Seoulja Boy: Where the urban west meets the flavours of the east (Melbourne)

Since its opening earlier this year, Seoulja Boy has managed to maintain a large and steady hype across social media. And with a menu full of affordable, photogenic cocktails, bright neon signs, and an in-house DJ spinning a mix of current and old-school hip-hop and R&B music, it’s easy to see why the Korean fusion bar and restaurant has been so popular.  In terms of atmosphere and visual aesthetics, the venue has everything that is “in” right now. But does it deliver on the food front?

Divided into five different sections, Seoulja Boy’s food menu consists of classic Korean street food updated with an American twist. For seafood lovers looking for a light and refreshing bite to accompany the various cocktails and top-shelf liquor on offer at the bar, the “Fresh off the Boat” section is perfect. Unfortunately, on our visit, the much talked about sashimi platter ($48) with sake salmon, king fish, and scallops served with soy and chojjang dipping sauce and lettuce wraps, was “unavailable”. So, we decided to try out the kingfish ceviche ($15) instead.

Kingfish Ceviche

Topped with white kimchi, fish roe, wasabi mayo, and drizzled with soy-yuzu dressing, the dish is perfect for pairing with either soju or sake. The bite-sized slices of kingfish were fresh and pleasantly briny, with the sour crunch of the white kimchi and subtle punch of the creamy wasabi mayo adding a little extra zing to each bite.

The “Solo Eats” section of the menu, featuring a variety of classic Korean comfort food, is perfect for those seeking a bit of culinary comfort on one of Melbourne’s cold winter nights. Being long-time lovers of everything kimchi, my guest and I ordered the kimchi prawn fried rice ($17) with pork and creamy garlic sauce.

Kimchi prawn fried rice

The overall texture of the dish can only be described as mushy, which may not appeal to some picky eaters. However, the spicy, pickled, and slightly sour flavour of fresh kimchi was definitely present. The prawns were just as they should be, tender and juicy. And if you’re someone who’s not big on spice, don’t worry, because the heat of the kimchi is mostly neutralised by the creamy garlic sauce, leaving only a slight and pleasant tingly sensation on your tastebuds. And despite the slow and generally aloof service from the staff, Seoulja Boy’s kimchi fried rice will certainly leave you feeling full, warm, and cosy on a cold winter’s night.

When it comes to alcohol, Seoulja Boy has a wide range of soju and makgeolli based cocktails that are as photogenic as they are tasty. In line with the venue’s hip-hop inspired name, all the cocktails have names referencing American urban culture in some form or another. For example, Blue Ivy ($15), a direct reference to the daughter of American music royalty: Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Blue Ivy

Despite its confronting bright blue colour that’s reminiscent of a sugary bubble-gum flavour, Blue Ivy: made with lychee, lime, makgeolli and soju, does not taste the least bit artificial or overwhelmingly sweet. In fact, the frozen cocktail was rather refreshing, with a solid alcoholic kick from the makgeolli and soju. However, if you’re a fan of the sweet stuff, then Shawty ($15) with strawberry, lychee, vanilla, makgeolli & soju will be perfect for you. The cocktail’s pleasant aroma of strawberry and vanilla is simply irresistible.

Seoulja Boy

Address: 9/108 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000
Contact:  03 9654 2371
Website: www.SEOULJABOY.com
Hours:  Sun-Wed 11:30am – 10pm, Thur 11:30am – 11pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am – 12am

All photographs were taken by Zaya Altangerel for The AU Review