Thursday, December 11, 2008

Din Ho Chinese BBQ

Though Austin sorely lacks a centralized "Chinatown" area, there are still excellent Chinese restaurants to be found. It just takes a little more effort to find them. (Yes, we're aware of that new shopping center up on Lamar, but the jury is still out.)

Din Ho Chinese BBQ, as far as we're concerned, is the creme de la creme of authentic Chinese food in Austin. It has everything you should look for in a good Chinese restaurant: great food, cheap prices, bad service, and orange slices with your check. You would think most restaurants would hide their meats in the kitchen until it's time to be served, right? Just like it is in China, Din Ho proudly displays its Peking ducks front and center right when you come in, like a Communist army of deliciousness. And of course, Din Ho passes the Mama Ong test of authenticity by providing a special section of the menu that you can only order from if you can speak and read Chinese.

Because it is a Chinese BBQ, Din Ho's menu is championed by the big three: roast duck, BBQ pork, and roast chicken. You can get any of these dishes solo or any combination of three, but I would recommend skipping the roast chicken and focusing on just the duck and pork. Both are quite tasty and delicious, particularly the BBQ pork, which is just about as good as I've ever had it.

The rest of the menu is very extensive, and one reason that I particularly like Din Ho is that it has several dishes that really set it apart from your average generic Chinese restaurant. Sure anyone can make chow mein and General Tso's chicken, but you won't find Din Ho's salted fish fried rice at many other places, and believe me, once you try it, you wish it were.

If I had one nit to pick with this place, it would just be that traditional Peking duck is served as a three-course meal: a duck soup, a lettuce wrap-style dish, and finally the duck itself, served with steamed buns. For some reason, Din Ho opts only to serve the last dish, which was disappointing.

For those of you asking what the difference is between roast duck and Peking duck, roast duck is merely duck tossed into a broiler. Peking duck is similar but has a much more extensive preparation process that includes salting and inflating the duck (don't ask) prior to roasting, and this process makes the skin extra delicious and crispy, almost like cracklings. Also Peking duck is about three times more expensive than the roast duck, which may be the most important difference of all for the undistinguishing palate.

In short, if your concept of Chinese food is like Pei Wei or PF Changs, greaseless and served over brown rice, you're going to need to look elsewhere. Din Ho BBQ is the real deal, trust us.

Din Ho Chinese BBQ
8557 Research Blvd Ste 116

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