There's a lot of excitement for Thursday's opening of Fish Face, Bill Ngo's newest restaurant. Opening in the refurbished warehouse building at 11th & R Streets, Fish Face is a fast casual concept that is sure to be a success. In a day where there are "Chipotle for pizza" and "Chipotle for Asian bowls", FF takes the "build your own" method and applies it to Hawaiian poke.
There will be plenty of people that we will never see at FF...those who don't do raw fish. Poke is chopped or sliced pieces of raw fish tossed with extras and sauce. Bill takes this and expands it so that you order it the way you want it, just like building a Chipotle burrito. Pick your seafood (ahi, octopus, shrimp, or even tofu), select a sauce, then add what extras you might like (seaweed, avocado, jalapenos, etc.).
I chose a small bowl with octopus, ponzu sauce, jalapeno, rice crisps, and chili flakes. The octopus was very nicely done. My only complaint would be on spiciness. I watched the girl assemble mine and she threw a spoonful of chili flakes on...way too much. In a conversation I had with another we decided it will be good if they slow down and don't get heavy handed with some of the bolder and spicier items which cover up the taste of the fish. It was a soft opening and super busy, so really I wouldn't count this as something as a problem once they open and get things smoothed out.
They also offer hand rolls. I did a double take when I saw that it had "Directions" printed on it. It became more clear when I opened it up. In order to keep the nori fresh and not soggy, the seaweed is in a plastic wrap separate from the filling of rice and fish. In other words, some assembly required. A nearby diner helped walk me through my first roll and it became apparent I should probably film the process to help all you out there, so here's the video...
Fish Face's location is in a gallery of shops. There's a clothing boutique, a record store, a shoemaker, and some woolen, weaving place. Finally, right across from FF is Metro Kitchen & Drinkery, a juice bar that serves some food items and gluten-free baked goods. Since it's all a shared space, it's not like FF can stay open on its own.
All in all, Fish Face is sure to be a hit. There's rumors they want to franchise it and I can see that working out too. Expect to see me there often, since it's fresh, healthy, and it's straight up the street from me!