Capitol Hill food+drink | Expanded Monsoon part of trio of new Banh projects

New Monsoon to your left, old Monsoon to your right (Image: CHS)

New Monsoon to your left, old Monsoon to your right (Image: CHS)

When the reinvented and fully expanded Monsoon reopens on 19th Ave E sometime in the early days of July, it will mark a full recovery for ambitions knocked for a loop in the late 2000s. It will also be a part of a great expansion of Eric Banh’s culinary vision as he prepares to create a new venue on E Jefferson and add new resources to his growing-again empire.

A representative for Banh and his business partner and sister Sophie Banh declined to comment citing the early status of the projects but CHS has learned details of two additional venues being created as part of Banh’s food and drink investments that will join the expanded Monsoon once construction is completed.

  • Monsoon 2.0 is nearly ready for launch as work is completed and permits finalized for the expanded space planned to double capacity, incorporate a bar, and add a rooftop patio to the restaurant that has stood at the address since 1999. Monsoon remained open and serving through the $400,000 construction project that began back in October. The changes were designed by The Architecture Department who created plans for the original transition of Monsoon from the former Craig’s cafe space that stood at the site.In addition to a bigger Monsoon, Banh told CHS last fall to expect a brighter, livelier space. Like his Monsoon East (2008) and Ba Bar (2011), the new Monsoon will include a full bar and an upgraded appetizer and bar menu to accompany, honed, Banh said, by the experiences he has had making the other restaurants into top-notch cocktail and dinner venues. A revamped kitchen will also have the resources needed to support an oyster bar, Banh said.
  • MediaHandler (1)Jefferson project: Banh’s name is also on a 3,700 square-foot restaurant project underway replacing offices in a building  at 1305 E Jefferson. Banh’s camp would only say the new project will not be a live music venue dispelling one rumor going around a local community group. There are no official details on the concept for the restaurant project but Banh has told customers he’s recently attended butcher’s training so there might be something meaty in store.
  • IMG_91871Ba Bar changes: Permits indicate two construction projects approved for the 12th Ave barstaurant will include the enclosure of an outside area on the building’s southwest corner and the construction of a large commercial kitchen on Ba Bar’s backside.

“It’s amazing how the world turns around,” Banh told CHS in October as we first reported on the Monsoon expansion plans. “We almost became homeless in 2007. We survived. And now we’re growing. A little bit.”

Eric Banh as Ba Bar opened in 2011 (Image: CHS)

Eric Banh as Ba Bar opened in 2011 (Image: CHS)

There have been sacrifices along the way — the Banhs sold Baguette Box in 2011 to keep their other ventures moving forward. But it looks like, soon, the Monsoon family will be growing a lot.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Monsoon is located at 615 19th Ave E. You can learn more at

UPDATE: Here’s the big announcement on the Monsoon expansion finally opening:

Monsoon’s Expansion Opens Today

Doubled Capacity with a Gorgeous New Bar

SEATTLE, July 21, 2014 — Eric and Sophie Banh are trilled to announce that Monsoon’s expanded space officially opens today at 11:30am. Construction crews have been hard at work all spring creating an elegant addition directly to the south of the original space.

The 800 square-foot addition has 40 seats, nine of which are at the bar. The entire space is considered Monsoon’s bar area, and will be 21+. The back of the bar is covered in white tiles reminiscent of oyster shells, accented with glossy red shelving. A large light fixture made of wound branches hangs over the bar, complementing the warm bar top. The edges of the bar, a long slab of White Leaf Maple, have been left raw, with the original contours of the tree, giving the bar a soft, natural feeling. There are exposed concrete walls on the west side of the space and large sliding windows all across the east, on 19th Avenue, making it possible to open up the side of the building and let the sunny summer air in.

There are two-tops along the windows and banquette seating at the south end of the space. In the center is a large communal table that can seat 12, or be divided into three four-tops with the addition of long, low vases. Teal cushions on the bar stools add color, and complement the warm wood of the bar and window frames. A floral pattern graces the east wall, and there are the same woven conical hats hanging in the new space as there are in the old.


The same menu will be available across the entire space, new and old, though the Banhs will be adding a chilled seafood portion of the menu. The kitchen has been amped up with all new and additional equipment, to keep up with doubled capacity. Eric is excited to get back in the kitchen and spend some time cooking at Monsoon, which recently celebrated its 15th birthday. The new seafood items include: oysters on the half shell; oyster shooters with Vietnamese flavors like tamarind, lemongrass, and chili or garlic chips, sate sauce, lemon, and basil; seafood platters composed with the likes of oysters, clams, smoked mussels, uni, crab, and lobster; razor clams with nuoc mam, garlic chips, and roasted peanuts; chilled Louisiana gulf shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce; and an Alaskan halibut and bay scallop ceviche with cilantro, habanero, and mango.


Happy hour will be available only in the bar area, and the hours are from 3pm to 6pm, then 9pm to midnight. Bar director Jon Christiansen has developed an outstanding new cocktail lineup, with drinks like: the Uyeda Cocktail with fresh watermelon juice, shōchū, gomme syrup, and lime; the Eaven Whisper with gin, snap pea gomme syrup, and muddled shiso; and the Sayulita, with hibiscus & chili-infused tequila, crushed cilantro, house grenadine, and lime, served in an absinthe-rinsed glass. He’ll also have a handful of non-alcoholic drinks like a Starfruit-Tarragon Shrub with soda and a Dilly Elixer with dill syrup, celery bitters, and soda. The expanded space means Christiansen can get even more inventive with his house-made shrubs, syrups, and juices—even a house made chianto.

Opened in 1999, by sibling chefs Sophie and Eric Banh, Monsoon is acclaimed for introducing modern Vietnamese cuisine to Seattle. Tucked into a quaint Capitol Hill neighborhood, this Seattle gem is widely influenced by the culinary traditions of Saigon, as well as the fresh ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. In addition to time spent in the kitchen, Eric maintains an award-winning wine list. Monsoon opens for lunch at 11:30am Monday – Friday and Saturday and Sunday at 10am for weekend brunch. Dinner is served until 10pm Sunday – Thursday and until 11pm Friday andSaturday. Happy hour is daily from 3pm to 6pm and again from 9pm to midnight. Monsoon offers local lunch box delivery. For reservations or more information, call 206.325.2111 or visit

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