Food and drink
The Monsoon restaurant facade (2019). Credit: Andrew Walker, Periscope
Above The Monsoon Restaurant (2019). Credit: Andrew Walker, Periscope

The Monsoon

The owner of The Monsoon was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh. He arrived in Britain as a teenager in 1976 and found work in Brick Lane’s garment trade.

In 1978 he moved into the catering industry, as a waiter and bartender at Brick Lane’s most well-known curry house, The Famous Clifton. After 18 years as an employee at The Famous Clifton, and with encouragement from his then boss Musa Patel, he decided to venture into restaurant ownership. 

Along with business partners, he first opened The Famous Curry Bazaar and, later, Café Bangla on Brick Lane. He is sole proprietor, however, of his third venture, The Monsoon, which opened in 2000.  The unit in which The Monsoon is located was once the site of a leather wholesaler.

The Monsoon, along with City Spice and Standard Balti House, is one of Brick Lane’s largest Bangladeshi-owned restaurants, with space for 120 covers over four floors. Its customers include City workers, medical students from the local hospital, groups of tourists, and, increasingly, young people of South Asian heritage. The restaurant’s most popular dish is chicken tikka masala.

The restaurant is open for business seven days per week 365 days a year and approximately 97% of its turnover is generated after 6 pm. It also offers a takeaway service. At the end of each day, any leftover food is donated to the homeless.

The Monsoon buys foodstuffs from local suppliers and, like many restaurants in Brick Lane, uses a Bangladeshi-owned laundry service in Peckham.

There was once a small cluster of Bangladeshi-owned curry restaurants where The Monsoon is located. Almost all of these competitors have disappeared in recent years, most have transformed into other types of eateries. Next door, 76 Brick Lane, was once the site of curry restaurant Chillies, but today it is a burger, ribs and wings restaurant called Beef & Birds. A few doors along at 82-84 Brick Lane is Pepe’s Piri Piri, a fast-food franchise that includes branches in the UK and Pakistan. Also at 84 Brick Lane is Shawarma, a Syrian-owned Lebanese-style kebab house.

Despite these changes, The Monsoon continues to generate good business. The owner plans to launch a new Bangladeshi grill house at 72 Brick Lane, the former site of Alauddin, a Bangladeshi sweet shop that relocated to Green Street in Newham in 2019.


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