Why A Dong?
Josh: After Grace’s harsh (yet very truthful) rant, I realized that she had never been to A Dong before. That had to change so we made it a priority to go sometime after the New Year. It ended up being the first place we went to this year!
Grace: I’ve been wanting to try A Dong for quite a while! I was excited we had the opportunity to do so.
Josh: First of all, if you’ve never been to A Dong before, you need to look at the menu before you go. Seriously, this place has over 100 options for food….100+ options. That’s straight up insane and it makes it very difficult to make a decision. This was only my third time here but I’ve gotten a different thing every time.
My meal included #135 ĐÁ CHANH (drink), #86 CHẢ GIÒ (appetizer), and #81 CƠM CHIÊN THẬP CẨM (meal).
My drink was fresh squeezed limeade and holy goodness it was incredible. This may have been the star of the show as this drink was everything I could ever have wanted. I have only had frozen limeade that you find in a tube so I didn’t know what to expect. This exceeded any expectations. It wasn’t too sweet, it was extremely refreshing, and all it was missing was alcohol and me being on a beach. I’d highly recommend this beverage.
For my appetizer, I got good ol’ pork egg rolls. I’m usually a crab rangoon guy, but I wanted to try their egg rolls (and they don’t serve traditional crab rangoons unless you consider #89 to be a crab rangoon type food).
They were good! They were way better than Hy Vee’s (which they’d better be honestly) and they tasted like egg rolls. They were crispy and hot. Good stuff.
My main meal was a traditional fried rice. Mine included “special fried rice with beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp”. It was very good and you get a lot of it. Quantity > Quality, baby. The shrimp was the star meat and the rice was well cooked and it wasn’t greasy at all. Some of the meat was a little chewy and some of the pork pieces were pink. It wasn’t an under-cooked pink, but it looked like it was supposed to be a little pink. Like the cut of the meat or the spices they put on it…I don’t know. It was still tasty.
Needless to say, I was full! I saved one egg roll for after my meal and I almost didn’t have room to finish it.
Grace: I also got 135 ĐÁ CHANH (fresh hand-squeezed limeade), and I agree with all of Josh’s sentiments above. It was absolutely delicious; not too sweet, and refreshing as hell. I wanted seven of them.
I had 1c CHẢ GIÒ CHAY for an appetizer (gourmet tofu egg rolls). They look exactly like Josh’s, but mine had tofu for a protein. It was served with lemon sauce, which seemed like a weird combo on the menu but was actually delicious – it was garlicky and also had carrots and some sort of peppers in it. Yum! My only complaint was that these were extremely greasy (I thought). I realize they’re fried, so duh they’re going to be greasy, but it kind of upset my stomach a little later on.
My main course was 18c CƠM CHIÊN DƯƠNG CHÂU (vegetarian fried rice with tofu and veggies). It was delicious! Usually fried rice is really heavy and, again, greasy, but this was light and super flavorful. The veggies included snap peas, carrots, onions, and mushrooms, and it was topped with cilantro and served with a side of soy sauce (didn’t even need it). The tofu was a little rubbery for my taste, but still good. I didn’t even come close to finishing this – it’s deceiving. The plate is on the smaller side and it looks like an easy lunch, but they pile it on – no complaints here.
I’m definitely excited to go back again and try more new things! These are great standbys, and for those who don’t like Asian spices, it’s a good “entry-level” meal – it’s not very spiced, just fresh, yummy food.
Atmosphere, Service, Price
Grace: Don’t be deceived by the exterior! A Dong is located about a block north of Ingersoll downtown, down the street from a QuikTrip in a nondescript brick building. It doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s beautiful inside! The floors look like bamboo (not sure if it really is or not) and it’s light and airy inside.
Ignore the random guy and LOOK AT THAT ORCHID. HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!? There were orchids like this all throughout the restaurant. I was in awe. I destroy orchids 😦
Anyways, the atmosphere inside A Dong is great. I love the hostess stand (above) and the bar (a couple photos down) with the palmy wallpaper on them. #HomeInspo
Everything was very modern and fun! They also had a little tribute to the original decor, which was all damaged in a fire in 2015. Very cool that they were able to recover so well!
Josh: A fire back in 2015 closed A Dong for an extended period of time. After the remodel, A Dong opened back up in early 2016 and it looks great! The decor is looks good and the orchids scattered around the restaurant look beautiful. I went to A Dong once before the fire but I honestly can’t remember what it looked like compared to now. All I know is that it looks great.
The prices are incredible. My appetizer was $2.75, my meal was $8.00, and my specialty drink was $2.00. Times that by two if you bring a companion and it’s a cheap date.
Also, note that the payment system is different. They will not bring you a check when your meal is done. You go up to the register once you are done with your meal and ready to go. You then give the cashier your table number and they find your bill. The first time I went here was with my brother and it was both our first time here. We sat at our table for a long time before we realized what we had to do. I’m honestly not sure if it’s a cultural thing or an A Dong thing.
A Dong is easily one of the best Asian cuisine spots in Des Moines. Please give it a try (and look at the menu before hand!) if you’ve never been.
And take a weird piece of candy for the road!