Perhaps one of Adelaide’s best-kept dining secrets, Seoul Restaurant has served up deliciously authentic Korean dishes with a smile and zero pretensions for the past 30 years.
In one of Adelaide’s least ‘activated’ side streets, there are two exciting things. There’s a secret bar and there’s Seoul Korean. You’ll have to work out the bar for yourself, but if that hunt makes you hungry be comforted in knowing there’s bibimbap nearby.
Located on Hyde Street between Pirie and Flinders streets, Seoul Restaurant has been serving up traditional dishes like overflowing hotpots and tteokbokki (a common Korean street food of sweet and spicy rice cakes) since opening in 1987. The décor is a little old and from the front it might be easily missed, but it’s comfortable and there’s always a smile with table service.
The tables are covered with the classic white paper top held down by a silver clip. It’s dated, but fun and the white paper makes a great backdrop for your requisite instagramming, provided you don’t spill vinegar all over them.
The menu includes several entrees that are just smaller sizes of the mains, which is convenient for sharing or sampling. Some of the signatures like the Korean fried chicken are only available in larger portions, and the hotpot is a standard serving of around 2-4.
In the warm weather, a hot spicy broth isn’t awfully appealing, and luckily Seoul Restaurant offers a quintessential cold noodle dish that isn’t often seen on menus around town. It’s savoury, filling, but refreshing and light. The perfect hot weather meal.
The noodle dish uses a broth base, which is served cold, and little icebergs of the frozen broth decorate the bowl and keep the dish cool. They also add a pleasant salty crunch. The noodles are made from a mixture of starches which give them a unique chewiness, favoured in Korean cuisine. This gummy texture is known as QQ which is found in the popular rice cakes and sweet potato starch noodles that make up dishes like tteokbokki and japchae.
To make it a rounded meal, throw in a side of the super tender squid in red chili sauce. The squid are wok tossed with cabbage and gochujang sauce, another Korean signature, which gives it a unique sweet spice and toasted flavour. Although it doesn’t look terribly impressive plated up, the taste is not to be underestimated.
Wash down your spicy meal with a Hite, an imported Korean lager, and don’t forget to work in all those little Korean side dishes. From pickled bean shoots to potato sticks, each restaurant offers a slightly different array.
Paying at the counter is still done with paper receipts and an old-school register, but eftpos is available. In winter a bubbling hotpot would be a welcomed meal, but while it’s hot get cracking on those cold noodles.