Asian-Fusion Restaurant ‘Ekiben’ Opens in Riverside

| January 4, 2023 | 0 Comments

Popular Asian-fusion restaurant Ekiben opened its third restaurant at 801 E. Fort Ave. in Riverside last week. The space was 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.

Chu told last January they chose the South Baltimore 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.

A full renovation took place on the Fort Ave. building. Chu and Abebe removed the bar and added a bigger kitchen. There is a small amount of seating inside, 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 is the same as the other two 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.

Ekiben is open Monday to Thursday from 11am to 330pm and 430pm to 10pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, it is open from 11am to 330pm and 430pm to 11pm.

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 Ekiben 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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