- Griffin Swartzell
- We’d eat this gorgeous hwe-dup-bap every day if we could.
On both visits to the brothers’ restaurant, behind a 7-Eleven on Fountain Boulevard and Chelton Road, my guests are surprised by the genuinely pretty dining room, all polished woods and understated lights. I would have been too if Andre hadn’t noted customers’ consistent reactions to the dining room during a previous interview. Cue the cliché about judging a book by its cover. And leave your presumptions about southeast Springs behind; meet the neighborhood on its terms.
Lunch plates come comparatively affordable, including a selection of bento boxes costing $8.50 with one side or $10.50 with two. We try a saba shioyaki (broiled mackerel) bento, which comes with miso soup, salad, rice, and, for our two sides, salmon sashimi and mixed tempura. The tempura’s light and crisp, the sashimi’s fresh, the miso’s rich, and the mackerel’s dark, oily and intense.
As far as the sushi goes, we spot spicy rolls everywhere. We try the satisfying krispy red snapper chips, five wedges of just-fried snapper topped with sliced jalapeño, sweet unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and sriracha. The jalapeños are stripped of their spicy ribs, mostly adding crunch. They play the same role in a Mexican samurai roll, paired with chopped yellowtail and topped with spicy mayo, wrapped in soy paper.
At dinner, most plates run $11 or more. We try a well-executed chicken yakisoba, simple, savory and sizable, with tender thigh meat. We’re underwhelmed by beef bulgogi, all wet and chewy as if cooked in an overcrowded pan, though the flavor’s good. A lobster tempura cone does better, losing any cucumber crunch to sweet, creamy lobster salad, but spared greasiness by its soybean paper jacket. The house Uri roll is led by spicy tuna, mellowed by avocado and crab, and grounded by shrimp tempura. We pass on the regular rolls but notice they’re all $10 or less, many going for $5 to $7.
But the standout over two visits is the hwe-dup-bap, a bowl of cubed raw fish and seaweed atop rice and lettuce, finished with a shaved daikon radish nest, fish eggs, a raw quail egg, and a purple orchid. It’s served with a cup of tangy, spicy gochujang-based sauce called chogochujang. We use the whole cup and ask for more. It’s simple, clean and delicious. It’s raw fish bibimbap. It’s Korean poke. It’s a flat-out excellent bowl of food. And for $19, it’s enough to feed two comfortably.
Drinkers might skip buy-one-get-one domestic beers and house sake pours for a $10 bottle of soju (a Korean distilled spirit), plain or artificially fruit-flavored. At 14 percent ABV, there’s more than enough to share.
Little things like this, cheap rolls and affordable lunch specials tear Uri away from the crowd of high-dollar sushi joints. The fish tastes as fresh as it is anywhere in town, too. Our best to the Oh brothers — for our dollar, they’ve learned the craft well.