Looking for my first place to formally review I stumbled across Double Knot, a Schulson Collective restaurant on 120 S. 13th Street. It conveniently neighbours two other popular Schulson establishments, Sampan and the Graffiti Bar. I had heard of Double Knot before, mostly in reference to their underground izakaya basement that serves sushi and robatayaki meats (Robatayaki is similar to barbeque- I didn’t know what it meant either).
Interested and hungry I walked in and was greeted with a dimly lit and relaxed atmosphere. There is a bar and scattered seating areas to enjoy drinks on the top floor, but I knew that downstairs was the true treasure.
I was given a 1 hour estimated wait, but was happy to find that it only took 20 minutes. To get underground you have to travel down a dark staircase only lit by scattered candles. You immediately feel as though you are embarking on a culinary journey of mystery and sophistication.
I sat down at a tiny little table for two. The space was buzzing with life, yet carried a sense of intimacy and seclusion. It felt like a getaway from your everyday world; Like we knew something special from the pedestrians walking above us on the sidewalk.
In traditional Japanese style, you should expect the portions to be small and a bit pricey. However, should also expect high quality ingredients and innovative dishes. I started off with sushi.
Dish: Halibut Kombu Roll
Dish: Spicy Tuna Roll
I got extremely excited for my meal after taking my first bite of the rolls. As an avid soy sauce lover, I even set that aside for these bad boys. The fish held the indulgent, salty flavors of quality seafood without an overpowering taste of the water it came from. My favorite part of the rolls were the seaweed, which almost popped open in your mouth like a grape.
Dish: Robatayaki Pork Belly, Pork Jowl, and Kobe Beef.
Price: Ranges from $3-$5
Without getting too excited I’ll just say kobe beef blew me awayyyyy. It was so soft that I was tempted to treat it like a spread. If you ever have the opportunity to try it, do it.
The pork belly and jowl were also good, but not as good as the kobe. The jowl does have a bit of a chew to it and the belly is a teensy bit dry. Still delicious though.
Dish: Japanese Fried Chicken
This fried chicken dish is served with a sliced lemon, a couple slices of daikon, and kew pi mayo. It is recommended that you squeeze the lemon over the chicken, smear it in the mayo and then eat it with a slice of daikon (a type of radish). When you eat it this way, it is a whirlwind of flavors. The diakon brightens the heaviness of the chicken while the mayo brings a deep richness. The only issue with the dish is that you run out of the toppings within the first couple bites and then are left with a lot of plain fried chicken. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good chicken, but can grow to be a bit heavy
Dish: Crispy Brussel Sprouts
One of the best parts of this dish is its size. It’s a great way top off the table after a night of eating. The brussel sprouts are CRISPY, just how I like it, and soak in the generous splash of fish sauce. There is also a hint of shishito pepper that brings sweetness and a sprinkle of crispy rice on top to add a bit of texture. To sum up my love for these sprouts, I’ll just say I may have slurped up the bottom-bowl-bits.
Tip: Just in case you find yourself at Sampan, they serve the same ones!
All in all, Double Knot provided me with one of my favorite dining experiences. While it was a bit pricey for the portion sizes, it is pretty standard for an upscale Japanese eatery. The quality, ambiance, and creativity definitely makes this spot worth it. Next time you’re in Center City looking for a unique dining experience, or want to chill with some friends for a drink, I recommend Double Knot!