Having had many terrific meals over the 14 years we lived in Seattle, it says a lot that I would take up space here to report on one we had on our first trip back. I remembered eating at Monsoon once before and enjoying it, but our dinner there on Saturday night was nothing short of extraordinary. The James Beard Foundation got it right when it observed that Chef Eric Bahn "artfully merges the traditional flavorings from his native Vietnam with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest, and neither component is overshadowed by the other."
I can't get the carmelized idaho catfish claypot with coconut juice, green onions and thai chilies out of my mind - sweet, salty, spicy and sour all at once. Another stellar dish was the grilled monterey squid stuffed with duck meat, basil and jicama, with each flavor taking center stage as you ate. The Washington white corn and berkshire pork belly were a delicious combination - but perhaps even more inspired was nodrog's instinct to dunk a spoonful of both in the claypot to soak up the broth! The wine list was no less impressive - with many reasonably priced and interesting choices. Our recent fascination with German white wines was easily satisfied with a Hexamer riesling spatlese. Who says screw-tops can't compete with cork?
Now, how to convince them to open a branch in Toronto?