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Hello Seoul Salon, goodbye Oriental Blues

By Tom 22 May 2019

Seoul 4a

For two years, the Korean stall Oriental Blues was a highlight of Willis Street's Capital Market. Now, it's been given the chance to shine even brighter as a standalone Willis Street eatery under the name Seoul Salon.

Primarily Korean, but with contemporary Japanese influence, this low-key, eat-in or takeaway restaurant is both accessible and authentic. If you know you like Korean food, you need to come here. If you don't know whether you like Korean food, you should start here. And if you think you don't like Korean food, think again. Because Seoul Salon has the best bibimbap in town. Yep, I said it!

Bibimbap is currently the trendiest of Korean dishes. Translating literally as 'mixed rice' , the origins of this dish are still contested, with some claiming it as an offering for the gods, and others a modest mixing of leftovers.

Bibimbap consists of warm white rice with namul (sautéed spinach or green veg), mushrooms, julienned cucumber or courgette and carrot, BBQ beef, an egg, finely shredded nori, and either soy sauce or gochujang (fermented chili sauce). There's something incredibly satisfying about this thorough combination of textures, colours and flavours - including salt, spice, tang, sweet, and umami.

The way to eat bibimbap is to mix everything thoroughly - and I mean thoroughly - something I always find difficult when it's presented as beautifully as this, but the staff at Seoul Salon give express instructions to do so. Whatever you do, make sure to choose the gochujang sauce and add as liberally as you please.

Not sure about bibimbap just yet? Try one of the various fried rice dishes, like mild Kimchi rice with tofu and greens. This might have a takeaway vibe, but the food preparation here is next level: ever-so-slightly charred rice, neatly shredded veges, crispy shallots, the finest of julienned beet, perfectly cubed fried tofu, and lovely dashes of sauce and miso dressing. It's the perfect intro to kimchi if you're not yet familiar with this fermented Korean staple.

Seoul 10a
Seoul Salon
Photo credit: Tom Huthwaite

Seoul Salon is well priced, speedily prepared, and with a wide selection of meal types including dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options. It's open lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday with the option to dine-in or takeaway. I can definitely see Seoul Salon flourishing in the Capital and it’s already my go-to for a taste of Korea.

Seoul Salon Thomas Huthwaite 18

Seoul Salon

Delicious East Asian food that pops on the plate.

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