Illa Kim and Daero Lee are first time restaurateurs, so they want Soul Dining’s menu to represent them. The couple are both of Korean descent – Kim grew up in Germany and Lee in Korea – and their school lunch boxes were full of Korean-style food. In their teens they began to eat more German roasts, pizza (Lee was previously head chef at Criniti’s), pasta and Australian cafe cuisine.
That’s why there's a soybean powder-dusted pork jowl with German-style red cabbage for dinner, and breakfast cereal milk-flavoured panna cotta (the sweetened milk that’s left over once you’ve eaten all your cereal) for dessert. There’s also grilled Korean eggplant adorned with tomato jam, parmesan and anchovy paste.
There are a lot of ideas here, and although the dishes sound elaborate and veer towards fine-dining, the overall vibe is more casual. Deep-fried prawn heads served with the prawn sofrito (a basic tomato sauce used in Spain as a base for dishes) are best eaten with your hands. The stuffed chillies can be broken, dipped and munched on without any cutlery too.
The design is bold. Plush blue velvet seating lines one side of the long dining room; the walls are charcoal-coloured concrete with spots of exposed brick. There are metal accents. A hefty back bar sends out Australian wines, cans of Korean lager, classic cocktails and kimchi-brine Bloody Marys.