Contemporary Korean vegetarian cuisine inspired by the country’s temple food is coming to Hong Kong with the opening of Soil to Soul at K11 MUSEA in Tsim Sha Tsui East in mid-July. The new restaurant is being helmed by certified temple food master Chef Gu Jin Kwang, a protégé of renowned Korean Buddhist nun WooKwan. 

With the rising popularity of vegetarianism, Soil to Soul is introducing a new interpretation of healthy dining focused on traditional vegetarian Korean recipes using natural, organic and plant based ingredients, a food philosophy dating back a thousand years to the Goryeo dynasty.

Soil to Soul’s menu includes exquisite and nourishing lunch sets, 6 and 8 course tasting dinners along with a variety of a la carte selections, bar snacks and drink specialties.

Chef Gu also presents a special WooKwan Tasting Menu paying tribute to strictest disciplines of nun WooKwan’s philosophy with her original recipes on an omakase-style tasting menu, allowing diners to nourish their bodies and also nurture their spirits and souls. Renowned as author of ‘Wookwan’s Korean Temple Food: The Road to the Taste of Enlightenment’, nun Woo is the pre-eminent guru of eco-friendly, vegetarian temple cuisine, using only ingredients that are home-grown and naturally cultivated.

For subtle and gentler flavour, five pungent herbs – garlic, green onion, leek, chive and onion, and faux meat – are avoided.  In accordance with Buddhist philosophy, it is also prepared in accordance with three principles: clarity, flexibility and compliance with the Buddha-Dharma.

Apart from the “WooKwan Tasting Menu”, Soil to Soul introduces contemporary culinary creations developed by Chef Gu – introducing healthy temple food philosophy to Hong Kong with familiar Korean dishes in unique temple food presentation.

Appetisers include Korean Ginseng Salad, cold Mushroom Terrine with Sweet & Spicy Sauce and gluten-free Korean Turnip Dumpling.  Among soups are Perilla Seed Soup with Taro & Fungus and nun Woo’s original recipe of Yellow Bell Pepper Cold Soup with Korean Kimchi. Traditional Korean ‘jangtteok’ pancakes feature not-to-be-missed Mung Bean Pancake and Tri-colour Pancake of zucchini, carrot and potato.

Along with various Korean-style noodles, fried rice, rice ball, rice cake and kimbap (rice rolls) are main course signatures such as nun Woo’s favourite Pan Fried Tofu & BurdockBlessed Tofu Skin Pocket stuffed with Sweet Potato NoodleNapa CabbageBraised Tomato and EggplantSweet & Sour Shiitake Mushroom with Assorted Vegetables – using stronger flavoured dried shiitake – and Sweet & Spicy Assorted Mushroom with Assorted Vegetables.

Bar snacks for enjoyment at the expansive bar area include Assorted Korean CripsSteamed Mushroom Stuffed with PotatoesPan-fried Yam with Citron Honey and Daily Korean Mini Pancake – designed to pair with Soil to Soul’s drink signatures of biodynamic, organic and premium wines, traditional soju and soju-inspired cocktails.

Seating 106, the 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 of the design, 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 opening in mid-July next to the Avenue of Stars at 704, 7/F, K11 MUSEA, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong – operates daily from 12noon – 11pm with car parking at K11 MUSEA car park.