I’ve long heard that Din Ho has the best Chinese food in Austin. One day I decided to check it out, kids in tow. My husband refused to go, because, to quote him verbatim: “Din Ho scares me.” When you arrive you’ll immediately notice barbeque ducks and pork to your right, available for quick take out. My better half apparently has a problem with dining in full sight of dangling, bronzed animal carcasses. When I see that, I think “Bring it on!” Luckily, my kids also thought it was cool to see our meal in advance.
We arrived around noon on a Sunday and both dining rooms were bustling. We were seated promptly but other parties that arrived after us were waited on first. Being a fiercely hungry pregnant lady, I eventually had to physically get up and commandeer a waiter to come to our table. Once he arrived, he was very helpful and understanding that we needed spicy dishes toned down to accommodate the taste buds of two little kids. The menu is pages long, with virtually any dish you could desire. It is overwhelming. We ordered orange chicken (less spicy), fried prawns with special salt and BBQ pork lo mein. We passed on the deep fried intestine and pig intestine with pickled mustard. Perhaps next time…
Our food arrived at different times. Our complimentary white rice finally arrived when we were almost finished eating. This was problematic, as my four year old absolutely would not touch a thing, other than white rice. The orange chicken was deep fried and not too spicy. My seven year old and I polished it off, even though it was heavy. The lo mein was tasty but a bit greasy. The prawns looked gorgeous. But…what? Did I detect that the shells were still on? Gag! I tried my best to eat one and it was just vile. I felt like I was eating old, hardened masking tape that I had just peeled from a long-forgotten package in my attic. I had to messily peel the prawns, missing out on all the salt and pepper seasoning. The prawns were not well cleaned so I had to do it myself. It was so much work to eat them, it would have been easier to cook some myself at home.
Once I ordered, everything on the other tables looked far superior to my own choices. I asked around and the BBQ Pork/Duck combination was very popular. A lot of diners were also enjoying hot pots (eggplant and pork is a favorite). Other recommendations were Sizzling Steak with Black Pepper, Singapore Fried Noodles, Fried Golden Bean Curd, Sesame Beef, Fried Pork Chops, Fried Rice…are you getting the picture here? We’re talkin’ greasy and fried. Also recommended were Walnut Shrimp, Sauteed Snow Pea Leaves, Water Spinach or Chinese Vegetable, Shrimp Won Ton Soup, Seafood Pan Fried Noodle or Pan Fried Noodle with Beef. I ordered some BBQ pork to go, as I was still hungry after the prawn/shell situation. The pork, again, was not low fat but extremely flavorful and reasonably priced.
There is no Children’s Menu at Din Ho, so either leave picky eaters at home or bank on filling them up on plain rice and fortune cookies. Entrée prices run the gamut from averages of $7.95-$9.95 to $25.95 for a Whole Abalone with Season Vegetables. Our bill was under $30, with leftovers the next day.
Din Ho is located in the Target shopping plaza at 183 and Payton Gin/Ohlen Road. I’m delighted to live in a city where I can procure a Swiffer and then eat a Duck Feet with Chinese Mushroom Hot Pot (or a Braised Sea Cucumber, for that matter) without even moving my car. I love Austin!
Written by: Jennifer Leon