What IS fast food, really? Is it any good that’s just fast? Or does it have to be a food that’s bad for you? For me, it’s always been more of the latter. It doesn’t matter how the Food Giants spin it, it’s always been bad for me, and I like it.
What can I say? I’m a sadist like that.
In the more recent times though (omg I feel so old!) there’s been a shift in the perception of fast food. No longer a shorthand for greasy artery-clogging food, it’s now more about light, healthy, and that eastern-suburb-coffee lifestyle. Well, like Soul Origin is offering up with its many kiosks popping up around Sydney.
I went to the newest one in Rhodes, greeted by the effervescent Loula, who’s the franchisee. Staff swarming around her, looking to her for direction..all classic signs of first-day-training for a brand new food outlet. We select a range of food – Sam happily has Soul Origin for breakfast, so it’ll be interesting to compare the consistency across outlets – and take our little brown bags away to unwrap our brunch.
On the breakfast front, we chose the Smoked Salmon Benedict and the Chorizo and egg wrap. The eggs in the Benedict are cooked all the way through – an unfortunate by-product of health and safety rules for pre-cooking eggs – and the bread is soft. I’m not a big fan of the hollandaise: if it can’t be made fresh, hollandaise can come off as a tepid, slightly tasteless cousin of mayonnaise. In these cases, I say, just use Mayo and call it something else, and your life will be much better for it. There was an adequate amount of smoked salmon though, which is much better than many takeaway breakfasts out there.
The Chorizo and Egg wrap was a much MUCH better option, especially when eaten warm. The cheese melts around the salty chorizo, and the soft wrap just holds it all together. Sam says that the wrap isn’t as generous here as his usual order at Town Hall, but I still think that flavour-wise it’s very balanced, and a pleasure to eat.
The Grilled Chicken Panini is flavoured with an achiote paste: a Mexican marinade made with citrus, annato (also called achiote) paste, a touch of chilli, garlic and herbs. As far as a chicken sandwich goes, it’s pretty good, but not quite as good a filling to bread ratio as the wraps. Now if only you can just get the filling on its own…
Oh wait, you can! Soul Origin serves up a selection of salads, with many of the ingredients overlapping with the wraps and paninis, in case you want the low carb option. The individual components – roasted veg, beans, beef, chicken – are made in a satellite kitchen off site, and delivered to outlets all over Sydney and assembled on the day.
We got to try a little bit of everything available, and the chicken schnitzel was actually a favourite, followed by the roast veg. Usually, cooked chicken breast doesn’t hold up so well in terms of texture, but they’ve done well with the schnitzel, keeping the crust crisp, around a thin layer of chicken.
At its core, Soul Origin doesn’t pretend to be anything fancier than it is: it’s providing an alternative to the fast food that we love to hate, and maybe give you something a little different for a weekday lunch. Does it have the most amazing sandwiches in Sydney? No, but it does pretty well in the takeaway category.
Oh, and one last thing: if you’re looking for a little afternoon pick-me-up that’s not your normal coffee, try a suggestion from Loula – a dirty chai is a shot of coffee in a chai latte, and it’s pretty darn good. Soul Origin already has a reputation for its coffee, and hopefully now, a little something different.