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The Early Word on DooWee & Rice

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Photo: Official Site

When Powderhouse Square's beloved Chinese restaurant East Asia closed earlier this year, many a homemade tofu-loving tear was shed, but things are looking pretty good at its replacement, DooWee & Rice, which opened a couple months ago. The name comes from the pronunciation of the owner's name, Duy Tran, and the menu features an ever-changing assortment of "fusion" cuisine, some of which has Vietnamese inspiration. As the name suggests, the rice dishes are especially popular, such as the chimichurri chicken and rice, marinated chicken topped with a housemade Vietnamese chimichurri sauce and "great white sauce" over rice. The tiny spot has started accumulating reviews, mostly positive. Here's what the critics and diners are saying:

The Heartwarming News: For a short review in the Globe, Devra First praises the "cute little no-frills space" and "fresh ingredients," but she seems most interested in owner Duy Tran's "soul," quoting a section of the restaurant's website:

"if you're hungry, and don't have enough money . . . just come on in! I can't stand seeing anyone down on their luck and hungry. I spent months volunteering in the kitchen at Boston Rescue Mission and will never forget what it means to help."

First also notes that the menu is expanding as winter sets in. More soups! [BG]

The Heavenly Pillowy News: While The Phoenix's "On the Cheap" reviewer Alexandra Cavallo declares herself "not the most discerning of foodies," she's discerning enough to appreciate DooWee's braised pork bao baos, which her roommate "reverently described...as 'heavenly pillows.'" She also recommends the marinated beef noodles on hearsay but misses out on trying them herself as they sold out during the dinner rush. Instead, she enjoys a cheap, giant portion of the chimichurri chicken and rice and a couple of Vietnamese egg rolls with "a fantastic, spicy chili dipping sauce." [BP]

The Cilantro Bingo News: For Dig Boston, Liz Casey calls to "the lover of salt and sauce" to give the "unassuming" DooWee & Rice a try. "The entire time I had the uncanny feeling that I had actually stumbled into a NYC restaurant time warp on a rainy night," she writes. She tries, and enjoys, the beef noodles that Cavallo missed. "My favorite aspect, besides the spicy fish sauce as an optional addition, were the large bites of cilantro hidden underneath," she writes. "It was like a game of cilantro bingo, in which every bite is a winner. And you didn't even have to argue with a senior citizen." With no complaints aside from the blaring television, Casey concludes that "this new kid on the block will blossom into a Somerville staple." [DB]

The Needs-More-Seasoning News: It's no surprise that Richard Chudy chose, ahem, a hearty dish like the chicken heart-topped fries ("like a Vietnamese poutine") to review for his "Man Food" column for Boston Magazine (along with the pork bao baos). While the "wonderful" fries are a "roller-coaster of a dish," the bao baos suffer from Tran's "light hand with salt." The dish ultimately "falls flat on flavor." Still, though, Chudy expects big things from DooWee & Rice. "While some dishes may be short on seasoning," he writes, "all the food is creative and cooked with enough passion and gusto to make it a soon-to-be neighborhood gem." [BM]

The Mixed News: While the critics are mainly positive towards DooWee & Rice, the internet, as is often the case, is undecided. Half of the Yelp reviewers give five stars, praising the food, changing menu, cozy ambiance, prices, and service. Several locals announce that they'll definitely become regulars. A few one- and two-star reviews appear as well, though. Two in particular criticize the food for being too salty, and a few complain about unfriendly service and bland decor. "I don't understand what the elephants are for," writes one. (They're an homage to the Tufts mascot, Duy explains in a response to one of the other negative reviews.) Meanwhile, the Chowhound vibe is overwhelmingly positive, especially when it comes to the chicken hearts. [Yelp/CH]

· All coverage of DooWee & Rice on Eater [~EBOS~]

DooWee & Rice

868 Broadway, Somerville, MA

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