Open your Soul to contemporary Korean in Surry Hills

Visit the depths of Seoul at Soul Dining

There are fine dining restaurants all over this fair city. Each with plenty of enjoyable pomp and white tablecloths, silently advising your elbows to not rest there. Here, we are going to dare you to move away from the old classics and take a journey into your soul. 

Soul Dining in Surry Hills is a black chasm with unassuming design and without fancy opera house views – but then, here, the food does all the singing. 

The DA has visited Soul Dining before and this time we’re back to experience the new favourites. For the uninitiated, each menu item either evolves a Korean classic or takes a moment from Chef Daero’s life brought to the plate with innovation and intense care. 

We kick off with cocktails. The Truffle Sour ($32) & one of the favourites Lychee Breeze ($23). The Truffle Sour has a slight hint of truffle scent that confuses the brain – am I drinking or eating? The cocktail is creamy and well balanced and certainly not sweet. A perfect aperitif. The Lychee Breeze looks like a sunset and is dangerously easy to drink. Very easy to see why it’s a crowd pleaser. 

It’s not every day you want to talk about the bread course, particularly as a gluten free diner,  but at Soul Dining we enjoyed the Korean Rice Bread and it’s good news for gluten avoider or the gluten glutton. Chewy, dense and covered in fermented butter, these morsels get you salivating. Our hope is to buy entire loaves of this little number. 

The Korean Beef Terrine ($11) stole our souls  – these are Korean anchovy sheets, mustard butter, chili leaf, and Gamtae (a seaweed). The salt and the slight bite from the chili combination is simply magical.  

Kingfish kimchi

The Kingfish Kimchi ($28) is Hiramasa Kingfish, house made white kimchi and kimchi water, avocado puree and Korean soybean paste. This is a light honest reflection of kimchi. The kimchi water completes the dish and elevates a restaurant staple to a highly memorable dish. It’s a must have. 

It may be time to take a pause here and share how sublime the food is. Soul Dining is going to blow your mind. It does what contemporary food should do, which is breathe new life into classic flavours without throwing away the purity of the original. It’s elegant, refined, interesting and most-importantly just really tasty.

Next we enjoyed the Wagyu Tartare ($27) with Korean Bulgogi dressing, pickled singo pear, free-range egg yolk with seaweed crackers. A generous serving of the Wagyu Tartare appeared before us – and plenty to share between the two of us larger eaters.

For something a little larger we enjoyed the Triple Cooked Octopus ($34). Clarence river octopus, potato snail, house-made fermented chili sauce, squid ink aioli. Perfectly cooked, perfectly spiced and the delicate balance of the chili sauce and the aioli brought out the light spice adorning the octopus. Thrice cooked octopus – a perfect depth of flavour from the last char that heightens the dish to a perfectly tender offering. Certainly a favourite of ours.

For the larger plates we thoroughly enjoyed the Freshly Cooked Claypot Rice ($68). This is short grain rice, soy butter sauce bibimbap, glacier 51 Toothfish, truffle butter, smoked trout caviar and enoki. If you’d said we’d be enjoying some rice and fish – a classic in any Asian cuisine, we’d be happy – but ultimately we’re blown away by this version. The complexity in the weaving of ingredients means that you can eat one of earth’s best staples on its own. The toothfish is cooked to fall apart perfection and the flavours encasing each grain of rice will have you digging around the bowl, like a starving puppy, for more. 

The last of the big plates was the Korean Spicy Charcoal Chicken ($42). Impressively arriving at the table is a deboned free range chicken in gochujang sauce (gochujang has to be the best word for an ingredient ever, say it again – you know you want to) crispy rice and charred radicchio. Again, the chicken is cooked to perfection and the flavour impact is bold, yet comforting.

One of the finest things about Soul Dining is the service. It’s impeccable.

From a beverage point of view the beers, rare finds from Korea – each with a story of how they came to be, are unusual and divine.

We must also note and celebrate the genuine care for the gluten intolerant. It’s not often this much attention is paid to cater to allergies, which provides a very inclusive dining experience. With gluten intolerance on the rise, it’s wonderful to be able to eat and relax in such a beautiful space.

And the soul train keeps getting better because the tasting menu is only $79 for seven courses including dessert. Or you can try the new Truffle Menu available now – with a sample tasting menu $169. The quality is simply impeccable at Soul Dining  and it’s the perfect place to share with your soul mates! 

Soul Dining
204 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
Tuesday – Saturday 5pm – late

About the author

Michelle hails from the UK – but grew up with big flavours and spices thanks to her Singaporean Mum. International cuisine has always been part of Michelle’s life as she explored the world in the pursuit of delicious food and wine – along with a castle or two. Michelle now lives in Sydney after a lengthy stint in Brisbane (a city dear to her heart, which she visits frequently). She is letting her nose and palette be her guide as she discovers and shares exciting and delicious dining experiences. Michelle also loves, in equal measure, fashion, sunshine and puppies.


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