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Doi Moi Reopens Under New Management With a Menu Full of Vietnamese Food

A recent revamp on 14th Street includes pho, banh mi, grilled pork chop platters, and more outdoor seating

A white plate sits on a table in front of a white brick wall with a plant in the background. On the plate is a tall layered salad with greens on the bottom, tofu in the middle, and crispy white noodles on top.
A “Cranes Nest” arugula salad from Doi Moi with crispy noodles, onions, toasted sesame seeds, fried tofu, roasted sweet potato, mushrooms, peanuts, sesame seed dressing.
Doi Moi/official photo

Doi Moi, the Southeast Asian staple on 14th Street NW that’s seen a number of makeovers over the past seven years, reopens tonight with new managing partners that have built the latest revamp around a Vietnamese menu.

Star Restaurant Group, which runs pollo a la brasa bar Chicken and Whiskey down the street, officially took over the reins in January. Shutting down during the COVID-19 crisis gave the new management time to renovate the space, which now has 64 outdoor seats. Returning from the hiatus puts 43 employees to work, including new executive chef Wade Fatt, a former corporate chef for Todd Gray’s companies.

An older man wearing a blue chef’s shirt sits on a staircase and smiles.
Doi Moi chef Wade Fatt.
Doi Moi/official photo

There’s a whopping 30 sauces to choose from, along with 15 marinades. Braised pork riblets are made in a soy and sake marinade, and a pound of mussels arrives with a spicy lime dipping sauce. Traditional Vietnamese mains include suong nuong (grilled pork chop platter), phở bò (beef noodle soup), kho bo (flash-fried beef jerky), and plenty of báhn mì sandwiches.

A white dish with mussels, sauce, and toasty bread sits on a wooden table.
Chem Chép & Hến Nấu Xả Với Lá Chanh: a pound of steamed mussels with grated lemongrass, lime leaves, fresh cilantro, and spicy lime dipping sauce, with a French baguette on the side.
Doi Moi/official photo

Fatt plans to serve some soup broths on the side in a tea pot. Customers shouldn’t get too tied to some opening items; a fall menu refresh will drop in just a few weeks. The menu itself was condensed from 50 to 35 dishes.

A former President also makes an appearance on the menu. Obama’s Bún Chả, a grilled pork platter with chilled vermicelli noodles and sour dipping broth, is a nod to the dish he famously ate with Anthony Bourdain during a trip to Hanoi.

A white bowl of pho with a bone sticking out of it. In the foreground is a blue teakettle and a yellow cloth napkin.
Bowls of pho at Doi Moi come with bone-in garnish
Doi Moi [official]

At the bar, there’s egg cream slow-drip coffee and iced coconut milk barley tea. Vietnamese coffee soft serve churned on-site (make it a pandan waffle cone).

Bar manager Paul Martinez, who grew up working at his uncle’s Vietnamese restaurant, plays up Southeast Asian flavors across the cocktail list. There’s an apricot-lychee frosé and “Rhum-Kha,” a riff on the sour and savory toup with tom-kha infused rum, ginger-lemongrass syrup, coconut milk, and lime. The price point ($9-$11) is pretty pandemic friendly. Martinez is also bottling unique sugarcane moonshine infusions behind the bar with kumquat, guava, and pineapple.

A man in a tropical-print shirt makes a frothy white drink, holding leafy garnish, as he stands behind a dimly lit bar.
Bar manager Paul Martinez making rum-infused cocktails.
Doi Moi/official photo

Fresh fruit helps build bright superfood drinks ($6-$8) like a “Green Lantern” juice (Gala apples, spinach, ginger, lemon) and “You Had Me At Mango” smoothie (mango, papaya, pineapple, kumquat, yogurt, toasted coconut).

“We really wanted to take a fresh and healthy approach,” says Star co-founder Kris Carr.

A deep orange drink in a tall glass with a wedge of pineapple on the rim. In the background is a blue glass bottle, stirring spoon, and a jar with green stuff in it.
“Jungle Juice” at Doi Moi.
Doi Moi/official photo

The group is still waiting on some furniture deliveries and window dressings to arrive. Hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“[We know] it’s crazy to be opening in a pandemic,” Star co-founder Des Reilly says. “We are really embracing the fact we will be imperfect when we open.”

The months-long hiatus offered the gift of time, letting the partners go all out on a tropical design. Along with a dedicated takeout window, patio seating along 14th Street NW adds 28 seats. A 36-seat covered portion gives off garden party vibes, decked out with ceiling fans, hanging plants and flowers, and neon furniture.

“People are going to have a mini ‘WTF’ moment when they walk into the restaurant,” says Reilly. “It’s a total infusion of color inspired by Vietnamese street markets.”

The white space provided a prime canvas to go all out with floor-to-ceiling bursts of green, blue, and orange tones. Respected interiors firm Design Case (Maydan, Immigrant Street Food) handled the refresh.

Jason Kuller remains a partner at Doi Moi, but handing off the operations to his Chicken and Whiskey neighbors helps free up some of his time.

“He told us he’s five years in and he’s tired. As much as Doi Moi has done it could be so much better,” says Reilly. “It’s almost as if the restaurant was half built and not fully fleshed out.”

Haidar Karoum, now the chef-owner at Chloe, opened Doi Moi with a range of Vietnamese and Thai influences. More recently, chef Johanna Hellrigl implemented a broader Southeast Asian approach before she decamped. She now oversees the “Sorta South American” menu at Mercy Me in the West End.

Diners will have hard a hard time remembering the basement’s most recent life as novelty pop-up bar Destination Wedding. It originally made a splash as 2 Birds 1 Stone, and at one point hosted a pop-up for Hanumanh when the Lao bar was making repairs in Shaw.

Reilly says the design is going for a more relaxed vibe he describes as “sexy, sumptuous, dark, and more sedated.” He plans to blast 1960s and 70s rock and soul music below. The den will soon get its own cocktail list, but for now the menu is the same from top to bottom.

doi moi

1800 14th Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 733-5131 Visit Website

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