Sollip restaurant review, Bermondsey, London SE1

Sollip, a Korean meets European fine dining restaurant located in the heart of Bermondsey in London, opened in mid-March 2020. This was obviously an “ill-starred moment”, given it fell right at the very start of the pandemic, said Fay Maschler in the Evening Standard, and the restaurant was forced to close its doors almost immediately.

The brainchild of husband and wife team Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki, Sollip had to reimagine itself as a Korean grocery store to survive the pandemic. But as the world began to return to normal, the restaurant reopened and it wasn’t long before Park and Ki had been awarded their first Michelin star, which arrived in February 2022 and retained this year.

And not without good reason. The restaurant may have originally shot for “subtlety” over “fireworks”, as Maschler said in her early review, but a certain pyrotechnic sparkle has emerged in the years since.

Sollip was named Harden’s London restaurant awards’ top newcomer in 2021, and ranked 88th in the Harden’s top 100 UK restaurants for 2022. An impressive amount of recognition for a project that until very recently had been a convenience store serving Korean goodies to Bermondsey locals.

In its restaurant incarnation, however, the concept is high-end tasting menus made with locally sourced ingredients. It isn’t cheap, but there is plenty of invention on display here. 

The food 

So what is it like? The décor is described by the restaurant blog Salty Plums as “calming pared-back simplicity”. This sense of restraint “carries through from the neutral earth decor” to the “simple handware crockery” and the “spartan plating”. But the “flavours of the dishes, though clean and clear, are definitely full of bold colour”.

The Nudge’s Hattie Lloyd agreed, describing the menu as blending “Korean flavours, classical cooking techniques and locally sourced ingredients masterfully”. During her visit, Lloyd’s highlights were the gamtae sandwich – seaweed and Caerphilly cheese between crisp fried bread – and sourdough bread made from nurungji.

A core aspect of the menu is seasonality, meaning new dishes are added and subtracted as the year progresses. When The Week visited, the gamtae sandwich and nurungji sourdough were both still on the menu though. The former certainly looked beautiful and perhaps erred a little too far on the side of subtlety for our taste, but the latter was perfectly executed. Evidence, perhaps, of Ki’s background as a pastry chef – she was employed previously at The Arts Club in Dover Street.

Park also comes with serious pedigree having worked at both Koffmann’s and at The Ledbury. But despite the flashy pedigree, what he is doing here is largely understated. The Michelin Guide described Park’s food as “cooking that really feels it comes from the heart; it’s not showy or over complicated, just polished and poised”.

That poise was particularly evident in the skate course that was served up when we visited. Perfectly cooked fish, served with white asparagus and a tangy maltaise, a classic sauce made by adding the juice of blood oranges to a basic Hollandaise.

Lamb with doenjang, wild garlic and haggis

For Objective Foodie it was the daikon tarte tatin. With its toasted barley and chilli chive, the dish is “a beautiful play of textures”, the site said. “The pastry resembled a brittle tarte fine, topped with thinly sliced daikon. The mellow, slightly sweet flavour of daikon was enhanced by a tatin-like caramelisation, whereas the toasted barley added some earthy nuttiness.” In short this “unconventional reinterpretation of the famous apple tarte tatin” threatens to “become a signature dish of the house”.

By the time The Week visited, the threat had become fact, and the tarte tatin was announced by our waitress as the restaurant’s signature. An unusual statement of intent, given the dish’s delicacy. For this reviewer, the punchier lamb with wild garlic and haggis could have been a signature dish contender. Or indeed the black pain perdu dessert, which, like the bowl it arrives in, is entirely jet black. A genuinely original creation, and delicious to boot.

Daikon tarte tatin is a signature dish at Sollip

The verdict 

At £135 for the nine-course menu and £87 for the wine pairing (or £45 for the soft pairing), this is not a cheap evening out. But, given what the experience adds up to is nothing short of “beautiful poetry”, according to Tim Hayward in the Financial Times, and is definitely money well spent.

Arion McNicoll was a guest of Sollip. Unit 1, 8 Melior Street, London SE1 3QP;

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