An open letter to Din Ho, Austin: I love/hate you
I love you: Your food is wonderful; almost as good as Sihn Sihn in Houston (and a similar selection).
I hate you: Your place is filthy with debris on the floor. Your service sucks (and one of your waiters messes with his ears way too much while on duty; how about sending him to a doctor?). The overworked (and too few) buspeople do not - and cannot - keep up with the pace of incoming diners at the evening rush, while your various family hangers-on sit around doing nothing. You get your orders wrong too often. Your manager is too absorbed in counting the cash in the till and does not pay attention to anything else going on. And you are cheap. Couldn't spare a few bucks for more soup spoons instead of having your customers wait for them to be washed?
You are fortunate that you have no competition in Austin; enjoy it while you can. If there was, I would happily forego the "pleasure" of dining in your dump. I truly love/hate you.
avi, i understand your feelings completely. but hey, don't worry. first chinese bbq (an outlet from a small 2 chain restaurant in richardson/carrolton) should have opened by now in the new chinatown center on n. lamar. i've never had a problem with their service or cleanliness and their food is better then din ho imho. i'm going to check it out sometime soon.
The same can be said of T&S and Marco Polo. Really, only China Palace and Pao's Mandarin House have superior service amongst the traditional Chineser restaurants in Austin. Pao's, however, is in Lake Travis and China Palace's traditional menu is not quite as large as T&S or Din Ho.
Din Ho appears to be attempting to upscale the place a bit lately so maybe someone is taking the complaints to heart? I think they also jacked up the menu prices.
... just ate at First Chinese BBQ ... the BBQ Pork and Roast Duck (About $6 each) were very succulent though a little bland, the Seaweed/Tofu soup's seaweed ($5 for 4 servings) taste came through nicely without being overbearing. The Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce ($7) was good enough and not oily as is sometimes the custom. The soft wide rice noodle with beef dish ($7) was a bit awash in sauce and could have been woked a bit more.
As to service: Not bad at all, though spotty as to the timeliness of drink refills and the broccoli and noodles arrivals at our table (later than we would have liked). The place is clean (!) but decorated in a nondescript pastel/chromish way. The room, as is, could just as easily serve to sell upscale clothing if the tables were removed ... It's a bit on the sterile side, actually.
Value: $38 for four of us before the tip, including tea. Not bad.
The menu seems extensive enough but does not feature any "unique" offerings - no "Eurekas" ... oh well. All in all, First Chinese BBQ lacks "atmosphere" and is nothing special (Which in itself is a disappointment). And if Din Ho cleans up its act, it might forestall its own doom after all. Go for it, Din Ho ... I'm rooting for you and am anxious to see you rise to the challenge.