Before coming to Wellington, I lived on a farm in Nelson – which meant I had absolutely NO experience with cuisines other than the good old French or British dishes my Mam and Dad cooked up. Now? Wellington has worked wonders on my food knowledge and palette. The sheer abundance of Asian restaurants in Wellington is insane, but they seem to be namely South East Asian and Japanese. That was up until the my new favourite South Korean inspired food fix popped up on Willis Street – Seoul Salon.
I remember walking up Willis street, and my eye being caught by a new and very humble looking little restaurant tucked in-between capital market and burger liquor. Me being the nosy parker I am, I had to have a look through their window and glaze over their menu, which is when I decided I simply MUST come here. My first attempt to come here was a failure, since I didn’t read GMB and rocked up to an empty and locked Seoul Salon (take note – they’re not open on Mondays), however my second attempt, on a freaking freezing rainy and windy Wellington night, was more than a success. Upon sprinting out of the rain and into the restaurant, we were warmly welcomed by their staff and shown to a cute little table for 2. We then had the always-horrendous task of choosing out meals, but once my eye read ‘Salmon Poke Bowl’, I knew the decision had been made. But we wanted to taste a little more of what Seoul Salon had to offer, so we ordered a tofu steamed bun to share as an appetite quencher and little taste tester to see what flavours we were in for.
When the steamed bun hit our table, my boyfriend and I exchanged a look of confusion. I mean, a bao bun is still a steamed bun (technically), but in our minds we were expecting a little round bun filled with tofu, rather than a tofu bao. That being said, the Bao still looked incredible: it was stuffed with battered tofu, fresh cabbage, slices of pickled ginger, and a thick teriyaki sauce. Now I’ve been bouncing around bao’s recently, and I can hand on heart say this is the best one yet. The thick slab of tofu art Mr Go’s was undeniably delicious, but the flavours that paired with the battered tofu at Seoul Salon? Faultless. The bun was also MASSIVE, and gladly fed the appetites of two people before the main meal.
Shortly after devouring the bao in probably a very unattractive way, our main meals were set in front of us. My partner ordered their Han-Sang, a dish of fried tofu and rice with 4 little side dishes, which were: kimchi, glass noodles, tempura battered kumura and a green salad. Though being simple, the flavours were excellent, and each side dish matched the rice and tofu immaculately. Their kimchi is also one of the best kimchi’s I’ve ever tried, and I could’ve eaten a whole bowlful of it! As I mentioned before, I went for their salmon poke bowl with sour and spicy sauce, which was a beautifully presented masterpiece – the pops of colour from all the different ingredients made it look almost too good to eat! Just in case you’d never tried a poke bowl before, they even gave you some instructions on how to mix everything together so that every bite was a mashup of all the fresh, spicy, sour and umami flavours. I absolutely demolished this bowl after taking my first bite – I just couldn’t stop myself. The mix of salmon, edamame beans, slaw, omelette, sesame seeds, seaweed, and cucumber, created a harmonious combination of textures and flavours that nobody could flaw.
Whenever I try out someplace new, that only has a handful of tagged insta images, I get kind nervous about what to expect and what I’m going to be tucking into. By going with my gut and not letting the lack of reviews sway my opinion, I may have just found one of Wellington’s new Korean best-kept secrets. The food was sensational and opened up my palette to old and new flavours that I’m definitely going to try and recreate. The price of the food was super reasonable, and that allowed us to order more food and try a whole abundance of Korean style dishes. The service was incredible, and you could just tell that the chefs and waitresses were happy to be hosting you, and they looked after us so well. By having a relaxed and effortless vibe, it’s created a dining atmosphere that anybody of any aged and any class can enjoy. A solid 9/10 for this Korean cafeteria, as it shows that you don’t have to have a chef’s hat or Michelin star to be a wonderful place to come and enjoy authentic and delicious food. Love your work Seoul Salon, and I’ll definitely be back for more!