The Foghorn staff loves to explore different cuisine options offered in the community at an affordable price. This Economic Crunch we sent out two staffers to check out the hole-in-a wall restaurant known as Z Counter.
Z Counter is a unique Asian street food-style restaurant in Corpus Christi. I recently went and ordered their Asian sandwich (Bahn Mi) and side of Macaroni (Dad’s Mac).
To my knowledge, Z Counter is the only restaurant in town that offers the traditional Vietnamese sandwich known as Bahn Mi. The restaurant itself is bright with a comfort-yellow wall paint, sleek seating arrangements, and workers who greet you to further your welcome. I always enjoy the self-serve station, equipped with in-house sauces, napkins, chopsticks and other things for your meal.
Students should note that Wi-Fi is available for customers, or you may just want to watch the big TV as you enjoy your meal.
One of my favorite things I remember about visiting Z Counter for the first time is their wall of pictures, displaying their menu in real time. Some items on the menu might not make sense, so it really helps to have a picture when choosing. Of course, the cashier has always been very helpful in answering my questions when ordering, so don’t hesitate to ask.
This meal would have been plenty for two, but I was alone and felt relatively gluttonous. I chose tofu for my Bahn Mi but other options are pork, chicken, beef short rib, pork belly, fried fish, and a chicken miso melt. Traditionally Banh Mi is served on a baguette type of bread and inside has raw sliced jalapenos, grated carrots, pickled daikon and fresh chopped cilantro. That is exactly what you get when ordered at Z Counter. I highly recommend adding a fried egg to your sandwich (this is also Vietnamese tradition), however I asked to hold the egg since I was ordering a side dish. My sandwich was $5.95 and worth every penny.
For my side item, I chose Dad’s Mac. Incidentally, this is not your standard mac ’n’ cheese side but instead it’s elbow macaroni with ground beef covered in a light, tangy sauce that somewhat resembles a cheesy flavor. Also finely chopped onion is mixed and it’s topped with fresh cilantro.
There is nothing “cheesy” about Dad’s Mac dish, making it one of my favorites on the menu for being filling and only costing $3.50!
This visit I ordered water but Z Counter also has in-house iced drinks such as Vietnamese lemonade/limeade, Vietnamese coffee, and cooler full of imported canned drinks to complement your order.
Then I first heard of Z Counter I really didn’t know what to think or expect from the name, but it wasn’t until I got there that I learned first hand that it definitely had an Asian street food vibe.
The place was small on the inside, but no matter the size the place was definitely packed with hungry patrons. With all of its giant pictured options on the wall, it was definitely hard to decide what I wanted to eat. Since this was the first time I had ever been to Z Counter I decided to ask the cashier at the front to help me decide. I asked him whether or not the Thai Basil Fried Rice with beef was an excellent choice and the Asian Street Donuts that looked appetizing on the wall. He was very direct in his reply saying I would not be disappointed in both my options. So, I decided to have both.
I was sold by the Asian Street Donuts by the way the cashier described the taste of the donuts since the idea of each donut having a different taste sounded daring and scrumptious to me. Although I would’ve loved to be able to sit down and eat at the restaurant, the place was too packed for my liking so I decided to ask for it to go. The cashier was generous enough to offer me a cup of water as I waited for my order to come out to me; however, I didn’t have to wait long because my order was ready to go in 10 minutes.
When I got home, I immediately dug in to the Thai Basil Fried Rice. In that moment, the Thai Basil Fried Rice became my number one choice in fried anything. The taste jumped on my tongue with its exquisite flavors with each bite I took. It was so good that I decided to save some of it for my next meal.
When I finally got to dessert, I was excited for what was next. Once I took a bite out of one of the donuts, I was a little surprised that there wasn’t enough filling in the donuts. Although it tasted very good, I was a little disappointed that I was cheated out of enough filling in each donut. I tasted more dough than the incredible Asian street vibe the donuts originally advertised.
Overall, my experience with Z Counter was magical. The service was incredible and the restaurant offered a vibe I had never seen before in Corpus Christi. Z Counter offers its own original approach to Asian cuisine, and although the donuts weren’t what I expected, the food was still excellent as well as the experience.
I will definitely be returning to Z Counter so that I can explore more of the genius that this restaurant has to offer to our community.
(not including drink)