Doi Moi: Bun Bo Xao

Bun Bo Xao

Doi Moi is transformative in that it takes you to a different land. This land has exotic herbs, undiscovered textures and the commingling of sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavors. The Best Thing on the Menu: Bun Bo Xao Stir Fried Lemongrass Beef on Vermicelli Noodles, served with cucumbers, pickled carrot, daikon, fragrant herbs, fried garlic, nouc cham and scallion oil, features all of these far-off-land characteristics. We recommend ordering two of this dish if you are dining in a party of three or four. Bun Bo Xao carries the “phet” label, which means spicy, not to be confused with the word “phat” that still haunts us from the late 90s. So, if you like heat, look for the “phet” and “mak phet” menu icons.

There are two ways to do it up at Mark Kuller and Haidar Karoum’s Doi Moi. To determine which option best suits you, we invite you to take Best Thing on the Menu’s very first personality quiz.

DC Diner A: Are you a planner? Do you get patted on the back during performance reviews for being super organized? Do you schedule your haircuts for an entire year at once? Do you always get your oil changed on time?

or

DC Diner B:  Do you like surprises? Do you live on the edge? Do you consider waiting in line at Little Serow all a part of the experience? Do you set out for an unplanned evening of exploring neighborhood bars? Do you buy lunch every day because you can’t be bothered to plan ahead?

If you identify more with DC Diner A, we recommend using OpenTable to make a Doi Moi reservation. They take reservations at 5:30pm and 6:00pm, much like their sister restaurant Estadio has done for years. You’ll feel great committing, and a table will be waiting for you. Alternatively, if you identify more closely with Diner B, live dangerously and arrive at Doi Moi at a time of your choosing. Sure, it’ll be a zoo (for good reason, the food is fantastic) but you’ll have all the time in the world to sip tropical cocktails and admire the decor. Anticipation will continue to build as you wait and wait for a table.

In addition to the BTM, we recommend other standouts including the Charred Eggplant with Poached Shrimp (Yum Makuah), Crispy Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls (Por Pia Tod) and absolutely, without question, the must-order fried bananas dessert (Gluoy Kak). Those who are hungry and aren’t on board with the small plates scene would be best served by ordering the LTOM (Largest Thing on the Menu): Lemongrass and Spice Roasted Half Chicken. Click here for more photos of Doi Moi dishes.

One last tip, Doi Moi finally added their menu to their website so you can take a gander before you dine. Plus check out their vegan and gluten free menu!

Bun Bo Xao not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you liked this, you may also like: Rice, Little Serow or Estadio.

Ah love: Bacon & Smoke

Cary Kelly

Q & A with Ah Love’s Cary Kelly

Boutique olive oil and balsamic vinegar store, Ah love, is bold, playful and full of flavor. Their boldest move? Putting bacon back on the table for vegans and vegetarians, a food magic trick that left us stunned.

Best Thing on the Menu was given the exclusive opportunity to spend one-on-one time with Ah love Owner & CEO, Cary Kelly, who is as innovative and sophisticated as her store and products. Her primary passion lies in supporting small producers that she has personally met at food shows, through her travels or over the internet.

For example, Cary’s main olive oil producers are 5th generation olive farmers from Southern Greece that have a connection to the greater DC area (two sons went to Virginia Tech). Cary works closely with the producers on developing new flavors and each March, they come together for a harvest party at the store.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Bacon Olive Oil is subtle, smoky and just short of a miracle considering it is flavored solely with herbs and vegetables, making it 100% vegan. While Cary admits that olive oil purists cringe at the thought of putting such a spin on one of the purest products on the planet, customers keep coming back for more. Ah love is hosting a Bacon Bonanza on Thursday, June 6th from 5:00-9:00pm at Ah Love’s Shirlington Village location. The party is open to the public and will feature treats like bacon brownies and bacon mousse. All bacon related products are 15% off, so it is the perfect time to pick up a gift for dad.

Also on the shelves of Ah love is President Obama’s favorite olive oil, The Smoked Olive. The president was so sold on this cold-smoked concoction that he ordered it for the Inaugural Ball. The Smoked Olive and Cary Kelly were featured in the Washington Post. You can also see Cary on WJLA.

Other best sellers include the 25-Star Balsamic Vinegar (stars are indicative of how long a balsamic vinegar has aged), the fig balsamic and an addictive spice blend called Olive Oil’s Best Friend.

Ah love can make your life better in hurry. Here’s how: Cary’s oils and vinegars pack so much flavor that they’re all you need to make an impressive, quick dish that’s suitable for entertaining. In addition to being quick and easy, the oils and vinegars are easy on your waistline and your wallet. Our favorite at-home recipe involves drizzling honey ginger white balsamic vinegar on roasted salmon. Click here for recipes.

One last tip from Cary: Have a spoonful of balsamic after a big meal despite feeling full. Balsamic vinegar has been around since the 10th Century and was originally used for medicinal purposes. It is known to level blood sugar and can counter even the biggest meal. Learn how balsamic is made.

Ah love opened a second location this past November, so you can also visit them in the Mosaic District.

Tell us about your favorite Ah love products & recipes in the comments section.