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Jan 22, 2011 02:26 PM

Chinatown-Mopac, Asia Cafe, or Din Ho tonight for excellent food?

Hi, my husband and 2 yr old want to eat Chinese tonight. I've researched the boards and these seem to be everyone's favs--can you pls recommend where we should hit up first on this list? First time going out for Chinese in Austin. We live in Bee Caves/Westlake area and can travel if need be...

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  1. Those places are all pretty different.

    If you like duck and pork char siu, Din Ho cannot be beaten in Austin. I've enjoyed other things there as well, but this is a Chinese BBQ first and foremost.

    23A. Beijing Duck 25.95
    (with 10 Buns, shredded green onion & sauce)
    (with Bones $2.00 extra)

    When I order this, I call it the "duck tacos", and they roll their eyes at me and mutter mean things under their breath. No matter, they still bring me amazing food.

    I've had decent shrimp and lobster dishes at Din Ho, but they're not the best for these. Duck and pork from the BBQ portion of the menu is where you should focus.

    Chinatown is probably the best gringo-friendly Chinese food in Austin. The atmosphere is quiet and classy, the food is pretty good (although a bit pricey for what you get).

    4 Replies
    1. re: tom in austin

      thx for this-duck tacos, i love it! well we ended up going to chinatown out of convenience, and well what can i say, but bleh. everything was mediocre, and lacking true authentic flavors--oversauced, too much gariic, greasy, etc. Chewy dough on the dumplings, greasy noodles, shrimp that tasted like sauce made of ketchup (!). Duck was decent. nothing stood out at all and i wouldnt make any effort to go back. I'm heading to Din Ho next time!

      1. re: Lotus7

        If you want authentic, go to Asia Cafe. I'll do Sichuan over Cantonese any day. Cantonese (Din Ho, First Chinese, Ho Ho) is oversauced and greasy by definition. I have a problem, though, with places that sell 'Peking Duck' when what they're *really* selling is Cantonese Roast Duck. That's like ordering gnocchi at an Italian restaurant and being served southern dumplin's. (And it's a rather odd phenomenon today that the signature dish in most Cantonese restaurants is Pekingnese.) I haven't found a place in Austin that serves real, good Peking Duck though.

        1. re: conquer

          What isn't greasy at Asia Cafe? I love the food, but my favorite dishes (mapo tofu and crispy fish) come swimming in oil.

          1. re: conquer

            First of all, Cantonese cuisine emphasizes flavors of the freshest available ingredients. It's almost the opposite of "oversauced and greasy". That might be in the definition of American-Chinese food, which many people associate with Cantonese, because nearly all Chinese in the US were Cantonese for over a century (mid 1800's to mid 1900's).

            Secondly, Asia Cafe has slipped considerably since the dynamic young head chef left town, and both the Sichuan Garden in Round Rock and the unrelated A+A Sichuan Garden don't measure up to the original Asia Cafe. The increased popularity of Sichuan food has been a very enjoyable trend for the past few years.

      2. All good picks listed here. I'd throw 1st Chinese BBQ in the Chinatown Center into the mix.

        1. If you live in Bee Caves/Westlake area, you should check out Pao's Mandarin House sometime for dim sum on the weekends. It is out in Lakeway on 620.

          Pao's Mandarin House
          2300 Lohmans Spur, Lakeway, TX 78734

          2 Replies
          1. re: Homero

            I second Pao's - good suggestion for that side of town. But I wanted to add that Pao's normally hands us the standard Americanized Chinese menu (gooey entree/fried rice/soup/eggroll). Their dimsum menu is a sheet of paper which you need to ask for. During the week make sure you ask for the Chinese menu.

            1. re: Allison L.

              Yes, Thanks to Allison for pointing this out. I was introduced to Pao's by friends that were "in the know" and we got the chinese/dim sum menu.