Souk (Invited)

Thursday, April 06, 2017 Sharon Halim 1 Comments

Sometime, you look at a design, and you say it looks artistics, but sometime, a design inspire you to be artistic. That's the decor of souk. On the first glance, it looks like any typical new establishment in Melbourne CBD. I mean, they all looks awesome, so it is kind of hard to stand out. But here at souk, the more you look at the details, the more you realise how each elements harmonise into a symphony. So they don't just smack random cool stuff to have that hip look, they synergised them so the total exceeds the sum. You can find Souk tucked at the end of Bligh Place. Fun Fact: the big neon sign has Souk spelled backwards because you're supposed to read Arabic from right to left! I had originally thought the poor owner either had a) stuck it the wrong way by accident, or b) hadn't noticed it! 

We had the privilege of talking to the owner who shared his concept of the place. Souk means outdoor market in Arabic - and the food here is inspired by the food you can get in those traditional markets. The decor and ambience are fantastic, perfect for drinks after work or a night out. Can't believe this whole place was renovated in seven weeks without a demolition company! 

Omar Sharif Cocktail - gin, citrus mastic, orgeat, rose water l is an absolute must have. This rose-water infused cocktail is what you need for a scorching day in Melbourne. It comes with fairy floss and delectable pieces of crushed pistachio. It is a swirly, icy drink reincarnation of a turkish delight. Yums. 

Chipotle Hummus - drizzled with burnt butter and paprika. Pretty good hummus, but nothing out of the ordinary. The pita bread that came with it was nothing like I've ever tasted. It might be a North African/Middle East pita, but the texture and taste was like the love child between bread and pita. It is definitely thicker than your average pita, but the texture was like that of dry bread.

Prawn Falafel - smoked black tahini with coriander mayonnaise and tomato oil. One of the best falafels I've ever had. Seriously. Not usually a big fan of falafels because I find just too mushy. But these  crisp falafels had tiny chunks of prawn that just added a lovely texture, and the coriander that was mixed in it added a distinct aroma that made the dish interesting. 

KFC : Kuwaiti Fried Chicken - chicken ribs fried in harissa, paprika breadcrumbsand ras el hanout. Who doesn't like variations of  KFC? Kentucky Fried Chicken. Korean Fried Chicken The KFC have all the signs of an airhead bimbo, while hiding Marie Curie underneath. It has a catchy​ name, it looks good on picture. It has an ethnic taste, all the checkboxes for a showy dish. But when you bite it, the genius underneath shows up. The meat is soft and juicy and you can definitely taste the paprika seeped in through the tender, fall-off-the-bone-and-your-fork meat. So finger-lickin good.

Kisir: Turkish Tabouleh - Anatolian style tabouleh with bulgur (cracked wheat), parsley, sumac, mint, cucumber, red capsicum, tomato, mild chillies with roasted pine nuts. Refreshing tabouleh midway through the course, it went as a fresh palate cleanser after the greasy KFC. Perfect light meal. It is the hidden detail like these that makes me really respect souk. Kisir is a very fresh dish, served cold (room temperature) with lemon citrusy taste and a hint of hot spiciness. As a dish on its own, it is perfect, don't get me wrong. But to serve it right after the greasy KFC really tells a lot. It says that there is a great amount of consideration put behind the progression of the menu. The pacing was immaculate.

Charcoal Octopus - hot muhammara sauce, roasted potato and herb oil. I rarely get a good octopus fish outside of a Japanese restaurant, but this one turns out great. Unfortunately, this is not according to my preference. When it comes to seafood, I prefer a rawish gamey feel, but this is nearly well done. Then again, putting on the middle eastern context, it makes more sense to cook it like this. The meat and the sauce doesn't integrate as well with compared to the previous dishes, but then again, it feels heretical for me to punish someone for trying something new, creative and revolutionary. Innovation should be rewarded. This dish is praiseworthy. My suggestion, make it more herb heavy because the spring onion garnish really went well with everything. Much more than you would expect for a garnish. And boy, it looks gorgeous. But unfortunately, my partner just can't get over the chewy texture of the tiny suckers - not sure why it creeped me out so much. The sauce was interesting, almost like  butter chicken reduction - but I would've liked a spicier kick to it that will go well better the chewiness of the tentacle. 

Next up, we've got Chicken & Apricot Kofta - skewered chicken kofta with lemongrass, apricot, capsicum and lemon zest with beet hummus. The serving was cute, large, fried and browned meatballs skewered on a lemongrass stick. The use of lemon grass as the skewer was a nice touch that I really appreciate. In the tables of four, they put the cross shaped ones. The meatball itself tasted alright - the chicken was still moist, and you could taste hints of cumin. It missed a bit of an oomph factor with the spices - it was fine but a little boring. The beetroot chunks and the hummus however, added a beautiful earthiness to an otherwise ordinary meatball. Would've liked more of the beetroot chunks.

Adanali Osman - slow cooked black tapioca pearls in a sweet Turkish coffee cream and white crispy tapioca. The piece de resistance. I had read the menu, and I was confused - what on Earth is white crispy tapioca? I've always associated tapioca with those Taiwanese milk teas and I was so excited to try this. The dessert came out, and the presentation was beautiful as per everything else so far.My favourite dish. We had to crack the white crispy tapioca and the sound of just cracking was so satisfying. It was an absolute play of textures - the chewiness of the tapioca, the crispiness of the white tapioca and the juiciness of the berries on top. The crunchy tapioca absorbs the silky smooth coffee cream without losing its crunchiness. The pearls brought my body into a gastronomic orgasm. Yes, you read that right. The berries provided relief from all the heaviness. Definitely a 10/10 dessert.

The chef talked to us about the tapioca and wow. To create the white tapioca, he had to bake the tapioca for 2-4 hours, ensure it is flattened, before deep frying it. The fried tapioca comes in all sorts of shapes, and they have an endless permutation of garnish. They managed to make every single one of them looks beautiful. But don't take my word, let you be the judge when you visit them.The service is an absolute 10/10 - the waitress who served us was so friendly and helped understand the dishes that came about. The owner (Vlad?) was very nice. He took time to sit down on our table to talk to us while there are a hundred of people out there. He filled our drinks, show us pictures and tell us stories. The Arabic text behind us means whirlpool, which what Melbourne is, and this place is the microcosm of the former. The eyes and the curtain behind looks like a woman wearing burkha. It just shows that behind all these stuff that looks good, there is a deeper content and context underneath them. It rewards an inquisitive mind. That's a good design.

Souk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
13 Bligh Pl
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Monday- Friday: 11am-10pm
Saturday-Sunday: 5pm-10pm

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