The Korean couple met in London while trainees at the Cordon Bleu – Park at The Ledbury and Li as pastry chef at the Arts Club – and eventually decided to open their own venture, Sollip, which quickly gained recognition and won its first Michelin Star in 2022.
Sollip – which means pine needle in Korean and is used to ignite smoke and flames in traditional Korean cuisine – balances Korean heritage with European fine cuisine technique.
A tartlet of Beef Tartare & Gochujang
It is indeed a very personal affair that reflects on every element that has shaped Park and Ki’s lives, from beloved flavours reminiscent of their Korean upbringings to the classical French cuisine they perfected while training in Europe.
With a minimalist design, the restaurant's Korean vibes are unmistakable (dining there, I felt like I was in Seoul). But the nine-course menu is most definitely not a full Korean affair, instead a delightfully unique assemblage of influences: the perfectly mellow Gamtae sandwiches reminisce of comfy afternoon tea but with an unusual twist: the Gamtae, a seaweed variety which can only be sourced in Korea, adds an exquisite Asian subtlety.
Park and Ki make their own fermented kimchi in-house, based on an old family recipe. It brings an interesting zing to a skate dish served with white asparagus and maltaise sauce. Another highlight is lamb served with doenjang, a fermented sauce made of soybean.
And then the dessert is served: ssuk sand, a delightful matcha flavoured chartreuse sabayon paired with coffee ice cream. Ki's delicate savoir-faire ends a perfectly executed tasting menu.
Sollip tells the story of Park and Ki: delivering exquisite European cuisine while subtly inviting you to discover Korean flavours. And though launching a restaurant so far away from home has been marred with challenges – it took the couple a year to get a visa – they never looked back. 'I just wanted to be the first Korean chef to open a restaurant in London, I would have kicked myself if someone else had done it instead of me' Park tells me.'
An ambitious and inspiring approach that leaves us even more in awe of their admirable achievement.
|Craving Korean? Sollip, London review
|London Bridge (underground)