In last year’s “Best of Seattle” issue, we voted Kraken Congee “Best Pop-Up” restaurant. The guys behind it, Garrett Doherty, Irbille Donia and Shane Robinson are all line cooks in Seattle who made a cult following out of one of the most humble Asian dishes: rich porridge. One year later, with a slew of pop-ups behind their chef shirts, they managed to get picked up on CNBC’s Restaurant Kickstart, where savvy and brutally honest restaurateurs Joe Bastianich and Tim Love decide whether or not to invest in restaurant upstarts. I caught wind that the guys were doing a reality-based show back in March when Donia started another pop-up, Lahi, based on his Filipino roots, which we covered. At the time, he wasn’t able to give any details about the show. But, now, their debut is available for everyone to check out, as they go up against Ramy’s Falafel Fusion from Portland – and DISCLAIMER — beat them!
In this fast-paced, 45-minute episode, the Kraken team is vying for 350K to open a brick & mortar restaurant here in Seattle. But, first, they need to prove to Love and Bastianich that they can use just $7,500 to build out a space, change their logo, and create a menu for a one-night dinner. While Bastianich calls them just “a bunch of line cooks” and is seriously worried about their abilities to pull off a real restaurant venture, Love sees the magic behind the porridge and believes that their concept is one that can be carried across the country—even though he thinks that their name sounds like a but crack…
As the pressure mounts, tears are shed by Donia (no surprise, he’s a softhearted guy), and more unexpectedly by the usually confident, borderline cocky Doherty, who breaks down about the possibility of disappointing his family.
Mishaps ensue – including a fire – but the guys bring on the Kraken with dishes like curried crab congee, pork belly adobo and scallion pancakes.
At the end of the day, they get an offer from both Bastianich and Love – but it’s not quite what they had in mind. Find out how the negotiations roll as our beloved Kraken try to make their dream come true.