It’s not often I plan a return visit while waiting to order. From the street, Revel doesn’t look all that impressive. But their one room kitchen and dining restaurant throws down. Chefs and owners Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi are a husband-wife duo revolutionizing Korean street food flavors into refined dishes. Don’t expect standard Asian food. Be ready for complexity. Prepare to overeat. Plan to test your food boundaries. Squid pancakes. Cauliflower dumplings. Corned lamb. Yeah, they go there. But first, they let you smell it in one intoxicating breath after another. Normally, when smells slip from a kitchen, some are good and others are ho-hum. At Revel, expect to constantly be asking, “What was that?” Luckily, their friendly wait staff is all too happy to oblige.
Noise is Revel’s one drawback. This is not a place to take someone hard of hearing. Between the cement floor, nearly bare walls, and kitchen, the noise level rises quickly. Rather, it’s ideal for an informal date night or large celebration dinner. But, be ready to raise your voice and lean in close. If you’re an in-the-action kind of diner, ask for a seat at the butcher-block bar which separates the dining area and kitchen.
Portion sizes are typically three dishes per couple, with one dish being a rice or noodle selection. Expect complex flavors with a touch of heat. If you’re looking for more spice, the table quartet of sauces allow diners to ramp up individually.
Relatively new to the menu is the Dungeness crab and seaweed noodles tossed in a spicy red curry sauce. It is the most expensive menu item. But this comfort food meets elegance in a bowl is worth every penny.
If you’re looking for heat, try the corned lamb and arugula salad. A selection of savory pancakes and dumplings include a squid and chick pea cake topped with pickled pardon pepper and a cauliflower, ricotta ball with black truffle sesame. Rice and meat lovers will enjoy the exquisit short rib. The meat’s sweatness plays against the acid of pickled daikon and is finished with the velvet texture of an unbroken yolk.
As desserts go, their cookie selection isn’t much to write home about. But it doesn’t matter. Most likely, you won’t have room.
A final word to the wise, reservations are for 6 or more and tables can be hard to come by. Consider going with a large group and enjoy the added bonus of trying an even bigger menu sampling.
Corned Lamb & Arugula: $9.00
Shrimp, Bulgur & Kale: $9.00
Squid & Chick Pea Pancake: $9.00
Shrimp and Bacon Dumpling: $9.00
Short Rib, Shallot & Scallion Dumpling: $9.00
Cauliflower Ricotta and Black Truffle Sesame Dumpling: $9.00
Short Rib & Daikon Rice Bowl: $14.00
Albacore Tuna Rice Bowl: $13.00
Dungeness Crab & Seaweed Noodle: $16.00
Cookie Trio: $6.00
403 N 36th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
Revel is connected to its bar, Quoin, which is open late in the night and offers a selection of specialty cocktails. Rachel and Seif are also the chef/owners at Joule serving Korean-French-American fare in Wallingford. Typically, menu prices at Joule are more expensive than Revel.