Ekiben Opening Restaurant on Fort Avenue in Riverside

| January 5, 2022 | 0 Comments

Popular Asian fusion restaurant Ekiben will be opening its third restaurant at 801 E. Fort Ave. in Riverside. As first reported by The Baltimore Sun, Ekiben is taking over the space previously occupied by Bar Liquorice before it closed in 2019.

Ekiben is owned by Steve Chu and Ephrem Abebe who became friends while attending UMBC. The company got its start at local farmers markets, opened its first brick-and-mortar in Fells Point in 2016, and its second location in Hampden in 2020. The company will also soon be launching a food truck.

Chu said they chose the Federal Hill area because of Ekiben’s successful pop-ups here and noted how passionate the residents are about the community. Chu also goes to the gym in Federal Hill which he said will make it a convenient location.

“We are hyped to be in Fed Hill,” said Chu.

Chu said there is no timetable yet for opening due to too many uncertainties in the construction industry and with the COVID-19 pandemic,  but said the process has begun to start renovating.

Chu and Abebe will remove the bar to add a bigger kitchen. There will be some seating inside and possibly outside, but it will be mostly a carry-out restaurant. Ekiben will not be serving alcohol or using the liquor license that was previously in the building.

The menu in Riverside will be similar to the other locations. Ekiben is popular for its steam buns, rice bowls, and sides. Options for buns and bowls include the Thai chicken meatballs, the Taiwanese curry fried chicken thighs, spicy peanut tofu, and the spicy pork. The crispy catfish and shrimp is available only as a bowl, and the slow-cooked lamb is available only as a steam bun. Sides include tempura broccoli, red beans and rice, tofu nuggets, and wood ear mushrooms.

The Riverside location will likely have the same hours as the other two Ekiben locations, which is Monday to Saturday from 11am to 330pm and 430pm to 10pm.

Ekiben has earned its share of media praise with a number of local dining awards, Travel + Leisure named it the best place to get a sandwich in Maryland, and Bon Appétit included Ekeben as one of its Best Restaurant Meals of 2021. Chu also won an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network. The restaurant additionally received local, national, and international coverage when a story of Chu and Abebe making a trip to Vermont to cook tempura broccoli for a terminally-ill customer came to light.

Ekiben’s ‘The Neighborhood Bird’ steam bun at the Cross Street Farmers Market 

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.