Small plates, big flavor at Everett’s Moon Tree Asian Tapas

I’ve always loved the word “tapas.” It’s a small, cute word that somehow manages to sound luxurious at the same time.

So, when I heard there was a new Asian tapas place on the Everett waterfront, I decided I needed to test it out.

I called up my friend Suzanne, who is usually my sushi date, and we headed to Moon Tree Asian Tapas for a leisurely lunch. Moon Tree has been around since last summer, but somehow I hadn’t heard of it until recently.

It’s right on the water, next to Anthony’s. The restaurant has a strange setup. The kitchen is in the middle, with dining areas on both sides. One side looks out over the parking lot, the other over the water. Naturally, the water side is preferable.

Suzanne and I settled down to peruse the menu and admire the view.

I ordered the king crab soup ($10) with crab, bonito broth, sea weed, mushroom and onions. I picked it with a bit of trepidation. Was I really willing to pay $10 for soup? I didn’t regret it. The soup was spectacular. It was savory with just the right spicy kick. The crab was annoyingly hard to get out of the shell, but I managed in the end.

Suzanne had the onion soup, with chicken broth, crispy onions, scallions and noodles. She enjoyed the broth, but didn’t get the point of the crispy onions. They were breaded and promptly got soggy in her soup. She would have preferred regular onions.

Next up, I tried the albacore ceviche ($10.50). This was also excellent. The albacore was mellow and firm and very lightly seared. It was topped with a sort of Asian-style salsa, like pico de gallo, and crispy onions. In this use, the crispy onions were delightful. I enjoy the contrast in textures between the smooth fish and the crunchy onions. The salsa was unexpected but delicious. It was all sitting in a light, slightly tangy sauce. Just give up on eating these politely. The only way is just to shove the whole thing in your mouth.

Suzanne ordered the sashimi salad, with sashimi over greens with a vinaigrette. Suzanne said she’d have never thought to put sashimi over salad, but she liked the result. The dressing went well with the sashimi.

As we were finishing up the salad and ceviche, our vegetable tempura ($8) arrived. We’d ordered it first, and were surprised it had arrived last. However, we were still hungry and it was welcome. The sweet potatoes were our favorite part. I also liked the tempura pepper, but Suzanne wouldn’t touch it. Too spicy, she feared. It was only moderately spicy.

We finished up our meal with a banana spring roll ($8.50). It was in the style of a fried eggroll, only with banana, white chocolate and raspberry. This was Suzanne’s favorite part of the meal and she said she’d go back just for that. She doesn’t even usually like white chocolate. (She’s a chocolate snob.) I enjoyed it, but the ceviche was my favorite part of the meal.

A few weeks later, my family was out of town and so I returned for a leisurely meal by myself.

I was in time for happy hour, so I ordered the spicy edamame ($3) with sambal, sesame oil and soy sauce over edamame. It was delightful. The edamame was served steaming hot and the seasoning had a smoky flavor, with a bit of a kick.

I also had a glass of plum wine. Plum wine is not for everyone; if you’ve never tried it, it’s very sweet. This wine was very nice, with a strong floral scent. It complemented the smoky spice of the edamame.

I finished up the meal with a mango pudding ($6.50). I appreciated the strong, fresh mango flavor but I didn’t like the texture. It was more like a thick, textured jelly than a smooth pudding. That said, if you love mango, give it a try. Just don’t expect it to be creamy.

One important thing to understand about this restaurant is that tapas means appetizers. And that’s how these dishes are sized. If you want a full meal, you’re going to need to order several dishes. You won’t have a hard time finding something worthwhile.

Moon Tree Asian Tapas

1728 W. Marine View Drive, Everett; 425-252-5300;

Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

Specialty: Asian fusion

Alcohol: Beer, wine and sake

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