Dish: Abura Noodle
Place: Revel, Fremont
In the bowl: Per the brunch menu: "Abura noodle, nettle pistou, shrimp, bok choy, bonito." There are also ginger strips and cilantro leaves.
Supporting cast/What to do: Use your chopsticks to grab some noodles and other goodies, swiping through the pistou at the bottom of the bowl. Revel has a really good condiment tray of spices, but I believe the balance in this bowl isn't to be disturbed.Noodling around: There are certainly a few things to break down about this bowl of noodles.
Abura ramen is currently popular in Japan. Abura means oil or fat in Japanese, hence noodles served abura-style are sans broth and generally lubricated with some oil. Like all the noodles and dumplings at Revel, the abura noodles are made in-house, and resemble fresh fettucini in size and texture.
Pistou will likely remind you of pesto, and is similar in that it's typically made with a mortar and pestle (pistou is Provençal for pounded). But pistou doesn't contain pine nuts, so the result is less gritty. At Revel, the pistou is silky smooth with the mild-yet-wild flavor of nettles, its gorgeous color transforming the noodles to a green, spinach-like color.
What I love about Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi's food is the interesting combination of ingredients in their dishes. This is the case with the abura noodles. The large shrimp provide meatiness to the dish while maintaining a fresh feel. The bok choy adds vegetal crunchiness, while the ginger strips and cilantro impart their delicious notes. And then there are the bonito flakes, doing their dance at this festive affair. This dried katsuobushi add the flavor of the ocean, but also an umami boost that benefits the whole bowl together.
If you want more: This is the type of brunch I love, full of spiced, savory dishes. The current menu's donuts feature coconut curry or bacon with pickled Asian pear, while the monkey breads contain BBQ pork with pickled jalapeno or feta with kalamata olive. The egg, sandwich, and porridge options are full of similarly interesting twists.
Noodle portions aren't huge, so you might like to add a donut or monkey bread--perhaps shared with a companion. If alone for a meal like this, maybe a kimchi bloody mary ($8) would hit the spot?
Be aware/beware: I so enjoy the seating at the long counter where you can watch the chefs prepare the food. It's like being in the middle of all the action. But also tempting is the outdoor deck, a perfect place for Saturday or Sunday brunch. Note that these seats can fill fast now that the weather is warming.