Dandan, the new Third Ward restaurant opened by chefs Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, officially opens to the public today at 360 E. Erie St. And in case you’re wondering what awaits you when you sit down there for a meal, we’ve got a peek at some of the items you can try on your first visit.
The bar offers up a small but focused menu of wines (sparkling, white, rose and red), along with bottled and draft beer. There are also creative cocktails like the slightly savory, yet refreshing "Garden of Earthy Delights" featuring St. George Green Chili Vodka, Fortaleza Tequila, cucumber broth, yuzu rice vinegar and pepper syrup ($13) and a bubble tea (brandy) old fashioned ($10) which is served up complete with a wide straw and old fashioned flavored tapioca pearls.
The menu, which is divided into sections that include dim sum, dumplings, pancakes, noodles and rice and entrees, offers a variety of Asian-inspired dishes along with creative takes on Chinese-American fare.
Among the dim sum offerings, you’ll find items including an egg roll with cabbage, peanuts and pork ($6) and crab rangoon ($14) along with Szechuan mushroom egg drop soup ($10) and charred sour sausage ($12). Other dishes include shrimp toast ($12), one of Jacobs’ childhood favorites featuring triangles of pain de mie spread with shrimp paste and deep fried, served alongside spicy mustard sauce.
There’s also complexly flavored salt and pepper squid ($12) that offers up the pleasant floral notes and tongue-numbing sensation of Szechuan peppercorns.
Dumplings include Sichuan pork served with chili oil and cilantro ($10); veggie momo with mustard greens, barley, tofu and peanut sauce ($10); potstickers filled with short ribs and foie gras ($14); and shrimp noodle dumplings with Chinese sausage and chives ($10).
Pancakes run the gamut from a Chinese ham crepe with bok choy, scallions and hoisin ($12) to a char siu pork pancake with scallions, pickled cucumbers, mustard, soy and chile oil ($12) and a mungbean kimchee pancake with carrot, daikon, cabbage and Shanghai sauce ($10). But there is also okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake rarely found on menus in Milwaukee that dandan fills with mussels, squid and shrimp and tops with Kewpie mayo and XO sauce ($15).
Noodle dishes include spicy cumin lamb with housemade torn rice noodles, pea shoots, peppers and onions ($17) and roast duck chow fun with tofu, celery, preserved radish and egg ($16).
On the rice side, there’s sesame chicken jook, a rice porridge with edamame, ginger and egg ($14); bbq pork fried rice with bamboo rice, egg and peppers ($12); and schmaltz fried rice with bits of Chinese sausage, egg, edamame and celery ($12).
Opt for an entree and you’ll find items like chili lobster with black beans, chilis and sticky rice ($50) smoked beef with broccoli and oyster sauce ($17), xianjing short ribs with chilis and garlic chives ($22) and Happy Chicken, a spicy dish redolent with dried chilis and five spice powder ($15).
But there are also vegan options like General Tso’s (crisp fried) cauliflower with chili oil, scallion, ginger and bok choy ($12).
And tender eggplant is served up with smoked tofu, black beans and Szechuan peppercorns ($14).
On the sweeter side, you can enjoy vegan cheesecake with cashews, coconut milk, mango sorbet and fresh raspberries ($7); chocolate and peanut butter featuring liquid peanut butter, chocolate mousse, white sesame sponge and white sesame brittle ($8); a bubble waffle sundae with banana ice cream, roasted pineapple and soy peanuts (serves two for $14); or Chinese take-out donuts served up with coconut anglaise, five spice chocolate ganache and strawberry compote.
Hours at dandan are Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations are available by calling (414) 488-8036 or online through OpenTable.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.