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Monsoon (UWS)

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After going to the Museum of Natural History on Saturday (mobbed, and frankly I was disappointed by both the Space Show and the Big Bang in the new planetarium, although the Scales of the Universe exhibit was really interesting), my husband and I were hungry and ate at Monsoon.

I'd been there once before and enjoyed my meal (shimp on sugarcane, papaya salad, whole steamed fish with veggies), although it was nothing to rave about. And this time the food was again, pretty good, but nothing to write home about (vegetarian mixed appetizer, cellophane noodles with vegetables, tofu with lycium & veggies).

However, two things are worth mentioning in detail. The lemongrass iced tea is very good-- sweet and spicy all at once. And the black bean & banana dessert is one of the most memorable desserts I've had in a while. There's a crispy, almost eggroll kind of shell (but much lighter and flakier than normal) which surrounds a sweetened black bean paste which in turn surrounds mashed, frozen banana. The whole thing is fried for just a moment, yielding a wonderfully crispy shell, warm beans and cold banana. The whole thing is cut up into eight pieces and drizzled with caramel sauce.

The combination of temperatures, textures and flavors is delicious, and the beans add a richness that tastes truly sinful but isn't. Worth a stop if you're in the area craving something sweet and a little unusual.

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