Best known for their signature steamed buns and rice bowls, Ekiben opened its third location, this time in South Baltimore.
The Asian-fusion restaurant held a soft opening Dec. 29 for the residents of their new neighborhood on Fort Avenue, and they officially opened for business Dec. 30. The new location at 801 E. Fort Ave. is open Monday through Saturday.
What started in 2014 with a hotdog cart “slinging chicken meatballs in a town of crab balls,” said co-founder and owner Ephrem Abebe, developed into a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Fells Point years later, followed by a second location in Hampden at the beginning of 2020.
One month later, the pandemic shut everything down. But that didn’t stop Abebe and his team from moving forward with plans for a third location.
Even as COVID restrictions have lifted, Abebe said it was hard to start a new project.
“Construction was tough, materials were not available, people were not working from the offices half the time,” he said. “We wanted it to be right so everything just took a little bit longer.”
Abebe said the project took almost two years to complete.
But now that the new location is open, the locals are delighted to welcome Ekiben to the community.
“I’m excited to have these guys open up just minutes from my home,” said Locust Point resident Jackie Christian. “I’ve visited their other locations but how convenient to have them right in the neighborhood now. And it’s always a treat to have some new food options nearby.”
Abebe said they had heard from South Baltimore residents looking for an Ekiben location a little closer to home.
“For some people it’s very hard to get to Fells Point or Hampden, for that matter,” he said. “Customers would always tell us, we’d love for you guys to be on the south side of Baltimore. So we thought about Fort Ave. and realized it was a great area.”
Walking into Ekiben, the music is loud, the energy is high, and the staff is welcoming and ready to serve.
“It’s just a fun place to be,” Abebe said. “We think that’s what Baltimore is, and really we just want to show that off the world. That’s the feeling that we’ve always enjoyed whenever we walked into a restaurant, so we provide that for our guests as well.”
Ekiben also offers opportunities for catering and hosting events.