Neither Dustin nor I had high expectations going to Monsoon East. We had seen the restaurant during a walk, and then I found a deal for $75 worth of food for $45, so I decided to buy it. Dustin wasn’t enthused at the idea of Vietnamese food. Whenever he thinks Vietnamese food, he thinks pho, which he truly does not care for. But Monsoon East is far from pho. It’s Vietnamese inspired food with a Northwestern twist.
The other reason our expectations were rather low were the somewhat lukewarm reviews we read online before our dinner. Some of the food got excellent reviews, while others were described as blah, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Also many of the comments described rude and/or slow service. Maybe it’s because we ate there on a slow Tuesday night, but our service was quite good. It was nicely paced. Our waitress was attentive, but not overbearing, and she was very friendly. So we definitely had no complaints on the service front.
As for the food, we decided to play it safe and order dishes that received mostly positive reviews online. For entrees we ordered the spare ribs and the drunken chicken to share with a side of the egg noodles and a small bowl of brown rice. We had more than enough food.
The drunken chicken was good, like a fancier version of Chinese takeout. The chicken was fried and covered in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce served with greens covered in a mustard sauce that complemented them quite nicely.
The egg noodles were also excellent, definitely the best I’ve ever tried, and I probably could have eaten this side dish as an entrée like Pad Thai.
However the highlight of the dinner was the ribs. They were perfectly cooked, tender pieces of beef that literally melted off the bone. I didn’t intend to eat more than one piece, but in the end I definitely ate my fair share instead of passing up part of my portion to Dustin as I usually do. Although the drunken chicken and the egg noodles were both very good, I’d probably try something new if I ordered here again just for the sake of variety. The ribs on the other hand would definitely be a reorder. It’d be mighty tough to pass up those succulent morsels on a second go around.
The cocktails we ordered were also very good. I had a Absolut Cosmo, which was nothing incredibly special, but Dustin ordered a Knob Creek Old-Fashioned and was very complimentary of the job they did preparing his drink, noting the orange flavor was quite prominent.
We were pretty full by the time the dessert menu was presented, but if we had still left some room in our stomachs, we would have ordered the banana cake.
Our expectations of Monsoon East were definitely exceeded. We both agreed it was a good meal, not fabulous, but we’d go back, especially if we ever found another discount voucher. The prices here are a little steep, so for the undiscounted price, I think there are several other restaurants we’d rather go. But overall we had a very satisfactory experience here.