Dao Kitchen #2
Along a the small strip of pavement that provides access from Carefree Highway south toward Carefree Crossing and Dove Valley Housing areas, sits a small commercial strip. There is the fan favorite Dairy Queen and a delightful Asian Bistro. Dao Kitchen #2, not to be confused with the original in Peoria, is serving up Cantonese style Chinese food to the delight of the surrounding areas. The restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere and friendly service, but even more importantly well crafted and flavored dishes.
Once you are seated, you are given a dish of crispy won ton chips and a small bowl of sweet and sour sauce. This is a great snack to tantalize your taste buds while scrutinizing the menu. There are several specialties of the kitchen as well as many traditional options and classics all over the menu. We had a great time just trying to narrow down what we wanted to order on this visit.
We started with two items from the starters menu. First a Chicken Egg Roll ($1.65). A long deep-fried wonton that was filled with fresh cooked vegetables and shredded chicken. It is served with another dish of sweet and sour sauce that you can use to add another depth of flavor to each bite. While it can be shared, it is not overly large, so it works better just for one. The second item of the starters menu was an order of Crab Puffs ($6.45). There are six to an order of this item, so much easier to share amongst a table. It is also served with sweet and sour sauce and when you dip a triangle of deep-fried wonton into the sauce, I feel it completes the dish. The triangles are filled with a cream cheese mixture with a hint of crab. You would be more apt to consider them cream cheese puffs than crab puffs, but either way it equals a tasty dish.
We then picked our first entrée. Orange Beef ($12.25) is very similar to the Orange Chicken dish that is served here as well as at a number of other restaurants. I do not often see Orange Beef though, and that intrigued us. The dish consists of thin strips of beef that have been dredged through flour and quickly fried. They are then cooked in a wok with their orange sauce to finish the preparation. Each piece of beef is of various sizes and it helps you to see that they are making each batch by hand. The searing in the sauce in the wok helps the sauce to adhere to each piece without saturating it and making the beef pieces soggy. The flavor profile is similar to the chicken version but with the added richness that the beef provides. It is served with your choice of white or fried rice at no additional charge. You can also request brown rice but there is a slight upgrade fee for that.
The next dish we ordered was from their classics section of the menu. Moo Shu ($10.25), is a dish that a lot of places offer, but can disappoint at other locations. We were thrilled by the result at this eatery. You have your choice of chicken, beef, pork, or vegetable all at the same price. If you want shrimp added or a combination of all proteins and vegetables there is a slight ($1) extra charge. After some deliberation we finally decided on pork for our protein. The pork was cooked with a variety of vegetables and served on a large serving dish. The reason we enjoy this dish, when it is done correctly, is the process of adding some of the mixture and some Hoisin sauce and wrapping it all up in one of their thin Chinese pancakes. You can eat it like a burrito, a taco, or even just by pass the pancake altogether. Be forewarned that at other restaurants this dish fails due to the pancake. It can be too thick, served cold, or even just tasteless. So it is always a welcomed experience when the entire dish works in unison.
The menu offers lunch specials Monday through Sunday, Twin Flavor pairings, as well as a combination or pre-fix menu that is catered to two or more people. They have a full bar, that is near the take out section of the restaurant. They offer a lot of dishes that are difficult to find outside of the East Coast, such as the New York style Egg Foo Young. The staff all works together to help you have an enjoyable experience and not have to wait for anything that you may need. They even give you complimentary deep-fried banana bites that are drizzled with honey along with Fortune cookies when the meal is concluded. So I highly recommend stopping in for a dish of Orange Chicken or Beef, as well as some of the other great items. The next time I run into some of you, I may get to say “Orange” you glad that you did.
Location and Website – 34455 N 27th Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85085, http://chinesefood1970.com