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Doi Dua Doing Back to Saigon Dinners at Shopkeepers

Vietnamese pop-up could go the brick-and-mortar route

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Doi Dua co-founders Sarah Bui and Anna Vocaturo celebrated lunar new year in Vietnam.
[Doi Dua]

Having recently returned to D.C. after eating their way across Vietnam, Doi Dua co-founders Sarah Bui and Anna Vocaturo are looking forward to sharing what they learned via a series of “Back to Saigon” pop-up dinners.

The chef-owners — Vocaturo is an alum of Rose’s Luxury — originally developed the concept for their roving restaurant while living in Oregon, and have continued to hone their culinary vision since relocating to the District. They appeared at Union Market and Maketto last year, but are exploring a new venue, Shopkeepers (1231 Florida Avenue NE), for the multi-course meals scheduled to take place March 27, April 3, April 17 and May 1.

Vocaturo told Eater that the trip to Bui’s ancestral home was very inspirational. “Riding motorcycles to the wet market to pick out fresh ingredients for every meal completely changed our perspective on food. We were totally immersed in it,” she said.

Bui said she is most excited for guests to try a fried oyster congee featuring caramelized baby anchovies, herb, and fried shallots — an homage to the mom-made pick-me-up of her youth. “Whether it was cold out, or I wasn’t feeling well, congee just made everything better. And to be honest, I had kind of forgotten how good it was until she and my aunts made oyster congee while we were in Vietnam,” Bui said.

Other items from the current tasting menu include jackfruit salad with crispy tofu, red onion, herbs, coconut milk, and preserved radish, as well as a fermented rice cake with coconut milk, local fruit, and honey candy.

“We’ve gained more confidence in what we were serving, and are no longer afraid to put more unique ingredients on the menu,” is how Vocaturo described the evolution of their cooking.

They’re also coming around on possibly staying put in one place. “At first we were against that idea, because we love the change and pace of being a pop-up. But it’s also extremely challenging always being in a different space. So the more we talk about it, the more it sounds like owning a brick-and-mortar would be really nice,” Vocaturo said, adding, “It’s definitely an option for the future.”

Tickets for each seating at Shopkeepers — there are 10 spots available at 6 p.m., and 8:45 p.m., each evening — are $85 per person.