Fashion meets Seoul food at Soul Deli in Surry Hills

Daero Lee (left) and Illa Kim of Soul Deli.
Daero Lee (left) and Illa Kim of Soul Deli. Photo: Tim Bradley

As any laundromat owner will tell you, kimchi and clothes don't mix. So Illa Kim is keeping them on different sides of the room at Soul Deli, which opened its doors on the weekend in Surry Hills.

A spin-off of Illa Kim and partner Daero Lee's Soul Dining, the idea for a Korean deli-cafe was born during the 2020 pandemic when takeaway sales of their Soul rice bowls started spiking.

That idea morphed into what is a mini-expo of Korea, with Australian-Korean fashion designer Stella Sin's clothes for sale, along with artwork from the Sydney Korean community.

"Our coffee comes from Primary Coffee Roasters, which is owned by Dan Kim, a Korean-Australian micro-roaster," Illa Kim says.

As you'd expect, the food menu is rich in Korean edibles. When Kim's partner Daero Lee took his beef short rib off the menu at Soul Dining, it started a small uprising among regulars. Now they can nab the dish to take home.

"You can also buy one and get the kitchen to cook it and eat here," Lee says.

Jars of house-made kimchi and pickles.
Jars of house-made kimchi and pickles. Photo: Supplied

"It's a great dish, very popular in Korea around Chinese New Year. We also do the pork schnitzel you find in Seoul."

Soul Deli finds space among the pottery and art for a kimchi bar. It even has in-house lines of house-made tofu and Korean pickles.

While the original idea was to focus exclusively on rice bowls, input from staff and friends gave the start-up a broader brief. "All those ideas were too good to just let go," Lee explains.

Open Wed-Sun 7am-4pm (dinners to follow in coming months).

185 Campbell Street, Surry Hills