Part Thai, part Vietnamese, Doi Moi is pure pleasure. Restaurateur Mark Kuller (Proof, Estadio) and chef Haidar Karoum took a shopping trip to Southeast Asia last year, looking for ideas for their latest and possibly greatest place to graze thus far. They returned with colorful trinkets for the all-white dining room and flavors that some foodists compare to the 3½-star Little Serow “without the wait.”
Take the “spicy” fried cashews at its word; your eyes will pop at the chili heat, but your hands are apt to dip back for more. Halibut with green peppercorns and galangal makes a racy yet refined “jungle” curry. Stir-fried lemon grass beef with slippery vermicelli noodles — Watch out, Eden Center! — swells with flavor, thanks to fried garlic, scallion oil and fragrant herbs in the mix. And I can’t wait to address my next cold with a bowl of this kitchen’s glorious, mushroom-thick chicken noodle soup, shot through with lemon grass and gently sweet with coconut. Too hot for comfort? Rice is the insider’s antidote to any fire in the food.
While beer might be the obvious quaff, the list of wines is one of the strongest this diner has seen in an Asian restaurant.
Doi Moi refers both to Vietnam’s economic reforms in the 1980s and 14th Street’s present-day surge of energy. Pulse check? This place rocks.