Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published July 21st 2020
It's nice, it's right, gotta love it
History is full of examples of really bad timing - the Light Brigade not waiting for further and better instructions; the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand deciding to stop the car just there, in front of his startled assassin; Napoleon deciding to wait until autumn before invading Russia and so on.
Compared to those, deciding to open a restaurant in February of 2020 pales into insignificance, but pretty bad for the owner/operators of said restaurant.
The restaurant was obviously intended as a sit-down with a takeaway element. Covid-19 has made this completely untenable, of course, and they are now concentrating on the take-away menu.
The eatery is billed as a Viet Western Restaurant, offering a largely familiar range of dishes, prepared in a way that won't challenge your taste buds. Traditionally, Australians have come to expect oriental food prepared a certain way - Westernised rather than authentic.
The food we usually order in huge quantities every Friday night from Chinese restaurants is the sort of food prepared for the Emperor's 100th birthday. Chinese peasants do not eat what we eat. They may eat beef perhaps a few times a year, pork for special occasions, but mostly rice.
And a number of dishes we think of as Chinese, such as Chop Suey, are unknown in China.
Now House of Dao offers a nice reasonable takeaway menu, mostly, as I say, familiar. We, as a family, love oriental food, and keen to support local restaurants so we're ordering in twice a week if we can to help.
So we ordered ahead, five main courses (cold left-overs the next day are so delicious) rice and fixings and arranged to pick up at 6:10pm, when we were assured the meal would be ready.
Unfortunately, this wasn't quite ready due to a large unexpected influx and the fact that all the food is prepared fresh - but the short wait was well worth it - the food was delicious when we got it home and shared it out in steaming piles.
We ordered King Prawns, Hokkien Noodles with Garlic Butter, Broccoli, Mushroom, Shallots, Onion and Thyme [Large portion] ($24); Satay Chicken [Large portion] ($24); Shaking Beef Five Spices ($24); Pork Belly Xa Xiu with Egg Rice ($16.90); Chicken Teriyaki (14.90) plus some portions of steamed rice.
This totalled $107, which for the amount of food was exceptional value for money.
The prawns were served with tails on (which I don't care for), but I do understand that many diners eat them, shells and all, which I suppose makes them a bit bisque-y. The flavour was excellent, perfectly cooked and the noodles were exceptional.
The satay chicken was tasty without being too strongly flavoured, and in fact, all the dishes were moderately spiced and probably the best word I could use would be 'comforting'.
The Teriyaki chicken was delicious as was the pork belly, but the real treat was the 'Shaking Beef' - a purely Vietnamese recipe (Thit Bo Luc Lac) in which the beef is seared cubed steak sautéed with garlic, onion, butter, and a soy marinade.
The beef goes onto a bed of lettuce, watercress, tomato and/or cucumbers, and usually served with a lime-salt-and-pepper dipping sauce.
The dishes also had something I've never eaten in Eastern food before - slices of potato. Delicious, but curious.
Overall, a delicious meal and a half and one we shall be ordering again.
The menu is necessarily curtailed by the lack of in-house dining and I'm not sure what will be available on any given night. But there is a range of photographs of meals with descriptions and prices and that's worth browsing by itself.
There is a tiny question in my mind and that's to do with the name - House of Dao, which is either the owner's surname - Dao is a Vietnamese surname, or it could be the Chinese for 'the way' as a philosophical concept.
But there's no question in my mind about the quality of the food or its value. The motto of the House of Dao is 'It's nice ... it's right, Gotta love it!' - seems fair.
I haven't taken photos of our food as it wouldn't do it justice, so the illustrations are from their Facebook page - the food looks exactly the same, only very much more tidy and better arranged.
Agree with article on how yummy the food is. However Dine in is even better and available, there are many authentic viet dishes and the Dao are an ethnic group, in northern Vietnam and SW China. Otherwise correct, yummy food.