Dining Out: Doi Moi

In March I made my first visit to DC restaurant to Doi Moi, whose menu is inspired by dishes found in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. It won’t be my last visit.

I went with Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff on the Supreme Court’s 2016 gay marriage case, who was also the 98th person featured on Dining With Strangers. We’ve stayed in touch since the interview because he lives in the District, but he’s decided to move back to his former home of Ohio. I wanted to do a farewell dinner, and let him pick the venue. He said Doi Moi is one of his favorites.

After our meal, I can understand why. It’s a goregous place, the staff are at the top of their game, and there wasn’t a single bland or bad dish. And the state of my waistline and wallet after testify to the fact that we ate a lot of food.

We started with marinated beef jerky; hanger steak strips marinated overnight and then flash fried, and served with Shark Sriracha dipping sauce. The condiment was searingly hot for my unsophisticated palette, yet irresistible.

For another starter, we couldn’t decide between the three steamed buns on offer, so we got one of each. Here’s the menu description of them: “Inspired by Nyonya food, the cuisine of Straits Chinese whose descendants live in Malaysia and Singapore today. Blending Chinese and Malay ingredients — choose between fried chicken, Asian porchetta, or chickpea tofu buns.”

I think we ordered with our eyes and not our stomachs because we were both getting full already after the two generous starters. But we continued, and split two larger dishes. The first was Kee Mao rice noodles stir fried with Chinese broccoli, zucchini, snap peas and onion.

We followed that with the incredibly spicy braised short rib jungle curry, which Doi Moi says is inspired by similar curries in Northern Thailand. It consisted of braised beef short rib pieces with Thai eggplant and basil.

And because I have had a sweet tooth my entire life, I encouraged Jim to join me in getting dessert. We shared a slice of Purut Limau Pie, Doi Moi’s take on Key Lime Pie. The filling is infused with makrut lime leaves and baked onto an oat coconut trust. It’s topped with a wonderfully light merginue, with maldon salt and coconut flakes finishing it off. A superb end to a fantastic meal.

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