I was on my way to Belmont Shore with some friends last night when I noticed Monsoon, a bizarrely decorated place on East Broadway just South of downtown. From outside you can see an interior packed with modern art and lit by old fashioned streetlamps and strings of small Christmas tree lights. We were curious and stopped in, and we're really glad we did.
Monsoon is a weird and wonderful Indian restaurant with some very modern ideas. We started with vegetable somosas that had strong hints of clove and cinnamon and a very fresh mint chutney, followed by pakoras that were more like mixed vegetable latkes than what I expected. Both were excellent, though we thought the tamarind mango chutney that came with the pakoras should have been chopped a bit finer.
For mains we chose the codfish tandoori over garlic mashed potatoes (ordered medium hot) and the vegetable dumplings (ordered spicy). The latter provoked an interesting discussion about the level of pain that can be actually enjoyable, and how close to the line this particular item was. The sauce was deep, intense, and rich, and we mopped up every bit. The codfish was good but not at all what we expected, with the fish tandoori-roasted and then presented in a medium-spicy sauce than the unadorned presentation of the seafood over vegetables. It was quite good but left aside the question of how well codfish would work as a separate tandoori item.
The wine list by the bottle or glass is very good for an Indian place, and the owner knows her list well. Bill for two appetizers, two entrees with side dishes, garlic naan and roti bread, was $43.00 without tip - quite reasonable for the quality of food and individual attention. The restaurant is open nightly for dinner, but is sold out almost every Friday until February for private parties and Indian weddings. I give a high recommendation to this one - it's the best food I know of in Long Beach. Expect much more individual service on weeknights, as by the owner's admission it's too hectic on weekends for her to chat with diners, recommend wines, et cetera.
2751 East Broadway