Meatless Mondays: Monsoon

Expect simple and bold flavors from this Vietnamese-inspired culination.

Monsoon, a quaint and elegant spot in Capitol Hill, exemplifies consideration, delicacy and passion in its elite Vietnamese dishes. No one or thing’s nose is raised here, but believe me, this spot is superior.

Inside Monsoon

Take a brother, Eric, and a sister, Sophie, who share the same passion for food, a love of their culture and local, organic ingredients and out pops their baby Monsoon. I dig this kind of incest. Too far? Sorry. Guess it’s time to get this food fest on.

Monsoon’s dishes represent District One in Saigon–Vietnam’s largest and most sophisticated metropolis. You can taste the genuine ingredients, you can feel the passion. I took in the precious ingredients that make up a gathering. A meal should not only be enjoyed through the food on the table but also through the interactions of the people around it. I felt it—sharing stories and passing dishes around to truly make a memorable experience.

Grilled Yakima Valley Asparagus with Chao Sauce (8) These locally grown spears showed up first and really set the tone for the whole meal. It epitomized Monsoon’s mission: to showcase select ingredients with a glaze of high-class Vietnamese culture. The dish was beautifully presented and made it obvious as to everyone’s next step. Eat. Dip those perfectly grilled thangs into that miso/chili sauce and eat.

Organic Beets, Organic Watermelon, Mixed Baby Greens (9.5) We were introduced to summer—while the Seattle rain trickled—when this plate graced the table. Arugula, golden beets and watermelon made a great combination and came together elegantly with the light champagne vinaigrette. Delicate and supah dupah fresh.

Snap Peas, Woodear Mushrooms (12) Another case of carefully chosen components to create an eye-opening dish. Snap peas, I’ve had before, but Woodear mushrooms? I think I’ve found yet one more reason to be under the fungi spell. Not the most pleasant sight, but what type isn’t all that peculiar looking? The chewy, gooey texture of the mushrooms was a nice contrast to the snappy pea pods and the thick lotus root slices. Everything was well balanced and cooked wonderfully. Surprise, surprise.

Angiolina Farms Misome with Garlic, Carmelized Shallots (11) Outstanding. I’ve really grown into a palette of which I can distinguish leafy green from leafy green. It also helped to be prepped by Yoda Eric as to what we were about to experience. I felt privileged to even be in its presence—an Asian hybrid green that is grown in Washington. The shallots and garlic seasoning elevated the greens to its well-deserved pedestal. After this dish, I can die a happy vegan lady of ripe old flave.

The wine's a-flowin' at Monsoon

Monsoon has an award-winning wine list and what I like to call “pairing fairies”. The servers understand the science of how certain wines bring out the best in dishes. Also, I learned serving a table with more wine almost ensures less white rice will be ordered because when you drink water with Asian cuisine, the salt in the food is more apparent. A little nugget of “aha” came at least every 10 minutes from the all-knowing and generous Eric Banh.

The sexy patio and glimpse into the equally attractive interior

The whole meal was a feast of understanding the Vietnamese culture, its food and Eric’s pimp-daddy-tastic-ness. That man has some class and most definitely some sass. Find us at his other restaurant Ba Bar on the mic singing a duet. We’ll be taking requests.

Its menu is ever-evolving, based on whatever Eric and sister/co-owner Sophie get inspired by and what’s in season. Taste their creations in Seattle at Monsoon or in Bellevue at Monsoon East.

Monsoon | 615 19th Avenue East,  Seattle  |  (206) 325-2111

Photography by Geoffrey Smith.