Growing up, Gary and Jessica were both raised on American Chinese food, but like many Americans of international heritage it was during gatherings with family that they were given a true taste of authentic Chinese cooking. Both ethnically Chinese, whether it was making dumpling wrappers from scratch, or frying whole chili fish, their Taiwanese heritage and tradition began to shape their palates. The duo’s tastes have merged both food styles, Chinese and American, into unexpected combinations at General Tso’Boy, which first began as their flea market pop up in NYC before becoming a casual Austin eatery.
“Authentic Chinese food isn’t easy to find in the states,” Jessica shared. Whether it’s authentic or American, [Chinese] food is crucial to our diet, and over the generations the American diet, as well,” she shared. “When we’re dining out, we’re typically enjoying America’s favorite Chinese dish—General Tso’s Chicken, with a side of egg rolls or wonton chips.” While restaurants in China carry through traditional influences of their provinces, at General Tso’Boy the menu is designed to reflect Gary and Jessica’s heritage in a modern, fun way.
“There is so much variety in Chinese cuisine ranging from Szechuan to Hunan to Guang Dong,” she explained. Patrons to General Tso’Boy will find a variety of dishes that Gary and Jessica loved to eat growing up presented with a twist. Located in the newly developed Rock Rose district of the Domain in North Austin, the restaurant does follow Chinese tradition in its name. “General Tso’s Chicken originated in Taiwan, and was created by Chef C.K. Peng as a tribute to General Tso, a military hero from Hunan,” Jessica told us. “But it evolved over time [in the U.S.] to adapt to the American palate. Our version is crispier and lighter, with a hint of sweet and savory spice.” In order words, the signature dish highlights some of the classic components of Hunan cooking, which she shared is spicy, aromatic, and deep in flavor.
“Our top seller, the General Tso’s Chicken sandwich is our way of eating our favorite American Chinese dish in a very American way as a sandwich. You won’t find anything like General Tso’Boy in China, that’s for sure!” Jessica laughs. You can try the popular sandwich for yourself for lunch or dinner, for just $8.50. It features a battered all-natural chicken thigh basted in General Tso’s sauce served on crunchy french bread.
Other items on the menu include Chinese-influenced dishes, such as Char Siu from Hong Kong, Black Pepper Beef from Fujian, Mapo Tofu and Chili Wontons from Szechuan, Jessica shared with us. Blending both Chinese-American and southern American culture, you’ll find several entrees and specialty sandwiches, as well as salads and starters. The eatery even serves soft drinks, coffee, and draft and can beers. Everything is available dine-in or takeout, sourced fresh from farmers as well as made from scratch in the restaurant’s kitchen.
Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, patrons can order the Lucky Lunch Box, which includes mixed grains of white and brown rice, and quinoa, as well as one protein entrée, and a chilled sesame ginger broccoli or sesame salad, and a drink for just $8.88. “A visit to our restaurant is supposed to remind you of a brighter, cheerful Chinese takeout that’s updated from what you would find across America,” Jessica explained.
While most of the restaurant’s dishes have some type of Chinese origin, everything offered at the eatery looks different from China, she continued. Although, walking into the restaurant you can’t miss popular cues to Chinese culture, from chop-sticks to décor like the maneki-neko of Japanese-origin, which literally means “beckoning cat” or sometimes the popular “Chinese lucky cat,” sitting above the order counter. One old Chinese proverb refers to a cat that raises its paw over the ears to wash its face as bringing rain, while another belief is said to bring in customers.
Besides the delicious food, what’s clear is that both Jessica and Gary carry a strong sense of their Taiwanese heritage with them. In fact, both have visited all parts of Taiwan and Gary has even traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, and western parts of China, including Xing Jiang. Those cultural influences coupled with American southern charm have shaped a playful atmosphere at their modern, American Chinese takeout restaurant.