Our Family Story
There’s a model ship on display at D&K Express.
It serves as a reminder for the Vietnamese family that runs the popular 3616 Division St. W restaurant of their roots.
“It’s like the (1993 Oliver Stone) movie 'Heaven and Earth',” explains Du Quach, the ‘D’ of D&K Express. “America is like heaven.”
Quach, whose first name is pronounced "Yo," left his birthplace in South Vietnam when he was six. After three years in Thailand, he arrived in September 1984 in St. Cloud.
“I was 9 years old and didn’t know a word of English,” Quach said. “It was very hard.”
He ended up graduating from Technical High School, where he was a running back on the football team. He also spent his high school years working part-time at the register of the restaurant he now owns when it was called Dong Khanh Express.
After a decade of working as a manager at Electrolux, the restaurant came up for sale in 2006. When the original Dong Khanh owners later went back into business — they’re located at 266 33rd Ave. S — a legal battle ensued over the naming rights.
“I was actually making better money as a manager, but it was a chance to work with my family,” Quach said. “Many of of my family members don’t speak great English so it’s hard for them to find a job. This was a way to all work together.”
Of the current kitchen staff, only head cook Khan Nguyenisn’t Quach’s relative, although he’s soon to become his brother-in-law. Khan is the 'K' of D&K Express.
“Our recipes are all a secret,” said Nguyen, who learned to cook in a Twin Cities restaurant. "I don’t trust anyone with them.”
While their heritage is Vietnamese, they only serve Chinese food. Sesame chicken and Lo Mein tend to be the most popular.
Quach also said that fried rice is popular today, even though it was rarely ordered when he first started.
“The big thing here is we make everything fresh,” said Quach, who rolls more than 150 egg rolls by hand every other day. “That’s what sets us apart."
Along with dine-in, take-out and delivery options, D&K Express has a drive-thru that accounts for about 40 percent of the restaurant’s sales.
“Winter time, it’s even more,” Quach said. “I mean, who wants to get out of the car when it's cold?”
And along with the model ship, the restaurant is decorated with Buddhist shrines. Nguyen bows and lights incense at them before the store opens every day.
“It’s a thing for good luck,” Quach said. “The restaurant industry is tough. We all work really hard to make it.”