No matter where I travel on this Thai-Vietnamese menu in this coolly modern dining room on 14th Street, I’m inclined to pen a mental postcard to fellow chowhounds. “The view is beautiful!” I imagine myself writing as I take in sliced raw scallops, served in a fanned shell on shaved ice and trumpeting lemon grass and chilies. “Wish you were here.” I’d add a line about the whole fried sea bream that swims to the table with steamed rice and a lively ginger dipping sauce.
The all-white corner restaurant combines two favorite cuisines of chef Haidar Karoum, who grew up eating Thai and Vietnamese food in Northern Virginia and who has previously charmed Washington with the Spanish-accented Estadio and the wine-themed Proof. Doi Moi can be a blast. But not always. The kitchen’s ground duck liver salad with toasted rice and ground chilies, eaten with cabbage leaf scoops, is no match for the torch song performed at Little Serow. But that just leaves more room for nubby pork dumplings or stir-fried beef lemon grass bedded on vermicelli.
Adam Bernbach designed the cocktail list, which drives me to drink. A favorite pitstop is his Straw Hat. A shade of chardonnay, the libation mixes pisco and Scotch and makes any meal more intoxicating.