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Soul Deli Opens in Sydney - Shining the light on Korean Cuisine and Culture

By Soul Deli
Posted: 20 Feb 2021
SOUL Deli dishes - credit Jiwon Kim
The husband-and-wife team behind Sydney's Contemporary Korean restaurant SOUL Dining have opened their second venue - SOUL Deli, the city's first Korean brunch café/deli. And their aim is to turn the spotlight on Korean-Australian food and products.

Located at 185 Campbell Street, Surry Hills (on the corner of Little Oxford Street), SOUL Deli combines a deli, featuring a range of fresh and packaged Korean goods, a café offering sit-down dining and takeaway, and a range of products made by Korean artisans from the local community. "We are thrilled to open SOUL Deli," says Illa Kim, who together with husband Daero Lee, owns both venues. "It's an exciting new venture and is designed to deliver a great cultural experience for our customers."

Daero, who is also Executive Chef of SOUL Dining, has created a more casual menu for SOUL Deli. It offers a variety of uniquely Korean dishes 'SOUL style', made with Australian techniques and local produce. The menu includes KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) roll, omelette with Korean 'caviar', house-made tofu salad, and soybean stew with white kimchi - and some Australian classics, such as smashed avo and bacon & egg roll that can be 'Koreanised' by adding options such as Kimchi, Bulgogi sauce or Korean spicy pork belly. "We realised how much more diversity we could bring by offering a more casual menu," Illa says.

Diners can also enjoy special Korean rice bowls, including spicy pork belly bowl, umamishroom bowl, and SOUL galbi bowl. And the team has plans for more vegan options. "Our rice bowls are actually how SOUL Deli came about," explains Illa. "During the 2020 COVID lockdown, we created a takeaway option - BOWL by SOUL - and it proved very popular. The great feedback made us realise there's a need for Korean food and culture, and we knew we wanted to expand our business to highlight what Korean cuisine and culture can offer in the Australian market - and so SOUL Deli was born.   

"We find pride and joy in introducing as yet unknown aspects of Korean culture and bringing them together with the Australian way of living."

SOUL Deli also features a range of curated food products from Korea. "It's similar to an Asian grocery with artisan and ethically-sourced high-quality products, but also has an element of 'fun stuff' - iconic childhood favourites," says Illa.  

There's a Kimchi bar with various kinds of Kimchi in different ageing stages: vegan 'red' Kimchi, Vegan 'white' Kimchi, stir-fried in sesame oil, and fresh, seasonal kimchi (e.g. chive kimchi, or perilla leaves Kimchi). There are also Korean pickles made in-house, house-made tofu, seaweed crackle, and a variety of packaged goods including the deli's special Korean Sauce Trio (Vegan Bulgogi Sauce, Goes with Anything fermented chilli sauce, and Fire Chilli Sauce). In addition, there are meal and barbecue kits such as Daero's special beef short rib, which is prepared sous-vide and comes with galbi jus. All meal kits include instructions on how to cook them.  

Coffee beans come from Primary Coffee Roasters, owned by Dan Kim, a Korean-Australian micro-roaster who only uses ethically sourced, high quality beans.  

Illa and Daero chose predominantly white for the interior of SOUL Deli, with black and white furniture. "We wanted it to be simple and bright, because it's a daytime venue and because the food should be the emphasis," says Illa.

Showcasing local artisans

SOUL Deli also showcases products from a range of designers and artists from the local Korean community, including a series of fashion items created by Australian-Korean fashion designer Stella Sin, whose label is 'bysin'; and Misty Island ceramics and pottery items made by pottery artist Woochang Kim.  

The walls of SOUL Deli are adorned by posters created by German-Korean designers Sunny Yang and Ohyun Kwon from Gute Form, showing the city of Seoul and iconic Korean food items in a modernised way.  

"During the development process, we realised how many amazing small businesses, artists and products there are from the local Korean community. SOUL Deli showcases them in different ways - some of them as product offerings, others as part of a collaboration," says Kim.  

Initially, SOUL Deli will be open from 7am - 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. As the business grows, it will also open for dinner.  

SOUL Deli - 185 Campbell Street, Surry Hills

SOUL Deli - credit Jiwon Kim
Daero Lee and Illa Kim - credit Tim Bradley
beef short rib
SOUL Deli - credit Jiwon Kim
SOUL Deli Kimchi and pickles
 
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