Monkey 68 Kitchen and Bar in Alpharetta is inside a quaint, historic house sharing space with a pottery workshop in an airy building with high ceilings, modern paintings, globe lights and a sleek bar. It seats 55 inside and 20 outside on the patio. The front patio is for prime “people watching,” eating and lounging by the front door adjacent to an artificial waterfall.
The restaurant’s interior has a modern flair with brushed metals, retro tile and charcoal mellow gray textures that accent a central bar and a split-level dining room.
Monkey 68’s original location is near bustling Canton Street in the heart of
Roswell. It’s owned by Mali Hu and George Muh, serving a diverse blend of Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean-inspired dishes. In December 2019 Monkey 68 opened the Main Street spot in Alpharetta.
General Manager Tay Wunn said, “Our Alpharetta location was less than a year old when the pandemic began, and we hadn’t had a chance to build our presence in the community. However, we’re thankful that we’ve had guests who recognize us from Roswell. With proper precautions and safety measures in place, we’re grateful to still welcome guests at limited capacity and offer delivery options during this time.”
The menus are different at each location, so reason more to try both.
Born in Korea and raised in Taiwan, Hu came to the United States as a Master of Business Administration student at Mercer University. She then worked as an accountant before making the career shift into the restaurant industry. They have opened several restaurants in the greater Atlanta area, including Ichiban in Alpharetta and Cumming, and The One Sushi+ in Brookhaven. Hu and Muh opened Monkey 68, named after Hu’s Chinese zodiac sign and birth year, in summer 2017 before taking the concept to Alpharetta.
The “Refined Asian” menus draw inspiration from Hu’s heritage and emphasizes shareable dining through sushi, small plates, and chef platters. The lineup features fresh takes on classics such as sweet chili and pan-seared dumplings, and comfort dishes such as kimchi fried rice. Curious options are yellowtail jalapeno shots with cilantro, sriracha, radish, balsamic pearls and honey yuzu.
A creative wordsmith would dive into signature sushi rolls with names such as One Night in Tokyo, Never Say Never Again, Chanel Replica and Rolls Royce.
Monkey 68’s rotating beverage program complements its funky cuisine. Handcrafted cocktails inspired by Chinese zodiac signs showcase a range of refreshing, tropical ingredients. While the menu changes often, current favorites include Charming Snake made with mezcal, Luxardo cherry, blackberry peppercorn shrub and lime. Monkey See Monkey Drink features tea-infused rum, osmanthus syrup, Amaro Meletti, Giffard banana, lemon and egg white. A specially selected assortment of Japanese sake, domestic beer and wine round out the list.
What we sampled:
Avocado Salad ($10): Clean, light and fresh. Doing take out, it’s important to replace the salad at home in a bowl and toss properly with tongs and dressing versus just pouring over the takeout box.
Ramen Salad ($14): The mandarin oranges were a nice touch atop the generous shreds of cabbage. The ramen, edamame, almonds and green onions were highlights in proportion to the cabbage. The honey vinaigrette was delightful.
Brussels sprouts ($8): Rich caramelized drenched in oil and thai chili, like eating candy. Great portion size.
Poke Trio ($16): Glorious bowl of the freshest cubes of salmon, tuna and yellowtail, olive oil and kizami wasabi (chopped and marinated in soy).
Sushi: Fresh ingredients subtly placed. The rice was a bit gummy that night.
She-Sho Fresh ($13): salmon, red snapper, pickled shiso, cilantro and lemon juice.
Picante ($14): spicy yellowtail, jalapeño and cucumber.
Red Snapper Carpaccio ($18): Outstanding artistic creation where the fish resembles a hand painted rectangle aubergine, purple on one side graduated to alabaster on the other. Radish, cilantro and sweet cuke combine for the right blend.
Part of the fun here are the original sauces and dressings, which can be interchanged.
Monkey 68 Kitchen and Bar is located at 160 N. Main St., Alpharetta. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.