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Rachel Yang in front of Revelry's boom box installation. 

Eat Beat has the word. We think. Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise: Revelry, a DJ-spinning, Korean eat and drink spot from Seattle star chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, will open August 16 at 210 SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. The chef-couple (2016 James Beard Northwest Best Chef finalists) own three Seattle restaurants, including the critically acclaimed Joule and casual hot spot Revel. In a recent email, Seattle Met (PoMo’s sister publication) critic Kathryn Robinson called them “two of the most gifted restaurateurs we have in this town.” Revelry is already inspiring Portland vs. Seattle comparisons—and hope that we might finally gain a foothold on the Emerald City’s serious Korean food scene.

After an in-depth interview with Korean-born Yang and poring over Revelry’s work-in-progress menus, one thing seems clear to me: this creative, technically dialed duo seem born for Portland. Revelry’s menu looks positively Stumptown: a bad-ass, comfort-loving, ingredient-obsessed list. What could be more Portland than a dish called Mrs. Yang’s Spicy Fried Chicken, fuming with gochujang and, for an extra punch of bittersweet, peanut brittle instead of the usual Korean peanut garnish.

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Left: Dan Dan noodles with smoky pork, chile oil, house-made Sichuan noodles, collard greens, and pickled Chinese okra. Right: Spicy Fried Chicken with peanut brittle.

The early menu breaks down like this: roughly seven intriguing snacks (1000–layer pancakes to rice cake with beef ragout); a trio of savory Korean pancakes; rotating noodle bowls (including Revel’s signature with seaweed noodles, Dungeness crab and spicy red curry); and two rice bowls (topped with short ribs or black sesame tuna, plus Yang’s seasonal kimchi).

The small cocktail list looks inspired, spiked with things like lapsang tea liqueur, toasted rice-infused soy milk, and miso maple. Most exciting is the infused soju list: roasted sweet potato; kimchi (carrot, ginger, chile); sesame; date and black pepper; and celery. 

Two dishes I’m planning to order on day one: savory jackfruit-curry pancake, with the Thai fruit inside the batter and macerated atop with pickled lemongrass, chile, and basil. And for dessert: crispy mocha balls with fenugreek honey and cashew caramel popcorn.

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Revelry's open kitchen, complete with a chef's counter and bar.

Revelry is also the brainchild of partners Eric and Karen Bowler, owners of Portland bars Tube and Fortune. The four friends collaborated on the look of the 50–seat space (including 10 at the bar), which has a kind of street-pop vibe, complete with a retro boombox installation. Eric will man the DJ booth (expect lots of 90’s hip-hop), and Yang and Chirchi will alternate time in the kitchen, shuffling between Portland, Seattle, and kid duty.

In the age of cheffy artisan chainlets, the decision to come into Portland with a fresh project is interesting. “We didn't want to just franchise Revel,” says Yang. “We are hands-on people. This is a huge leap of faith. We just wanted to cook the food we love in another city.” 

Revelry (opening Aug 16)
210 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
5 p.m.–midnight Sunday–Thursday
5 p.m.–2 a.m. Friday–Saturday
971-339-3693

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