While it may be difficult to plan a tropical vacation these days, dining on the flavors of the Pacific Islands just got a whole lot easier. Remedium Island Grill opened its doors last month and features culinary cuisine from the Hawaiian Islands, Philippines, Guam and the coast of Vietnam.
Featuring full and defiantly bold flavors, Sean Sheffer and his step-brother Joe Wargo opened Remedium to share the comfort foods of home with the Seattle community. With over ten years of experience in the Las Vegas hospitality industry, they decided to move to Seattle in 2017 and initially took over Cure Cocktail, where they served charcuterie and cheese boards and cocktails.
“We started gaining some popularity and regular customers,” said Sheffer. “Then last year, Joe was voted Seattle's favorite bartender in The Stranger. Because we're able to experience the hospitality personally rather than from a corporate perspective, we were able to try new dishes, and he got to try his new drinks. We know our cocktails, and we know the craft it takes.”
With their initial success at Cure Cocktail, the brothers decided to fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant serving Pacific Island cuisine.
“When my mom and his dad were let go from their positions at the same Vegas casino, they decided to come to Seattle and help us open the restaurant,” said Sheffer. “Because our family spent a lot of time living and cooking in the Pacific Islands, we wanted to bring that experience here. So that is what we did.”
“We like to say we bring Pacific Island flavors to the Pacific Northwest,” he continued. “That's where Remedium comes from. My mom has roots all across the Pacific Islands. She is Hawaiian and Filipino and very proud of her culture. She was born in the Philippines and raised in Guam. When she met my birth dad, they were stationed in Hawaii when he was in the Navy, and my brother was actually born on the Big Island.”
Loving the comfort foods from home, like Hawaiian barbecue and popular Filipino cultural dishes like sisig, Sheffer gained a respect for Pacific Island cultures. He takes pride in the food and the incorporation of other cuisines into their diet.
“In the United States, American fusion is often looked down upon because it’s not considered ‘authentic,’” he said. “In Hawaii they just own it. For example, they have the Hawaiian Burger, or saimin. Saimin is basically just ramen. They put their own spin on food and fusion, and are proud of it. I love how Pacific Islanders are more embracing of other cultures, including the cuisine.”
Sheffer compares the fusion similarity to that of Vietnamese food with its French influence. Being half Vietnamese and half Pacific Islander, he recognizes how the French occupation influenced Vietnamese culture and food. He notes how it embraces things like banh mis, and other French-inspired dishes.
“While Chinese and Japanese are very rice and noodle-based, Vietnamese use crepes and bunhs and pate,” he said. "I'm not making a political statement on whether or not they should've occupied them in the first place, but I still think the beauty of merging cultures is that we get to share in the food we have and serve.”
Sheffer notes how Pacific Islanders are proud of the foods they grew up with, and also with embracing other cultures.
“I believe that the openness with our history, combined with our own traditions, allows us to take our own spins on classic dishes,” he said. “It’s like we’re saying, ‘Thank you for sharing your culture, now let's do our steps to integrate.’ We can be proud of our culture by taking these different things, learning from them, and improving upon them. I feel like that's what they’ve done. It's so comfortable and lovely.”
Sheffer also enjoys having the opportunity to work with his grandmother and mom, and finds it rewarding.
“The story about Remedium is embracing family,” he shared. “If you look in the back kitchen, you’ll see me back there with my mom. We're expanding our family here, we're coming together and we're bringing you these nice, comfortable family meals.”
Sheffer feels Remedium is a chance to explore the comfort foods of the Pacific Islands, break bread with his family and learn about different cultures.
- The Fried Spam Musubi Roll is a spam and rice sushi treat that is popular in Hawaii. This delicious version has an extra layer of crunchy Japanese breadcrumb coating.
- The Crackling Chicharron Burger is a Filipino street food prepared with rendered chicken skin and deep fried crispy golden brown over an 8oz beef burger patty and finished with a Jufran sweet aoili. It’s often enjoyed with a vinegar dip and ice cold beer. Worth a try!
- The Loco Moco is a favorite Hawaiian breakfast dish. It’s made with rice and a burger smothered with rich gravy and a sunny side up egg. Served with flavorful Guamanian Red Rice, and flavored with Achete, it’s a mountain of savory goodness.
- Steak lovers will enjoy the Sirloin Steak Skewer, a Filipino Style BBQ made with thinly sliced sirloin steak pieces that are marinated in a special mixture of seasonings and spices. In the Philippines, it is normally grilled over wood charcoal and dipped in a tall jar of spicy vinegar before eating.
- The Filipino Steamed Rice Cakes (Puto) are a yummy, but not too sweet dessert. There are as many varieties as the many regions of the Philippines. These are lovingly made by Sheffer’s mother.
“The hospitality industry is tough right now. People are getting laid off, but at least getting laid off allows us an opportunity to spend more time together. I encourage people to dine out and support local businesses. I want them to feel this is a way to come together and enjoy the ride along with us.”
Remedium is located at 1449 E Pine Street in Seattle. Contact them at (206)240-2731. While some of the products, services, and/or accommodations in this post were provided without charge, all of the opinions within are those of the author and the Seattle Refined editorial board.