Compared to most restaurants, Dang Good Foods is pretty dang small. The boxy, basic storefront offers few more than a dozen seats, putting it on par with a typical dry cleaners. But owner Daniel Ang is used to working in a food truck, so I'm guessing the place feels downright palatial.
For his first bite at the brick-and-mortar apple, the self-taught cook didn't want to take on too much. When Thai Thai announced plans to relocate down the street, Ang leapt at the chance to assume the lease. The limited seating, he stated at the time, would help to bridle business while allowing him to get his sea legs.
"My mindset was, if I am going to do a restaurant, I want to start out small like this: an intimate, non-pretentious place that is all about the food," Ang explained.
That same mentality has been applied to the menu, which showcases a handful of dishes culled from his childhood growing up in Singapore, where he feasted on foods rooted in Chinese, Indian and Malay traditions.
A plate of nasi lemak ($12) demonstrates how seemingly humble components can merge and mingle to great effect. Fragrant coconut-steamed rice is the foundation around which sit garnishes like a fried egg, spice-dusted chicken wings, crunchy toasted peanuts and cool, crisp cucumber slices. Tying it all together is a pungent chile-based sambal that gets mixed into every bite.
Equally satisfying is a wide bowl of curry noodle soup ($11), loaded with two types of noodles, tender chicken thigh meat, fluffy tofu balls, green beans, eggplant and fried shallots. The sunny yellow broth is creamy, sweet and savory, with a mild and soothing spice component. Ang also dishes up a hearty meal-size serving of wonton soup, comprised of pork and shrimp-stuffed wontons, egg noodles, barbecue pork and Asian greens, all bobbing about in "Mom's" chicken broth.
If you think you don't like Spam, consider trying Ang's Spam musubi ($5), which made the transition from food truck to restaurant. The sweet-salty canned ham is sauteed, drizzled with teriyaki, sandwiched like sushi between steamed rice and bundled up in a seaweed wrapper. It's a handheld umami bomb. Fluffy steamed buns ($10) come three to an order and star thick-sliced soy-braised pork topped with a meaty shiitake mushroom and slice of cucumber.
Other worthwhile street food-style snacks include golden brown spring rolls ($5.50) filled with shredded cabbage and carrot, and a deconstructed crab rangoon ($5) that pairs crispy fried wonton strips with a crab and cream cheese dip.