A Playful Chinese Delight
The new DanDan boasts extraordinary layers of flavor
DanDan is named after not only for a Chinese noodle dish but the two extraordinary chefs, Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, who have poured their heart and soul (along with an homage to food from childhood memories) into an exciting menu. DanDan was highly anticipated and does not disappoint on any level. Located in the building that once housed Tulip, it has a fun new vibe with a dragon on the wall, a pergola along the hallway and the illuminated DanDan sign (in Chinese) that makes the red walls glow like warm embers. It’s all reminiscent of walking down a street in Chinatown.
Jordan Burich, DanDan’s bar director has created libations that are a cross between a haute craft cocktails and retro tiki drinks. The drink called Fire Comin’ Outta the Monkey’s Head ($14) was not only on fire from lighting up a cinnamon stick, but filled the room with the cinnamon aroma. It’s dangerously delicious as is the Forbidden City ($12) with its spicy finish. DanDan has a thoughtful selection of wine and some interesting beers on draught, like Crafted Artisan Meadery’s Jinja Dragon.
The playfulness doesn’t stop at the décor and bar, but shows in the food and a style of service that keeps you engaged throughout the meal. The menu is broken down into six categories: dim sum, dumplings, pancakes, noodles and rice, entrées and dessert. All the portions are large enough for two. Sharing is encouraged. The menu has symbols indicating spicy and “on fire” as well as items that can be made gluten free, vegan or contain peanuts. Under “Dim Sum” are items as simple as shrimp toast ($12) and smashed cucumbers ($8) with complex layers of flavor. The salt and pepper squid ($12), crisp yet tender, is a standout dish. Sichuan pork dumplings ($10) are labeled “on fire” and are coated with chili oil, DanDan’s signature bongo sauce and baby cilantro. The heat is just enough to make your tongue tingle and makes a nice complement to the pork filling.
There are four different pancakes. We opted for the seafood pancake ($15), a trio of well-cooked seafood, XO sauce and Kewpie mayo atop a delicate, thin pancake. All the noodle and rice dishes include many great elements, but the twice-cooked pork belly, with rice cake, mustards and leeks ($16) won us over. The pork belly is sliced thin and sautéed with the mustards and leek. The addition of the rice cake puts the dish over the top. The spicy cumin lamb with pea shoots and torn rice noodles ($17) has a good amount of heat and the happy chicken ($15) from the entrée section consists of little morsels of chicken with a nice five spice seasoning.
There are plenty of vegetarian dishes in the entrée selection, such as General Tso’s cauliflower ($12) and eggplant and smoked tofu ($14), items that have limited availability each night. On our second visit we had to try the Peking duck ($65). It was incredible with beautiful slices of duck, duck egg, foie gras, duck dumpling and a roast duck bone broth. Also amazing are the chili lobster ($50) and whole fried red snapper ($40).
Don’t leave without trying such creative desserts as the bubble waffle sundae for two ($14) or the Chinese takeout donuts ($8) warm and sugary fried dough with three dipping sauces.
E. Erie St.
Handicapped access: Yes
CC, FB, OD, RS, GF