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Dao Dim Sum

Dao Asian Bistro
5065 Deerfield Blvd, Mason (513) 229-8600

I was given the nod to visit Dao by my sister, she lives out in Liberty Township and is responsible for several good area restaurant article tips. She’s been right on so far so I grabbed my gal and headed out to hit Dao Bistro up for some Dim Sum.
“It’s actually pretty cool, they serve Dim Sum at all times...” She told me. That was the hook. I found the Dim Sum at nearby Grand Oriental (Sat & Sun) to be enlightening. Asian delicacies completely foreign to my limited American-Asian experiences. True Dim Sum is a must have experience for any Asian loving diner.
Normally, Dim Sum is ordered off a cart of steaming selections. The carts keep coming and you keep eating. Items run a buck or two each. The selections are usually things you will never see on most any local Chinese kitchen menu. Due to the extensive prep time and bulk cooking involved Dim Sum service is commonly restricted to morning - lunch. Saturday and Sunday morning family feasts are traditional.
The notion of made to order Dim Sum is intriguing, but would it be as good? Would the delicious magic of this age old Chinese tradition be lost cooking single items to order? Were the items pre-made, sitting past their prime, waiting for some unknowing sucker (me) to ingest the thing? I had concerns. Still, it was intriguing and I had a thumbs up from sis.
Aside from three Dim Sum selections I ordered Lo Mein as a back-up in case they were foul, as well as to have a benchmark Chinese dish to compare quality to. The Lo Mein turned out to be too flat for me. Seemingly sauced in nothing but soy, these noodles were pretty much a waste of money ($8.95). The noodle itself was somewhat soggy. Dao added in many vegetables; snow peas, carrot, broccoli, mushroom, zucchini, beans sprouts and green onion. Too many for my taste. Good Lo Mein is always simple. Focus on the noodle! I got the impression this was a Chinese dish cooked by a Japanese cook. Just a copy, not authentic and too much soy. I had a plate covering soy sauce puddle towards the end. Odd.
The Dao Dim Sum was another story altogether. Our friendly and capable server seemed less familiar with the menu items than I was. There is a fairly impressive list on the menu too. Three sections: Steamed, Baked/Dessert and Fried. There were 40 items in all, plus Large Plates ($4,95), Tempura ($5-7) Sushi and Sashimi ($4-10). Much to investigate, shame they can’t explain them.
The titles are self explanatory and there is a photo of each item so you can go it alone, even if you’re new to the menu. We tried; Shrimp Rolled in Bean Curd (right $2.95), Steamed Shrimp Balls with Peas (left $2.95) and Stuffed Tofu with Shrimp (front center $2.95). All three were excellent.
The star of the show for me was the shrimp balls. A translucent layer of silky pasta wrapped a ball of finely diced shrimp meat. It was much like a fresh made shrimp brat if there were such a thing (after eating this dish I think there should be).
The Shrimp rolled in bean curd was a thick slab of pressed flat diced shrimp, coated in a pasta like tofu layer, fried crisp on the outside. Calamari comes to mind in regards to the texture and oddly (but deliciously) you got a fairly strong smoked ham flavor throughout.
The stuffed tofu with shrimp was in perfect cube form. A single shrimp center, surrounded by custard like silken tofu. Almost a shrimp dessert. Delicious.
All three Dim Sum dishes were above par, unusual and interesting. I think I will only order Dim Sum from Dao from here on out. Usually I never swing the door open again if someone serves me crap Lo Mein, it’s so common and many places serve fine varieties. To get a bad or bland Lo Mein is a bad bad sign. Not at Dao though. They let me down on the noodles but the Dim Sum delicacies were worth the trip. I’ll be back and next time it’s gonna’ be a table top with a dozen Dim Sum dishes sitting pretty.
There are several items on the normal menu I want to try as well such as; soft shell crab in tempura with ponzu sauce ($7.95) and mango duck ($16.95) both sound interesting. Oh yeah. I don’t dig the shtick but they have a Hibachi grill if you like being oohed and aahed during your meal by liquor fueled flames and shrimp juggling. I’ve found the best dishes are on the menu, I leave the flame show to the easily amused.
The lunch menu is around 8 bucks, sushi dishes included. But with the Dim Sum menu available all day & night who needs it. For sushi fans, Dao’s sushi dishes number high, if the sushi is as good as the Dim Sum you’ll be back. Thanks for the tip sis.