HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


DooWee & Rice Somerville - Wheeee! Life-changing Bao Baos!!

Mr. Swank and I popped into DW&R tonight after I rescued him from a darkened Red Line train at Davis Square. At first, we thought it was closed -- big closed sign on the window. But the lights were on and someone was standing at the counter, so we ventured in. Place was near-empty, save for one dude eating a plate of fries and grooving to an iPod. No ambience, but Aladdin was playing on the big-screen TV hanging from the wall.
Counter service only, and the server was quite friendly. We opted for Vietnamese spring rolls to begin. The roll was PIPING hot (I nearly scalded my tongue) and stuffed with shrimp, pork, carrots, jicama, vermicelli, and garlic. It came with a cup of garlicky sauce that was somewhat salad dressingish in consistency. Mr. Swank got the standout dish of the evening: Bao Bao. OH MY GOD. Do yourself a favor, drive directly to Powderhouse Circle, and order 20 of these. They're basically fluffy little tacos, stuffed with either pork or steak. Pork is apparently the "signature," but Mr. Swank and I couldn't get enough of the medium rare steak, tender and topped with chimichurri sauce, scallions, and crisp shallots. A bit sweet, a bit tangy, and so amazingly meltingly delicious. Still dreaming of them, longingly ...
Ahem. Anyway, finally, I ordered the braised pork rice plate. Loved the hot chili sauce, slightly smoky, that comes on the side. Rice was well-cooked. I did want more sauce, though, so I ordered white sauce on the side -- very similar to tzatziki. Pork was a bit dry, but the sauces ameliorated this. We also purloined a tube of plum sauce from the counter, which we drizzled atop the rice.
Overall, it was a DIVINE meal. As we were leaving, I noticed three or so tribes of Tufts students straggle in, so I hope they're doing a solid business. The Bao Bao are life-changing: Swank cannot lie.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yay! Was supposed to go here for lunch this week but that got cancelled - it's on the calendar for later this month but I'm considering taking myself there sooner based on this glowing rec. I love that the guy trained at Le Cordon Bleu, yet is making his mama's and other homestyle recipes, not limiting himself to one cuisine, etc. Totally my kind of funky spot. Glad you had such a nice meal!


    1. Yeah, the spring rolls at $1/ea are a steal...but they need to include more sauce.
      The steak and rice is fantastic, steak is SO tender and delicious...sounds like the same you get on the bao bao. I also love the dressing that comes on the lettuce...nice little kick.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rknrll

        I also love that spicy dressing. I wonder if they sell me a container of it...

        I've been really enjoying have DooWee and Rice nearby. I've had chicken wings, steak, pork, and chicken bao (not crazy about the chicken, loved the other two), and steak rice plate and chicken rice plate (both meats fantastic, not crazy about the rice). Sounds like I need to get the spring rolls next time I'm there...

      2. hmmmm swank, tomorrow we follow your lead.thx much.
        btw, here's the link to the longer DooWee thread:

          1. Just wrote them and inquired about vegetarian food and got this reply within 5-10 minutes:

            "hello there Frederic,

            Currently the only vegetarian friendly dish we have is our new Soy ginger lentil soup. On Monday we will have a sauteed tofu and mushroom panini with a miso corn slaw. Thank you for your interest and stay warm."

            Which is great news since they're only a mile from us!


            1 Reply
            1. re: yarm

              That's awesome - thanks for checking on that. Will definitely put it on the radar.

            2. I just ate a lunch there myself lured by the promise of good Bao.

              The Bao are very similar to the ones served at Shangri-La. At Shangri-La they serve it with slow braised pork belly which is a tough rendition to beat.

              Quite good at DooWee, I had the beef and the pork. Lots of different sauces on them. I gave the edge to the beef. The pork somehow needed a bit of Sriracha.
              The Bao at Shangri-La are a bit better due to the incredible flavor of the braised pork belly and pickely veg. Also as I needed two orders and was still hungry, a bit of a pricey lunch.

              I also had 2 egg rolls and these were probably the best I've every had. Fresh crispy, nice generous filling of chicken and veg. Perfect. Not sure the spicey mayo dipping sauce really succeeded. I would have preferred a more traditional Vietnamese Nuoc Cham based sauce.

              With two orders of bao, two eggrolls, and a bottle of water, $14 for lunch a bit steep. The rice plates are quite reasonable. I think at $6:00 an order if they gave you three bao it would be about right.

              Though if you think the amount/quality of food I would get at Greek Corner, Strip-Ts, Shangri-La, Gustazo, they have some stiff competition.

              4 Replies
              1. re: StriperGuy

                Hey Striper Guy: Are the bao at Shangri-La on the menu? Are they the pan-fried pork bun on the brunch menu? They sound great but I want to make sure to ask for the right thing.

                1. re: katzzz


                  It is one of the steamed buns with pork but I don't remember exactly which ones. I think it is the Taiwanese style steamed pork buns.

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  stripes, have you had his "white sauce"? is this an aioli/mayo thing, or a beschamel/flour milk sauce thing? anyone?

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    It's a mayonnaise/yogurt based sauce with some lemon and vinegar. There are a variety of recipes online that try to replicate the product at the famous NYC carts.

                3. So how is your life different now?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Luther

                    I put 6.3 miles on my 2000 Honda Accord going to and fro DooWee and Rice.

                  2. Does "DooWee" mean anything? Like, is there any double meaning here, or is the whole name just a 70s Red Sox reference?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Fly

                      The owner/chef's name is Duy, which is more-or-less pronounced DooWee.

                      1. re: Boston_Otter

                        this, and also a Sox reference (unless he was joking with me, I dunno Sox from shoes.)

                        1. re: enhF94

                          Dewey and Rice? Wow. Brilliant. Hadn't made that connection.

                    2. I went for the first time last Saturday and dreamed about it the rest of the day. I planned to get takeout the following day to enjoy with the Pats and was distraught when I pulled up to see them closed. I've been thinking about it since and went back today for more. So..the food:
                      I had the pork bao baos, which were as excellent as others have said. It's far from typical takeout fare with all the different taste and textural components going on. It's really a delicious couple bites.
                      I'm picky about chicken dishes, so I don't know what compelled me to order the chicken and rice, but I'm so glad I did. What's this? Actual chunks of dark (!) meat? And they're flavorful, tend, and perfectly cooked? I can't remember getting a takeout chicken dish that was as well cooked.
                      The chicken was so good that I felt compelled to try the steak. Also very flavorful (I'm not positive what cut they're using...possibly flap?), tender, and well cooked. The sauces in both dishes were (I think) the same. Along with the rice, they're all delicious.
                      I can definitely see going out of my way to eat more of this food and work my way through the rest of the menu.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: morecheesejer

                        I really love DooWee & Rice and am glad it's in the neighborhood. I've eaten a bunch of the menu and so far the only complaint I have is the almost complete lack of vegetables. A few bites of iceberg lettuce, doesn't really make for a balanced meal. :-/ I bet they could do amazing things with vegetables, so hopefully they'll consider adding them to the menu.

                      2. Agreed, mallard, on DooWee's lack of vegetables. Despite the clear skill in Duy's cooking, and despite also excitedly anticipating about a second visit after my first, I find that very quickly, my sense memory of DooWee and Rice is "grease/fat feeling in my mouth" for hours after eating. Particularly with the steak and rice. I like grease and fat just fine, but not to coat my mouth for hours afterwards. Fortunately, that's both small and easy to fix.

                        Maybe he leaned toward "drunk food for Jumbos" in designing the menu, instead of "Somerville DINKs who want healthy/tasty/convenient." In any case, bring on the vegetables!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: enhF94

                          If he wasn't thinking Somerville DINKs, he does not understand who is going to sustain his business in the summer months at the very least.

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            He seems a smart guy - maybe just young enough his metabolism hasn't slowed down yet ;)

                            1. re: enhF94

                              Oh definitely - I meant my remark to be more tongue-in-cheek, but on re-reading it sounds harsher than I meant.

                          2. re: enhF94

                            Well, halal cart chicken rice IS basically drunk food. But that doesn't mean he can't sell other stuff too.

                            1. re: Luther

                              Excellent point. I do think that if I were less sober when eating their food I wouldn't care about vegetables nearly as much. On the other hand, their early closing time makes it a lot less useful as drunk food. I like day drinking as much as (more than?) the next person, but generally when I want a big box of greasy starchy food, it is a lot later than 9pm...

                              1. re: maillard

                                That's how I felt about the Boston Chicken & Rice truck, it's not just that their version isn't as good as the top Manhattan carts, it's also that it was a nonideal experience to be eating it at like 2pm.

                                1. re: maillard

                                  Yah, agreed - when I've had alcohol, I'm less interested in vegetables. (Oh, and by the way, maillard, I do know your correct username - damn the autocorrect.)

                                  Still, I like the fat in his pink, charred flank steak. Just not in the white sauce and rice. I haven't tried any of the other sauces (how does one order them? As a side? Are they substitutions?) though.

                            2. Thanks to this thread we headed over to Doowee and Rice from East Arlington (only a 5 minute drive). I have been waiting for a Vietnamese restaurant to open up in the area. While the food is not as good as your best chinese/vietnamese places it is still very good and I'm happy to have it in the area.

                              The pork bao bao's were probably our most disappointing order of the night as they do not compare to Chinese pork buns. The pork was lacking flavor, some type of sauce would benfit these. We wouldn't get these again because you can simply do much better at Chinese markets/bakeries or Dim sum (and they are cheaper). We really enjoyed the vietnamese eggrolls, packed full with pork and the sauce is good and unique with a little kick. I love that you can order 1/1$. Entrees were a hit, really enjoyed the chicken and rice. I agree 100% with swank and would say it reminds me of Tzatizki sauce but with a strong garlic flavor. The chicken and rice plate was very good at 7$. My wife had marinated beef noodle dish and enjoyed it, the beef was tender and flavorful. Fish sauce wasn't strong though, probably watered down for their clientele (too bad). While I would go back for their chicken and rice and eggrolls, I'm still waiting for a great Vietnamese place to come to the area.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: AaronInBoston

                                They make a point of saying on their website that they are not at all a vietnamese restaurant. I think if someone were to go there expecting vietnamese food, they would be very disappointed.

                                I would LOVE an actual vietnamese place to open up nearby. That and good coffee are my two biggest Davis Sq. wishes.

                                1. re: maillard

                                  Have you been to Three Little Figs on Highland for coffee? It's excellent normally, and ethereal when the owner is making the cappuccinos.

                                  Was really disappointed by a Diesel cup of Joe the other day. Worse than Dunks.

                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                    Agreed with Bob -- and frankly, between Diesel, Three Little Figs, and iYo (and the Clover brewers at Starbucks), we've got no shortage of decent cups of coffee in the Davis Sq area.

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      Good to know about iYo, thanks. For some reason I don't like coffee brewed in a Clover at all. It always tastes incredibly acidic to me (although it's been years since I last had it, so maybe it's time to give it another shot).

                                    2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      Oh! Thanks for the reminder. I've been meaning to try that place, but keep forgetting. I'll head up there that weekend.

                                      I find Diesel's brewed coffee to be undrinkable and their staff's attitudes to be unbearable. Espresso is fine, though.

                                      1. re: maillard

                                        Weird, I've never had a bad cup at Diesel, the folks are always smiling, and the stuff out of the Clover across the street is some of the best coffee I've ever had. Different experiences at different times, I suppose.

                                        I don't know if you'll find iYo's brewed coffee better than Diesel -- likely not -- but 3 Little Figs is always excellent.

                                        By far the best I've had in the area is Barismo, but that's not walkable.

                                2. I've been going fairly regularly, and my firm favorite is the Vietnamese marinated beef noodles. The mouthful of textures of the meat and the noodles all goes so well together. I'm hooked on it and keep going back once or twice a week for it. Highly recommended. If you're hungry, you can get an extra eggroll or two.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. LivingSocial is offering $16 for $8 here at the moment, if anyone is interested.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: kt1969

                                      Awesome -- just purchased one. Thx!!

                                    2. I second the rave on the bao baos. Pork and steak both excellent. The spring roll was a bit dry, even with the sauce. The "small" portion of chicken hearts was a rather large mound. I think DooWee could make it more modest in amount without disappointing anyone.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Edokko

                                        Yeah, I got a small order of chicken hearts and when I opened it I figured they had given me a large one by mistake. I happily finished them all, though. Pretty spicy! The pork bao baos were awesome; the chicken and rice was perfectly tasty but had fewer flavors going on than I expected from the other dishes.

                                      2. I went back a few nights ago and got the new "Heart-y Fries". I enjoyed their chicken hearts by themselves, but this is really a fantastic dish. Juicy hearts on the seasoned fries, topped with two sauces... this shouldn't work as well as it does, but it all comes together perfectly. I think it's the best (and funkiest) thing I've had from DooWee so far.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                          I'm going to have to try this combo. I love his spiced chicken hearts and I love his french fries. I just haven't combined the two yet.

                                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                                            Last week I asked for that heart prep made with sweet potato fries and it was great. Just not sure whether to call it "Heart-y Sweets" or "Sweet Hearts."

                                          2. Went back today for lunch to try the beef side of the menu and had a couple of the delicious spring rolls and two of the grilled steak Bao Baos (one order) and the were delicious.
                                            I also ordered the Char Grilled Steak and rice, cooked medium rare and it looked like a bit of a mess but it was delicious!
                                            He has also expanded the choices of Bao Baos. Got to try a chicken heart and they were some delicious nuggets!


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Ferrari328

                                              The lime habanero had a pretty good kick when I got those a couple weeks ago.