HOURS: 4-6:30pm daily, 9-10pm Sunday-Thursday,Fri and Sat 9-11pm.
PRICES: Food specials $1-$5; Beer and wine specials from $3-5, specialty cocktails $6.

Note: The Seattle location of Monsoon no longer offers happy hour.

You know when something is so good that it makes you feel kind of crazy to think about? That’s how I feel about homey-style Vietnamese food.

It’s been that way since I was 12 and my Vietnamese friend’s mother served a dinner she’d been preparing all day long: bite-sized, deep-fried spring rolls and a hotpot feast with pork and veggies and, if memory serves, some purpley pieces of liver too. Okay those kind of scared me, but still. That dinner tasted so right, it was kind of like experiencing food for the first time. From then on out, I tried my best to be around whenever the Phams were about to sit down to dinner.

Now, Monsoon does not serve the family-meal food that Mrs. Pham used to make. The Bahn siblings are all about the organic, local meats and the Northwest veggies and whatnot. But there is one dish on their happy hour menu—amazing, by the way: eight plates at $5, plus $5 glasses of wine (this, at a restaurant whose regular by-the-glass offerings begin at $9)—that reminds me of her food: Sticky rice with dried shrimp and lap suong, with a fried egg that you break and mush in with the other ingredients. This may not be the best example of the masterful dishes for which Monsoon is known—the catfish claypot, the drunken chicken—but wow, is that some well-wrought comfort food. Other highlights are the beef carpaccio and the crispy spare ribs.

Monsoon East Happy Hour food menu (updated January 2010)

Local oyster on the half shell, $1 each
five dollar food specials:
spicy ahi w/ taro chips and lemon aioli
ahi poke w/ ogo seaweed and cucumber
beef carpaccio w/ rau ram & peanuts
bo la lot beef(la lot leaves wrapped around flank steak and grilled)
grilled lemongrass chicken skewers
crispy chicken wings w/sweet chili lime sauce
carlton farms pork ribs w/ hoisin bbq sauce
saigon sliders
five spice beef shank w/ lotus stem & bean sprouts
fried salt & pepper calamari
papaya salad w/ peanuts & crispy shallots

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