Claypots and Carpaccio at Monsoon East

When out-of towners come to Seattle and ask where to eat, I often direct them to Vietnamese restaurants. I think our city is special for that. We’ve got great pho joints, Vietnamese delis, regular restaurants—and that’s just in the Little Saigon/International District.

Eric Banh and sister Sophie are building a little Vietnamese empire outside of the I.D. Baguette Box sells banh mi sandwiches in Fremont and Capitol Hill. And Cap Hill is where Monsoon will apparently live to see another day (or actually a couple of years), saved from plans for a building tear-down.

Now the Banhs have built a Monsoon in Bellevue. I was fortunate to attend an opening party at Monsoon East, and while some of the mainstays of the Seattle menu made it to the Eastside, there are new additions as well. My favorites come in claypots: one featuring caramelized kurobuta pork belly and whole shrimp, and another containing a Vietnamese bouillabaisse. There’s also wokked spicy curry Cervena venison with cellophane noodles and Carleton Farm beef carpaccio with mam nem, fresh lime, ground peanuts and rau ram.

Or how about some lobster carpaccio with Saigon salt (it peppery and sea like from shrimp paste—so good, and good to know they plan to package and sell it) at the new raw bar? You can also enjoy oysters with lemongrass mignonette, or a variety of sashimi with southeast Asian herbs. The raw bar is just part of the wonderful look of the new restaurant, with its interesting lights and other furnishings.

The Banhs are elevating Vietnamese food with their expanded offerings, and contributing to the Eastside with an elevated dining experience—making Monsoon East well worth a trip across the lake.

Cross-posted at Examiner.

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