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Hounds, I fear we've blown up Doo-Wee

Last night the Swanks popped in for a 7pm meal and, sadly/happily, it was packed to the gills. Seating was at a premium. They were completely out of wings, and a few of the bao bao offerings were also sold out. The poor woman who works the front cash register, who's always very nice, seemed overwhelmed trying to serve eat-in orders and dispense to-go bags. A friend reported that when he arrived at 8 pm, they were sold out of food entirely!!
I fear I should've kept this secret to myself instead of crowing about those marvelous bao baos!!

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  1. I think it's awesome that a place that features food like chicken hearts piled atop french fries is so popular that it's selling out of food.

    1. Oh no! It's almost walking distance (or motivated walking distance) from where I live and I haven't stopped by yet. Perhaps I'll try an early weeknight.

      1. As long as it doesn't end the way Gitlo's did.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

          How did Gitlo's end, anyway? Still a mystery to me.

          1. re: Prav

            When the place blew up, the boy-wonder chef -- literally, I think he was like 19 -- couldn't handle the pressure and quit. The replacement, who I think was also a member of Gitlo's family, just wasn't as good, the quality slid, and after hanging on a little while, it just disappeared. I suspect Gitlo himself went back to driving a cab.

            On the other hand, now we have Boston Kabob Company there, where Allstonian and I went for dinner after being inspired by that Middle-Eastern thread. She had the lamb kabobs and I had my usual mixed grill of beef, chicken and kofte. Definitely one of those "Can't talk. Eating." kind of meals.

            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

              So where did boy-wonder end up? Or was boy-wonder Gitlo?

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                No, boy wonder was like Gitlo's cousin, I think. I believe he left town: may have even gone back to China.

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  Gitlo was the middle-aged proprietor, not the chef. The "boy wonder" chef (he was actually in his mid-20s) was a cousin who came over from Hong Kong, and I expect he went back there.

                  The big problem for Gitlo's was actually a feast-or-famine cycle. They opened in about December 2007, and started off very slowly in the slowpatch between Thanksgivng and the new year. By March they had gotten a lot of publicity including several major plugs from the Globe, and got hit with more business than they could handle, especially with a rather haphazard front-of-house team. (I remember a whole string of sweet but not terribly competent young waitresses.) However, I think what caused the superstar chef to move on was the down part of the cycle - business dropped off again after the college kids left town for the summer, and the sweltering weather that summer made the tiny restaurant less than inviting. It was during that summer that he quietly disappeared from the scene.

          2. re: Jenny Ondioline

            Speaking of that block, at the corner of Brighton Av and Park Vale Av, in the space fka Burritos On Fire, there is now an operation selling a product called "bao baos." No idea what that is. I've never eaten in any of the unpromising-looking operations in that corner spot.

          3. They were named one of the top Asian restaurants in Boston in the most recent issue of Boston Magazine, so it's not ENTIRELY your fault . . .

            2 Replies
            1. re: VintageMolly

              I think that's the main reason. I noticed it there too along w/ a bunch of places I've never tried.
              Disagree w/ their Fuloon recommendation though...thought it was meh for sichuan compared to Sichuan Gourmet/Garden.

              1. re: VintageMolly

                Along with Gene's Flatbread Cafe.. liked the list

              2. Considering doing take out tonight. Question: is the menu on the website fairly accurate? Is it worth going there to see the full menu and taking it home? Just don't want to miss out on any of the good stuff.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mkfisher

                  The menu on the site is fairly accurate, but they've been doing a lot of extra stuff, too, that changes day to day -- last time I was there they had a half-dozen different kinds of Bao Baos and were testing fried chicken wing tips. You're better off going there, probably.

                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                    The fried wing tips are the one item I won't get again.
                    They were just too small...I'm all for fried chicken skin, but it wasn't worth the effort gnawing on those things.

                    1. re: rknrll

                      Agreed there, I tried one -- and remembered why I don't bother eating wing tips.

                  2. re: mkfisher

                    Did indeed do take out on Friday. There was one open 2 top when I got there at 7. They were doing a brisk take out business too. Had 2 egg rolls, chicken baos, pork baos, chicken & rice and the beef noodles - needless to say, that was plenty of food for two people. The whole thing was under $30 with the credit they give you for your first order with them via Foodler. Everything was fantastic. Will totally be back, though at a time when the traffic isn't so bad.

                  3. I have to say, this is a classy problem to have. Good, value-priced places run by nice people, with lines out the door? I'm all for it. It doesn't do anybody any good to have a secret place you can walk into any time that goes out of business in six months. When a place does well with an interesting concept that's not run-of-the-mill, it may encourage others to follow in its steps.


                    1. We stopped in at 9 pm tonight (Friday) and there was only one other couple in the place, so it seems like this place's demise has not yet come.

                      1. They are awesome
                        i went yesterday for lunch
                        i had..
                        Braised Pork Bao
                        Grilled Steak Bao
                        Lime Habenero chicken Bao
                        w/side rice

                        the rice was kinda boring and looked/tasted like boxed spanish rice from goya

                        the baos were awesome to spectacular

                        1. Picked up chicken and rice today at noon. They were busy but not slammed. The plate was great and while I love the sauces on the chicken rice the thing I love most is the intensely garlicky salad dressing on the little salad. He should bottle that and sell it.

                          I also tried the eggroll which I liked a lot. Nice crispy veggies inside a fried skin. No grease.

                          I'm happy for Doo-wee's success and hope they continue to get slammed on occasion. They will work through it I'm sure.

                          1. I stopped by the other day to try their new bao options. The char siu chicken was a little disappointing... I was hoping for something glazed and a bit charred, but this was more like a stew? I don't know. It was fine, but not great and not at all what I expected from the name.

                            However! The braised tofu bao baos were amazing. Probably my new favorite thing there. They're made with silken tofu and are spicy with black pepper and just really perfectly done. I want to go back and get more today, but I feel like Dowee 3 days in a row is too much. Or just enough?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: maillard

                              maillard, i know this info is somewhere but would you remind me-these 'bao baos' > are they baked buns with filling, or steamed white dough discs folded with a filling? thx much.

                              1. re: maillard

                                I've been a few times recently. The most recent visit we tried some sort of spicy pork baos that I hadn't seen on the menu before. Terrific.
                                Again, in the mixed blessing category, they had run out (this is around 1PM on a Saturday) of chicken hearts. I'm thrilled that there's enough demand for fried chicken hearts for them to get 86ed, but there's that disappointment factor too. I had the beef noodle salad for the first time, which was delicious.. Fresh, flavorful, well balanced - a great bowl of food.
                                Every time I bring a new person there it's a hit. I agree with MC Slim - these are exactly the type of new restaurant we want to encourage, even if it means longer lines.

                              2. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, they are in the globe food section today, good for them time your dinners carefully

                                1. Greetings - Been to DooWee several times, discovered thanks to all of you!
                                  Favorites so far are the Chimichurri Chicken & Rice, Pork Bao Baos, Eggrolls, Regular Chicken & Rice.
                                  Was thinking that parking around there might be a problem, but we've lucked out every time.
                                  Thanks for your thoughts on this place, may they do well!

                                  1. I don't know why I did this to myself, but I just read the Yelp reviews for Doowee. It got me sufficiently annoyed at people that I have no choice but to eat dinner there tonight. Doowee is everything that is good about a small family owned place taking a risk and doing something new and interesting. It's a shame others don't get it. On the bright side, it means more chicken hearts for the rest of us.

                                    1. I'm here now. Arrived about 6:30 and there were still three or four open tables. They've been doing steady carry-out. The hot tea was a lovely touch. I ordered the braised pork bao bao's and the chimichurri chicken & rice - both absolutely scrumptious! Highly recommend! :-D I'll be back for sure, worth the walk from Ball Square.

                                      1. So there is now a sign up by the register:
                                        "the Food Network wants me to do the next season of the Great American Food Truck Challenge. I would have to close down for 1-2 months... Yes or no?"

                                        Almost everyone has said yes!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Worlds2See

                                          Seems like some of his best dishes could be readily adapted for a truck. I'd seek it out for those baos.


                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            My wife was telling me about that. It seems odd to recruit a brick and mortar restaurateur for a food truck show, although I know that show has done it in the past. Shouldn't you already have a food truck?

                                            That said, from the menu and interviews, I get the sense that Chef Duy would be a fierce competitor in that format!

                                          2. re: Worlds2See

                                            That seems like a poor idea. A lot of the challenges on the Food Truck Race weren't based on how good your food was, but how well you and your team could deal with "speedbumps" around the operation of your food truck itself. I don't know how someone whose team hasn't run a food truck would do on that show!

                                          3. The menu keeps evolving. Today I tried the runny egg & bacon bao bao - not on the list up on the wall but mentioned on their homepage. Delicious. They should open earlier for a piece of the breakfast-sandwich market.

                                            1. we had our doo wee baptism today, Saturday,2pm lunch. Us and 2 other tables. Per my baptism routine of ordering one of evthng appealing, we had tofu bao, braised pork bao, steak bao, crisp fried chicken on rice, steak on fr fries, eggroll, chicken wings w/ spicy soy. everything was good and generously portioned. But i think i ordered too many things w/ near identical flavor profile: mostly soy. The white sauce just tastes like a robust mayo to me; maybe lots of garlic.Loved the silky creamy texture of the sliced sauteed tofu in the bao.

                                              I loved the crispy chicken texture of the fried chicken rice plate (web ,not posted menu) and the chicken wings, but the drawback for me was the overwhelming saltiness of the 2 dishes. holy shmoley. It was as if a box of salt tipped over and filled the pot..A yoghurt cucumber sauce would help w that. Rice meh. Surprisingly, the chimichurri sauce lacked punch, not acidic enough.For frozen fries, they were good. Steak was v good, tender, med rare, and flavorful.
                                              Bao bread was much better than other versions i've had, including myers+chang. very light, springy and fresh. but i tend to not eat it. wonder bread is wonder bread.

                                              that tufts community must be thrilled. thanks to the CH doo wee pioneers.

                                              1. Tried this place for the first time on Thursday night. We really enjoyed the tofu bao baos, the wings and the chicken and rice but there's a distinct lack of vegetables to be had. A little lettuce on the chicken and rice plate was it (sweet potato fries don't really count as a vegetable). Also, I agree with the poster who commented on the saltiness, I was up 3 times for water that night!

                                                1. Not normally near Somerville but had to work in Somerville last night and passed right by Doowee at approx. 6:45 pm so I decided to try for the 1st time. There was only one other customer waiting for take out and I ordered a pork bao bao and chicken with rice to take out. I really enjoyed the bao bao and would definitely order this again when in the area. I was disappointed in the chicken with rice. I felt that the chicken dish was lackluster and lacked flavor and as a prior poster noted, the rice was similar to that found in a box of Near East rice. I would return for the bao bao but would not drive out of my way to return.

                                                  1. Went back today for lunch to try the Heart-y Fries! The menu said "Crispy chicken hearts over french fries smothered in great white sauce, garlic chili sauce, and veggies". Veggies? There were no veggies unless you count the lime or the scallions. The chicken hearts were somewhat crispy but most of them was way too chewy for me me. When I got to try them a while back they were way better and really tender. The fries were really good and cooked perfectly. Having tried this I'll pass in the future in favor of his other excellent dishes. Friend him on Facebook, he posts the daily specials there. Wish I had done that earlier, he had confit duck bao earlier this summer.


                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Ferrari328

                                                      Maybe I'm wrong, but It looks like a smaller portion than before, too.

                                                    2. Husband and I went last night for take-out as DW had been on my list to try since moving to Arlington. Several things I loved about it:

                                                      - You could easily walk right by it and love that they are clearly focused on ingredients and not spending too much on window dressing (literally).
                                                      - Lots of menu options that were clearly only available that day (or last day or so). I almost ordered 'chili, lime, garlic, Parmesan fries'...that I think they are testing b/c the option was literally a piece of paper tacked on to the wall.
                                                      - Take debit/credit on Square (almost never carry cash anymore)
                                                      - Service was friendly and patient...esp. given we stood there staring that the menu dumbfounded as to what to order (meaning: how do we not order EVERYTHING)
                                                      - And the dishes we ordered (take out) were fantastic, cheap, hot and full of flavor

                                                      I ordered braised pork bao and a small order of cajun fries. The bao was seriously...precious. Meaning, it's clear the cook put a lot of work into it...the fried scallions were crisp and warm. The pork was amazingly flavorful. Fries were great and I ordered a side of white sauce for dipping...I could eat that combo all day long.

                                                      Hubby had the chicken/rice and fried chicken hearts (a small could have easily fed 4 peeps). He was equally happy with his meal and we both couldn't get over now 'non-greasy' everything was. Despite being fried or seasoned or steamed...the food tasted 'clean'. Not something you can easily find with take out or with other Asian-based menus.

                                                      My only complaint is because everything was so hot and we got take out...half our containers had melted by the time we got home. The bag almost suffered the same fate. So, if they can figure out how to correct that...This place is our new go-to weeknight take out joint.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: mbasnack

                                                        additional data re: containers - when I ordered fries for takeout, I noticed a corner had been cut off the styrofoam container, presumably to release steam and help retain crispiness. This was ineffective, but thoughtful.

                                                        1. re: mbasnack

                                                          I've had the same issue with their takeout containers (both the steam hole, the melting, and the sogginess of the food). Given how tiny the place is, it's by definition a takeout/delivery place, so it's a pity that when I eat their food, I'm always thinking, "gee, this would be even better if it was actually crispy and my bao wasn't falling apart".

                                                          My only real issue with DooWee is a logistical one; one of the coolest things about the place is -- as you say -- how many new and experimental things they're always adding. But the only way to know about those things is to visit the restaurant (since their facebook & site are only updated sporadically), and the last time I did that, I waited 45 minutes in the store for my order of two baos and a chicken & rice plate.

                                                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                            Interesting - I'd found the slowness issues resolved below my annoyance threshold post-opening-scramble - although still not ultra fast. I find myself automatically comparing DW&R's speed to Chinese takeout speed, which isn't quite fair given the differences in technique. 45 minutes is clearly a different class of issue than just misplaced expectations, though.

                                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                              I finally made it over there a couple of months ago and for a while it became our weekly saturday lunch as we worked our way through the menu. It was never crowded (the most crowded was a case where once we sat down, all tables were full) so perhaps that helps but things were never all that slow. Generally we order 2 sets of bao baos and one other thing- the pattern was always that we'd wait about 5 mins and 1 set of baos would come out, another one a few mins about 5 mins later and then our other thing about 5 mins after that.

                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                I've been there many times but never waited more than 10 minutes, but my visits were for weekday lunches.

                                                                The problem I had with takeout was the baos sticking to the paper so much that the dough would get ripped open when peeling off the paper. Not sure if they still do that.

                                                                Definitely recommend friending them on Facebook - the special dishes are very nice. The salmon ceviche a few weeks ago was quite delicious.

                                                                1. re: lossless

                                                                  Have they added more veggies to the menu? We Swanks love this place, but I feel like a carb sponge when waddling out. Would be great to have a few simple salads or vegetable baos.

                                                                  1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                    Sadly, no. I was just there tonight and it is just as meat-and-starch heavy as always. Though super delicious. :) I just make vegetables at home and then grab food from there to round out the meal, but I'm lucky enough to live very close by...

                                                                    1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                      Yeah, no veggies. They had a papaya salad recently which I didn't get to try, but it's not part of the main menu.

                                                                      1. re: lossless

                                                                        I did get to try that papaya salad and it was a nice crunchy green counterpoint, but I go there for the bao-baos (and chicken hearts when I have room). I just figure I'll get my veggies elsewhere on DooWee days.