Korean hangover soup, rice porridge, and eggs, bacon and toast?!
For those of you tired of the typical stars and stripes breakfast – Scrambled eggs and soggy potatoes thrown in with white toast and hard, cold butter, there is hope: Revel’s weekend brunch–a mix of both Asian inspired breakfast entrees and some more American–styled dishes.
The wife/husband powerhouse duo of Rachel Yang and Sief Chirchi have created a casual spin-off from their original spot, Joule, in Wallingford. Like Joule, Revel is a joyful marriage of East meets West cuisine, but with Revel, the owners’ vision is to create a welcoming and accessible environment appealing to anyone coming off the main drag in Fremont.
This urban Fremont joint may be more casual than its older and more formal sibling, but is still capable of helping Yang attain her second nomination in a row as a semi-finalist for the renowned James Beard award for Best Northwest Chef.
The local restaurateurs are taking notice too. During an advertising industry networking event featuring Tom Douglas and his executive chef, Eric Tanaka, both of them proudly stated Revel as their current favorite restaurant. (Their head of marketing denoted Renee Erickson’s Boat Street Café as her top restaurant of choice, but stated she also likes Revel).
Despite my own aversion to anything remotely resembling a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast, I am ironically enamored with the standard sounding American breakfast at the top of the menu, generically called “Two eggs, bacon, scallion potato hash, toast,”
Thick long and luscious slab of Revel’s home-cured bacon. Tender and buttery on the inside (think pork belly) and crisp and red on the outside. You know the grease is in there somewhere, but somehow it stays contained in the bacon. Not seeing grease on the plate makes me feel better about myself as I scarf it down.
Hash browns. Revel gives breakfast hash the respect it deserves by restoring the righteousness of the stereotypical bland breakfast side item with a perfect flavorful blend of salt, butter and scallions.
I order my eggs poached and they come out as perfectly formed pillowy white clouds. Poaching to perfection is no easy feat, but the Revel crew hits the mark.
The toast from Wallingford Bakery is slapped on the grill and comes out slightly burned. I am less than mildly impressed until the staple food comes in contact with the sous chef’s house made condiments – Creamy smooth vanilla butter and Meyer lemon jam with Korean chilies (think of meyer lemon as a cross between a lip-puckering tart lemon and a citrusy orange). SCORE!
Satisfying, delicious and a great deal at $8.
Still not down with American breakfasts? I don’t blame you as all of Revel’s food creations are oh-so titillating. I have tried almost every brunch entrée on the menu and can see why Yang and Chirchi were featured on Iron Chef America last year.
The kombocha squash congee is a harmonious partnership between a traditional Asian breakfast and Pacific NW freshness. Their departure of serving the traditional rice porridge with thousand year old fermented egg and pickled radish is genius as Revel has chosen to inundate this ancient comfort rice dish with creative sustenance pairings ranging from in-season and local vegetables to their house-cured Andouille sausage.
The kimchi ramen is impeccable – everything you would want in a proper ramen – spicy stock with medium body, noodles to soak it up with a decadent pork belly treat. Hangover soup (yes, this dish is really called hangover soup) is as it advertises itself to be – soy sauce salty goodness, ginger to calm the stomach, and chunks of hearty blood sausage to soak up any toxins.
For a guaranteed cure after a night of hitting the bottle, pair Revel’s Hangover soup with the Kimchi Bloody Mary. As part of the Bloody Mary drinking ritual, I lick the seaweed, toasted black sesame seed and salt-filled rim outlining the top of the glass before gulping down the adult tomato beverage. I am a huge proponent of spicy Bloody Marys, but the spicy aftermath sometimes lingers for a little too long. Revel’s rendition of the Bloody Mary, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach by initiating your taste buds with a dose of sweetness before flexing its spicy muscle (Yang is, after all, Korean-born where the food is known for its flavors and spice). I take a bite of the pickled green bean garnish to seal in the flavor. Revel’s Bloody Mary is worth the trip alone.
As I sit at one of the coveted counter seats overlooking the open kitchen, I watch as six quince breakfast sausage patty sandwiches with spicy maple syrup come out all at once I cannot resist the fragrance or the visual aesthetic of the sausage patty mixing with the maple syrup. I order a second breakfast entrée and split it with my husband. I love piggies so much I am beginning to act like one. You are what you eat, indeed.
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6/12/11 update: Revel’s summer brunch menu and outdoor deck are in full force so come check out some of the new entries – Mushroom, housemade bacon and pea vine red curry porridge – along with our trusty favorites: Kalbi burger and spicy apple sausage patty with spicy maple syrup.
Additionally, New York Times’ travel writer Frank Bruni recently wrote about Revel in his “Seattle, a Tasting Menu” article.
Trusty favorite on the menu: Kalbi burger, bacon, shallot pickle