100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Doi Moi

Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

The marriage of East and West used to mean a union tilted far more in favor of West, lending the allure of the exotic to contemporary American preparations. The current fashion in fusion is on display at this newcomer, the third restaurant from owner Mark Kuller and chef Haidar Karoum. Having mastered the wine bar at Proof, then Spanish tapas at Estadio, Kuller and Karoum are aiming here to capture the color and kick of Thai and Vietnamese cooking. How? By replicating all the pungency and heat of the cuisines while spending more lavishly than your standard mom-and-pop on meats and fishes. For the most part, they succeed, making sure not to fancy things up. (A crab fried rice, featuring delicate lump, is glorious for its comforting simplicity.) Some dishes hit the same note, and at times you may wonder what, apart from a stylish atmosphere, a place like this has over a good Thai or Vietnamese joint in the suburbs. But this is more than just a faithful homage, and Kuller’s track record suggests it will only improve.

Open: Daily for dinner.

Don’t Miss: Grilled prawns; fried duck egg over rice; raw scallops with chilies and lime; grilled pork-collar skewers; lemongrass-and-spice roasted chicken; Vietnamese chicken noodle soup; sablefish with dill.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.