Monsoon East

December 10th, 2008 by Dawn

Eric Bahn was greeting guests at every table tonight, his first official night open on the Eastside.  We were impressed with the interior of the new Monsoon, as it’s quite a transformation from the previous Porcella space.  He explained the thought they put into every detail.  The marble at the bar is from Vietnam, the wooden screens are antique Chinese pieces from David Smith, and the posts flanking them are reclaimed from a church in Hoquiam.  Altogether, the place is modern, cozy, and comfortable.

Monsoon East

You see a long bar with lanterns overhead on the left as you enter, and a large dining room on the right.  There’s another smaller dining room tucked away in back, where we were initially going to be seated, but we preferred to be up front where the activity was.

The menu was overwhelming at first, with a huge list of detailed menu items and no categories beyond “raw bar” and “dinner.”  After staring at the menu fuzzily for a while, we realized that the white space delineated the different types of food: appetizers, seafood, meat, side dishes, etc.  We managed to narrow down the choices, and settle on kona kampachi sashimi with lime from the raw bar, imperial rolls with kuraboto pork and shrimp, a catfish claypot, the drunken chicken, and wokked soft noodles with mushrooms and duck egg.

While we waited for our meal to begin, I tried their signature plum wine martini.  It was just the right mix of tangy, sweet, and sour.  Then the food arrived.

Our first bite was of the sashimi, which was lively and flavorful, with crispy shallots adding a nice texture.  The rolls were also excellent – hot, crisp, and tasty with the dipping sauce.  Catfish was next, and the first bite was an unexpected burst of flavor – we both looked at each other simultaneously, impressed.  The cracked pepper on top was generous, adding an interesting dimension.  We both agreed that it was one of the most impressive dishes of the meal, although it was good to split since the flavors were strong and I don’t think I could have finished the whole thing myself.  The drunken chicken is a standard at all of Eric’s restaurants, and was as good as always, although probably our least favorite among the other dishes.  I think I liked the soft noodles the best.  The egg, mushrooms, and noodles were well balanced, where nothing overwhelmed the other ingredients.

Monsoon East

For dessert we had trouble deciding between the banana cake with savory coconut cream, which we’ve had and loved at the original Monsoon, or the bananas wrapped in sticky rice with jackfruit cream.  We opted for the latter, to try something new, and wished we’d ordered the cake instead.  It’s not that the dessert was bad, but the rice was a bit chewy and slightly bland.  My recollection of the banana cake is more favorable.

This is the beginning of a wave of new restaurants on the Eastside.  Also coming soon are Wild Ginger, Blue C Sushi, Boom Noodle, and the second location of Barrio which just opened in Seattle last week.  El Gaucho, Pearl, and even Top Pot Doughnuts, have also opened recently.

Monsoon East
10245 Main St, Bellevue
(425) 635-1112

Monsoon East on Urbanspoon

2 Responses to “Monsoon East”

  1. matt wright says:

    Having to work in the culinary wasteland of Bellevue, I am really glad it is getting in influx of decent food. I have been waiting for Monsoon to open here for a while now.

    Wait a sec? they are taking over the Porcella space? So Porcella is no more? I had lunch there a couple of times, and found the place a bit of a joke. Their proscuitto/egg sandwich was great though, but the place was uber-pretentious.

  2. Dawn says:

    Monsoon is supposed to be starting lunch at the end of January, which should be perfect for you. You’ll have to let us know what the lunch menu is like – I may have to grab some co-workers and head over there myself. I’m also planning for a lunch field trip to Skillet Squared when it opens on the Eastside next year, so that may be another new lunch option for you, too. They said they’re going to switch up the Eastside locations just like they do in Seattle.

    And, yeah, Porcella had some great food, but pretentious is about right.

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