50/2 Park Street, Colombo 2
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Excellent South-East Asian cuisine in a beautiful and buzzing location.
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It’s a converted warehouse and the designers have preserved that feel very well. The roof is high but with no columns and the cross beams chopped off it’s ability to hold up is questionable.
Baskets with fresh ferns have been hung from roof, too high up to water. And naturally they have withered and are almost dead already Monsoon is open only for dinner and reservations are essential on weekends as lots of people are still coming to see this new restaurant.
Many things are good but the three basic essentials are wrong. The food is terrible, the prices are very high and the portions are small. Therefore the novelty will fade soon and no one will return unless they correct their act fast.
For example, one of the popular items on their menu, Beef Rendang, at Rs. 1,500+ per dish had none of the characteristic traditional flavours. It was tasteless with only a roasted cumin (local thunapaha) flavour and nothing else. Instead of the slow cooked solid texture, the beef had a mushy texture indicating quick cooking in a pressure cooker. And instead of a thick spicy gravy, it came barely tossed in a tasteless dip.
The much hyped Crispy BBQ ribs at Rs.1,600+ a portion was a disappointment even visually. The ribs were so small, it could have been the rib cage of a rabbit or even a chicken. It was not crispy at all and the little flaps of ribs were covered in a sickeningly sweet syrup. There was hardly any meat on it to eat. The ribs at Monsoon is a rip off compared to the solid racks of ribs served at the Shangri-La, TGIF and the Bavarian. At those restaurants , the price is much lower and the quality is streaks ahead.
Another much hyped dish, the Fragrant Prawns at Rs. Rs. 1,500+ per plate had only 5 small prawns. That’s the size of a starter at most Chinese restaurants in Colombo and its only half this price in those restaurents. Everything had fried curry leaves which is not at all SE Asian.
The selection of mains on the menu is very limited. The portions are very small, not enough on their own as a meal and they all cost over Rs. 1,500/ - a plate as the restaurant adds a further 30% to the menu prices.
The Desserts are Brownies, Sago pudding and sweet spring rolls. All of them failed to impress. They were obviously pre-made and had been around for awhile. All the food including desserts appear on your table super fast
Some of the chairs are strap chairs. The straps have sagged and they are extremely uncomfortable. The cushioned seats on the wall too are uncomfortable. The only comfortable chairs are the single chairs with cushions and they too aren't that comfortable. A nice toilet has been constructed way up on the wall, but everyone going in or out of it can be seen by everyone in the restaurant.
Bottled water, tonic and soda are reasonably priced. They don’t have a licence to sell liquor. Therefore, they allow you to bring your own wine, spirits and even beer without charging any corkage. Although they don’t sell any alcohol they provide high class service on that front: perfectly chilled white wine glasses, quality red wine glasses, slices of lemon for your gin, ice cubes for the drinks and ice buckets for the wine.
It is rather obvious that whites get special treatment at the Monsoon. The staff too seem to have been instructed to do so. Even the hostess who is very glum with locals s charming with whites and the Aussie floor supervisor and the Stewards too dance around their tables giving them a much better service than they do with locals.
There’s no band but there is very loud music that sets a lively mood. The best thing to do is to take your own drinks and go here for pre-dinner drinks. Have some starters here and move on to a better place for dinner.
Park Street is just off Dharmapala Mawatha, opposite the park. The Mews is a walking lane, you can park around back.
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