Categories
Asian Fusion Café Korean

SOUL Deli – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

The husband and wife magicians behind Surry Hills modern Korean restaurant SOUL Dining have done it again with SOUL Deli, a still-Korean but less formal café and deli space just blocks away from the mothership. Where SOUL Dining succeeds by delivering a variety of quite substantial dishes cooked with fusion principles and a view for sharing, SOUL Deli’s offerings are more café-oriented, with single person servings that still retain some of that fusion touch.

The SOUL Galbi Bowl ($28) was the highlight of our meal. The star ingredient, black angus short rib, was delightfully tender and fatty inside with a good char on the outside – the result of a prolonged sous-vide process and high temperature grill finishing. Each bite of this prized beef showcased both the meat quality as well as the soy-pear marinade, delivering distinctly Asian flavours and showing that often it’s more about cut and culinary technique than whether or not the cow was born in Japan. The soy egg had a great umami flavour, and the pickles, kimchi, and fresh broccolini added a freshness that balanced out the meat. Last but not least was the fresh tomato, which was not only fresh but also added an additional glutamate enriched hit of umami which synergised well with the meat. Very good.

The Omelette with Korean “Caviar” ($24) was quite a nice demonstration of SOUL’s intersecting Korean and French cooking techniques. The omelette itself was delicate and moist, though I felt that the salted pollack roe within didn’t quite pack the punch that was expected. The trout roe atop omelette was fine, though there could’ve been more – there’s a difficult balance to achieve here with a relatively expensive ingredient that adds only a fine and subtle flavour. The beurre blanc, a sauce that some but not all French mothers teach their children added a creaminess that complimented the egg with its mozarella stuffing. It was a great sauce to mop up with the surprisingly decent sourdough bread. This omelette was overall a lighter tasting dish than the galbi bowl, but still good.

This Korean Fried Chicken piece ($8) was expensive compared to your regular serving of fried chicken, but quite good. The exterior was crispy, well sauced but not overflavoured, while the inside was juicy and tender. Served with some pretty high brow kimchi.

I enjoyed this Korean donut ($4.50), which was a slightly oily, slightly sweet dough twist.

This oat cookie ($4.50) was also not bad.

This was a fresh and fizzy Omi ade – a kind of Korean bberry drink. It is available also with alcohol but we tried very hard to be adults about our breakfast.

VERDICT
We really enjoyed the fresh Korean-fusion flavours at Soul Deli. The dishes are on the expensive side, but well worth it. A fitting sequel to Soul Dining.

Categories
Asian Fusion Korean Latin American

Vecino – Canterbury NSW Restaurant Review

It’s far too common to find Asian fusion cafes, particularly in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, owned by people with no cultural ties to the food being served, and it really warms my heart to see a Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant owned by Asians and run by both Korean and Spanish speaking waitresses, chefs, and carpenters.

Vecinos’s expansive menu features both classic breakfast favourites as well as their signature Korean-Mexican menu of Korean fried chicken, tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Set within a small space across the road from the neighbouring Woolworths (and free parking lot), Vecino features an unusual collection of steampunk or plumbing inspired furniture, apparently assembled in house by Vecino’s very multitalented crew.

We had a selection of tacos and Korean fried chicken for our midday meal.

My first delicious taco was the Baja Taco (2 for $14.50), filled with a battered fish fillet (of unknown species), cabbage, dill ranch sauce, pico de gallo, and lime juice with salsa and jalapeno. I had been craving a sashimi taco for some time, having been recently denied one at Osaka Trading Co by my friends who weren’t too fond on the idea, and while this was no sashimi taco it hit the spot perfectly. The fish was freshly fried and very crispy, with the mild sauces adding a creaminess and the salsa adding a freshness. This taco was simple to eat and a recommendable pleasure.

The Bulgogi Tacos (2 for $14.50) with marinated soy beef, cabbage slice, pico de gallo, teriyaki sauce, sour cream and guacamole with salsa and jalapeno sauce were a wet and delicious mess. After experiencing the sensible tastiness of the fish taco nothing could have prepared me for the deluge of sauces and delicious liquids that poured out of this taco as I bit into it. The beef was sweet but not overpoweringly so, with each bite a delicious fusion of familiar bulgogi flavours with the freshness of the salsa, guacamole, and lime juice. A really good fusion taco.

Unfortunately I think Vecino’s Honey Cream Prawn Tacos (2 for $14.80) didn’t quite meet the expectations by the previous two tacos. Each taco featured a number of small prawns in a very hard honey glaze-crust. Unfortunately this hard glaze made these particular tacos far more difficult to bite through, chew, and eat than the others. This, coupled with what I think is less interesting a flavour makes these tacos a pass from me.

We also had half a Salsa Picante Chicken, which is a fusion take on the usual Korean Fried Chicken, topped with salsa picante and salsa de mango. While I was initially a little hesitant, the sweet and spicy salsa flavours actually complimented the fried chicken very well. I also found the side cabbage to be better than most others, I think owing to the lighter flavours used in the dressing compared to most Korean restaurants. I thought the hot chips served with the chicken were quite good, likely triple-fried with an exterior batter, but ultimately completely unnecessary. I would’ve liked the opportunity to order the chicken without them rather than be locked into eating them and possibly missing out on other tasty menu items.

A perfectly adequate cappuccino was had in Grounds of Alexandria turquoise.

VERDICT
Vecino is Asian fusion done right in every sense. The combination of Mexican and Korean flavours provides an experience that can’t be had anywhere else in Sydney.

4.5/5 . About twice as good as Costas Arepa Bar.

Vecino
Shop 1/1-3 Charles St, Canterbury NSW 2193
0456 416 749

Categories
Café Dessert Korean

Cafe Crop – Strathfield NSW Restaurant Review

Teeming with high school kids on a weekday afternoon, Cafe Crop in Strathfield provides quite good quality, bat-adjacent bingsoo,

We had a mini mixed fruit bingsu ($11.50), with our mini size served within a plastic container while larger sizes are served in Pyrex measuring cups. The shaved ice had a nice creamy taste to it, and we really enjoyed the assortment of fruits – strawberry, melon, grape, mango, (and unfortunately seemingly canned pineapple) – that was included. The addition of some mochi (rice cake) and what I’m pretty sure is Milo cereal also added a nice variation in textures and flavours. The squeezy container of condensed milk was left essentially unused, as the dessert was tasty and sweet enough without it.

On a subsequent visit we had a small mixed fruit bingsoo ($21), a larger, pyrex cup variety of the same one that we had the first time. The scoop of ice cream in the medium size is decorated with milo cereal to form a spooky but cute pig face.

While I thought the bingsoos were good and good value, the pomegranatade coming in at $7.50 I thought was much worse value. While I don’t know the intricacies that go into it – perhaps they have a staff member squeezing the juice out of each pomegranate pip in painstaking fashion – what it tasted like was cordial and in my opinion not worth the price.

VERDICT

Bingsoo good. Pomegranateade bad.

Can recommend.

Categories
Korean

678 Korean BBQ – Haymarket Sydney CBD NSW Restaurant Review

We ate at the Haymarket branch of 678 Korean BBQ on a Thursday night after my partner was jealous of me eating Korean BBQ with my colleagues from work the night before.

We thought that it was quite expensive for what you get. The side dishes are quite limited and were never refilled. I have heard that the more money you spend the greater the variety of side dishes but we spent $80 for 2 people and got barely anything.

To add insult to injury, by the time we had arrived they had already run out of many of the beef items.

CLOSING OPINION

Overall quite disappointing and I wouldn’t come back of my own accord.

2/5. EXPENSIVE BUT WHY

678 Korean BBQ Restaurant (Haymarket)
Level 1/396 Pitt St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Categories
Korean

Danjee – Sydney CBD Korean Restaurant Review

I’ve been trying to go to Danjee since July 2020, when one of my Korean colleagues mentioned it as one of the best Korean places east of Strathfield. It took me until December 2020 to get there, at which point Danjee was still serving its very limited COVID-19 menu.

Danjee’s website would not let us make a booking for lunch as it only allows bookings at least four hours in advance, however when we called they told us that we could just walk in. When we arrived we found only one other group at Danjee during our Saturday lunch sitting – probably a bad performance indicator for the business, and probably due to the confusing text on the website.

Access to Danjee is through a little suspicious-looking alleyway off George St. The dining hall we were led to features normal wooden tables with no evidence of BBQ facilities, though this is meant to be a BBQ restaurant. I later discovered that there are two whole other sections of the restaurant – one indoor and one outdoor – that feature BBQ facilities – that had been closed due to the pandemic.

Side dishes

These were our side dishes. They were all pretty good, but they weren’t refilled at all throughout our meal.

Hot stone bibimbap with beef ($20)

The hot stone bibimbap with beef ($20) was good and fresh, but didn’t really come with much beef. The beef it did come with was in t he form of mince, and easily lost when the dish was all mixed up together.

Mul Bi-Naeng Myeon (buckwheat noodles with spicy sauce in chilled soup)

The Mul Bi-Naeng Myeon (buckwheat noodles with spicy sauce in chilled soup – $18) was alright. This was my partner’s first experience with Korean cold noodles, and she was initially taken aback by the floating pieces of ice, although she eventually grew to like it as the ice mielted I really wished that they would’ve provided some scissors for the noodles – without them this dish was quite difficult to eat. As we were settling our bill our waiter asked for our opinion on this dish. He said that he himself wasn’t a big fan, as he didn’t think that the soup tasted like traditional naengmyeon, and asked us to compare the flavour with that of other restaurants. Not being a huge naengmyeon connoisseur myself I gave some awfully unhelpful but honest advice – I told him that I thought the flavour was fine, but I would’ve loved a bit more meat. He looked taken aback. Evidently two slices of meat is the gold standard.

Danjee’s Korean BBQ offerings are unfortunately all cooked in the main kitchen before being brought out to the dining tables. There is currently no option for at-table cooking for lunch, and in fact we had to pay a premium for chef cooked meat. We had the LA Karubi ($21) and the Pork Belly ($220. Both were fine, though I thought the portions were quite small for the price paid. There was no leaf – lettuce, sesame, or otherwise – that was offered and it really felt like quite a barebones and negative BBQ experience.

VERDICT
Danjee bills itself as “Korean Fine Dining”, though I find it hard to appreciate any “fine” elements to it. What I found at Danjee was quite middling food, poor service, and a disappointing stinginess on meaty goods. I would hesitate to come back to Danjee as is.

3/5

Danjee
1-7 Albion Pl, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8084 9041

Danjee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato