Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 2
This neighborhood hideyhole on Capitol Hill reminds me a lot of the Vietnamese noodle shops I adored in Paris on the West Bank, way back when I used to travel with a passport and a backpack and a very light wallet. It has the same casual yet chic vibe, so that a couple wearing workout clothes can sit next to a romantic twosome dressed to the nines and neither table will feel awkward.
The same effortless vibe carries over into Monsoon‘s Vietnamese-inflected food: Sugar snap peas wokked with matsutake mushrooms; pork chop grilled with lemongrass and served over potato chunks flavored with coconut; hand-cut noodles tossed with woods ears and a duck’s egg.
While the specials, especially anything featuring fresh, seasonal vegetables, are always a marvel here, one menu mainstay will turn you into a Monsoon addict: the catfish claypot. Bracing, sweet, sour, pungent, savory–this soothing stewed fish dish will make you purr with delight. The broth–fish sauce brightened with brown sugar, herbs, some coconut–will have you dumping your bowl of jasmine rice right into the ceramic pot so that you can savor every drop.
Eastsiders rejoice: Monsoon will be opening an Eastside branch mid December 08.