We, a Chinese-American family from a suburb of St. Paul, had a most unforgettable (in a bad way!) dinner at Ho Ho on Father’s Day (June 21, 2009). It was a family meal for 24 in three tables, reserved a week in advance. At the designated time, our entire party arrived and immediately we ordered from the menu at the waitresses’ urging, because allegedly, the chef was leaving at 8, in half an hour sharp! (The restaurant closed at 9.)
Within 10 minutes, the chef pushed all dishes out at once. They tasted as if they were reheated left-overs from a lunch-buffet table.
Following are specific comments on the ordered dishes (all nos. from Ho Ho’s menu):
- Salt baked squid (heavily breaded, oily, reminds me of frozen TV dinners)
- Black bean chicken (A dish prepared in typical Midwestern American style, while I expected it done in Chinese style, deboned and not much black beans, garlic or red peppers)
- Hong Kong beef (dry, fatty beef strips, deep-fried days in advance)
- Beef stew in hot pot (totally overwhelmed by salt)
- Salt baked American spare ribs (dry, fatty pok strips, also deep-fried days in advance—I thought we ordered RIBS!)
- Stir-fry seafood combo (tiny shrimps, lots of squids, no scallops)
- Szechuan eggplant (floating in oil, but it’s the only eatable dish because it sits well on a steam-table for hours!)
- Stir-fry shrimp (tiny shrimps swimming in oil, no favors at all other than being salty)
- Pork pan-fried noodles (extremely salty pork strips mixed with gluey corn-starch)
For more than 12 years, we’ve had decent experience dining at Ho Ho. We’d considered them one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in town, serving nothing fancy but a home-cook meal. (Their Paypa tofu (#201) used to be their signature dish, but it had so disappointed us 2-3 times that I gave up on it this time.) Henceforth, I vow that I would never return, ever period!
To add insult on injury, a service charge of 18% was added to the tab. The service at Ho Ho is certainly nothing to write home about!
When I mentioned that overall, the food was too salty, the hostess’s response or advice, rather, was: “Next time, you should ask for less salt!” There ain’t no “next-time” for me, pal! And I say it with no malice.