Twice before, we had gone to Monsoon East and enjoyed happy hour. Tonight, we got more serious and ordered from the menu.
We started out with two superb cocktails.
French Pearls Martini – Elderflower liqueur, lillet blanc, champagne, lemon twist and basil seeds that moved up and down with the champagne bubbles
Moondance – blueberry juice, huckleberry vodka, rhubarb bitters and champagne
The squid appetizer (pictured at the top) was very good—baby squid that were grilled and stuffed with minced duck, basil and jicama. They were “cute,” chubby little tubes that were tender and savory. They sat on a bed of shredded romaine dressed with a vinaigrette and were drizzled with a little green onion oil. Nice flavors.
The half chicken was moist and had a nice charred, crispy skin. The chicken hardly tasted of lemongrass, though it’s probably an indication of a well-balanced marinade. There was a green bean side with very flavorful baby oyster mushrooms. Also accompanying this dish was mashed taro with coconut flavor, a very interesting and, to us, a wonderful concoction.
The star of the show was without question the catfish dish. It takes a mere 15 minutes over an intense flame to produce this deeply flavored claypot of catfish, onions, and chiles (both dried red and bird’s-eye) in a sweet soy-based sauce. It’s no wonder that it is a regularly featured item at both Monsoon locations.
The banana cake was kind of like a bread pudding, served as five small cubes, with a thick, salty coconut cream that provided a wonderful contrast to the dessert. There were also three insignificant squirts of a sweet mint syrup.
According to the waiter, other popular dishes are the Dungeness crab (either half or whole) stir-fried in a wok with black pepper and pineapple salad; and luc lac filet mignon with sweet onions, oxtail sauce and watercress.
10245 Main St.
Bellevue, WA 98004
Here are my notes from happy hour here 4/9/10: Grilled Chinese eggplant with tofu paper, smoky and silky, was sliced and sauteed in rice wine vinegar and a touch of nuoc mam, and mixed with chopped green onions. It was topped with a “sail” of fried tofu skin that was thin and crackly. The Nem nuong and pineapple lettuce wrap were three delicious grilled sausage patties, and served with lettuce leaves and pineapple. These were very tasty. The last two items were our favorites. Fried salt and pepper calamari had incredibly flaky and crispy batter, served with a vibrant dipping sauce of lime juice, salt and Szechuan peppercorns. The crispy green beans were julienned and mixed with slivers of oyster mushrooms in a flaky batter (not as delicate as the calamari) with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, lime juice, a little bit of sweet syrup and chili sauce.