Moontree Asian Tapas boasts an impressive five-star rating average on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook, so my expectations were reasonably high for my first visit. I’m happy to say that Moontree Asian Tapas doesn’t disappoint. Make a reservation, and expect all you want.
Chef Moon Hee and his wife, Jin Hee, opened the restaurant about a year ago. Jin works the front of the house while Chef Moon puts to use almost twenty years of culinary experience. He was professionally trained in the culinary arts in South Korea, and has worked as a chef at a French steakhouse, sous chef at Sushi Roku at the W Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, and head chef at a sushi restaurant.
“This was his ultimate dream,” Jin said of the fusion Japanese tapas restaurant they have created together on the Everett waterfront.
The Hees opened Moontree Asian Tapas in June 2015. Since then it has quickly gained a reputation for delicious small plates and entrees, noodle dishes and salads, and all-around artful plating and presentation. They source fresh sea-food and ingredients and make their sauces from scratch. On the menu, you’ll find a fusion of modern Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes that incorporate European techniques, meant to entice guests with varied palettes to try new dishes prepared with fresh ingredients and careful technique.
“Not everyone is fond of raw fish,” Jin said. “Moon wants to create things so beautiful and flavorful that guests won’t even care that they are eating raw fish.”
The plating is truly exquisite. When I visited I opted to try five tapas dishes from the happy hour menu; all arrived to the table on a variety of plates and bowls with mouthwatering garnishes, from crispy lotus chips to green onions in a house-made ginger teriyaki sauce.
“Chef Moon really believes everything should be fresh,and he’s very precise with his garnishes. It should look pretty, because you eat with your eyes first,” Jin said.
These are dishes you’ll want to feast your eyes on. Served in the order they were prepared, the first dish to arrive to the table was the albacore ceviche served with Asian salsa and crispy onion. I loved the fresh taste of the salsa and the added crunch from the onion. Next, the popcorn salmon tempura battered and tossed in a delectable sweet ginger sauce. Then, beef short ribs with a soy glaze, scallions and mixed vegeta-bles, and crispy rice with fish, eel sauce, and the aforemen-tioned lotus chips. After each dish, I said to myself, surely that was my favorite. And each time, I was pleasantly surprised.
You’ll want to visit with a friend or family member who enjoys talking about food as much as you do, and who is game to share a wide variety of dishes, though some are so good you may find yourself negotiating over the last bite. The happy hour prices are hard to beat and the portions are just right. For entrees, try the yaki udon or the coconut red curry sauce with noodles.
Looking back on their first year in business, Jin said that one of the most rewarding aspects of owning a restaurant has been the people. “As they’re leaving, people give me hugs. They say, ‘Thanks for being here. Thanks for being part of Everett.’ And I think that’s every restaurant’s goal, to do things with your passion that make people’s eyes light up. That just totally makes your day.”
For a truly special occasion and one-of-a-kind dining expe-rience, consider making reservations for the eight-course Omakase ($85 per person). Reservations must be made two weeks in advance. Jin then calls in advance to discuss your dietary restrictions and personal preferences, and together Chef Moon and Jin will design a menu especially for you and your guest. It’s a very personal experience.
The waterfront dining room and patio are stylish with picturesque views but offer limited seating, so it’s a good idea to make dinner reservations in advance. Watch the sun set while you enjoy plate after plate of artfully presented, delicious fusion cuisine.
1728 West Marine View Dr., #112, Everett