New restaurants are opening daily on 14th Street NW, and one of the newest and most anticipated is brought to us by the esteemed team of Mark Kuller and Haidar Karoum, who also brought us Proof and Estadio. Doi Moi celebrates Thai and Vietnamese food by offering small plates that are meant to be shared, and that reflect some of the street food offerings one would find in Southeast Asia. As I approached the restaurant on the corner of 14th and S, the smell quickly drew me inside, and is sure to do the same for those casually strolling past. The interior of Doi Moi is white, bright, and minimalist. The beautiful windows that align the front of the restaurant allow for an incredible amount of sunlight to enter the space, and it makes for great people watching along 14th Street. On last night's visit the place was packed, the tables were full, and the customers appeared happy. Similar to Estadio, Doi Moi accepts a few reservations on the earlier side around 5-5:30PM, but for the busy dinner hours it is a first come first served system where you can add your name to the list to wait for your table.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of things on the menu to choose from. As instructed by our waitress, we ordered around 2-3 plates per person so we could get a nice sampling of Doi Moi's best. The major standouts included the fish cakes appetizer and the sablefish with dill and tumeric. The fish cakes were moist on the inside but crispy on the outside, and were served with a sweet peanut dipping sauce. The dish also included some picked vegetables making this appetizer a home run. We also loved the sablefish which was served over vermicelli noodles with scallions, dill, peanuts, garlic, and herbs making it such a light and fresh dish. The flavors were so simple, and left me wanting more.
We also enjoyed the blue crab fried rice as well as the stir fry rice noodles with summer vegetables, but I would say these were two dishes where the spice fell flat, and they seemed a bit bland. Additionally, we ordered the tofu and wild mushroom curry which was listed as "phet mak" which means really spicy, which we did not find to be the case, but we did enjoy it.
After we finished with our food and wine, we were ready to go full force into the dessert course, which is not to be missed at Doi Moi. Dessert was a major highlight of the meal. We ordered the Thai fried bananas which were coated in crispy coconut batter with toasted sesame and honey, and they were absolutely delicious. Even better, Doi Moi offers soft serve ice cream which comes in two divine flavors: blue bottle coffee and banana black cardamom. I got a swirl and dipped my fried bananas into the soft serve for the perfect end to the meal.
Doi Moi is off to an amazing start with excellent food that delivers great ingredients and flavors. Some of the spice levels need to be worked out, but overall, a satisfying and tasty meal with dishes and desserts that will keep me coming back.