In a word: Doesn't blow.
Griffin ate the drunken noodles with a mango treasure.
Iona ate the pad thai with tofu.
JM ate the pad thai with pork.
Miranda ate the lemongrass tofu.
Nichole ate the Monsoon Siam fish: tilapia in black bean ginger sauce with a Thai iced coffee.
Phil ate the deep fried tofu with basil.
We split some cigar rolls.
The bill was $97, or $16ish/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Monsoon Siam an A- (see our grading rubric).
Monsoon Siam is not a large place. It fills in one of the store fronts betwixt Monty's and Tex Tubb's. So bringing in six was a little tight, but we went early enough to have it not impact their trade.
The menu is pretty focused: very much the opposite of the multi-volume Ha Long Bay menu. Much of what we tried was above average, but finding room for another Southeast Asian restaurant in this neighborhood was always going to be tricky.
Monsoon Siam rates its food on a five pepper scale and the three-pepper Drunken Noodles were ordered by one of the younger set. Sadly, this three-pepper iteration led to a four-alarm mouthfire. Sure, it would have been nice to know that it was too hot, but pepper scales are notoriously arbitrary. Fortunately, enough other food was left on other plates to sate the ambitious orderer, including lots of pad thai. Both pad thais were scrummed up, and both had enough nuts to give the dish the texture it needs. The pork was tender and the shrimp were good sized (not too big, but not mini and invisible).
On their signature fish dish, which comes fried or baked with a choice of three sauces, the baked-with-ginger-sauce really complemented the tilapia well, and Nichole was glad for the server's suggestion. Two tofu dishes were received differently: the lemongrass tofu was presented in an attractive way, but didn't really taste that good, ending up somewhere approaching meh. The deep fried tofu, on the other hand, was steadfast and reliable, very hearty, but not really shining.
Monsoon Siam's approach is both professional and family-friendly, which makes it a nice fit. One wonders, though, whether such a place might have done better in a portion of the city with less direct competition (that is, any part of the city other than just east of West Towne). We could see Monroe St. or Sherman Ave. welcoming this with steady traffic. Still, good Thai food is good Thai food and we'd recommend Monsoon Siam without reservation.