The Bohlsen Way
By The Foodies./ firstname.lastname@example.org
Brothers Michael and Kurt Bohlsen spent three weeks eating
their way through Asia with their restaurant groups
corporate chef, Cornelius Gallagher, to create the perfect
menu for Monsoon, their newest culinary adventure. Making
stops in Hong Kong, Saigon and Bangkok, the trio got a taste
for traditional Asian dishes and made plans to bring them
to Long Island, with a modern twist.
Taking over the Bank of Babylon building on Deer Park Avenue,
the Bohlsen Restaurant Group the people behind Huntingtons
Prime An American Kitchen and Bar, H2O Seafood Grill
in Smithtown, Tellers Chophouse and Verace in Islip, and Beachtree
in East Islip have created a place where trendy meets
tradition. Modern décor with a red and black color
scheme takes over the ultra-hip lounge area and dining rooms
of the 9,500 square-foot interior with 35-foot ceilings. Meanwhile,
lazy Susans, chopsticks and several dipping sauces on the
tables tell patrons theyre in for something special
pan-Asian inspired dishes, some with an American twist,
rooted in a family-style sharing menu.
When we were traveling through Asia, we found most of
the food was served the same way. The food was put in the
middle and youd take what you wanted to eat, Michael
The Asian kitchen and lounge opened to a packed house last
week, featuring an eclectic menu and hopping, sophisticated
lounge area. The family-style nature of the dining tends to
move dinner along quicker than more typical restaurants, but
that plays into the Bohlsens ultimate plan for diners
to make their evening at Monsoon an all-night affair. Dine
on fine Asian cuisine and then relax in the lounge, sipping
on a signature cocktail and enjoying the atmosphere.
The dining scene on Long Island is changing. People
arent looking for only good food, but also entertainment,
Michael Bohlsen said. So we decided to build a restaurant
that gives you somewhere to go after dinner.
At the center of the lounge area are three 6-foot long communal
tables inviting guests to gather, chat, drink or share finger
food. Along the wall is an iPad serving as a photo booth to
Tweet or email photos on the spot. Overhead is an 8-foot by
12-foot video screen projecting images of the wonders of the
world, both natural and architectural, and a custom-made short
film, produced just for Monsoon, plays nightly but ends differently
Atop the cocktail list is the Signature Babylon Express made
of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, St. Germain, lime and pineapple
($13) and a Green Tea Mojito made with Beefeater Gin infused
with green tea, lime and mint leaves ($11). The 100-bottle
wine list emphasizes Rieslings and light-to-medium-bodied
reds. Six wines are on tap, and the beer list features domestic
staples alongside Asian imports.
Beyond the lounge is the main dining floor with a mix of seating
at booths, tables and two semi-private dining rooms. Stairs
leading to the second floor provide a birds-eye view
of the lounge and lead you to more tables. Upstairs, through
a 20-foot viewing window, diners can get an inside look at
the kitchen, designed by award-winning kitchen designer Jimi
Yui, where speakers of both Cantonese and English get to work
creating Monsoons signature Asian dishes.
Helming the kitchen is opening chef Michael Wilson who, with
Gallagher, developed the Monsoon menu. Wilson started at Verace
in 2009 and served as its executive chef; he also served as
sous chef at Prime in 2010. A graduate of Johnson & Wales,
he spent his first six years between Kingstons Clam
Bar in West Sayville and the Florida Keys, ultimately serving
as its executive chef.
The food is beautifully presented and clearly made with care,
boasting ingredients unfamiliar to many, like wok-fried morning
glory, an Asian vegetable.
Dim sum items ($8-$16) include dumplings made with hand-made
har gow dough (we were big fans of the edamame version) and
a signature pork spring roll with Saigon chili-fish sauce.
Chinese buns are cooked in a custom-designed dumpling steamer
and may be filled with a variety of meat options that include
pork, chicken, beef or duck ($9-$10). Appetizers ($9-$15)
include Vietnamese summer rolls with rice noodles, shrimp
and pork, and spicy rock shrimp tempura with crispy garlic
Favorite fish and meat items are prepared with both new and
familiar Asian spices. The fish menu offers an array of dishes
such as the millionaires curry crab, and kung pao monkfish
with Szechuan chili sauce ($19-$39). The miso-glazed black
cod, served with spicy eggplant and sweet chili sauce, is
exotic and satisfying. Among the meat offerings is black pepper
beef with Chinese broccoli and garlic chives ($24), but the
Shaking Beef is truly something special. Cubed filet mignon
is tender and tasty, accented by Thai basil, Shishito peppers
and a sweet soy glaze. Monsoon also offers Peking duck for
two from their custom-built duck oven ($68).
The rice and noodle menu offers steamed jasmine rice and seafood
deluxe fried rice with lobster, shrimp, scallion and fried
egg ($3-$16). We got to taste the Wild Mushroom Chow Fun,
made with fresh noodles and delivering a spicy kick. A nod
to Japan is also given with sushi selections, including the
must-try Monsoon Roll, with Maine lobster, spicy tuna, avocado
and jalapeno ($19).
Desserts run the gamut between American and Asian-inspired.
Choices include soft-serve ice cream cones, fried Oreos and
lemongrass crème brulee, as well as house-made fortune
cookies. The flourless chocolate torte gets a slight kick
from the hint of chili oil.
Though the exterior of Monsoon will always pay tribute to
the 1920s-era Bank of Babylon, the interior from design
to cuisine is truly Bohlsen.
48 Deer Park Ave., Babylon