Soya, Woking

Last weekend I was back down south with a couple of aims; to catch up with loved ones, but also to run myself stupid in the Bath half marathon. The other half had plans of his own Friday evening, so as far as eating out went I had to settle for dining alone, this idea of solo dining may not be to everyone’s liking, but it suits me down to the ground and I enjoy it. On my to-visit list were a couple of spots which were closed last weekend, such as the Asian restaurant Soya. The plan was to slowly carb-up in readiness for trudging around the streets of Bath so something noodle or rice based would be ideal!

Soya specialises in Korean and Japanese food in Woking, its diverse menu includes sushi in various guises whether it be sashimi, sushi rolls….I’m sure you know the drill. Also on the Japanese side were katsu dishes and starters such as edamame or tempura, but what really caught my eye were the things I hadn’t tried before.

Instead veering towards the Korean dishes, in particular the bibimbap, I’d missed out when Trinity Kitchen had street food trader Yogiyo selling them, and I’m yet to visit the Bulgogi Grill (which needs rectifying soon), so this was the perfect opportunity! I could take as many photos as I wanted without getting the death stare and enjoy it in my own time!

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Now drinks-wise normally I’d be the first to order wine, but I was frankly knackered so a soothing green tea would have to do the trick. Arriving a couple of minutes later, I was actually glad I’d gone for a hot drink, as outside was a tad on the chilly side.

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Recently I’ve been enjoying a bit of dumpling fetish, so even though quite a few starters could have made the cut, such as Okonomiyaki I was after more dumpling action. With this in the back of mind, my eyes were drawn to fried prawn mandu dumplings (£6.50).

To start with a bowl of salad came my way, simply made with lettuce, tomato, peppers and an unusual dressing which I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it had a sweet and sour taste. This was perfect for grazing through the meal and acted as a bit of a palate cleanser.

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Shortly after came the mandu, pan fried and made with juicy prawns and some sort of greens, I think it may’ve been cabbage. Lightly fried leaving the wrappers crisp and golden on two sides and soft on one, a light soy was an obvious choice as an accompaniment but for good reason; perfect to season without overpowering.  It made for an excellent opening gambit. 

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At Soya you can do the whole bulgogi thing, which would’ve been incredible if I’d been with other people, to do the whole cook your own!! Even though I love eating out solo, it may’ve been a step too far, so instead I went down the Bibimbap route. I’d heard loads about them and after a bit of research, good old Wikipedia told me its name translates as ‘mixed rice’ giving me a basic idea of the dish. The lady serving me explained that the dish is brought to the table with ingredients being placed on top of rice in a hot stone bowl, this is then mixed together with the addition of chilli paste. Here the chilli paste is added at the table, maybe so, for people like me who are a bit feeble they can try it first! I found it fiery so I chickened out and only asked for a small amount.

The Beef Dolsot Bibimbap (£8.50) came sizzling across, surely a clear sign of how hot its bowl was, with all the main ingredients topped with a perfectly fried egg! The bowls intense heat made the bottom of the rice become lovely, crisp and gnarly. The beef was tender, other main elements were thinly sliced courgettes, carrot, cabbage and cucumber, then bean sprouts and a spicy chilli paste. When mixed it was surprising how all the ingredients were still identifiable, but also married together well. The whole thing was a really enjoyable belly full of food, I loved each mouthful and the bowl was left clean!

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Having never had it before, I could eat it again very easily, and knowing how spicy the chilli paste is when mixed, I’d probably be more liberal next time!

From a first visit I’d say that Soya is a great choice for dinner if you’re in the area; the service was everything you’d want – friendly without being overboard, efficient, helpful and they advised on the menu where needed. The food was incredibly tasty and there’s something to be said when you know you could eat a second portion of a dish immediately after the first! 

Soya

5 Goldsworth Road

Woking

Surrey

GU21 6JY

https://soyauk.wordpress.com

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