The 14th Street restaurant onslaught in Washington DC continues with doi moi, the latest from the team behind Proof and Estadio. Restaurateur Mark Kuller and chef Haidar Karoum tackle Southeast Asia this time, with a menu focused on dishes from around Thailand and Vietnam.
Karoum's résumé includes years of Eastern cooking—prior to opening Proof, he spent six years as Executive Chef at Nora Pouillon's Asia Nora. While fleshing out the concept for doi moi, Karoum and Kuller went on a three-week research trip to Thailand and Vietnam, where they explored street food stands and restaurants "to gain a deeper understanding of the regional dishes and flavors." The menu highlights the flavors and spices from those regions: Thai chilies, peppercorns, peanuts, and copious amounts of ginger and garlic. Housed in an airy, sun-bleached space and decorated with trinkets from their travels, doi moi has a modern, if playful, feel.
Dishes like the traditionally Laotian Laab Ped ($11); a ground duck and duck liver salad with shallots, toasted rice powder, ground chilies, saw leaf herb, kaffir lime, and cilantro combine many of the flavors that Karoum says he was intent on perfecting. So too does the Gaeng Par Hed ($12); a Thai tofu (house made) and mushroom curry with bamboo shoots, snake beans, greens, and lime leaf; it's a dish that Karoum takes pride in because he was "serious about having a vegetarian curry on the menu that did not have dumbed down flavors."
The rest of the menu ranges from street style Thai Corn on the Cob ($8) to an Asian-inspired soft serve ice cream program. Though the flavors will change, the initial offerings are Mango and Coconut-Sticky Rice (which can be swirled) that can easily be accompanied by a Thai Fried Banana ($8).
The beverage programs are also designed to complement the Thai and Vietnamese flavors. Wine director Max Kuller has curated a list of 80+ wines that he describes as "accessible and fun, but also adventurous." His selection of sparkling wines in particular are a "microcosm for the menu," with selections he describes as "fun, diverse, fruity, and lush."
The cocktails, managed by bar director Adam Bernbach, incorporate Southeast Asian ingredients with housemade sodas, with drinks like the Tamarind Soda and Peanut-Infused Bourbon ($11). Bernbach, however, is also managing the bar in the space beneath doi moi. 2 birds 1 stone will offer craft cocktails that aren't necessarily Southeast Asian. Bernbach's weekly hand drawn menus will offer classics like an Old Pal ($12) and original creations like the rum, gin, vermouth, and lime Amen Break ($12).
For a closer look at some of the other dishes on the menu and a peek inside 2 birds 1 stone, click through to the slideshow.
About the author: Brian Oh is a Washington, DC based international development professional and a food, photography, and travel enthusiast. In his free time, you can usually find him stuffing his face in our nation's capital. Follow him on Twitter @brianoh11