If you’ve walked past the corner of 14th and S streets in Logan Circle, chances are you’ve been tempted by the enticing savory scents of Vietnamese cuisine wafting out of Doi Moi’s massive restaurant space.
Doi Moi is situated in the middle of a bustling restaurant scene at 1800 14th St. NW, just north of Logan Circle, among D.C. favorites like Compass Rose and Le Diplomate. At first sight, the restaurant sets itself apart from nearby competitors with a covered patio with bar access and a large street seating area bordered by a teal wall decorated with hanging lights.
Inside, customers are welcomed by the first of two indoor dining areas which surrounds the kitchen. Only a glass barrier around the kitchen separates it from the dining room, allowing guests in this area to watch the chefs in action.
Up a couple stairs to the left is an additional dining area furnished with a combination of high and low top tables with a square bar in the middle. All throughout, rustic tile floors, vibrantly colored chairs and walls, hanging lanterns and plants bring life to the space.
With French and Thai influences, Doi Moi’s menu is categorized into greens, traditional house favorites, street plates, stir fried vegetables, noodles/rice/curry, sandwich corner and sweets. Most guests stopping in for a meal might be drawn to dishes like the drunken noodles ($17) loaded with vegetables and coated in a sweet Indonesian soy sauce, the crispy drunken chicken Bánh mì ($14) or the dumplings ($10) with herb and peanut sauce.
In the mood to try out a new dish, I ordered the shaken beef or Bò lúc lắc ($22). The dish came out steaming with a generous pile of filet mignon pieces sautéed with red and green onions, a side of halved cherry tomatoes, a nest of fresh watercress greens and a black pepper spiced lemon juice sauce.
The generous portion of filet mignon – more than half a pound according to the menu – made up for the steep price of the dish. Each bite of meat was well seared with a charr on the outside and a tender medium-rare inside. The steak and onions were coated in an addicting soy and fish sauce glaze that brought a sweet, smoky flavor to the dish.
I could have easily cleaned a plate of the stir-fried meat and onion mixture alone, but the accompanying vegetables and sauce brought a harmony of flavors that complemented the meat. For an ideal bite, I piled a cherry tomato, a few pieces of watercress, some beef and onion on to my fork and dunked it in the lemon pepper sauce.
Sauce is a generous term for this black pepper spiced lemon juice mixture. But in this case, the simplicity of it flawlessly added just the right amount of acidity to the richness of the beef and the fresh, clean flavor of the vegetables.
Doi Moi also has an extensive beverage menu with alcohol, coffee, tea, pressed juices and smoothies. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, you can stop by before 7 p.m. any day of the week for $7 happy hour daiquiris. Its regularly priced cocktail menu includes drinks like the Sàigòn sparkler ($11) with cava sparkling wine and lychee or mango nectar or Rhum-Kha ($11) with Tom-kha infused rum, ginger-lemongrass syrup, coconut milk and lime.
Grab your friends and check out Doi Moi for specialty drinks, shareable Vietnamese dishes and a lively atmosphere.