January 10, 2007
Duck Duck Pork
The Statesman's food critic, Dale Rice, reviewed and compared Din Ho BBQ's and First Chinese BBQ's roast duck and char siu pork to see who "reigns supreme". (read article here). After rave reviews of the pork and lean duck at First Chinese he unfortunately ended up with a cold, fat duck at Din Ho and declared First Chinese as the winner. How sorely mistaken you are, Dale. I could see how the less fatty duck at First Chinese may be more appealing as it really is just a personal preference (I'll tell you right now most Chinese will choose a duck with visible pieces of fat over one without) but to say First's char siu pork is better than Din Ho's is a culinary sin. First's char siu pork is dry and flavorless and pales in comparison to Din Ho's version. I definitely think First's duck can give Din Ho's some good competition but for the pork alone, Din Ho is far superior. I've never gotten a cold duck from Din Ho. Perhaps next time he should call ahead to find out when they come out of the oven, but something to remember is that often times roast ducks and char siu are served lukewarm anyways. It should be just as good and even more flavorful if it's cooled down a bit.
Dale's review contained several paragraphs about Din Ho's poor service which I think he let play too much of a role in the decisionmaking. Everyone in Austin knows Din Ho has terrible service but everyone goes back because the food is good (or it may be because it's one of the only decent Chinese restaurants in town). Do you ever return to a restaurant with spectacular service but crappy food? I know I don't. So get over it, pour your own water if you have to and enjoy the fatty duck and far superior char siu pork.
Sometimes I think Americans place too much emphasis on service when dining at ethnic restaurants. If you care too much about how well you're being served, you'll never be satisfied because, frankly, many other cultures just don't care. That's why you don't get seated at hole in the wall restaurants in Italy, or even allowed to enter some restaurants in Japan if you are American. They don't want to serve you because they know they can't please you or meet your high standards.