COURTESY OF ALANNA DU
Shoyou Sushi: a personal favorite of Du’s in the Federal Hill neighborhood.
It would take years to fully explore the food culture of all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods (there are over 100!), but last week I did my best to experience the best food that Federal (Fed) Hill has to offer. A fairly young neighborhood populated with many recent college grads, Fed Hill is always busy and has a lot of offer.
My friends and I started with a brunch at Shoyou Sushi, home of the locally famous owner, Bruce “Sushi Bruce” Lee. Shoyou takes pride in receiving fresh fish deliveries every day, a difference even my unsophisticated palate can taste. My friends and I shared a Kaisen Don and the cutely named How Dare Unagi Me? (to be honest I am still not sure exactly what the pun is. How dare you not eat me? How dare you nag me? Someone please tell me if you do know!). The Kaisen Don, which translates directly to seafood atop rice, allowed the fish to shine.
It had none of the fancy extras common to Americanized sushi like cream cheese or spicy mayo, and the predominant flavors were just whatever fish, octopus or crab sat on top of the rice — there was even a whole mini crab! While the flavor was nice, its legs were quite spiky, so do be careful if you order it! The Unagi roll was also amazing, composed of soft, melt-in-your-mouth eel on top of a California roll.
Though a bit more expensive than the average sushi restaurant, I would still highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. The quality was top-notch, portions were generous and Sushi Bruce’s passion was obvious — it was the best sushi I have had in Baltimore by far.
For dessert, we stopped by Diablo Doughnuts. They were almost sold out when we got there, truly living up to their reputation as the best doughnuts in Maryland. The small shop has a grungy, skater feel with comics covering the walls and a couple of hanging skateboards.
They have many “classic” offerings such as Creme Brulee, maple bacon (called the Panty Dropper), and Fruity Pebbles (lovingly called Unicorn Farts), but also offer some more out-of-the-box doughnuts like honey mustard onion or caramel Old Bay, options for someone braver than I. We played it safe, getting a chocolate cake doughnut, a Panty Dropper and a Blueberry Basil. They were all light, fluffy and delicious. Diablo is definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area or a full-on detour if you’re at Hopkins.
Then we moved right next door to Cross Street Market, taking a seat at Ceremony Coffee Roasters so we could get some studying done and be a little productive. Ceremony has all the café staples, from various cold brews to avocado toast to pastries, perfect for building a well-rounded meal. Unfortunately, I cannot offer any direct food recommendations since I had absolutely no stomach space left after sushi and doughnuts, though the food is sure to be great if it is half as good as it looks.
With three locations in Baltimore, Ceremony is perfect for studying, as it offers a clean aesthetic, plenty of natural light and an atmosphere that’s infinitely less soul-sucking than Brody. The café was full of students who were also there to get work done, with background music that could only be described as coming from a playlist titled “Coffeehouse Hits.” It was loud enough to be atmospheric without being distracting or annoying. For anyone that wants to go, there is also a location in Mount Vernon that is easily accessible via the JHMI.
Fed Hill is a bunch of great things smushed into a very small neighborhood, and there is plenty more to do there than just this! It is both quaint and bustling, quiet and busy, familiar and diverse with something to offer everyone.