Wallingford’s Joule

One of the things that I love about food is when it’s fun and has the ability to surprise. I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but when these two things are in play, really cool things happen. What happens when a restaurant achieves both of these things and knocks my socks off? Say hello to a recent visit to Joule.

Joule is found in Wallingford along 45th and Burke, and comes to us from chef/owners Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang. Wallingford has exploded into a food destination, with Molly Moon’s, Trophy Cupcakes, Tilth, Bizzarro Italian Cafe, and Joule – the folks of Wallingford have quite the assortment of choices. Joule fits the bill as a great place that makes food fun and surprises me beyond what I expect. Even with my high expectations, Seif and Rachel exceeded them.

I was reminded to visit Joule based off some recent press that they’ve been receiving. First of which was a recent Wall Street Journal article talking about how Korean food is the next cool cuisine. This was really neat because they put a spotlight on Joule. But they don’t just serve Korean food, they also have strong elements of French and seasonality that are also in play. It’s still not that often for Seattle places to catch the WSJ’s eye, so it was great to see Joule.

My second reminder about Joule came from a few recent tweets by the Gastronaut, Jay Friedman. Jay’s a great writer and he has introduced me to all sorts of food gems in Seattle (hello Tsukushinbo!). But with Joule as his favorite restaurant on Seattle, I was hooked. I’m always intrigued when ‘favorite’ is used as a descriptor, so we were looking forward to revisiting Joule to tee it up again in the category of Seattle’s best.

Here are my three cool things about Joule:

  1. The food

Kind of an obvious thing when talking about a restaurant, but Rachel and Seif bring the noise when it comes to having dinner there. The food is creative and exciting and it shows. Starting with the menu, you can already see that they want to have fun; the menu is broken down into clever categories:

  • “Tossed” (salads & sides)
  • “Simmered” (soups)
  • “Crisped” (hot sides)
  • “Sparked” (seafood & meat)
  • “Pickled” (kimchi & more)
  • “Staff of Life” (bread & rice).

Taking a look at the menu, we wanted to try everything! We decided to start with the Baguette with bacon butter (Staff of Life) Mizuna Salad (Tossed), the Kimchi pancake and Korean Mochi (both Crisped), and the Octopus (Sparked) along some Rice with plum-chili paste from the Staff of Life.

All were delicious! And they achieved that perfect blend of being fun and surprising. My favorite dish was the Korean mochi. We didn’t know when to expect with it, but I wanted it because it had oxtail! The surprising component was the mochi. We know it as a sweet treat, but how would it play in a savory dish? The answer was it was delicious! Everything about this plate was perfect; from the egg yolk that increased the richness, to the nettles that provided a nice texture change. But the star of the show was the mochi. Tender, but with a good chew. It was unlike most dishes that I’ve had in Seattle. I loved it.

Our other dishes were delicious too. The Kimchi pancake was a nice one; the pork belly was a great partner with the pickled twang of the kimchi. The Octopus was super tasty; slightly grilled and meltingly tender. And the bread! We loved the bread! Dense, with a nice crust and a good chew. Still warm, the bacon butter melted in a quick second.

Be sure to order the bread. Actually I want to order one of everything.

2. Rachel and Seif

As the chefs and owners of Joule, this husband and wife team have created a great restaurant that embraces it’s neighborhood, stands on it’s own creativity, and is a gift for Seattle’s food lovers.

During our dinner Seif came by our table to ask how everything was. Granted, I did mention that I was a blogger, but I appreciated the time he took with us. We talked about the Korean mochi, the chewy texture that most people aren’t familiar with in a dish. We mentioned that we were there to support Dining Out For Life, and were glad he was a part of the evening. He invited us back, and suggested sitting at the open kitchen bar. Absolutely!

One of the really cool things about our chat was how excited he was for Rachel. She was leaving for Seoul, South Korea for a few days to be a part of their rice cake festival! Officially called the “7th Annual Tteok Fair, she was selected as a presenter because she has done a great job at sharing Korean food globally! How cool is that? Meanwhile, Seif will be holding it down here in Seattle. I think he’ll do fine.

3. Creativity

When I mention the creativity of Joule, it’s not just in the food, but it’s in the whole aspect of what they do at the restaurant. In fact, Seattle Weekly awarded Joule with their Innovation Award in their recent Seattle Weekly Food Awards. Very cool.

But in delving into the story of Joule, you could understand the praise. You may recall a little article I wrote last summer where I talked about their Urban BBQ Eats. I loved this because each Sunday night was themed and had all sorts of great dishes on tap. And they’ll be doing it again this summer! Details haven’t been posted, but I’ll be sure to share the info when it’s available.

They are also creative in getting their word out and doing their own marketing. They’ve embraced Facebook as a vehicle to share what they do (search Joule Restaurant), and they have added a Twitter feed! I look forward to getting their tweets and being their fan on Facebook.

There you have it; a look back on a great dinner at a really fun restaurant where I enjoyed every bite I had. We look forward to going back and seeing what else Rachel and Seif have in store for us. I think you should too.

Joule on Urbanspoon

Photo from Seattlest
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