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Fish Island

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Returning from Mt Rainier, I was beset with a craving for hwe dup bap, the Korean salad of sliced raw fish served over rice with julienned vegetables, chile sauce, perhaps, in tonier versions, a raw quail egg or roe. Google searches having yielded nothing definitive as we approached Federal Way, I remained confident a pedestrian Korean-owned sushi bar could be found and a serviceable hwe obtained.

We did one better to spot Fish Island, a seafood eatery featuring tanks of live abalone, sea cucumbers, halibut and various crustaceans. It was not until we were seated (in a tatami room with server paging button no less) that I recalled a 2008 visit to a similar place in Shoreline, Bada Sushi (since closed).

Hwe dup bap is an afterthought on the Island (listed as "sashimi donburi") while the focus is set meals combining tiers of mixed sashimi with tempura, whole fried fish, chile pepper based seafood stews, ban chan and the oddly ubiquitous side of cheese-baked canned corn.

Our numbers could not justify the more deluxe combos, especially the "live" versions featuring lobster and abalone, so we went with a $50 entry level set. This included a heap of conventionally stored raw fish, which ranged from good (salmon) to still-frozen (escolar), a large dose of competent veg tempura, and a very nicely fried large halibut collar smothered in a sweet chile sauce (that and the cheesy corn of course). Sides included chile vinegar sauce and a bowl of fried garlic cloves, the robust Korean counterpart to the familiar Japanese soy/wasabi combo.

I missed out on having the seafood stew, and I'd like to return for that along with thelive stuff. Hopefully it's not so long before we wash up on Fish Island again.

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