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A Dong continues to excel after 25 years

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A Dong (1511 High Street, Des Moines)

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Despite the fact that A Dong is located off the beaten path a bit at 1511 High Street, the Vietnamese restaurant has been a Des Moines staple now for 25 years. A Dong has been won a number of local awards, ranging from "Best Asian Restaurant" to "Best Place for Vegetarians". How has the out-of-the-way spot continued to receive rave reviews for two-and-a-half decades? —The answer is consistency. The food is consistently high-quality and consistently comes out of the kitchen faster than you expect it to, and the prices are consistently low.

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A Dong offers a large number of menu items (over 145 non-drink items) and seems to make almost all of them equally well. From their appetizers to their vermicelli salads and from their giant bowls of pho to their house specialties, everything is consistently good. I especially recommend their Tom Chien appetizer (shrimp and cream cheese wrapped in wonton wrappers and fried, four for $4), Pho Ga (a meal-sized bowl of rice noodle soup with chicken, fresh basil, bean sprouts, and lime for $7), and Banh Cuon Tom Chien Cha Lua (ground pork wrapped in steamed rice paper and topped with bean sprouts, cucumber sticks, fried shrimp, Vietnamese sausage, and lemon sauce for $7.50). Check out these dishes and more in the accompanying slideshow.

The service at A Dong is quick and accurate, and food comes out of the kitchen lightning fast. My only criticism here is that the staff just isn't very talkative, and they sometimes don't check back enough once you have your food, forcing you to flag someone down for things like drink refills or adding a dessert. Overall, though, A Dong is a clean, quick, delicious, and cheap spot to have a meal—great for area diners with short meal breaks or small budgets.

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