Raise your hand if you have been mispronouncing the capital city of South Korea. I know I have. That is, until the opening of Seoul Food in the seaside town of Swakopmund. Not only do they dish up authentic Korean cuisine – but the mouthwatering meals, generous portions and quality ingredients make this local take-out spot the place where soul-food dreams come true. Yes, Seoul is pronounced soul, and with good reason. It’s truly food to feed your soul.

Bad day? Seoul Food. Great day? Seoul Food.

Foodies in their fifties might remember the long-standing Korean restaurant, Seoul House, which served flavour-packed dishes to loyal customers in Ausspannplatz between 1986 and 1996. Long-awaited comes the wok-fried return of Seong Yu’s tantalising Korean cuisine, this time around served over the counter to take home and enjoy in your pyjamas, the way soul food is intended. Another sesame seed sprinkling of soul can be attributed to the family team cooking alongside Seong, his son Jearin and wife Yolanda. With heart and soul, Seoul Food is passionately sharing Korean flavours with foodies, claiming their stake in the Swakopmund food scene.

Seoul Food opened its doors in August of 2021, and this humble post-stamp-sized shop on Otavi Street in Swakopmund has since been raking in roaring reviews and returning customers. Real-deal Kimchi is made from scratch, depending on the availability of napa cabbage, which to Kimchi snobs, like myself, is the only way to savour the fermented, smoked chilli pickle. Crispy fried vegetable pancakes, served with a light soy sauce or our own condiments at home. Pot-sticker style Mandu, handmade and loaded with umami flavour. And these are just the entrées.

My idea of a good time is standing in a take-out shop, in a small town, troubled by a menu where every item sounds better than the one before.

My idea of a good time is standing in a take-out shop, in a small town, troubled by a menu where every item sounds better than the one before, while a family bustles about, their passion tangible in the fragrant air. While many Namibians can order Chinese with their eyes closed, Seoul Food, if you have yet to visit, is a completely new world of staple Korean dishes. Your best bet, if you’re unfamiliar with names like Japchae and Bulgogi, is to ask the team for recommendations. Having grown up with his father’s Korean cooking, Jearin’s favourites, and what we inevitably ended up devouring at home, are the Ja-Chae Jeon (fried veggie pancake) and beef Japchae (glass noodles and tender, generously seasoned beef strips). And Mandu dumplings and Kimchi, for good measure.

Word on Otavi Street, from the Seoul Food team themselves, is that a branch in the capital is envisioned in the foreseeable future. Windhoek locals, who have undoubtedly been envying Swakopmunders for the asset in their midst, might finally get their fix of Seoul Food on a regular basis.

In the meantime, run, don’t walk, to Seoul Food. Take-aways made with so much soul that it’s palatable, are a rare privilege!

Charene Labuschagne