The disquieting Raymond Carver short story “Nobody Said Anything” – which, yes, is redundant; they’re ALL disquieting – mentions in passing a Chinese restaurant that, according to local lore, is meant to be Ding Ho at the corner of 16th and Yakima avenues.
I’d like to say it was that literary connection that first brought me to Ding Ho several years ago. But really, it was just standard restaurant curiosity. As I recall, on that first visit the food was pretty bad, but the drinks were incredibly stiff. And I only went back once or twice, when I needed a stiff drink.
A friend of mine who was new to town a couple of years ago brought me back to Ding Ho. She was curious, too. Something about the neon signs and the overall look of the place, I guess. Anyway, the food is a lot better now, but the drinks aren’t as stiff anymore.
I suppose it’s a decent trade-off. Anyway, I went back last weekend with Alana, and we ate like kings for very little money. We got one of the family dinners for two, which included egg-flower soup, a barbecued pork appetizer, fried wontons, pork fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, General Tso’s chicken and Mongolian beef. It was $14.95 per person, and it was enough food that we had leftovers for the next two days’ lunches. We could have eaten at Ding Ho for a lot less money, too, if that had been our goal.
It’s still not the all-time best Chinese food I’ve had, but for those prices it’s definitely worth it. Beyond just the food, though, Ding Ho is a special kind of place. It feels like 1950 in there, with red leather booths and a lunch counter with red-leather-topped stools. The service has been great every time I’ve been there.
And, though they’re not as strong as they used to be, there’s still a wide selection of cocktails at dirt-cheap prices. (Singapore slings are on special every Sunday for $3.50, because of course they are at a place like that. Carver only mentions restaurants that have $3.50 Singapore slings on Sundays.)
Address: 1502 W. Washington Ave.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.