One of the season’s biggest restaurant openings, this Japanese rice-bowl spot is home of the chirashi, a smorgasbord of salmon, yellowtail, albacore, shrimp, eel, roe and fatty tuna served over sushi rice.
The word “chirashi” has popped up around the bar-and-restaurant scene in recent weeks. It has popped up frequently enough that I can finish that phrase: “at Fremont Bowl.”
One of the big openings and arguably the most talked about in the past six weeks, this Japanese rice-bowl spot is the home of chirashi, a smorgasbord of salmon, yellowtail, albacore, shrimp, eel, roe and fatty tuna served over sushi rice. It’s a better poke bowl.
Since opening in late November, Fremont Bowl has been packed for lunch and dinner. The wait was 15 minutes before noon on a recent Wednesday. The portions are generous. Recently, the restaurant cut back from seven to six days a week to allow the kitchen to catch its breath, restaurant spokesman Justin Hwang said. “It was busier than what we were expecting. We were running out of stock.”
4258 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle; Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Closed on Monday for now. Check webpage for updates on when it may reopen on Mondays; 206-504-3095 or fremontbowl.com
The menu: The rice bowls with sashimi, poke, teriyaki or katsu chicken range from $8.50 to $16. Other offerings include soups ($1.50-$2.50), salads ($2.50-$8) and sides such as the popular gyoza dumplings ($3.50) and karaage fried chicken ($4.50). But the cheap seafood bowls are the main draw. Its signature chirashi includes at least three pieces each of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, eel along with a shrimp and scoops of chopped up fatty tuna and roe. Fish bowls are served with sushi rice; chicken and pork dishes come with white Hikari rice.
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Fremont Bowl offers a complimentary second bowl of rice. And it didn’t take long for college students and the cheapskates to realize that the chirashi bowl can feed two if you request a second rice helping.
That jig is up. Fremont Bowl no longer gives away extra rice on to-go orders. It’s only if you dine in.
Don’t miss: The Instagram-friendly chirashi, a collage of sashimi with different colors, textures and flavors, is a big serving. With a clean, fresh taste, the fish is neither fishy-smelling nor mushy like many cheap chirashi and happy-hour sushi offerings.
At $14.95, it’s about 10 bucks cheaper than what other West Coast restaurants charge for a high-quality chirashi bowl. It’s the main reason the place has been packed.
The buttery, toothsome Canadian Atlantic salmon pieces (sake don), fanned out like petals, are served over rice. Another local favorite: the Unagi Don comes with long strips of broiled eel in an addicting sweet-and-sticky-glaze.
The chef comes in at 6:30 a.m. to concoct the house-made soy sauce — light, deceptively thin but with robust umami flavors, a touch of dashi and perfumed sake. It doesn’t have the syrupy, salty punch of over-the-counter-brands. And better for it.
What to skip: The fried chicken pieces lacked a crispy-batter coating.
Prices: Chirashi bowl ($14.95), salmon bowl ($11.50), unagi don bowl ($16) and karaage fried chicken ($4.50) totaled $46.95, and were enough for three for dinner.