You might imagine that Joule has been on my "list" for a long time. Chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi are a dynamic culinary duo with an impressive culinary history. Words like, James Beard, Iron Chef America, and Per se are always enticing, aren't they? Yep, Chef Yang was a James Beard Award semi-finalist for four years in a row. I've been to and enjoyed their other Seattle restaurants, Revel and Trove, so when Friend Claire said she had reservations for us at Joule, who am I to say no?
We arrived right on time and were immediately welcomed to a nice table on the patio. You won't be surprised to know that I wanted everything on the menu, but even the server said that would be too much. He suggested that we order eight sharable plates for the four of us, so we ordered ten.
From the Starters section, we chose the Beef Tartare and the Yellow Curry Pickled Beets.
Friend Claire wasn't terribly excited about the tartare, but the server assured her that it was a good "beginner" tartar with Asian pear, pine nuts, and spicy cod roe aioli. I'm happy to report that we all tried it and liked it. The beets were a refreshing and tangy. I loved the combination of flavors and textures with figs, olives and a spicy pistachio oil. I'd order both of these again.
From the Salads, we chose the Tat Soi with a warm Chinese sausage vinaigrette and smoked tea egg and the Smoked Tofu with honshimeji confit and a soy truffle vinaigrette.
Tat soi are the greens of the salad; it's a cross between spinach and a kind of bok choy - and it's delicious. There were little bits of Chinese sausage throughout, and with the eggs, this was a hearty salad that was full of flavor. The Smoked Tofu was terrific as well. Hom shimeji is a mushroom found in East Asia or Northern Europe. It has a bit of a nutty taste which paired perfectly with the smokiness of the tofu. I really, really enjoy most things tofu, and I have no qualms in giving this dish two thumbs up.
From the Rice and Noodle category, we chose just one: The Spicy Rice Cake with chorizo and pickled mustard green. This yummy, yummy dish was the favorite of the night! The rice cakes, those lovely little ovals, were the perfect chewy texture and thickness to soak up the spicy chorizo sauciness. Spot-on in every way. I would pop into Joule solely for this dish.
From the Vegetables, we chose the Long Bean, Burdock, and Mushroom Vadouvan. This plate was a good one, but didn't send me over the edge. Don't get me wrong, we ate the entire plate, but nothing wow-ed me after the rice cakes. It is a hard act to follow.
We tried two seafood plates and two steak plates: The Octopus with bok choy and hot bacon vinaigrette, the Mackerel with green curry cilantro chimichurri -say that five times fast- and black currant, "That" Short Rib Steak with a kalbi marinade and grilled kimchi, and the Snake River Farms Kobe Flank Steak with cucumber larb and sorrel.
I actually didn't care too much for either of the seafood dishes, though applause is certainly given for thinking outside the box in the preparation. While the mackerel has a ton of health benefits, it's just too fishy of a fish for me. The octopus was the largest piece of octopus I've had on a plate. Maybe I just wasn't used to such a big portion of meat outside of the tentacle. The bacon and bok choy were nice accompaniments though.
The beef dishes were also just all right. The short rib steak is taken directly off the of the rib to keep the meat in tact. It was prepared well, and I love kalbi, but for me, the texture was off. As for the flank, the presentation was the best part. It was good, not great.
I thought maybe I was getting full and that's why the final batch of plates didn't really do it for me, but that thought was proved wrong when dessert came. The Joule Box was ... Holy Tapioca! It was so, so good. So fresh, so perfect, and I so wished I had my own plate. Pearl tapioca with a ruby grapefruit brûlée and coconut bits. I never could have imagined that this dessert would be such a gorgeous little dance.
Despite a few plates that didn't quite suit me, I'm walking away with a happy feeling. The restaurant itself had a good vibe, the service was outstanding, the food was innovative -and had me looking up words on the internet to find out exactly what I was eating-, and the company, of course, was superb. A nice night out, indeed.