I hadn’t heard of this place when I passed by it on the way to yoga a few weeks ago, but I added it to my to-eat list, and tonight was the night!
Doi Moi is best described as Americanized Southeast Asian with no particular bent. Thai? Vietnamese? Nobody knows. But the menu looked tasty when I perused it online, and it appears to change up regularly, which I appreciate. Especially for a small plates type of restaurant where you end up ordering a sizable chunk of the menu each time, variety is key. Doi Moi definitely has that.
The beer and wine menu was also extensive and respectable. I got the Captain Lawrence Passionfruit Gose, and it was not the only excellent beer on the list. There were also a handful of house cocktails but I went a little overboard on alcohol last night so I was trying to take it easy.
We ordered five things for the table: the kimchi with pineapple, green papaya salad (always one of my Thai favorites), sweet corn fritters, pork steam buns, and the rabbit curry. We were warned that the papaya was on the spicy side and in response, we made it very clear that this sounded great.
Everything came crazy fast. Kimchi came out first, and it was sour but not spicy at all, and the pineapple was….ambiguous? Even looking for it, I couldn’t taste it. Then were the corn fritters: sweet, crispy, and flavorful, with a nice basil sauce to dip it in (though not nearly enough). Next came the pork buns. For me, this was the highlight. The pork was well-cooked and flavorful and the buns melted in your mouth. The papaya salad was basic. And I mean that in the slangy, basic bitch kind of way. It looked right but it tasted like something Sarah Palin would make for a church potluck. If the waitress felt like she had to warn us about this, I wonder who their usual clientele is. Green papaya should be spicy as well as savory-salty, with plenty of fish sauce and peanut and tomato. This didn’t exist. It was covered in Thai fingerhot chilis, which, completely contrary to their name, are spicy only to your grandma (Your grandma. Not my grandma. My grandma is a master of Tandoori chicken and my other grandma makes killer Indonesian food).
I’m willing to overlook the misstep in green papaya-land, though, because the rabbit curry was fabulous. Again, it was not spicy, but it certainly wasn’t bland. It was savory, coconutty, and with plentiful rabbit meat. My only complaint is that, due to inherent sauciness, it was not great for sharing. Our table looked like a murder scene after trying to split this up. We ended up just slurping up the curry from the main bowl with our individual spoons.
Finally, two of us ordered the Vietnamese coffee, which was made in an individual pour-over style with condensed milk on the bottom. This was the perfect end to the meal.
Price: $30-35 per person
Bottom line: I’d probably come here again. The food was high-quality and the service was great, but all diners should be forewarned that this is not a hole-in-the-wall Thai place that doesn’t give a shit about your gringo-baby tastebuds. Doi Moi cares very much about not offending your lame American palate. If you want spicy, go to Mandalay. If you want a big variety and a killer rabbit curry, go to Doi Moi.