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Aug 19, 2006 05:27 PM

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.

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  1. 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.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ktown378

      First Chinese BBQ is not open yet -- I dont even see a sign for it in the center. The only restaurant I saw open was something called Sweets Cafe which I didnt get a close look at. Does anyone have more info?

      1. re: ktown378

        Well, I just saw that the First Chinese BBQ sign is now up, but I don't have an ETA for the opening date. TC Noodle House looks like they are also picking up speed with their construction, so I imagine they will open first.

        1. re: Mike B

          Just went there the other day. Pretty good, great service, clean. Good food.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. wow, it's not open yet? that's a shame. i asked them when i was visiting dallas, a couple of months ago, and they said they were opening in 2 weeks. i'll have to check back with them. thanks for the update

            2 Replies
            1. re: ktown378

              Let us know if you find out. TC Noodle House still looks to be a way off from opening as well.

              1. re: Mike B

                First Chinese BBQ is open. We went on Friday. It's clean and modernish and the staff is really friendly and nice. The duck we had was a little dry and maybe Din-Ho's is better. But we'll go again because it may just have been an opening day anomaly.

            2. ... 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.