|Photo by Zagat|
doi moi, the Southeast Asian restaurant located at 1800 14th Street, NW in Logan Circle, opens today. The third restaurant from Proprietor Mark Kuller and Chef/Partner Haidar Karoum, who also opened Proof together in 2007 and Estadio in 2010, doi moi pays tribute to the culinary traditions and regional dishes found throughout Thailand and Vietnam.
doi moi, which literally means "new change,” was the term used to describe a series of "open door" economic and social policies introduced in Vietnam in 1986. The term is an embodiment of the many elements of this project — the renewal of 14th Street and the historic building that houses a portion of the restaurant, the open door doctrine of the hospitality industry, and on a personal note, Kuller’s continuing transition from corporate tax attorney to restaurateur.
Prior to developing a menu for doi moi, Kuller and Karoum traveled extensively across Thailand and Vietnam to gain a deeper understanding of the regional cuisine. The menu at doi moi is a reflection of the dishes they encountered during their journey, and a homecoming of sorts for Chef Karoum, who headed the kitchen at Asia Nora for six years before opening Proof.
Well-known Thai favorites such as Som Tam (green papaya salad) and Khao Soi Gai (Chiang Mai chicken and noodle curry) will share space with Vietnamese specialties including Muc Rang Muoi (crispy salt and pepper squid) and Cha Ca La Vong (sablefish with dill and turmeric). While the menu focuses predominantly on the regional specialties of Thailand and Vietnam, guests might also find dishes from Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia sprinkled throughout. The menu will change frequently, with the exception of a few signature dishes such as Ga Roti (Vietnamese-style lemongrass and spice-roasted chicken) and Bun Ho Hue, a spicy lemongrass, beef and pork noodle soup known across Vietnam for its balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy flavors. As with Proof and Estadio, doi moi will offer several options for vegetarians.
Brittany Frick serves as the Chef de Cuisine at doi moi. Having spent three years as pastry chef at Estadio, Frick has been eager to take advantage of her savory training and roots, and has worked alongside Chef Karoum throughout the preparations for this new restaurant. Frick is also in charge of the dessert menu, which will feature soft serve ice cream in a rotating selection of flavors shortly after opening, in addition to sweet dishes such as Gluoy Kak (Thai fried bananas) and Che Bab (sweet coconut tapioca soup with corn).
Max Kuller, Wine Director for Estadio and doi moi, has put together an eclectic wine list designed to pair well with the spice and vibrant flavors of doi moi’s cuisine. The list will offer approachable and aromatic white wines including Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and Muscats from all over the world as well as full-flavored, food-friendly reds and rosés. More than half the bottles on the 85-label list will be priced under $50.
On the cocktail front, Adam Bernbach, Bar Director for Proof, Estadio, and doi moi, will offer a concise beverage menu of refreshing drinks designed to complement the menu’s spicy Asian flavors. Bernbach’s cocktails will feature culinary-driven components that use Asian ingredients such as a Tamarind soda with peanut-infused bourbon and a Galangal soda with manzanilla sherry. The restaurant will also serve hot and iced Vietnamese coffee that is brewed with Blue Bottle Coffee's New Orleans blend, making doi moi the first restaurant in DC to feature beans from the California-based roaster.
The restaurant spans two buildings — one new, one historic. Designed by Griz Dwight of Grizform Design, the bright and uplifting space features a minimalist aesthetic underscored by a while color palette employed throughout the restaurant in the form of glazed tiles, brickwork and mosaic flooring. Pops of color can be found in the vestibule and on a back wall, both of which sport a colorful mix of concrete tiles imported from Vietnam. The 135-seat restaurant includes seating for 16 at the bar and 15 overlooking the open kitchen. The historic portion of the space features a dining room with a full glass facade, a large rectangular bar, wide plank oak floors, oversized leather booths, and a large, bordered, adjoining patio. In addition, the lower level of the restaurant will house a second bar — dubbed "2 birds 1 stone" - where Bernbach offers a classic cocktail selection; beginning in mid-September, 2 birds 1 stone will also offer an abbreviated version of doi moi's menu.
doi moi is located at 1800 14th St. NW in Washington, DC. The restaurant will be open for dinner Sunday to Thursday from 5 – 10 PM andFriday and Saturday from 5 – 11 PM. For more information, please visit the website at www.doimoidc.com or call at 202-733-5131. Follow doi moi on twitter @doimoidc.
*This information was provided by a representative of the restaurant.