Value eats in Richmond: Soeul Soul | Maedaya
I have been dining a lot more in the Richmond vicinity of late, mostly because my sister now lives in the area. Not that I am really complaining (when do I really complain about travelling for food anyway?) as Richmond aside Pho has always been one of the pockets of eateries that have been pretty void of my presence until now.
[Soeul Soul, Korean chargrill tapas]
Where: 323 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Contact: 0478 768 760
Open daily lunch + dinner
Side note: I can’t help but notice that the contact number for Soeul Soul is a mobile, wonder if they get calls at odd hours with people trying to make reservations?
This tiny hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ come street eats, is one of the “newer” additions (by that I mean 2 years or so) to Victoria street. No doubt it is pitching itself against the million value-for-money Vietnamese joints scattered all along the district. Your average diner would head out to Richmond with a regular place in mind already (my family is equally guilty of such), so it is a surprise that this place has not only survived, but thrived. There were native Korean diners adjacent to us when we went – a good sign.
Seafood pancake and kimchi. Notice the inbuilt grills and range hoods – they are all for aesthetic purposes (*ahem* fake). Not to say there isn’t decent Korean BBQ / sizzling items available. It’s just that all the cooking is done in the kitchen. At least no inescapable gas-cloud of BBQ odour, ey?
Salads. I’ll pass on these next time – simply too bland.
Your usual Korean grub: bibimbap. Stone pot is apparently optional; I always opt for it. Slightly crispy crust of rice is a necessity in my books.
One of the cooler concepts (for a fairly Korean naïve Melbourne) are the ‘Dosirak‘s. They are essentially meal buckets with loads of rice and salad for those out for a good feed.
Rating: Yummy+0.5. At a fairly bargain price, Seoul Soul offers toned-down Korean food with softer flavours and spice catering for the milder tastebuds of locals. A couple of items (*ahem salad) can be a little hit and miss, but I would certainly pop in for a dosirak or bimbimbap on a hungry day if I was nearby.
Moving south from Korean cuisine to Japanese izakaya, we have Maedaya on the eastern stretch of Bridge road (almost to Burnley St). The place brings the hole in the wall izakayas of Tokyo into a lofty space with a slight quirkiness. There’s ropes draped down from the ceiling akin to a tent, rows of sake bottles lining the walls, and a few semi enclosed spaces to accommodate groups. It can get smoky if you’re seated near the grill.
The huge colourful menu with a million choices offers a variety of cheap and tasty Japanese morsels from the grill, from unagi, to chicken skin, ox tongue and combination skewer sets too. There is definitely no lack of options here with soba, sushi and even braised pork belly listed. Whilst the food isn’t jaw-dropping (casual izakaya generally isn’t meant to be), it provides a hearty bite alongside your preferred beverage – hopefully alcoholic…
The main drawcard here actually comes from the accompanying sake list. Toshi Maeda the in house sake master imports his own sake from Japan so there is no shortage of choice, from which Toshi will happily guide you through.
Rating: Yummy+0.5. Where Maedaya lacks in finesse and mastery of the food (compared with high end Japanese restaurants), it redeems itself as a quick and affordable izakaya with an impressive sake selection.
Call me a snob, but I am no huge fan of Japanese izakaya, so I wouldn’t be running back to Maedaya for more. But for those times when you have an appetite for Japanese grill paired alongside some warm sake, this is the go to place. It is cheap, stomach distending-ly satisfying, and potentially very boozy.