The Watering Hole:Monsoon East, 10245 Main St., 425-635-1112. BELLEVUE.
The Atmosphere: Perhaps one of the most celebrated restaurants in Bellevue, Monsoon is many a culinarian's go-to for good food on the eastside. The tones are unmistakably Asian, with warm lighting, beautiful accents and cozy seating to coax diners back into the arms of a giant Vietnamese hug. Pair with that spot-on delicious food made by cooks who have been in the trenches long enough to know how to properly grill seafood and season beef. Even the tofu coming out of this kitchen is exciting. The bar is a bright distraction from the dimly-lit dining room, where diners seem to be head-down, enthralled with what's on their plate. Here, the atmosphere is a joyful one, especially during happy hour, which is when we decided to First Call. Maybe the recently-launched cocktail menu had something to do with all of the happy faces. Nah, it was probably the discounted food.
The Barkeep: Noah Momyer (MOH'-meyer). He's been at Monsoon East for seven months. Before that, you might have seen him at Mistral Kitchen. Originally from Southern California, Momyer has been a Seattleite for about three years. The weather hasn't scared him off yet.
"When it's nice, you realize all the things you have to do out here and it's great," says Momyer. "I went to Discovery Park for the first time a couple of weeks ago."
Another thing on Momyer's discovery list: bars.
"I like hitting dive bars on the way home and just have a shot and a beer after making cocktails all night. For good drinks, I like The Innkeeper. I live in Belltown, so I've been going there. They're awesome. They know what they're doing. They have a great liquor selection, which is pretty rare for Belltown. Spur is great. Of course there's also Canon, Mistral Kitchen and Zig Zag."
Meet Mr. Ricardo
The Drink: A Ricardo, which is Momyer's take on a Rickey. It's made with two kinds of gin: one infused with wu wei tea and the other infused with plums (Averell Damson gin). Fresh lime juice and agave nectar are also added before the whole thing is topped with soda water and served on the rocks.
The Verdict: It may look like your average 'pink drink,' but this had more body to it, more substance. It was very refreshing and not overly alcoholic. A tad on the sweet side. The tea-infused gin is the prominent flavor, which is great if you're also not accustomed to those clover, herbal notes of wu wei.