Monsoon — An Asian Kitchen And Lounge, from the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, is Now Open

(Long Island, NY…24 February 2012) Monsoon — An Asian Kitchen and Lounge (www.monsoonny.com 48 Deer Park Avenue, Babylon, NY 11702 [631] 587-4400), presented by the Bohlsen Restaurant Group (www.brgroup.biz) is now open.

Monsoon, connoting seasonal weather changes across Asia, represents a wind of change in concept and menu for the Bohlsen Restaurant Group (BRG). It is the group’s first Asian themed restaurant and its sixth establishment on Long Island preceded by Prime: An American Kitchen and Bar in Huntington, H2O Seafood Grill in Smithtown; Tellers Chophouse and VERACE in Islip; and Beachtree in East Islip.

As thought leaders on the Long Island restaurant dining scene, Michael and Kurt Bohlsen base their vision for Monsoon on what they believe diners want will want next: not just the stop before the night out, but the whole night out. Monsoon is a sanctuary of 21st century design and pleasures from its pan-Asian inspired dishes, some with an American twist and all expertly prepared in a state-of-the-art kitchen where diners may view the live action, to its hip lounge and elegant dining rooms with special effect lighting and high tech entertainment.

Modern Asian Cuisine the Bohlsen Way

The Monsoon experience is rooted in a family-style sharing menu motivated by the Asian travels of the Bohlsen brothers and their admiration for the culture and cuisine. Selections bridge the gap between the traditional cuisines of China, Thailand and Vietnam, with a commitment to Long Island’s palate for dynamic yet comfortable Asian flavors. Favorite fish and meat proteins are prepared with both new and familiar Asian spices and vegetables using the most advanced cooking tools.

Monsoon’s opening chef is “Bohlsen-ized” Michael Wilson. A presence in the Bohlsen Restaurant Group since 2009, Wilson began as a line cook at VERACE, where he was most recently executive chef, and served as sous chef at Prime — An American Kitchen and Bar. With Monsoon’s inception, Wilson was whisked away to develop Monsoon’s menu. The graduate of Johnson & Wales spent his first six years between Kingston’s Clam Bar in West Sayville, NY and the Florida Keys ultimately as its executive chef. Wilson credits his dedication and respect for food to his mandatory, nightly family dinners growing up in West Sayville. He believes not only in staying true to the classics in terms of what cannot change but all that can be created with the tools and ingredients of Asian cuisine.

Accessibility is afforded both by menu breadth and pricing. Dim sum, served in small or bite-sized portions, include a signature pork spring roll with Saigon chili-fish sauce but also crispy fried tofu served with chili radish, ginger and Thai basil; and, yellowfin tuna spring rolls ($8 – $16). Steamed buns may be filled with a variety of meat options that include pork, chicken, beef or duck ($9 – $10) Appetizers, both cold and hot, include Vietnamese summer rolls with rice noodles, shrimp and pork from the cold appetizer menu, and, spicy rock shrimp tempura with crispy garlic and ginger from the hot appetizer menu ($9 – $15). The fish menu offers an array of dishes such as the millionaire’s curry crab, and, kung pao monkfish with Szechuan chili sauce ($19 – $39). Among the meat offerings is black pepper beef with Chinese broccoli and garlic chives ($24). Monsoon also offers Peking duck for two from their custom-built duck oven, served with hoisin, scallion, cucumber and steamed buns ($68).

The rice and noodle menu offers steamed jasmine rice, seafood deluxe fried rice with lobster, shrimp, scallion and fried egg ($3 – $16). Four vegetable choices are Chinese broccoli, spicy eggplant, baby bok choy kim chee and wok fried morning glory ($8 – $9). A nod to Japan is also given with sushi selections including the Monsoon roll with Maine lobster, spicy tuna, avocado and jalapeno ($19).

Desserts ($7) run the gamut between decidedly American and Asian inspired. There are soft serve ice cream cones with flavors depending on the season, fried Oreos and lemongrass crème brûlée. Closing the circle of Asian-American touches are house-made fortune cookies with messages courtesy of Monsoon’s home team.

What’s Pouring at Monsoon

Topping the cocktail list are a 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). Garnishes such as oven-dried plum tomato bruschetta with sesame seeds are prepared by the prep and pastry teams. To pair well with Asian flavors, the 100-bottle wine list emphasizes Rieslings and light-to-medium-bodied reds. Monsoon will also feature six wines on tap, three white and three red, in step with the emerging trend of wines being offered from steel kegs. The beer list features domestic standbys along with Asian imports.

Transporting Design

The exterior of the former Bank of Babylon building is lit like a jewel-box with bright white lights illuminating the expansive grey stone exterior restored to its original luster. Guests are warmly greeted by doormen and host who espouse the trademark of gracious hospitality Asia is so well known for.

Through the main entrance into the ground floor of the 9,500 square-foot interiors with 35-foot high ceiling are walls wrapped in deep red tiles and black lattice window screens carved with BRG, the group’s moniker, that let in daylight and at night are creatively lit.

Overhead is an 8-foot by 12-foot video screen projects images of the wonders of the world, both natural and architectural, plus world-famous artworks. A custom-made short film, produced just for Monsoon, plays nightly yet ends differently each evening. The storyline features two martial artists, each draped in one of Monsoon’s color waves, in scenes of red versus black.

At the center of the lounge area are three six-foot long communal tables inviting guests to gather, chat, drink or share finger food. The 30-foot long bar, stretching along the entire north wall, incorporates a double-sided, glass-framed temperature controlled wine storage unit. Beyond the lounge is the main dining floor with a mix of seating at booths, tables and two semi-private dining rooms. A luxuriously styled ladies room provides elegant indulgences such as a complimentary house telephone, a generously-sized mirror and vanity plus resting couch.

Back to the front of the house, stairs leading to a second floor dining area provide a bird’s eye view of the action in the lounge area. Along the wall is an iPad serving as photo booth to Tweet, SMS or e-mail shots on the spot. Once at the upstairs level, through a 20-foot long viewing window, diners are treated to an inside look at the action in a kitchen designed by James Beard award winning and world-renowned kitchen designer Jimi Yui.

The flow of energy manifests underground too. Here resides a complete prep kitchen but also an IT room with miles of wires to light up and entertain in this restaurant of the 21st century.