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Apr 24, 2008 01:49 PM

Monkey Bridge

I tried take-out from the new Monkey Bridge restaurant in Ballard (Vietnamese food). I did not call to order ahead, and it took a very long time to take my order, let me pay, and send me on my way. The space is nice - they are trying for some atmosphere with some pretty silks on the walls and a water fountain in front, so it's not just an asian fast-food/take-out joint, but it's also not anything fancy.

I got an order of spring rolls - they were tasty, but nothing special.

For my main, I got the Vietnamese pork chop (with fried egg). It was served over rice with a little cabbage slaw. All in all, it was tasty and if I'd never experienced the heaven of excellent Vietnamese porkchops before, I would not have been the least bit disappointed.

They also threw in a chicken/rice soup, gratis. The soup was great - reminded me of the congee I make.

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  1. We had lunch here a few weeks ago and thought it was quite good. Not Green Leaf good but very nice to have in Ballard. The staff could not have been nicer. We dined in and it was quite quick

    1. I stopped in for pho a couple weeks back and thought that it was good (good hit of cinnamon and anise). I thought that it was much better than Than Bros, especially given the fact that they've got the spring rolls. I'd agree that the rolls were tasty, but not special. In all, a welcome addition to Ballard.

      5 Replies
      1. re: BallardFoodie

        I am excited to try their pho. I love than bros, but I wish they had something else on their menu like spring rolls to round out the meal as I am probably the only person alive who doesn't like their creme puffs (I used to love them, but I think I OD'ed on them in college).

        1. re: akq

          That's one of the reasons why I'm not a fan of the Than Bros and others like them. Would it kill them to offer something other than pho? I mean, how hard is it to throw together a fresh spring roll? That's all I'm really asking for.

          1. re: BallardFoodie

            Hello akq and Ballard Foodie,
            I'm not trying to rudely "school" you when I say this but Than Bros is a pho house not a general restaurant. Just like in Vietnam, that's all they do for food. Many shops are one-item places. A spring roll is basically the same thing without the soup but unlike pho it takes longer to serve and gets in the way of quick pho service. Please notice that Than Bros. has the best prices in town hands down and yes, serving other things will affect their prices. You get to enjoy the good pricing because they are specialists. There are other places that serve better pho but Than Bros. prices are hard to beat.

            In my experience, pho houses have the better pho. They're places where you slam down your bowl then head out, not places to tarry and chat. If you want more choices you gotta go somewhere else and please, don't try to tell someone from another culture how to serve their own food.

            Back on topic, reports on Monkey Bridge from my friends has been mixed but I'm hoping they have some good items as I live in Ballard and it's within walking distance.

            1. re: jorgebob

              Hello jorgebob, Thank you for not rudely "schooling" me. :) I get that Than Bros is a one-trick-pony (two, I guess, if you count the cream puffs)...but that's the problem. It may work for some people, but for me, I find myself sometimes choosing to eat inferior (or more expensive) pho somewhere else, just because I'd like to have a spring roll with my meal. It's the same problem with Whole Foods not selling my beloved diet pepsi - I know that if I shop at WF I will have to make a separate trip to safeway for dp, so sometimes, even when I want to go to WF, I just skip it because I don't want to make the inevitable second stop. If TB served other foods, I'd go there more often and spend more money. If WF sold diet pepsi, I'd go there more often and spend more money. Probably they don't care whether I'd go there more often, but I still maintain that it's valid to say, as I did, that "I *wish* they had something else on their menu..."

              1. re: akq

                I guess I am with jorgebob on this one. I've travelled in parts of Asia and from my experience, it is much more common to find places that specialize in a particular dish and so the restaurant serves its one dish exceptionally well. The concept of specialization versus generalization. If I want good pho, I want good pho and I go to the best place that serves good pho. A spring roll is secondary--when I get a craving for spring rolls, I go to the spring roll place. Life is too short to eat "okay" pho in deference to having a spring roll. . . . especially when the choice is between good pho and a spring roll......; ) When it comes to my food, I think specialization leads to yummier food.

      2. On one visit I thought the food was okay but nothing special. The (fresh) spring rolls were blah (too many bean sprouts, and I didn't care for the plum sauce they came with). The meat/prawns on top of the vermicelli bowls were good but the dipping sauce was too fishy for my taste (I've never had this issue at other Vietnamese places). The space is nice and service was good, though.

        1. We went for lunch last week and had a the monkey bridge noodle bowl (shrimp, pork, spring roll) and the dumpling soup. The noodle bowl was OK, the shrimp was cooked too long and the pork didn't have any of that good flavor. The soup was OK, the broth had good flavor, but the dumplings were just ok. Might go back just because they are close but wouldn't otherwise.

          4 Replies
          1. re: thevioletpear

            We had dinner there a couple weeks ago. The one thing i liked was the atmosphere was very pleasant for dining in, as opposed to than's cafeteria chrome. Everything was very good, but nothing amazing. They made a special order for my kids, meatball pho in smaller portion. Beef pho did not come with raw meat, but was already in the soup. Not sure if this is the norm, as we get take out from most places, where it comes in a separate container. I know I have had it on the side in some places, but the meat was more cooked through than we prefer. Had a lemongrass chicken that was good also, but could have used a little more heat.

            Had trouble with our spring roll order, as they brought it to the wrong table, and then it was the wrong thing, but they comped it. staff was very accomodating and very friendly.

            will probably going back, but not in a rush.

            1. re: bluedog67

              Meat usually comes already in the pho. The only time I've seen it served raw on the side is when I've gotten takeout.

              1. re: christy319

                I usually, when ordering pho tai, request the tai on the side so I can control the cooking of the meat.

                1. re: dagrassroots

                  I'd never thought of that! Thanks - I'm going to do that from now on too!

          2. Went last night. The two shrimp apps were too greasy though the flavors of the roll thing were good. The shrimp toast app was kind of a disaster. I ordered the lemongrass pork noodle bowl and it was not so good. I can make this dish at home much better, or go to Pho Cyclo or Bambuza where they do it right. I think my meal was supposed to come with soup but it didn't. My SO had the dumpling soup and I thought it was delicious. Was a litte surprised that the soup didn't come with the Vietnamese soup sides--jalapeno, basil, sprouts. Still, the soup was promising. I think we'll go back and try some soups and bahn mis next time. We both love Vietnamese and it's right in Ballard so I want to find the good dishes on their menu. The wine list is very limited but the fume blanc they have (also available by the bottle for $25) goes well with Vietnamese food. The space is nice and the people are nice so we'll probably give them another chance or two.