Korean chefs have always known how to turn the boring (cabbage) into the exciting (kimchi). But then Sulyi took things one step further: It got us excited about soup.
Let us explain. Soup is not sexy. It is not hip. It is not cool. And yet Sulyi’s Korean soups can be described by all three of those adjectives, and many more – cheesy, hearty, spicy, fun.
Lest we’ve now made Sulyi sound like a soup kitchen, let's back up for a second. Sulyi is a modern Korean restaurant in Sanlitun’s Topwin Center, and it is as chic as its address might suggest. Accents of blue and lemon yellow surround us, and huge windows look over Nan Sanlitun Lu. Dare we say this is the nicest spot in town with a K-Pop playlist?
Sulyi serves all manner of dishes – bite-sized tofu quesadillas, fluffy potato pancakes with daikon, jumbo prawns drizzled with house-made sauce. And while all those are fine, good even, it’s just that we really liked the soup. And therefore it is now our turn, reader, to get you just as excited about soup as Sulyi made us about theirs.
Here goes. Our first black cauldron of seafood soup (RMB158) overflows with shrimp, mussels and girthy octopus tentacles, sliced with scissors before our own eyes (this is indeed the authentic Korean way of doing things, if scissors strike you as DIY). The second, clay pot toppoki (RMB88), is a firecracker of spicy peppers, melted cheese and chewy rice cakes.
All four of us slurp quickly, then go back for more as soon as we finished our bowls. Even when all the suction-y tentacles, mushrooms and seaweed bits are gone, we slurp up the broth plain. It goes without saying: We leave full.
May we suggest then, that you view other dishes at Sulyi as merely preludes to the main event. Sulyi offers a variety of small plates, Korean tapas if you will, but do not let them distract you. Here’s how we best suggest you tackle this place: Go with a group. Order small plates to share. And, as is the Korean way, toast soju as many times as your liver can handle. (The grapefruit variety is dangerously good.) And once your stomach and liver are sufficiently warmed, get the stews going.
Then stay a while. This is some exciting soup.