Seoul Soul Northcote is the second outpost for the Seoul Soul group, the original being on Victoria Street in Richmond. It’s hard to ignore from the street, with its neon signage and modern, sleek industrial fit out drawing in passers by. The 3 owners are all interior designers and it shows. Food wise, a variety of Korean dishes are offered – a limited menu at lunch and a more in depth menu with a greater focus on grilled meats in the evening.
The food is very well priced and the servings are generous. While the food isn’t the most authentic Korean food I’ve tried, which was obvious when I saw terikayi chicken and dumplings on the menu, I can’t really criticise the venue for this as it’s not what it’s claiming to do. Insu Kim, one of the owners has stated that the food is “modern Korean” that’s “a bit sweeter and less spicy – more Westernised”. Korean names and flavours are the main influences at Seoul Soul but authenticity is not what it’s all about and non-Korean Asian flavours, in particular those of Japan, can be found on the menu.
Kimchi Pancake ($8.00)
The Kimchi pancake was surprising for its lack of spice. I knew not to expect authenticity but I was still surprised at the complete lack of heat in this. It was also quite greasy. Having said that, it didn’t actually taste too bad and had a super crispy outside with a soft, moist inside. The pickles on the side were really nice.
Dosirak is a bowl with steamed rice, meat, salad and spring rolls along with a few other bits and pieces thrown in. There were a variety of meat options on offer – my wife and I went for the traditional beef option.
The bowl was big, with a lot of rice and a decent amount of meat too. The meat was very tender but, as with the pancake, definitely altered for a Western palate. Everything else was perfectly acceptable.
Stone Pot Bibimbap ($14.00)
Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish which consists of steamed rice, meat and a variety of vegetables, topped with a poached egg. It comes out very hot and everything is stirred just before eating.
Again, my wife and I went for the traditional beef option and we both preferred this to the dosirak. The stone pot gave the rice at the bottom a great crispiness which, combined with the regular textured rice in the bowl really worked. The flavours also tasted the most unadulterated of the dishes. It was the clear winner of the day.
Seoul Soul when judged against other Korean restaurants doing more authentic food in Melbourne doesn’t quite hit the spot however given that the owners have explicitly stated that authentic Korean food isn’t what they are going for, the food needs to be judged in this context. The servings are generous, the food is not bad and, at the price point, it’s hard to argue against it. The service was fast and attentive and the atmosphere is vibrant. I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat at Seoul Soul, but if I was in the area and looking for a well priced lunch or dinner it would definitely warrant consideration.
315 High Street
Mon – Sun: 12:30pm to 3:30pm
Sun – Wed: 5:30pm to 9:000pm
Thu – Sat: 5:30pm to 9:30pm