You can never have enough soul in our opinion and thanks to husband and wife team Daero Lee and Illa Kim they are proving us right. It was love at first sight (bite) when we reviewed Soul Dining, a contemporary Korean restaurant with a touch of European flair. It was one of our favourites in 2020. So it is with happy hearts and empty tummies that we skip along to review their new venture – Soul Deli.
Situated on Campbell Street, just moments from busy Oxford Street the venue is bigger than your average cafe. It’s all glossy, white and open plan with a huge steel kitchen on show. There are cute picture windows to perch and watch the world go by, dog friendly spaces for your pooch outside and the entrance opens up to an airy sunshine filled main room. Tables of friends and couples have a similar theme; most have decided to order up a storm. The display cabinets are heaving with home made produce, including that oh so addictive chili sauce that we fell in love with at SD. The kimchi is one of the nicest: its fresh, crunchy, with a light spice. It is a hugely superior experience to any store bought alternative. A take out fluffy scone actually doesn’t make it home intact, one little nibble just leads to a few more…
So onto the main event. Lets chat omelettes. Lovers of Japanese omelettes will appreciate the technique. A stylish multi layered cylinder, softly cooked, not browned and crowned with micro herbs, beurre blanc sauce, jewels of cods roe and comes with chunky toasted sourdough for mopping.
The soy bean stew doesn’t sound like it would be so delicious but with tofu made in house, it takes on an egg-like creaminess which is a contrast to a topping of stir fry kimchi. Its a little iron pot of veggie power. The bowls are one of the heroes on the menu. It’s a riot of bold colours and complementary flavours; slow cooked pork belly, quarters of juicy tomato, two halves of insta perfect soft boiled eggs, all nestled with veggies, rice and kimchi. The KFC roll really shows what Soul can do. Its everything a burger should be. Milky soft chicken, crispy batter and a chilli sauce which is less ‘sweet’ more ‘punchy’ hugged by a potato bun. A decidedly thoughtful, restrained and more grown up experience which echoes everything about this team. This is Korean food, not the Western fluff-spin-off but they are bringing the food of their home to our city.
From the deli, you can purchase a vast variety of kimchi, pickles, sauces and snacks. Pick up vegan kimchi ($15), seaweed crackling ($10) and Soul’s ‘goes with anything’ fermented chilli sauce ($13). There are home barbecue kits, such as spicy pork belly or beef short rib. Coffee beans come from Primary Coffee Roasters, owned by Dan Kim, a Korean-Australian micro-roaster who only uses ethically sourced, high quality beans. So for heavens sake give up rap, R&B, pop and techno – just bring the Soul home!
185 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Hours: Wednesdays to Sundays from 7am to 4pm