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The Son Also Rises

Asian bistro passes the paternity test — and the torch.

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d33 is like a grown-up's candy store: From start to finish there is a sweet fragrance to the drinks and dishes.

You can start with a martini garnished with a lychee, a smooth, fleshy Chinese fruit; follow that with an appetizer of calamari dipped in sweet and spicy Thai sauce; savor sides of fried rice loaded with chunks of pineapple or miso-sweet potato mash; and wind up with pineapple semifreddo (partially frozen) and lychee-mint sorbet, or bananas Foster in a crispy spring roll with vanilla ice cream and a strawberry.

This new restaurant near Innsbrook combines the initials of its father-son owners, Dick and David Du, and the difference in their ages. But, to paraphrase an old commercial, this is not your father's Chinese chain.

Indeed, it's a subtle fusing of multiple cuisines — Japanese, Korean, Thai, Chinese and Mongolian, along with touches of Hawaii and L.A. — in a sophisticated setting that embraces the full range of Pacific Rim delicacies.

Dd33 is a family partnership. Dick Du, owner of the area's six Peking restaurants, serves as a consultant, and artist Linda Du, his wife, helped select the artwork, including an Andy Warhol-like repetition of terra-cotta soldiers buried with China's first emperor. But this place is clearly the son's domain.

David Du is the tall, elegant young man who runs the front of the house. Mike Tam, of Chinese-Indonesian descent, formerly of the Cheesecake Bistro and Bottega Bistro, wears the toque in the gleaming, glass-enclosed kitchen.

There are plenty of familiar entrees ($17-$29), including ribs, Black Angus beef, chicken, lamb and pork chops, scallops and shrimp, but all have an international twist.

Short ribs of beef are braised Korean-style with cilantro-lime pilaf; half a chicken is glazed with sweet chili; pork chops are pounded thin, wok-seared, coated with crunchy panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and covered in a tomato-based Mongolian sauce.

Seafood lovers can't go wrong with Alaskan sablefish, which is similar to Chilean sea bass, marinated three days, glazed with miso, a Japanese soybean paste, and accompanied by shiitake-bok choy sauté, or with a heaping plate of chili-coconut shrimp.

Appetizers ($7-$11) include teriyaki-style baby back ribs marinated in five spices; tiny pastaneck clams in a citrus-coconut broth; guacamole with homemade wonton chips; Indonesian-influenced satay of chicken with a peanut dipping sauce; a tortilla stuffed with Peking duck; and three versions of tuna tartare. Plates are beautifully presented, and the food overall was quite good, though some of the combinations of ingredients took some getting used to.

The smoke-free contemporary interior features a sleek bar at the front, a red wall lined with bamboo poles, drapes that billow from the ceiling, and more art and sculpture collected by David's mom. Mahogany lattice shutters lend intimacy to parts of the long, carpeted dining room, which has booths and banquettes along the walls and tables in the center. The designer was Helen Reed Hayes, who also did Old Original Bookbinders on Church Hill and Ipanema Grill, which is a neighbor to Dd33 in the Shops at Twin Oaks.

David Du's introduction to the food business came as a bus boy at Peking while he was a student at Collegiate, but after earning a degree in finance and economics at Washington University in St. Louis, he opted for a pressured world as a mutual fund analyst in Boston. After three years there, he took a step toward home by enrolling in culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I. After graduation, he worked in the kitchens at Tao, a gargantuan Asian palace in New York, and at the Foxwood casino in Connecticut. Then he returned to Richmond to go into business with his dad.

Dd33 opened for dinner in mid-November and adds lunch beginning this week, and there's still some tweaking to be done. A trio of grilled lamb chops dressed with cilantro-mint yogurt was large and fatty and served undercooked. The bar needs consistency; one cosmopolitan — sent back — tasted like a Shirley Temple, and wine pours were inconsistent. The lighting was uneven, ranging from intimate to glaring, and the pull-apart wooden chopsticks would seem better left at Peking.

But those are details. With David Du's enthusiasm and his father's experience, Dd33 Asian Bistro is likely to become a dining destination for lovers of Asian food throughout the area. S



Dd33 Asian Bistro ($$$)

3601A Cox Road, The Shoppes at Twin Oaks

747-8333

Lunch: Monday-Friday 11 a.m. -2 p.m.

Dinner: Monday-Thursday 5-10; Friday-Saturday, 5-12

www.dd33va.com

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