September 8, 2013

Doi Moi

We recently visited Doi Moi, and having visited Vietnam, I had high expectations for the food.  When you first walk in, you're greeted by a bright, inviting space.  It's a stark contrast to it's sister restaurants, Estadio & Proof, which are filled with dark wood and low lighting.  I immediately noticed the delicious smells coming from the open kitchen, and knew we were in for a treat!
We started with a round of drinks, my mom and I opting for the basil/lemongrass/cachaca cocktail, while Justin tried the tamarind and peanut-infused bourbon drink.  The tamarind wasn't too sour at all, and peanut and bourbon is a natural winning combination.  Both were absolutely delicious, and dangerous in the sense that you could easily down the drinks in a few gulps if you're not careful.  They're that delicious!

As with most small plates restaurants, 2-3 dishes per person were recommended, and they came out as they were prepared.  We were told that everything was sourced from southeast Asia, and we were impressed to hear that everything is fresh, never frozen.  You could see the freshness in every dish that came to the table.  We decided to order in rounds, so we started with the green papaya salad, salt & pepper fried squid, and the tumeric sablefish.  The papaya salad had a nice crunch, and the distinctive tang of fish sauce, but I was looking for a little more heat, a little more sweet, and a lot more peanuts.  The squid were perfectly crisp, tender, and not greasy.  The sablefish was nicely seasoned, and flaked apart when you stuck your fork/chopsticks into it.

For our next round, we tried the jungle curry with halibut, crab fried rice, and the pork & shrimp spring rolls.  We're huge fans of jungle curry, as it was one of our favorites from Little Serow, and we even made some at home.  The halibut was cooked perfectly, but the curry was missing some heat, and I just wish there'd been more of the curry sauce.  There was a surprising amount of crab in the fried rice, and I kept going back for more.  The spring rolls were definitely a table favorite.  They were long, skinny, fried rolls, packed to the gills with pork and shrimp.  Our server recommended wrapping the rolls in a lettuce leaf with some of the sliced cucumbers and carrots that were on the plate, then dipping it into the sweet & sour sauce.  The unfortunate, and somewhat puzzling, part was that were was only 1 lettuce leaf on the plate.  He gladly brought us more lettuce upon request, however.  His method was delicious though.  You had the warm crispy roll, balanced out by the cool, crunchy veggies, finished with the tangy dipping sauce.

We were still a bit hungry, so we decided to try the roasted half chicken, which we'd seen several other tables order, along with a beef dish and pork skewers.  If you're going to order the chicken (you definitely should), I'd recommend doing so towards the beginning of your meal because it takes 30-40 minutes to cook.  It is well worth the wait.  The skin is perfectly crisp, while the meat was still juicy and tender.  The sauce for the chicken was a bit too acidic, and it was somewhat of a shame to dip perfectly crisp chicken skin in any sauce.  The beef had rich flavors of soy and ginger, and came with shark sriracha, the Thai version of sriracha (we were kinda hoping that it was sriracha seasoned with shark fin or something).  It's basically the same as the one we're accustomed to with the rooster on the bottle, although thinner in consistency and a tad bit sweeter.  The pork skewers were equally delicious, served with a crunchy peanut sauce.  The sauce was so good that I ended up dipping some of the chicken in it.

We finished off the meal with the fried bananas and a couple of iced coffees.  The bananas were steaming hot with a thin, crisp batter, and toasted, shave coconut sprinkled on top.  The banana had a nice sweetness to them, and I loved the fresh coconut.  The iced coffees were also great, and although they had sweetened condensed milk in them, they weren't cloyingly sweet.

A few of the dishes lacked some heat, but maybe they're trying to cater to a more western palette.  Overall, it was a great meal, and I will definitely go back to try the rest of the dishes on the menu.

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