Need a new place to try for dinner because you’re really tired of pizza or sautéing vegetables in a pan? If you happen to find yourself in Powder House Square in Somerville, make sure to add the Vietnamese restaurant DooWee & Rice to your stock. Open now for nearly a month, this unassuming spot beckons the lover of salt and sauce.
Even on a weeknight, every table in the tiny hole-in-the wall joint was full. Customers order their meal at the counter and sit down at one of seven or eight tables.
The place was very well lit, including an entire wall of mirrors to open up the space. The entire time I had the uncanny feeling that I had actually stumbled into a NYC restaurant time warp on a rainy night. The charming bistro-like atmosphere was only blighted momentarily by the enormous flat screen TV blasting some terrible Ashton Kutcher movie I couldn’t identify. However, my attention was returned as soon as our appetizer of egg rolls arrived on our table. At only $1 a pop, these delicious starters are cooked in olive oil instead of one of their artery clogging alternatives. This app is coupled with a tangy red sauce that activated my taste buds for the next course.
After sipping Coca-Cola out of cans since there isn’t alcohol served, our main dishes arrived in all of their steaming glory. The first choice was the traditional Vietnamese beef noodle.
This dish incorporated perfectly tender slices of beef on top of rice noodles.
My favorite aspect, besides the spicy fish sauce as an optional addition, were the large bites of cilantro hidden underneath. 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.
The next choice was one of their most popular dishes, the pork baos. If you’ve never heard of these little delights, you’re not alone. They’re essentially a delicious Vietnamese taco. One order includes two baos, comprised of more perfectly cooked meat on top of spongy bread-like rounds.
And to top it all off, the baos are drizzled with one of their nine specialty sauces, all made in-house.
Needless to say, we ate in silence, and didn’t even notice the large TV anymore since everything was so delectable. My biggest fear would be that the sauces would be too spicy, spicy to the extent of not tasting the complexity of each ingredient. Fortunately the spice stayed in shadows and only played a simple rhythm to let the other ingredients really shine on stage.
With a friendly and efficient staff, a great location, and a changing menu dependent on fresh ingredients, there’s no doubt that this new kid on the block will blossom into a Somerville staple.
So if you’re feeling saucy, spend an evening at DooWee & Rice to experience innovative Vietnamese cuisine with a twist of undergraduate accessibility.
DOOWEE & RICE
POWDER HOUSE SQUARE
SAT 12PM-9PMSUN CLOSED