I’m not certain why it took so long, but after several months I finally stopped in at Revel (and Quoin). The only regret I have is that I did not try Rachel Yang’s and Seif Chirchi’s Fremont restaurant (and bar) sooner.
Upon walking in, I immediately noticed the restaurant is warm, not only the atmosphere, but literally its temperature. However, I quickly realized this is likely because of the open kitchen. And while an open kitchen may put off some diners for one reason or another, I found it inviting – as if, we were all sharing in some of the chefs’ work.
The menu is, thankfully, on the small side, which for me is a restaurant’s way of saying, “Here is what we are really good at. You don’t need anything else.” I like this type of confidence and the reason Revel is packed most nights is because the communal street food dishes of noodles, dumplings and pancakes consistently delivers.
The menu is clearly broken down into categories such as salads, pancakes, dumplings, rice, and noodles and each category contains only a few variations. I first ordered the kale, walnut, arugula, and pecorino pancake. This was, without a doubt, the standout dish of the night. Part salad, part crispy pancake, this dish refused to be typecast into a specific role. For those who think kale is only a garnish, please reconsider your previous experiences.
Next, I ate a noodle dish consisting of dungeness crab, seaweed noodle, crème fraiche, and spicy red curry. You may get initial sticker shock when you see the price of this noodle bowl ($16). However, the noodles are quite thick and there is a generous portion of crab meat. The best part of this dish is the red curry. I’d like a bottle of it, thank you very much.
The last dish intrigued me the most based because it contained items I never thought would go together. The cauliflower ricotta dumpling with black truffle sesame and pickled leeks bordered two entirely different cuisines. On the one hand, it appeared Italian because of its similarity to a ravioli filled with ricotta. On the other hand, however, the thick doughy dumpling was traditional.
With Revel’s tiny menu, you can sample each dish within a handful of visits. The “problem” is that you’ll want to order the ones you loved from the previous visits. Don’t fret, however, when you visit Revel and there is a 45 minute wait. You’re welcome to walk through the restaurant and enter Quoin, Revel’s bar, with a wonderful selection of handcrafted cocktails that’ll make you forget about the rumbling in you stomach.