A new Joule is set to open in Fremont, and steak’s on the menu.
Joule, which electrified its original Wallingford neighborhood with its eclectic French-accented Korean menu (or was it Korean-accented French? — or modern Korean-American? — but what about the Sunday urban barbecues?) was the first Seattle restaurant owned by the team of Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi. After winning acclaim for Joule, they went on to perhaps greater accolades for creative fusion (and delightful dumplings) at Revel in Fremont.
Yang and Chirchi closed the Wallingford Joule in the spring, and have spent the months since then spiffing up a new space in the Fremont Collective building at 3506 Stone Way N., right by Renee Erickson’s (also hotly awaited) new restaurant, The Whale Wins. Joule’s opening date is tentatively set for Oct. 24, though I’d watch this space for the final word.
When the doors do open, Joule will keep its modern spin on Korean flavors, but this time it will be Yang and Chirchi’s take on a Korean steakhouse. Look for opening dishes from the Iron Chef contestants that include “beef tartar with spicy cod roe and Asian pear; brisket steak with sweet chili rub and pickled pearl onion; short rib steak with kalbi with grilled kimchi; and a petit tender steak with fermented tofu and crispy shallot.” Beef-free sides include “smoked tofu with honshimeji confit and soy truffle vinaigrette (a holdover from the old Joule — Yang makes her own tofu); mackerel with green curry cilantro crust and black currant; and rice noodles with shitake and watercress. Joule will be open daily, with weekend brunch planned as “a buffet spread of salads, fruit and pastries alongside entree choices like breakfast porchetta with oatmeal stuffing and sweet chili rub.”
Moving the restaurant gave the couple the opportunity to think about what they really wanted to do with the menu, Yang said — to ask “OK, what do we want our focus to be?”
“Joule is a place where we had fun with food,” she said, but she felt the old place had “too much of a flavor spectrum on one plate.” The more she thought about it, the idea that “beef is basically the most prized meat in Korea” seemed a framework they could build from. “There are so many cuts of meat that we serve in Korea, different marinades, cooking techniques.”
The new Joule will have 36 seats, with (like the old one) an open kitchen, and with an 18-seat communal table. There will be seasonal outdoor seating for 20 more.
For the design, they wanted “to take certain elements” from the old Joule but transform them. It’ll still have wallpaper, for instance, but this time it’s handscreened panels from Justin Kane Elder (who did the paintings at Revel) and Patrick “Duffy” De Armas of the Electric Coffin Creative Supply Co.; “they came up with the idea of having a classic design but having fun details in them.”
The new Joule is just a few minutes from Revel (and its adjacent bar, Quoin), making it easier for Yang and Chirchi to go between them — but also not stray far from their original customers. “We knew we wanted to stay nearby. We didn’t want to leave Wallingford, we loved that area.”
Now, though, Yang feels they’ve found their niche. “After a lot of playing around, we really know what we want to cook, and we feel like we know how to deliver.”
Are they looking to add any more restaurants once the new Joule is in place?
“Right now we are really happy where we are,” she said, with Chirchi taking the lead on Revel and her doing the same at Joule. (Also, with a two-year-old and a four-month-old to raise at home, ‘we have sort of full plates.”)
“We would love to have a third place some day, but I don’t know how to do that yet” — how to get to the point where they’re outnumbered by their restaurants.
They “are not sure how to be restaurateurs yet,” she said, but “we love being chefs.”
Details of the wallpaper at the new Joule courtesy of Lissa Gruman.