Versus: Ribs Go Gourmet at Tavern Law and Monsoon East

The Dish: For those who like pork, there's no better way to honor it this time of year than to devour a plate of gooey ribs dusted with some sort of sauce and cooked until the meat can be easily pulled off the bone. Not only barbecue joints offer chop-smacking ribs these days; more omnivorous restaurants are taking ribs seriously, happy to claim their portion of the pork pie.The Rivals: Monsoon East, 10245 Main St., 425-635-1112, BELLEVUE. The best thing about these Carlton Farms pork ribs is that they're only $7 during happy hour (3 p.m.–close, Sun.–Thurs.). For that price, you get four large ribs coated in hoisin barbecue sauce. The glaze was a little overpowering and sweet, but the ribs were cooked to perfection and really tasty. We'd love to know what goes into the sauce, but as chef/owner Eric Banh tells us, "Unfortunately, I myself don't even know our ribs' sauce recipe. It belongs to my sister (and co-owner), Sophie. She does not wish to share with anyone, including me, since the beginning of Monsoon on Capitol Hill." That's one hell of a secret to keep for 11 years.Tavern Law, 1406 12th Ave., 322-9734, CAPITOL HILL. Most of you probably wouldn't think of heading to Tavern Law when a hankering for ribs strikes, but this food-focused cocktail lounge run by chefs Dana Tough and Brian McCracken (of Spur acclaim) is exactly where you should land. OK, $14 for three ribs may not sound like the best deal in town, but when you hear how the ribs are prepared, you may reconsider: Baby back ribs are cooked sous vide for 48 hours, brined for 24 with a liquid smoke solution, then topped with a barbecue sauce made from fresh blended figs and the liquid drained from the sous vide bags. The result is the most tender pork rib you've ever eaten. Not only is the texture sublime, but the fig glaze nicely complements the sauce's smokiness without being too sticky-sweet.The Champ: Monsoon and Tavern Law are formidable opponents, but Monsoon's dish was too unbalanced. Had we eaten any more than the four ribs on our plate, we would have suffered from hoisin overload. On the other hand, we're quite certain we'd be able to sit at the bar and eat Tavern Law's ribs all day. In fact, if there were an all-you-can-eat buffet of their baby back ribs, we'd be first in line. We declare Tavern Law the winner of this challenge. It's not every day one can afford a few ribs for $14, but it's a chunk of change we'll be happy to spare once in a while, for damn

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