I Finally Get My Way

I’ve been not-so-subtly hinting at my desire to try Monsoon Siamfor a while now [scene: driving up market street at Vinegar Hill. Me: “Hey Shaun, I really really really want to go here. Really. REALLY.”]. I finally got my way this weekend, when we were both struck with a craving for Thai. The restaurant’s old-house look with a cute patio and silly string lights always catches my eye when I’m stuck in traffic on Market Street, which happens multiple times a day. No wonder Monsoon is always on my mind.

The inside of the restaurant doesn’t really make sense: it’s a hodge-podge of couches in one room with a tiny bar and some hippie-esque paraphernalia, and then another room with about 16 seats at mahogany tables – the most comfortable chairs in the world. Although it was around 7PM on a Saturday, we were the first diners there, but it filled up fast. Within 15 minutes of our arrival, there was a wait.

The menu is primarily Thai with some other Asian and Asian-American foods thrown in: appetizers, soups, entrees with rice, noodles, noodle bowls, and an entire page of vegetarian food [although you can pretty much get anything on the menu with tofu rather than meat or fish]. Needless to say, we were both pretty overwhelmed, and I already have the next 4-5 visits planned out because I wanted so many things.

We started with a “Fresh Roll,” which we didn’t know anything about. I was expecting one spring roll to come out on a tiny plate for the $4 it cost, but I was so wrong. It was a huge plate of rice wraps filled with avocado, carrot, cucumber, and basil. The rolls came with Hoisin peanut sauce: a garlic and chili pepper paste that tasted like spicy peanut butter. I can get down with peanut butter at any meal. Plus one on value already. Next came a small order of calamari [$6], tempura battered with a sweet chili sauce. The sauce was the best part, but the calamari was nothing special. I’d definitely branch out next time, but I didn’t feel as if we wasted money.

best $4 I've spent in a long time.

[P.S. sorry for the crappy photos. I didn’t feel like dragging the camera out, so I just used my iPhone]. For our meals, we ordered things we could split. I got the Pad Fresh Ginger with “Tofu Balls” [$10, would have been $8 with regular steamed tofu] – a stir-fry with fresh chunks of ginger, mushrooms, onions, scallions and bell peppers in a light black bean garlic sauce. The tofu balls were fried cakes made of tofu, potatoes and vegetables.

I had already taken a bite...

This was so good that after about a spoonful or so of rice, I pawned the rest off to Shaun because the dish didn’t even need it. The only substitution I would make next time would be regular steamed tofu rather than the tofu balls – they weren’t terribly exciting and the flavor of the tofu was masked by all the other things in the cake.

Shaun got the “Drunken Noodle,” [$8] which I really wanted to try but it was listed as one of the spiciest items on the menu, so I chickened out. But don’t be too concerned about the number of chili peppers next to the item – this wasn’t that spicy. It was flat, rice noodles and steamed tofu with onion, bamboo, tomatoes, peppers, beans, doused with chili basil sauce. LOVED it. The tofu was firm and soaked up the sauce, which was the perfect level of spicy [for me… Shaun could have gone hotter].

you probably can't even see it.

This was only my second Thai experience in Charlottesville [the first being Limeleaf on 29, which was definitely way more expensive, although the portions were much less reasonable there], but it was definitely the best. The prices were so agreeable that the food could have been a little bland and we probably would have come back – but thankfully the flavors overwhelmed the cost. Needless to say, I snagged the takeout menu [they deliver!] and will hopefully drag someone there ASAP – the noodle soups and pineapple fried rice are calling my name… I’ll check this one off the Bucket List again and again.

Note: the restaurant no longer has a website [can’t explain this], but they do offer takeout menus if you wanted to stop in [113 Market Street, across from Fellini’s #9] and pick one up.

*Siam, I learned, means “Thai.” It was an old nickname for the country of Thailand. That’s why a lot of Thai restaurants use the term Siam.


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Categories: C-Ville, Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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6 Comments on “I Finally Get My Way”

  1. October 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    I love Thai food too. Though I haven’t had it in a while. I now kind of want to go to my favorite Thai place!!! Those fresh rolls look good. I’ve heard of similar things but I find the addition of avocado to be very enticing.

  2. October 31, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Thai is something I always forget about, then eat and remember I love. Philly didn’t really have a good Thai food scene, so it had been almost a year since we had eaten it. Now I’m hooked again, and will probably even make it for dinner tonight…

    • October 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

      But DC boasts a few very good Thai restaurants and even a place that will make it very spicy for me when I ask!

      • November 1, 2011 at 7:24 am #

        D.C. does have a really good ethnic food scene. I live so close but rarely make it up there. It’s my goal to get up there for a day sometime soon.

      • November 2, 2011 at 10:06 am #

        If you need a tourguide feel fee to ask me. The best Thai restaurants are outside of the city in nearby jurisdictions. We could have a blog party!


  1. Test Kitchen: Tofu “Plus”? | Ryes and 'Shine - November 1, 2011

    […] garlic and chili peppers. I had high hopes this would satisfy my lingering Thai craving after Saturday night’s awesome dinner. i'm a twin oaks […]

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