Young chef Duy Tran opened his first restaurant last month in the Somerville space that was formerly East Asia. (His name is pronounced “Doo-Wee,” thus the restaurant’s moniker.) He has created a menu that emphasizes fresh ingredients and value, drawing both on his training at Le Cordon Bleu and his family’s heritage. His parents are Vietnamese; he was born in Hong Kong but has spent most of his life here.
DooWee & Rice is a cute little no-frills space with red accents. The cornerstone of the menu is, of course, rice dishes — chicken and rice, grilled steak with rice, braised pork with rice, and chicken with Vietnamese chimichurri sauce and rice, all served with salad, pita, and hot sauce, drizzled in white sauce, costing anywhere from $7-$9. (All of DooWee’s sauces are made from scratch.) There are snacks such as crispy chicken hearts with garlic-chili aioli, Vietnamese egg rolls, and wings in a variety of sauces. Steamed Chinese buns come with fillings from braised pork to ginger apple and chicken. Squid salad, steak and fries, and rice noodles with beef are among the other options.
The menu is expanding, with soup and more being introduced as the weather gets colder. Tran just wants to feed people, as is clear from a message on DooWee’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.”
DooWee & Rice serves its crispy hearts with soul.