The raved-about pop-up finds a permanent home in Pioneer Square.
Kraken Congee recently got the kind of publicity money can’t buy. World-renowned chef José Andrés ate there and tweeted about it, and the CNBC reality series “Restaurant Startup” wrapped filming there this month.
Opened in late April, this one-time pop-up found a home in the old Little Uncle subterranean space in Pioneer Square. With Kraken, owners Garrett Doherty and Shane Robinson are elevating rice porridge by dressing it up with duck confit, pork belly and other proteins.
The menu: Six different congees from steak to octopus and kimchi ($12-$19) along with a supporting casts of Southeast Asian-inspired appetizers ($6-$9) and three wok-fried entrees ($12-$14). There’s also a full bar featuring sakes and cocktails with Asian-centric twists.
88 Yesler Way, Seattle
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday for brunch
Etc: major credit cards accepted; street parking; full bar; no obstacles to access
What to write home about: The congee that’s topped with strands of five-spice duck confit and bok choy. Some pork cracklings are added for a crunchy texture, but it’s the oozing soy-cured egg yolk coating the rice porridge that makes this dish sing. The congee with the fish-sauce-marinated hanger steak was more substantial, though the cherry tomatoes were overwhelming.
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There’s a Filipino twist on the pork-belly buns (three for $8) with cubes of salty-and-sour pork belly, done adobo-style. Fans of its pop up will rejoice. Back on the menu is the katsu chicken liver, crunchy morsels to dip with the tangy tonkatsu sauce.
What to skip: The fried rice, with kimchi, candied squid and sesame, lacks that wok-smoked flavor that’s the staple of every late-night Chinatown greasy spoon.
The setting: The hole-in-the-wall feel of Little Uncle remains, now with psychedelic paintings of deep-sea creatures. Lunch is hectic. Order from the counter then take a number. Kraken switches to table service at dinner.
Summing up: Two bowls of congee ($14 each), fried rice ($14) and an order of pork-belly buns ($8) totaled $54.80, enough for two.