photo credit: Nate Watters
For the most part, steakhouses follow a pretty standard formula. Classic cuts of beef grilled over a flame, or seared on cast iron, or prepped with aging techniques more advanced than Helen Mirren’s moisturizing regimen. Then, you have your usual side dish stock characters: creamed spinach, twice-baked potatoes, and various attempts to make carrots actually taste good. A short rib steak with kimchi next to a side of crispy rice cakes with chorizo and pickled mustard greens is the last thing you’re going to walk into a steakhouse expecting to eat.
That is, unless that steakhouse is Joule.
Joule is owned by the same people behind Revel, and you’ll also eat Korean fusion here. But instead of riffs on street food like scallion pancakes and dumplings, Joule channels a large quantity of pent-up creativity into steaks and small plates. The menu is huge, and broken up into starters, salads, rice/noodles, vegetables, steaks, and a wildcard group called “other than steak” (involving various proteins). All the dishes involve flavor combinations you might not expect, but will be very excited to eat, like the corn with okra and cubes of toasted cornbread in a tomato-coconut XO sauce, or the ribeye with spicy peanut oil and beef belly - which are some of the better versions of corn and steak we’ve ever eaten.
But despite the offbeat roundup of ingredients like octopus with bok choy and bacon vinaigrette and fried rice with geoduck clam and seaweed and pork rinds, Joule is surprisingly approachable. You can build a lot of different types of meals here - everything mix-and-matches really well, just like the entrees and sides at a traditional steakhouse. The best move is to trust your server, order things from each category, and share it all. The big group dinner is the ideal occasion for Joule, because there’s no way you can reap the full benefits with just a date unless you’re curious about how much food you can fit in your stomach before having to call an ambulance.
Joule’s space is another reason it will make a lot of people happy. There’s an excellent outdoor patio, a retro neon sign that says “Jewelry,” but with the only first five letters glowing, and bright blue wallpaper that looks like something from a trippy Victorian dream sequence at first, but upon further inspection is actually patterns of diamond rings, roosters, and ribeye steaks. Together, the carnival of ingredients alongside the whimsical meat wallpapered space adds up to an environment way more fun than most places where you’ll sit down to a steak dinner.
Joule is consistent in both its creativity and execution. Which means it’s the kind of place you can feel confident bringing just about anyone - from adventurous people to people who just want to eat some red meat. We’re pretty sure Helen Mirren would be into it.
Shrimp Cocktail 2.0
What would happen if a traditional shrimp cocktail got a software update. It’s a stack of shrimp tossed in a Korean cocktail sauce and served on top of some Chinese celery, pork belly, and a ginger beer sauce. A great starter for the table, but it’s a small portion.
Geoduck Fried Rice
This is the food equivalent of falling off of your boogieboard at the beach and faceplanting into a mouthful of unidentified ocean debris - which isn’t a bad thing if you like seaweed stuck in your teeth. In fact, it’s actually a good way to introduce your taste buds to geoduck, which is a very intimidating and chewy clam that looks like, well, you can google it.
Spicy Rice Cake
This insane bowl of chewy flat disks is a thing that must hit your table. They’re tossed in a spicy soy sauce with ground chorizo, pickled mustard greens, and a fistful of fresh scallion on top.
Cauliflower with bonito flakes and smoky yogurt. We enjoy watching the bonito flakes wave around like they’re extras in the music video for “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” but you won’t be devastated if you don’t eat this.
This corn is a farmer’s market fever dream, and it’s the one of the best vegetable dishes we have ever eaten in any restaurant. Sweet corn, seared okra, and toasted cubes of cornbread, all on top of a creamy tomato coconut XO sauce. We’ll take 12 orders, thanks.
Chinese Broccoli With Walnut Pesto
If you brought either your mom who can’t do anything spicy or your disgruntled picky friend to Joule against their will, they’ll like this. It’s simple, but nutty and garlicky and our preferred way to eat broccoli.
This has rhubarb, tamarind, and creme fraiche, but it’s pretty forgettable except for the fact that the horseradish will choke you if you’re not prepared for it. Skip this.
On one visit the crispy eggplant blew our minds, and on another visit some pieces of eggplant weren’t fully coated in tempura breading or enough black bean sauce. But it usually blows our minds.
“That” Short Rib Steak
This is tender, spot-on medium rare, and you’ll find a photo of it under “grill marks” in the dictionary of things that taste good. Also, the kalbi sauce underneath is great. This is the steak to get if it’s your first time at Joule.
Even though the short rib steak is Joule’s signature dish, the ribeye tastes better. It also has a perfect pencil-eraser pink middle and comes with crushed peanuts, spicy peanut oil, and beef belly.
You’ve never had octopus like this before. It’s braised, which takes all of the chewiness out of it, and comes with bok choy and a hot bacon vinaigrette. A bite with all three is just as good as any of the steaks you’ll get here.
We feel very philosophic about this burger. It doesn’t taste bad. It has a decent char from the grill, and we enjoy the horseradish aioli, but can you really call this thing a burger if it tastes more like a Korean sausage patty? Also, the type of bun used is wrong. Skip this and get a steak unless the most daring thing you’ve ever eaten is an egg over-easy and that’s where you cross your arms and draw the line, in which case have at it.