Lunch at Revel (Seattle, WA)

At around lunchtime, we were enjoying the Fremont neighborhood sights along Phinney Ave N. The question of where to eat was settled when we knew that Revel was just up the street. It is one of two restaurants operated by chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi whose mission it is to fuse Asian and Western foods, with a particular emphasis on Korean. Their other restaurant is Joule, also in Fremont but on the other side of the Aurora Bridge and next door neighbor to The Whale Wins. We were seated immediately and chose to sit outside on the covered deck to enjoy the warm though overcast weather. The restaurant interior is decorated in minimalist colors of black and gray, suggestive of the modernization of traditional Asian offerings.

The lunch menu was divided into salads, pancakes, dumplings, rice and noodles with a limited selection in each category. What caught our eye immediately were a bibimbop and dan dan noodles.

Though not labeled as bibimbop, Rice with Albacore Tuna, Fennel Kimchi and Escarole (☆☆½) clearly was. Here was an example of classic fusion food where non-traditional ingredients were used to make a Korean preparation. Thinly shaved fennel was an interesting choice of material for kimchi. It was very sour from vinegar with no sweetness, garlickiness or spice normally associated with the most traditional Korean condiment. Was the kitchen afraid of offending or turning off some customers? A proper sear was applied to the tuna, which otherwise was not as fresh as it should have been, displaying a slight fishiness but coated with an interesting and tasty rub of fennel and coriander. Outstanding was the roasted escarole, charred and sweet, that gave me encouragement to try it on my own. The dish was topped by a raw egg yolk.

Bibimbop of seared tuna, fennel kimchi and escarole
Bibimbop of seared tuna, fennel kimchi and escarole

Dan dan noodles are served in almost every Szechuan restaurant. Revel’s version, Dandan Noodles with Smoky Pulled Pork and Peanut Crackling (☆☆☆), another excursion into fusion territory, was distinguished by fork-tender, delicious pork that the waiter revealed was smoked in their kitchen for over four hours. Another big plus were freshly made noodles, wide and thin, that had an eggy consistency. The dish was sprinkled with ground peanuts that had kochujang paste flavors, a nice touch, and sautéed chard. The only drawback was a more than subtle sweetness overall that did not appeal to me.

Dandan noodles, smoked pulled pork, peanuts
Dandan noodles, smoked pulled pork, peanut crackling

403 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103

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