In honor of the Seahawks’ Superbowl victory, I’m reviewing a delicious and trendy Seattle restaurant in this post.
Revel is located in Fremont, the Seattle neighborhood that claims it’s the “Center of the Universe.” From the iconic troll lurking under the Aurora Bridge to the statue of Lenin standing in the town square, Fremont is a funky neighborhood that is full of surprises. It’s one of my favorite areas to explore in Seattle.
Along with record stores, thrift shops, boutiques and a chocolate factory, Fremont has an eclectic mix of restaurants.
This review is of Revel, a chic restaurant serving “urban-style Korean comfort food.” My aunt, who lives in the area, had been eyeing Revel for a while, but she had no idea what kind of restaurant it was. The name doesn’t really give away the type of cuisine it serves, and its exterior is an understated box shape with tall shrubbery lining the facade.
Before going to new restaurants, I like doing some research on them. I found out that Revel was featured on two TV shows: the Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate and the Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats. I found out about this through this awesome website called TV Food Maps, which basically maps out all of the restaurants that have ever been featured on TV. It’s quite useful.
So, my aunt and I arrived at Revel at 6 p.m. and the place was packed, albeit it was probably a Friday night. The restaurant is split into two areas: a dining room in the front, and a bar in the back.
The dining room was filled to the brim. It had a simple interior with colorful, modern portraits hanging on the walls. The coolest part was the main dining table, which had communal seating and also doubled as the food preparation table. The chefs cooked right in front of the people seated at this table. It feels more like sitting in the kitchen as your mom prepares the meal, rather than being at a Hibachi restaurant. All in all however, the atmosphere was pretty hectic because there were so many people in a relatively small area.
The bar in the back of the restaurant is an even smaller area with several tall tables and bar stools. Next to the bar is a porch with a fire pit and a beautiful view of Seattle’s hilly landscape.
My aunt and I put our name on the 45 minute wait list for the dining room, but after finding out we could be served a meal at the bar, we chose this faster option.
The compact menu was split into six categories: salad, pancake, dumpling, rice, noodle and sweets. The waiter explained that the salads, pancakes and dumplings were appetizer-sized, and the rice and noodle dishes were entrees. We ended up ordering something from each category except for a rice dish. This was definitely more than enough food for two people. I think part of the reason the meal was so filling was because it was rich with spices, which fill you up faster.
Our first course was the Roasted Delicata Squash salad ($9), which came with pickled Asian pears and was dressed with tofu yogurt. The squash was quite sweet and pumpkin seeds added a nice crunch. The salad was probably seasoned with curry from the taste of it. It was bit over-saturated in dressing.
Next came the Pork Belly Pancake ($10), which was topped with kimchi and bean sprout. The pancake resembled a pizza and was served with 4 sauces: a savory sauce, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and spicy fish sauce. Overall, the pancake was too salty, but I enjoyed sampling the different sauces.
The Pork Dumplings ($9) were pretty great. The dumplings were green and were filled with pork and green curry, and topped with coconut flakes. The presentation was a work of art! At this point in the meal, I couldn’t tell if the dumplings themselves were spicy, or if the various spices from all of the other courses had left my mouth on fire. Therefore, the dumplings may have been spicy. They were definitely piping hot and tasted good with the sauces from the pancake.
We finished the meal with the Smoky Pork Dandan Noodles ($15). The dish wasn’t huge, but after all the food we just had, we were stuffed. The noodles were flat and thick. The pulled pork was smoky and soft, yet it was nothing like the Southern staple I was expecting. The dish was served with collard greens, scallions and peanut crackling. It was delicious. My mouth was still burning from all the spices from the previous courses, so I couldn’t tell if this dish was actually spicy.
The reason for my mouth’s fiery agony may have been my beverage. I had Rachel’s Ginger Beer, which was a non-alcoholic ginger ale. The drink was pretty spicy, with an emphasis on the ginger flavor. This drink did not help cool my mouth between dishes.
Overall, the food at Revel was quite exceptional. It was unlike any other Asian cuisine I was used to, which i loved. I would definitely go back there the next time in Seattle. My only complaint about the restaurant is that it’s so busy, but there’s really nothing that can be done about that. The popularity of a restaurant tends to be a good indicator of its quality. The TV fame probably helped bring customers in, but the food kept them coming back.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
403 N 36th Street (Fremont)
Seattle, WA 98103