[Photos: R. Lopez]
Here's a glimpse of what diners can expect when Doi Moi opens tonight on 14th Street: all white everything with pops of color from imported Vietnamese tiles, a monk mural, iced Vietnamese coffee brewed with Blue Bottle Coffee, and Thai fried bananas.
This is the third restaurant from proprietor Mark Kuller and chef/partner Haidar Karoum, the team behind Proof and Estadio. Kuller and Karoum traveled extensively across Thailand and Vietnam to research the regional dishes for Doi Moi's menu, including bun ho hue, a spicy lemongrass, beef and pork noodle soup; ga roti, a Vietnamese-style lemongrass and spice-roasted chicken; and khao soi gai, a Chiang Mai chicken and noodle curry.
And it looks like Kuller and Karoum brought souvenirs home from their travels too, with colorful concrete tiles imported from Vietnam brightening up Doi Moi's clean, white and neutral color palette. Designed by Grizform Design Architects, the 135-seat restaurant spans both a new building and a historic building. The historic portion of the space features a dining room with a full glass facade, a large rectangular bar that seats 16, leather booths, and an adjoining patio.
For anyone wondering what Doi Moi means, there's some wonky trivia behind it. Doi Moi means "new change," and refers to "open door" economic and social policies introduced in Vietnam. Kuller and Karoum believe the term has meaning for the renewal of 14th Street, the historic building that houses a portion of the restaurant, and even the open door policy in the hospitality industry.
Justin Guthrie will serve as general manager at Doi Moi, while Brittany Frick, formerly pastry chef at Estadio, is chef de cuisine and heading up the dessert menu. She's preparing a rotating selection of soft serve ice cream, as well as gluoy kak, or Thai fried bananas, and che bab, a sweet coconut tapioca soup with corn. For Doi Moi, wine director Max Kuller put together a list of 85 wines, half of which are under $50. Also available: hot and iced Vietnamese coffee brewed with Blue Bottle Coffee's New Orleans blend.
On the cocktail list, expect to find Asian ingredients with a twist, like a tamarind soda with peanut-infused bourbon from Adam Bernbach, bar director for Proof, Estadio, and now Doi Moi. Bernbach is also offering a classic cocktail selection in the lower level "2 Birds 1 Stone" bar. And by mid-September, 2 Birds 1 Stone will serve an abbreviated version of Doi Moi's menu.
— Adele Chapin
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