We visit Laughing Monk in Boston ahead of its Wellesley restaurant opening

Ever since learning in the fall that Laughing Monk Cafe would be coming to Wellesley Square we’ve been eager for its opening. Although renovations are in full swing at the 90 Central St. space, we grew so impatient that we decided it was time for a little field trip to find out  what Wellesley’s in for. Bravely, we traveled the 11 miles to Laughing Monk’s original edition of the restaurant, located at 737 Huntington Ave.

laughing monk boston

Like the Wellesley spot, the Boston restaurant is cozy, with 30 or so seats vs. the 20 in Wellesley. It’s illuminated with magenta lighting, and the night we went had a friendly buzz going, with families, friends, and dates occupying the restaurant.

We had made reservations, and our table was ready within a few minutes of us arriving. Our choice table for four at the back of the restaurant gave us a great view of the sushi chefs and their endlessly entertaining blow-torch moves, not to mention a relaxing video screen behind them with images of fish and the earth rotating across it.

The highlight of our party’s drinks order was the fancy Empire Sunset cocktail presented with fresh mint leaves. The mix of vodka, mango syrup, mint, lime juice, grenadine, Sprite, and a lime wheel gave a refreshing hint of warmer weather ahead.

laughing monk bostonWe were mainly about the food, and ordered a bunch, starting with appetizers. The scallion pancakes were crispy, and the scallions gave that mild taste they’re known for. Sea salted edamame popped out of their skins with flavor. Crab rangoon had just the right texture outside and the insides were filled with creamy sweetness.

As the resident gyoza aficionado, I went with the steamed chicken variety, and found them to be addictive, as the best gyoza always is. Apps cost in the $5-$8 range.

On the sushi and seafood side, we went with tuna avocado and negihama rolls ($8.25 per six). The shrimp tempura sushi roll was a favorite. One of our dining partners was glad to see brown rice by default in the rolls.

laughing monk boston

For entries we ordered Thai fried rice with shrimp and royal broccoli with chicken, which are priced in the $16-$18 range. The royal broccoli lived up to its status, delivering a colorful and flavorful combination for this diner, who veers away from spicy items.

laughing monk boston

One of our guests summed up the offerings as being “a really nice, eclectic menu of Asian dishes from Japanese to Thai to Chinese and beyond.”

We reached out to Laughing Monk’s Dome Nakapakorn after our visit to check on a few facts:

  • The Wellesley Laughing Monk is moving through its final inspections with the town and mainly has cosmetic work to finish. Nakapakorn says the restaurant aims for a soft opening later this month and a full opening in early May.
  • “For our Wellesley location, the limited space allows us to have only 20 seats. Since most of our clients are Wellesley residents who are chef Nick’s regulars, we will focus on a delectable and exciting tasting menu/Omakase style. We also plan to offer Chef Rita’s creation of a smaller but special Thai menu for our dine-in guests and basic Thai menu for takeout. The design concept is very similar to Boston’s, but with an emphasis on a relaxing atmosphere and exceptional experiences.”
  • The Boston location opened April 1, 2017, mainly with a focus on serving nearby students.  “After five years, we have found that we have mixed clients: those who come for a quick meal and those who appreciate a more sophisticated dining experience. With that new information in mind, we have come up with renovation project to improve and expand the space to a next door unit. Hopefully, we can gain an additional 30 seats, with a total of 60-70 seats by this coming fall.”