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Soil to Soul Pays Tribute to Korea’s Ancient ‘Temple Food’ with Culinary Journey to Refresh and Nourish Mind, Body & Soul

April 1, 2021 Dining No Comments Email Email

Contemporary Korean vegetarian restaurant Soil to Soul pays ultimate tribute to ancient ‘temple food’ cuisine with a dedicated menu embodying strictest monastic tradition of the philosophy, launching on 7 April 2021 at K11 MUSEA in Tsim Sha Tsui East.

‘Sunim Temple Set Menu – The Taste of Enlightenment’ presents a unique marriage of Zen spirituality and health conscious eco-sustainability on a culinary journey to refresh and nourish mind, body and soul, priced HK$780 per person, with reservations required at least a day in advance.

The exquisite menu honours the philosophy with 23-25 tasting dishes designed by Buddhist nun WooKwan, from original recipes in her celebrated cookbook Korean Temple Food: The Road to the Taste of Enlightenment’.

 In accordance with temple food tradition, Soil to Soul’s ‘farm-to-table’ concept uses vegetarian ingredients that are only home-grown or naturally cultivated, retaining all natural characteristics and flavour.  The restaurant also strictly avoids five ‘Forbidden Pungent Roots’ believed to distract minds with impure thoughts – garlic, green onion, leek, chive and onion.

Ultimately, the concept adheres to a righteous natural order, encouraging a minimalistic diet for nourishment with a ‘humble, grateful heart’, without wastage, polluting or harming nature, mindful that just as the body and mind, humans and nature are one.

Courses are served on a series of trays – exactly how they are presented in Korean temples.  To enhance the enlightening, meditative, spiritual experience, the menu is served only on weekday lunchtimes, against the backdrop of Soil to Soul’s signature calming music.

Along with preserved and fermented specialties, fresh seasonal produce is a hallmark of temple food, depending on availability, with current seasonal tasting courses also including bright and crispy Rehydrated Apple Salad; zesty Korean Green Chilli Pepper Pancake with Red Chilli Paste;  Bi-colour Lotus Root Pancake, an eye-catching medley of colour from traditional dying of lotus roots with colourful, medicinal food powders from green tea powder, gardenia and prickly pear; Kelp Crisps with Sticky Rice, a snowy rice flower blossom snack on a bed of kelp called bugak in Korean; and healthy and flavourful Steamed Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms with Potato.

Signature courses include Braised Eggplant and Tomato, braised in specialty soy sauce fermented up to 15 years; clean and intensely flavoured Grilled King Oyster MushroomPan-fried Tofu and Braised Burdock, packed with vitamins and minerals and high in protein and fat, yet low in calories; Zucchini Noodles, for healthy high fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; and Soil to Soul’s version of Korea’s iconic staple, Kimchi, also packed with nutrients while low in calories, but excluding ‘forbidden’ garlic, green onion, leek, chive and onion, for a milder taste and refreshing flavour.

Named after sunim, the Korean title for a senior Buddhist monk or nun, the ‘Sunim Temple Set Menu – The Taste of Enlightenment’ follows monastic tradition of amuse-bouche such as kimchi soup to whet the appetite; traditional starter of porridge; a tray of “to see various flavours and scents”; another tray “to taste texture of chewed food”; comfort food known as seungso like noodles, dumplings, jeon, rice cakes or tofu “that makes monks smile”; a main course of ten flavours that “make your body and mind feel better”; and finally a sweet dessert treat.

“This tribute to the strict origins and philosophy of Korean temple tradition is designed as a pure spiritual journey, as well as a culinary experience that pre-dates today’s ‘farm-to-table’ trend and vegan eco-consciousness by nearly 2,000 years,” said Chef Gu Jin Kwang, a protégé of nun WooKwan, who helms Soil to Soil as a ‘World Master Chef’ and certified specialist in eco-friendly, vegan cuisine.

At Soil to Soul, Chef Gu interprets the ancient temple food wisdom with a wide variety of nourishing a la carte specialties, lunch sets and dinner tasting menus, alongside contemporary bar snacks.

Seating 106, the refined 3,380 sq. ft. restaurant and bar incorporates elements of wood and earth inspired by the Chinese philosophy of “Wuxing” – the five phases of fire, water, wood, metal and earth.  Using wood flooring and seating as foundation, a spacious interior stimulates air circulation and glass enhances space, encouraging interaction between light and air, and an overall ‘soul to roots’ concept bringing peace of mind.

An oblong-shaped bar with spectacular harbour view is the key focus, styled as a contemporary Korean oasis blending traditional and modern with a touch of theatrical intimacy.  Three VIP rooms, including one with harbour view, offer ultimate privacy and exclusivity.

Soil to Soul is located next to the Avenue of Stars at 704, 7/F, K11 MUSEA, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong – open daily from 12noon – 10pm with car parking at K11 MUSEA car park.

For more information, please visit www.soiltosoulhk.com/ ; for enquiries, please email info@soiltosoul.hk or call (852) 2389-9588.

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