonsen (stir-fried crystal noodle with choice of meat, onions, Napa cabbage, scallions, egg, bean sprouts, broccoli) or spring rolls with soup. I eventually settled on sharing an order of spring rolls and my own bowl of tofu Tom Kha as I wasn’t feeling all that hungry and the visit to Kaprow was mostly about me getting my butt out of my cube.

We waited a long time before a waitress finally took our order. Jenn ordered the Spicy Tuna Roll, tuna and cucumber with sesame seeds on the outside topped with Ka-Prow spicy sauce. Kiddo got a bowl of miso soup, adorably ordering it by herself without the scallions. An order of spring rolls contains two rolls and options for meat included chicken, shrimp or tofu all for the same price. We didn’t think it would be a big deal to ask for one of the spring rolls to be made with tofu and the other shrimp, since their website specifies that “custom orders and substitutions are welcome” and that “no matter how spicy, how vegan, or how different you may like it” Ka-Prow will “prepare your order to satisfy even the pickiest taste buds.”

But when we brought this up to our waitress, you would’ve thought we asked her for a kidney. After she did some sighing, grumbling and weight shifting, we told her not to worry about it and to make them both tofu.

We also threw in a last minute request for edamame.

The miso soup came out and appeased kiddo for most of lunch. The spring rolls were next. They were your average garden variety spring rolls served with peanut sauce, except the peanut sauce was unusually thick. The peanut sauce tasted just fine, it just wasn’t what I’m accustomed to seeing.

We finished our spring rolls and sat for a while.

Eventually the edamame arrived. Edamame is really hard to mess up, but Kaprow achieved the near impossible because they covered the beans relentlessly in salt. The salt was an odd size for edamame- somewhere in between the normal large chunks and table salt. The size made it impossible to fleck the salt off. Now, I have professed my love for salt in the past but this was ridiculous. I flecked at the salt and wiped the edamame with my napkin and chowed down anyway.

Finishing the edamame made me realize I was a bit hungrier than I thought and got me pretty excited about the upcoming soup. We waited in anticipation.

After quite a long time, Jenn’s Spicy Tuna Roll arrived, but alas no soup.

The roll was covered in some sort of obnoxious orange mayonnaise sauce. Jenn said the roll was good but not great and agreed with me in her genuine dislike for funky sauces.

So Jenn ate her sushi roll and I waited.

And waited.

Eventually the waitress rushed over with a bowl of terrifically yummy looking soup. Delicious looking mushrooms bobbed in a coconut milk foam broth. I took a sip and thought it was pretty good, but a little too heavy on the coconut milk and a little light on the rest of the flavors. I added some soy sauce and stirred. That’s when I discovered the waitress had brought me the wrong soup. This one was chicken. I had asked for tofu.

So I sat. And I waited. The waitress was nowhere to be seen.

We finally saw her again ten minutes later when she returned with a fresh bowl of soup and a frantic explanation that the kitchen had messed up. Jenn asked me if I wanted the soup to go since I needed to get back to work, but by now I had lost my appetite. I asked the waitress to remove the soup from our bill and she obliged. We left feeling a little disappointed and decided in the waaaaaaay distant future to utilize the restaurant for take-out only. The food quality was fine (save the super salted edamame and funky sauces) but the service was atrocious.

I asked Brandi when I got back to work if this was the norm there and she promised it was not. It’s a shame, because I won’t be back anytime soon to find out.

Bottom Line: Decent quality Pan-Asian food, but I can’t look past the atrocious service.

Laura ~ 4.5, Not recommended.