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Apr 25, 2008 05:57 PM

What happened to Din Ho?!!

We went to Din Ho Wed night and found it has gone through transformation!

We always order the same dishes and they taste totally different now--they serve Americanized Chinese now. We saw very few Chinese people eating there that night.

The waiters have also changed. I asked one of them if the ownership has changed and he said yes. When did this happen?!! The food was still good and the same waiters were there in Feb.

We aren't going back :'-(

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  1. Uh-oh! I came by here tonight because after living in Austin for years, I'm going to Din Ho for dinner tomorrow night, and I was going to search the board to get the lowdown on the best dishes to order.

    Has anyone else had such a bad experience? We'll be going there no matter what, as the plans are made for a fairly large group, a few of whom are new to Austin. My boss was really happy to be introducing them to one of his favorite places. It's a shame if it has really gone so far downhill.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Ashforth

      We went there tonight and thought it was great. The place had been cleaned up and no longer looks like an old grungy hole.
      The duck was good and the bbq pork was excellent. I thought the pork was a little sweeter than normal, but it was very tasty.
      Honestly, we had stopped going to Din Ho because of the spotty food. We would go and every 1 out of 2-3 times was a disappointment.
      There were quite a few Asians there tonight, the line was long (wait was quicker than I thought) and we felt the food was excellent.

      We walked away saying "what happened? this place is so much better than it was a couple months ago!"

      We ordered the dinner for 3, and while the pork chop was not a hit, everything else was excellent and our guest from out of town was very impressed.

      1. re: shan

        kuidaore said that they serve Americanized Chinese, now.....their extensive menu used to have a section of typical Americanized Chinese dishes, but that was a very small portion of the menu. Shan mentions the BBQ - my question is: did the menu change?

        1. re: rudeboy

          The menu looked updated, but not overly changed. Of course, you could get Americanized Chinese before if you looked carefully through the menu. I thought the menu looked about the same though. I wasn't paying too careful attention, but chicken feet, tripe, and all the more interesting offerings were still available.

          1. re: rudeboy

            The menu looked about the same (I think their menu was updated sometime last year if I remember correctly) and we always order the same dishes (we don't use the menu--we just tell the waiter what we want.)

            e.g. Their yan chow fried rice, which used to be very good, has turned into Americanized combination fried rice. My companion wanted to send the squid dish back to the kitchen because it was not fried properly and also it was too chewy (and no more tentacles--we love tentacles). The waiter was going to get us the manager, but then I realized the chef had changed because all the dishes didn't only taste different, but LOOKED different and he said the ownership had changed. So I told him not to bother.

            We didn't order BBQ, so I don't know if their BBQ dishes are the same. The BBQ pork in the fried rice wasn't good, though.

            In fact, the new waiters are more attentive, but we want those unattentive waiters back with better food!

          2. re: shan

            I really like Din Ho when they are on. I think their soups are some of the best around. I also love their pork and their duck.

            I defended them in April, but I was really unhappy with them tonight.

            We ordered the duck and pork plate along with the shrimp wonton soup.

            The shrimp soup was excellent.
            and then we waited. and waited. and waited. After about 15 minutes and about 5 tries to flag down a waiter... ours was blantantly ignoring us i think... (no, i'm not being paranoid.. he would see me trying to get his attention and turn his back to us).. another waiter actually came over and asked if everything was okay.

            We said we were waiting for our duck and pork. He went over to the area where they prepare it and bought us our plate. The food was cold. Not lukewarm... stone cold.

            Now, I have begged my husband for a month to go here (he's not a big fan) because I love the duck and pork and I wanted it to be at least marginally warm.

            After another 5 minutes of trying to flag someone down, I told the waiter it was cold. He said, no problem, he'd heat it. Now, I know he meant microwave, and i told him specifically I do not like microwaved meat (duck tastes all weird after reheating) and I did not want it microwaved. I wanted it replaced. The plate disappeared, I heard the microwave open, and about 4 minutes later (!) it beeped and our formerly cold meat was re-served.

            It was rubbery, dry and pretty gross. It took another 5 minutes to get someone to come to the table. I explained the meat was not acceptable (frankly I wanted to cry because I had lobbied to come here for so long and really wanted to enjoy it and I know my husband won't agree to go for at least a year) because it was cold and then microwaved. Our actual waiter wouldn't even come over to the table and sent the girl who just drops off the check.

            She actually had the gall to look me in the face and tell me they cook and serve all their meats at room temperature. I'm not an idiot and I think not. First, you can't cook a meat at room temp and I've eaten it enough there to know they serve it quite warm and not cold enough for the duck skin to start to congeal as it was doing originally. I would also think it would be against health code to serve meats at room temperature they way they do there.

            She told us to go up and tell the story again to the manager at the desk and she might take it off the bill.

            At this point, I'm ready to leave and just frustrated.

            All I wanted was to replace the dish they forgot to serve with a fresh and hot plate, but they obviously didn't want to do that.

            I suppose I'm going to try First China now to see if their BBQ is any good but I'm not going there any time soon. When we left, the husband actually asked me to not ask him to go there again for a long time. Sniff.

            1. re: shan

              Oh, I'm sorry girl. I feel your pain. I know that taking someone somewhere too "adventurous" for them can make me overly concerned and nervous during the diing experience. And then you got a raw deal. Now he has ammunition to never set foot in there again!

              1. re: shan

                Holla, Shan.
                FYI, I'm reading this after eating a wonderful dinner with my partner and a friend at 1st Chinese. The duck is awesome, and never cold, never greasy. I don’t know why it's never greasy since duck is a greasy bird, but they manage that as well as crispy skin and juicy meat. We shared family-style the duck/marinated chicken combo (wonderful), the sugar cane lamb hot pot (in a rich brown gravy with mushrooms and dried tofu), and the Peking style pork chops - breaded, deep-fried, and tossed in a vinegar and sugar sauce that must have been the inspiration for a lame, Americanized "sweet and sour" version a generation ago.
                My friend commented how wonderful the meal was, and he is more into sports than food (it is sometimes hard to satisfy both ends of the dining spectrum). Our waiter actually took the time to stir through the various dishes tableside and explain the various ingredients (dried tofu, he explained, is a delicious but mostly overlooked ingredient). The best part? Two of the dishes – the lamb and the pork chops, where picked at random from the menu. I always get the duck/chicken, but have taken to trying other dishes at random. And while I have had a couple of “adequate” dishes, I have never had a bad one.
                Another hint, tell your husband that the shockingly poor Din Ho experience has left you a drained shell of your former self and he needs to rush you to 1st Chinese for emergency food therapy or you will be convinced he does not love you!

                1. re: Alan Sudo

                  that lamb hot pot sounds good. I'll try to talk him into going up there soon. I like to pick dishes at random too. However, when I go with him, I always have to get something 'traditional' or he usually won't go. My guess is we'll be going to TJs at Westgate for the next month or so for Chinese dining. Don't get me wrong here, TJ's is good and they have 2 menus, but the husband's meals have to start with the following words: General, Sesame, or Sweet Sour. The trick to TJ's is to ask for any of the above as 'white meat only' and the difference is amazing... much fresher and tastier. One of their servers put me on to that trick and boy did we tip well that night. I've started asking their servers to suggest what's good because its usually on the alternative menu, loaded with veggies, and I haven't had a miss yet. TJ's also has the best iced tea in town inho.

                  I'll work on him to go to First Chinese though. It will take about a month probably, but Din Ho is completely off rotation now. I'm more of the 'get a bad meal, vent, try them again in a few months if I've had good food before'... he's more of a 'vote them off the island and banish them out of the vocabulary.'

                  I'm *still* trying to get him to go back to the Madam. I love thai and go still occasionally, but he hates it. We went once and he looked for the most bland thing on the menu. Essentially it was chicken in brown goo. The server asked him if that was what he really wanted because it was bland. Of course, he hated the chicken in brown goo because it was bland. I don't fault them, but it gets frustrating.

                2. re: shan

                  I SO feel your pain. My husband is like this. He loves spicy and exotic foods, so it's not that it's impossible to get him to various restaurants. His problem is with bad service. One bout of it can keep him away from places that use to be faves.

                  Example: One of our fave (used to be) Mexican restaurants near our apartment - we went fairly often - got his order wrong. He ordered Camarones Insalada and they brought Camarones Enchiladas. Apologies offered, new plate offered, remove from bill offered. Nope. Haven't been there in over 2yrs.

                  1. re: shan

                    For some reason Din Ho seems to be less consistent when you eat in than when you pick up to go, which I've never had a problem with. Order a whole duck, bring it home to your husband so it's a done deal and he doesn't have to go anywhere, and I bet you'll both be happy. They don't let you order just the duck, for some reason - you have to order something else with it - so get a soup and/or a vegetable (the chinese broccoli is always good....)

              2. i went maybe a month ago in march. i noticed the menu was not as i had remembered (some dishes were missing, or i was just not paying attention) but didn't seem to be totally different. the old crew was still there and we ordered and got the same good food. weird.

                2 Replies
                1. re: yimay

                  I went for lunch a couple of weeks ago and it was awful. I'm not sure if this is because we ordered poorly (I was with a pescatarian so couldn't do duck or pork). We went for honey walnut shrimp which was not good. Basically fried shrimp in a ton of mayo, and salt and pepper shrimp which I didn't realize would come with the shell. I just can't do it with the shell, so I peeled them and ate them. Overall very disappointing. I'll stick to First Chinese BBQ.

                  1. re: foodiegal71

                    To be fair, their walnut shrimp has always been bad. It was bad when I tried it over 4 years ago. I know what you mean about the ton of Mayo. Eeew.

                    I haven't been lately. Its been a few months since I was there, but the BBQ Pork, Hot and Sour Soup and their Eggplant with ground pork were still good then.

                2. Well, we went, and I thought it was good. I didn't even look at the menu, because we got the dinner for ten (plus some extras because there were 12 of us). Having no previous glory to compare it to and be disappointed by, I was pleased.

                  The shrimp with mayo was a hit. Heh.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ashforth

                    Huh. I got a heap of takeout there last night to bring to a friend's house... wasn't really in there long enough to notice the change in decor, and since we had phoned in the order I wasn't looking at a new menu either. I didn't notice much of a difference in the food except that the BBQ pork was much, much better than it's been in a long time. We had almost given up on the dish but last night it was sweet and juicy and considerably less fatty than usual.

                  2. Okay, I must not be that observant, because we went yesterday for lunch and got all the usuals and they were just as always, very good...

                    1. I have a new sister-in-law from Guangdong (Canton) who has been in America for all of two weeks. We'd like to take her to a Cantonese restaurant, and Din Ho was a possibility. If indeed it's moved to a more Americanized menu, what would be a good alternative?

                      (BTW, some well meaning folks took her to San Marcos for a Chinese dinner; she squinched up her nose when I asked her how it was. Poor thing.)

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: AlanV

                        I love First Chinese BBQ in the Chinatown Center on N. Lamar.

                        1. re: AlanV

                          Take her to Asia Cafe at Spicewood and 183 (in the back of Asia Market), and to Pao's Mandarin House at Lakeway (order from the Chinese menu), China Palace on Airport (again, the Chinese Menu), dim sum at either Shanghai or Chinatown, culinerd

                          1. re: chowmick

                            Asia Cafe isn't a Cantonese restaurant...neither is Pao's Mandarin House. For good Cantonese food in Austin I would really say the most authentic is First Chinese BBQ in Chinatown. I have never liked Din Ho and could never understand the raves people gave it. To me, it's always been inconsistent at best. All the times I've gone the food's been alternatively too greasy, underseasoned, overseasoned, and just plain bad.

                            Really Austin Chinese food just can't compare to real food from Canton. Whenever I come back from China, I stay away from Chinese restaurants for at least a month to not ruin them for myself. If you can make the trek down to Houston, you'll have much better options.

                          2. re: AlanV

                            You should take her to Wok'n'Roll on Burnet Rd. and order from the non-American Chinese menu. Warning: The place is a dive on the inside, and you don't want to stay there for long. You should also be careful walking up the rickety steps. Oh, and wear shoes with thick soles - just in case.

                            W'n'R is basically Cantonese street food, from what I've been told. One day I'll convince the owner to start putting noodles in those paper takeout cups so I can litter my duplex with them and pretend to be an underworked Private Investigator.

                            I actually want to hear what your sis-in-law says about the place as far as its authenticity and tastiness go. She can be Chowhound's litmus test.

                            Austin Wok N Roll
                            5119 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756

                            1. re: AlanV

                              Thanks, everyone. I'll let you know what she thinks, wherever we end up taking her.

                              1. re: AlanV

                                Take her somewhere that's an excellent example of regional cooking. She can get all the Cantonese she wants back at home. I'd be really disappointed if I went to China and my hosts tried to take me to Applebees, KWIM?

                                1. re: sweetbasil

                                  I'd be disappointed if someone *here* tried to take me to Applebees. But that's just me.

                                  1. re: sweetbasil

                                    She moved here, so it's more like letting her have something from back home. It may be a year or two before she gets a chance to go back home.

                                2. re: AlanV

                                  Try Tien Jin @ US 290 W & Westgate. They're from Hong Kong & will make what she likes if it's not on the menu. The Scallion Duck is good as it's mostly boneless. Though it's not roast duck it's a meaty dish & good value. Their Lemon Chicken is breast meat not small piece sweet & sour style. It's very tender, HK style. TJ beats having to go to Houston for Chinese food. FYI: they're closed on Mondays.