Earlier this week, San Antonio import Hot Joy began serving up its uniquely Asian cuisine, and it’s already proving to be one of the city’s hottest — and most visually interesting — new restaurants.
Intended to be only a two year experiment, Hot Joy took over the space at 3130 Lemmon Avenue, which formerly housed an old Texas Land & Cattle steakhouse. A few elements from the restaurant’s time as a chain steak spot remain, including the door handles reminiscent of longhorn horns, and a “Steakhouse” logo that still peeks out in the back parking lot.
That said, Hot Joy has done a great deal to put its own spin on its rustic steakhouse digs. Stepping inside, a glass server booth filled with various odd Asian trinkets greets customers. Looking closely, a variety of powdered turtle soup mix, dried herb vials, and dehydrated scorpions stares back. This initial surprise is only elevated by the main seating area.
The main floor space is adorned with paper and foam dragons dancing among the ceiling, with comfortably spaced table seating for small to medium sized groups. The wooden tables all are painted with various characters, including kittens in samurai headdress.
At the booths, large red bulbs covered with Chinese opera masks serve as both a conversation piece and quality lighting in the otherwise dim eatery. Similar masks make an appearance in the restaurant’s entryway, further driving home the restaurant’s theme, just in case the rustic stone walls and fireplace weren’t obscured enough.
The menu reflects Hot Joy’s style in much the same way, with a fun and quirky food selection that ticks off the checkboxes of almost every Asian cuisine thanks to dishes like cheeseburger spring rolls, smoked brisket dan-dan noodles, and crab fat caramel fried chicken wings.
Hot Joy is a sort of acid trip for the eyes — and the taste buds. Before checking out Uptown’s newest eatery, take a virtual look around Hot Joy courtesy of Eater photographer Kathy Tran.