I was walking down 3rd Avenue earlier last week and I noticed something different about Gambas–that place next to Kelly’s you might have missed because you’re too busy noticing how much you dislike Kelly’s. Gambas built a patio area in front of their store.
Fast forward to later that week and some friends and I found ourselves wanting some sushi. As much as I love Shiro’s, we were ready to try something different. Here’s the first thing I like about Gambas: they’re open late. It was a little after 9 and most places we looked were already closed. Then I remembered that I had tried Gambas the first time a few weeks earlier for happy hour and it wasn’t too bad. So we hiked on over to 3rd and Bell to get some food.
The wait staff remembered me from the time before and we were seated to a table. If you haven’t been, Gambas is actually quite nice inside. They have the typical sushi bar, and the rest of the decor is quite pleasant. However, I’m not a guy into decorations and aesthetics, so I’ll spare you the details I can’t remember and start talking about food. The ambiance is pretty cool though. The music dances between house/electronica to jazz. It was never too distracting, but it made hanging out there kind of fun.
Though Agedashi Tofu isn’t on the menu, the chef has been kind enough to make it for me each time I have gone. Their sushi menu is pretty expansive and they have the specialty rolls that I like. Moreover, there are other selections on the menu outside of sushi, and it even delves into some French dishes. That’s the other thing I like about Gambas: be it food or drinks, they have good selection. Now, I”m no food snob–I like just about everything–but I had nothing bad to say about what I ate there.
They have the standard selection of Japanese beers to choose from, but the rest of their drink menu is quite impressive too. Another cool thing about Gambas is that they just recently got a liquor license, and they seem pretty excited to offer their patrons a full bar and a pleasant place to have a drink. I tried a Dark and Stormy–a rum and ginger beer drink–and it was pretty good, though I usually go for beer.
The chef actually came out and talked to me when I asked if they wouldn’t mind if I did a write-up for BelltownPeople. I asked him what it was he wanted Belltown to know about his restaurant.
Gambas has a late night happy hour starting at 10 pm. Like I mentioned, they just recently got their liquor license and they are interested in being a nice place to enjoy a happy hour. Moreover, if you have ever had a late-night sushi craving, this might be a place to consider the next time it happens.
I asked about the patio and how that might work given the proximity to Kelly’s and their delightful crowd. He told me that last summer, he noticed that the Kelly’s crowd seemed to shy away as more people came to the restaurant.
I see it as an exciting opportunity to take back 3rd and Bell. Rather than complain in a community meeting from a safe distance, why not be a peaceful, non-violent presence and see change? And why not enjoy some beer and sushi while you’re at it? I don’t mean to politicize a restaurant or turn this into some cause-oriented pitch, but I’m really proud of Gambas for having the stones to build a patio in an area we might have given up on. I wholeheartedly voice my support.
Gambas also has ideas for getting some “electro/soul” music nights going and perhaps inviting some DJ’s. They also tossed out the idea of a Sunday night karaoke (I saw the Ohana Idol deal, and it turns out Belltown can do karaoke).
Then I asked why Gambas is a Japanese-French restaurant. Gambas shared that he has actually been trained and has experience in both French and Japanese cuisine. Just about any corner sushi restaurant is going to offer about the same thing. Gambas offers some variety and French fusion and he seems to have done a good job mixing the styles in a tasteful way.
I mostly just wanted to do a write-up about the patio and let people know that Gambas doesn’t maintain the same reputation as its neighbor. It’s pretty easy to write it off–nothing that close to Kelly’s can be good. However, that really goes to show how we let our perceptions empower places like Kelly’s and the rest of the garbage that goes on at 3rd and Bell. I myself walked past it many times until I finally decided to give it a try. Gambas is delightful and a diamond in the rough on that corner. I like their courage, their creativity, and their desire to be a bright spot on an otherwise dark 3rd avenue.
I would encourage our readers and the rest of Belltown to give Gambas a try and take back 3rd and Bell while you’re at it.
Thanks for reading and I hope everybody had a good weekend. Stay cool…temperature- and otherwise.