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An Evening at Doi Moi

Don’t get me wrong; I love the food scene in New York City. It’s the cream of the crop. But a part of my stomach will always have a soft spot for Washington, DC, as I have just spent the last four years of my academic life there. DC is a bit more manageable of a food city: You still have all your choices of cuisine, with a little less competition, and a little more attention to detail. Last month, I made my first trip back to DC since graduating, and I knew I wanted to go somewhere very special to bring back all of those great food memories. Doi Moi is 14th street’s newest Vietnamese restaurant, brought to you by the owners of Proof and Estadio. My expectations were high, as I have dined at both other restaurants and proudly call them two of my favorite restaurants (and dining experiences) in the District (I even had the pleasure of reviewing Estadio for GW’s newspaper). Doi Moi did not disappoint. Let’s start with the menu, shall we?

1. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared. Point for Doi Moi

2. Everything on the menu has one of two spice rankings: “spicy” and “really spicy.” Point for Doi Moi (love me some spice)

3. There’s a whole section dedicated to curries. Point for Doi Moi.

4. Two words: Fresh produce. Point for Doi Moi.

I treated my best (and luckiest for still being in college) friend, Chelsea, for her birthday, so naturally, we went all out.

We started with Crispy Pork & Shrimp Spring Rolls with a chile dipping sauce. The rolls were- per the name- crispy, full of fresh veggies, not the least bit oily, and a great way to start off the evening.

Next we ordered sliced raw scallops that came with chiles, lime, lemongrass, crispy garlic and cilantro. These scallops were by far the freshest, cleanest tasting scallops  I have ever tasted. They were buttery and smooth, and the Asian flavors didn’t mask their taste, but rather enhanced it. I could have eaten a whole extra plate.

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We also ordered the duck breast red curry, with pineapple, cherry tomatoes, kaffir lime leaf, and sweet basil. The duck was succulent and perfectly cooked, and the spices left just the right amount of heat and flavor on my palate.

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I had read on Yelp that the Blue Crab Fried Rice at Doi Moi is the best dish on the menu, so we had to order it. Although it looked similar to a Chinese take-out version, it tasted fresh, and was full of tender cooked veggies and sweet, juicy crab.

Finally, we shared a cup of soft serve ice cream- half lemongrass, half coconut. I know what you’re thinking: Lemongrass is not meant to be eaten in dessert. But let me tell you, the combination of the two were a perfect palate cleansing sweet note to end on. Not too heavy but just sweet enough to leave us feeling full and truly satisfied.

My experience at Doi Moi more than exceeded my expectations. I am already thirsting to go back the next time I made it to DC.

Happy birthday, Chelsea!

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Comet Ping Pong = Best Pizza North of the Equator

Having just one quick year left as a college student in DC, my friends and I are trying to take full advantage of the amazing city that surrounds us. And by take advantage of the city, I mean take advantage of all of the amazing restaurants. DC is an up and coming city when it comes to food, offering the full spectrum of eats; anything from classic American, to authentic Ethiopian, to Spanish tapas and everything in between. Some of my favorite restaurants here belong to ethnicities and flavors that are rarely familiar to the common pallet, but my newest obsession is something everyone can relate to: pizza.

I heard about Comet Ping Pong a few years ago, as being one of the best restaurants for pizza in DC, along with 2Amys. However, after watching about it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and hearing Guy Fieri claim, “If you live north of the equator, there is no excuse not to come here,” I just had to get over there as soon as possible. A week later, I’m sitting at an old-school ping pong table inhaling pizza that is, indeed, the best.

The environment at Comet is truly unique. Exposed walls with peeling paint adds to the personality, and the open space is lively and young. Ping pong tables are open in the back while you wait for a table (which is definitely smart and necessary, as we waited an hour for a table!). The beer list is quite extensive, and so are the pizza options.

Our ping pong table laden with pizza!

I went with five of my friends, which was extremely beneficial because I got to try four very different, yet equally delicious pies:the Steel Wills, The Hottie, the Yalie and The Drive. The Steel Wills had Comet’s signature tomato sauce (which they bottle… I die), wilted spinach, fresh creamy ricotta, roasted garlic, and salty kalamata olives. Salty goodness with creamy cheese and something green to finish it all off? Yes, please. The Hottie was the quintessential pizza- with tomato sauce, gooey fontina cheese and pepperoni- but the cherry on top was the jalapeno pepper rings. Literally this was the perfect, most classic pizza with a kick. I felt like I was at my 4th grade pizza party at the bowling alley. The Yalie was a white pizza with thyme, parmesan, lemon and fresh clams. It was garlicky and flavorful without tasting too fishy. Finally, the Drive, complete with wilted broccoli rabe, garlic, rich melted onions, salty Pecorino Romano and an egg. When you cut into the pizza the yolk spread throughout the pie, creating the perfect creamy dipping sauce. Each pizza was unique and truly amazing, and the crust was not too thin but not to thick, with plenty of char yet still being chewy on the inside. It was sweet and just about perfect.

The Steel Wills

After hearing that Comet offers freshly baked cookies and homemade ice cream for dessert, we couldn’t turn it down. A warm, soft, chocolate chip cookie was paired beautifully with a hearty scoop of salted caramel and praline ice cream. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal, and wee devoured it in about a minute.

The before and aftermath

Pizza is such a classic American staple, and everyone has their favorite type, but Comet brings the perfect pizza to a whole new level. I will challenge anyone to try and tell me they do not enjoy their pizza, whether you’re a thin crust New York-style fan, or a Chicago-style deep dish fan. Pizza is singlehandedly my favorite food, and Comet Ping Pong definitely makes the list of my top choices, next to Italy. So, in the words of Guy Fieri, if you live north of the equator, there is absolutely no excuse for you to not come here.