Seoul Soul Korean Barbecue
Address: 323 Victoria St, Abbotsford, Victoria
Phone: 0432 206 404
Open: Monday to Wednesday, midday until 3pm and 6pm until 9.30pm
Thursday to Sunday, midday until 3.30pm and 5.30pm until 10pm
I’ve got a secret. Call it a confession, if you will. When I go to Victoria Street in Melbourne, I don’t eat phở. In fact, I don’t even eat Vietnamese. I skip rice paper rolls and go straight for Korean barbeque. If I’m ever in Victoria Street, you’ll find me at Seoul Soul.
Seoul Soul has been open for about a year, and yet this Korean char-grill restaurant is easy to miss. It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall next to Aldi supermarket. Wooden bench seats line the open kitchen. Chefs toss, flames fly and smells entice.
It looks tiny from the outside, but as soon as you walk through the ivy-green front door, the elongated space reveals its length. Raw concrete surfaces and suspended caged lights give the space an industrial feel. Owner Insu Kim is an architect by trade, which explains the sleek design. The narrow space features three giant, black vents positioned above three communal tables with multiple grills built into the centre. Unfortunately, Insu didn’t account for just how smoky the small space would get once they started cooking, so the grills are purely aesthetic.
Seoul Soul specializes in Korean street eats. Cold dishes are served in authentic speckled and patterned bowls, while the BBQ share plates arrive sizzling hot. Start with ‘Korean Tapas’ such as scallop skewers and deep fried dumplings before moving onto mains.
Meat lovers will be impressed by the pork belly and a selection of marinated ribs, while vegetarians are catered for with spicy tofu ‘bulgogi’ and teriyaki mushrooms.
‘Dosirak’, or meal buckets, are a great lunch option and include rice and salad. Then of course there is ‘bibimbap’, a signature Korean dish where spicy pork or beef are sautéed with chilli paste and seasoning and served with vegetables piled on a bowl of rice, topped with a fried egg.
They also serve little complementary dishes of kimchi, which are continually refilled throughout your meal. We also sipped on 'sikhye’, an authentic rice punch in a can.
The dining experience at Seoul Soul is always enjoyable. Sure, the food is dirt cheap and incredibly tasty, but there's something wonderful about sitting on stools in a cramped space and having your senses flooded by the aroma of cooking and the buzz of people enjoying their meals.