The word “pop-up” might trigger visions of chefs working out kink-ridden menus for soon-to-open restaurants—or three-hour lines to even get in the door—but this one is different. I visited a few weeks ago and found the dinner, set to languid Viet-pop, to be relaxed and fascinating, and as tightly tuned an experience as the seven-courser at Little Serow. Vocaturo, 27, is a former Rose’s Luxury line cook (you might recognize her, or at least her ink, from the cover of Bon Appetit). She does all the serving and explaining. Bui, 25, handles the cooking, which all takes place behind the bar, by herself. Even more impressive: Bui is entirely self-taught, and I loved nearly every dish that landed on the candle-lit communal table that was set amid the shop’s racks of flowy white dresses.
Having recently returned to D.C. after eating their way across Vietnam, Doi Dua co-founders Sarah Bui and Anna Vocaturo are looking forward to sharing what they learned via a series of “Back to Saigon” pop-up dinners.
The chef-owners — Vocaturo is an alum of Rose’s Luxury — originally developed the concept for their roving restaurant while living in Oregon, and have continued to hone their culinary vision since relocating to the District. They appeared at Union Market and Maketto last year, but are exploring a new venue, Shopkeepers (1231 Florida Avenue NE), for the multi-course meals scheduled to take place March 27, April 3, April 17 and May 1.
Vocaturo told Eater that the trip to Bui’s ancestral home was very inspirational. “Riding motorcycles to the wet market to pick out fresh ingredients for every meal completely changed our perspective on food. We were totally immersed in it,” she said.
Vietnamese pop-up: Maketto hosts popular Vietnamese pop-up, Doi Dua, for a Sunday feast from 2 to 6 pm. Chefs Anna Vocaturo (formerly of Rose’s Luxury) and Sarah Bui serve a modern menu of dishes like turmeric pancakes with shrimp, lemongrass beef, charred octopus, and more. Availability is first come, first serve.
Like any serious food city, making culinary waves in Portland is difficult—especially if you’re newcomers (Anna Vocaturo and Sarah Bui) serving a popular cuisine (Vietnamese). Still, the duo managed to gain a serious following after moving to Oregon and launching the Doi Dua pop-up, even gaining the rank of “best new Vietnamese restaurant” from Willamette Week. Thankfully for Washingtonians, the partners are back in DC and ramping up Doi Dua’s event schedule. First up: a Vietnamese fried chicken pop-up at Honeycomb market this weekend.
Sunday: If you're trying to get ahead of the restaurant curve, it's a safe bet that Doi Dua will be the next pop-up foodies are fighting to get into. Owner Anna Marie Vocaturo, a former line cook at Rose's Luxury, and partner Sarah Bui recently moved back from Portland, where they'd been serving modern twists on Vietnamese dishes. The Doi Dua pop-up at Archipelago on U Street NW is Washington's first chance to sample their Vietnamese fare, which will be served with boozy Polynesian drinks. Service begins at 5 p.m. and continues "until food runs out." — Fritz Hahn
Last year Anna Marie Vocaturo, a former line cook at Rose’s Luxury, and her partner, Sarah Bui, left D.C. for Portland, Ore. — a place they’d never been — to try something new.
They ended up founding Doi Dua, a recurring Vietnamese pop-up that served classic dishes with a modern lean. “Sarah had been cooking Vietnamese food since I met her, and that was a passion of mine,” Vocaturo says. “[The pop-up] was extremely successful.”