After going through two or three dozen different names, Mark Kuller’s new Asian restaurant finally opens today as Doi Moi.
“We never knew what was going to be the actual name until we saw the sign,” says general manager Justin Guthrie. “Some of the blueprints actually have a different name on them.”
Located at the corner of 14th and S streets NW, Doi Moi joins Kuller’s restaurants Proof and Estadio. And now that the pesky name issue is settled, the team can invite patrons to enjoy regional cuisine inspired by the street food of Thailand and Vietnam. Head Chef Haidar Karoum even took a quick trip abroad for inspiration, spending about nine days in each country. The resulting menu is a mix of curries, noodles, and skewers, including some dishes big enough to share. Diners can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $22 for a typical dish.
Adam Bernbach joins the Doi Moi roster as well, reprising his role as bar manager. (Bernbach is currently the boozemaster of Proof, Estadio, Doi Moi, and Doi Moi’s sister bar: 2 Birds, 1 stone.) At the restaurant bar, libations will evoke strong Asian flavors like Tamarind. More importantly, many choices will have a “cooling” effect to counter the spice on the menu. Bernbach recommends sipping on the house-made peanut infused bourbon or a cocktail with the coconut-infused soda. According to Bernbach, cocktail prices will be comparable to other 14th Street bars at $10 or $11 a pop.
Inside Doi Moi, crisp white walls and neutral oak flooring conceal the building’s historic roots to the unlearned eye. Constructed in 1909, the building was best known for housing the Whitman-Walker clinic, an early leader in Washington’s struggle against HIV/AIDS. Today, the interior is purposefully modern, save for one wall of tchotchkes that reveal Doi Moi’s Asian influence when patrons enter via 14th Street.
Doi Moi plans to serve dinner beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. on weekends. Eventually, Doi Moi will add the brunch and weekday lunch.
Doi Moi, 1800 14th St. NW; (202) 733-5131; doimoidc.com
Photo by Megan Arellano