Popular modern Korean restaurant SOUL Dining has just opened up a new cafe on Campbell street in Surry Hills. At SOUL Deli you'll find twists on cafe staples with an emphasis on Korean ingredients. A pile of fluffy Ottogi style hot cakes comes with Korean fried chicken while cheese toasties are filled with kim chi, pork belly and cheese and a pork loin schnitzel comes with a Korean style mushroom sauce, kim chi and rice.
SOUL Deli and SOUL Dining are by married couple Daero Lee (chef) and front of house Illa Kim (front of house). There's also a small shop section featuring nostalgic Korean snack foods. Illa explains that she wanted to stock it with items from her childhood. "We find pride and joy in introducing as yet unknown aspects of Korean culture and bringing them together with the Australian way of living," says Illa.
There are also t-shirts and bags from a Korean designer Stella Sin, pottery by a Korean ceramicist Woochang Kim and coffee roasted by Primary Coffee run by Dan Kim in Potts Point. The walls are lined with dot prints of famous Korean food and drink from Soju to Kim Chi.
Speaking of kim chi, nothing really represents Korean cuisine quite like this wonderful pickled cabbage dish. Plans for a kim chi bar were put on hold with COVID but kim chi lovers can still try one of the four types for sale here: traditional kim chi, a red vegan kim chi, a white kim chi made without chilli as well as a fried kim chi. We try them all and they're all delicious but my favourites are the traditional and the fried kim chi. I even buy some to take home with me and to give to friends. They also sell chilli sauce and bulgogi sauce which are fantastic and are great to serve with barbecued meat. These products were a result of customer requests during COVID-19.
Kim chi and pickle fridge
Gold juice $9 and latte $4
While there's an indoor section we take a seat outside and order. It's hard to choose so we go for everything that caught my eye which is admittedly a lot (there were half a dozen items I wanted to order). I start with a delicious Gold juice with carrot, Pink Lady apple, young ginger and turmeric while Mr NQN enjoys his latte. There's also a range of Korean soft drinks like a Bong Bong grape soda with chewy, jelly-like grapes in it and Paldo virac sweet rice drink with a malty, sweet flavour to it.
Omelette with Korean "caviar" $24
The omelette is filled with pink salty cod roe and mozzarella with beurre blanc and a dill, parsley and chive herb salad on the side with two fat pieces of toasted sourdough. It's delicious, the filling oozing out of the omelette when cut. The toast is also excellent dipped in the beurre blanc butter sauce.
Kimchi Cheese Pork Belly Sandwich $22
The kimchi cheese pork belly sandwich is a new item on the menu and it is oozy, spicy, cheesy and rich. The pickles on the side are good especially the pickled jalapeno to give the rich filling a bit of balance.
House Hot Cakes $40 ($19 with KFC $12, Bacon $7 and Hash Brown $2)
Given the option to add Korean Fried Chicken or KFC to anything, I'll always say yes and because I'm highly suggestible when I see that they recommend the hotcakes with KFC, bacon and a hash brown I say a big yes to all three. The pancakes themselves are SOUL Deli's version of the Ottogi pancakes (a Korean brand) and are served with butter and maple syrup. Adding the Korean fried chicken, bacon and hash brown just elevates it so much but be warned, when you add all of these, it ends up being a very expensive breakfast at $40. I'd recommend either adding the Korean fried chicken for it's deliciously sticky sauce and crunchy crumb.
Pork Loin Schnitzel $26
Legend has it that while they were busy testing out the pork loin schnitzel, a neighbour complained about the noise of them pounding the pork loin fillet. The pork loin schnitzel is enormous and a very substantial meal in itself. It is golden crumbed, crunchy edged and tender with a mushroom sauce flavoured with soy and Worcestershire sauce poured on top which really brings it all together. On the side is lemon, a herb salad and kim chi and a bowl of rice. I really like the mushroom sauce-usually it's quite rich but this has a nice tanginess to balance the rich, crunchy schnitzel.
And as for that complaining neighbour? They've since made peace with her the best way they know how, over coffee.
So tell me Dear Reader, which dish would you have ordered? Are you a fan of kim chi? Have you tried white kim chi?
This meal was independently paid for.
185 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW
Wednesdays to Sundays from 7am to 4pm
Phone: 0466 828 754