For a chef who’s trained in some of the country’s top kitchens, the small beachside suburb of Milford on Auckland’s North Shore might not seem the likeliest location to open a venue. But even before it opened its doors, modern Korean restaurant Tokki looked at home on Kitchener Road.
Chef and owner Jason Kim is well known in the industry thanks to a CV that includes experience at The Grove, Clooney, Cassia and Sidart. He's also part-owner of wildly popular Commercial Bay restaurant Gochu.
With its rising popularity in Auckland, the North Shore local wanted to encourage people to learn even more about Korean cuisine. He’s also keen for people to know that Korean food can be elevated and served with premium wine from all over the world.
Taittinger Cuvee Prestige is available by the glass and the comprehensive wine list was compiled by well-known sommelier Hiro Kawahara. It features several organic and minimal intervention drops, as well as classic styles, chilled reds and sipping vermouths. There’s even a whisky digestif trolley complete with traditional Korean lacquered boxes containing delicate petits fours.
The 26 seater’s decor is unfussy and chic, with a slatted wooden bar matched by curve-backed wooden chairs and square tables. A deep sea-green banquette lines one wall, below a series of framed prints of stylised hand-drawn rabbits, referencing the Korean Zodiac sign Tokki is named after.
On the sharing menu, you might find beef short rib with black-garlic jus and house-made white kimchi (without chilli); raw fish with Korean mustard and minari (also known as water celery); or round toasties filled with mortadella and oiji (cucumber kimchi). Kim’s take on popular knife-cut noodle dish kalguksu consists of a single metre-long wide, flat noodle stir-fried with mushrooms and Korean-style chilli pork, and piled artfully onto a plate.
There are many other traditional cultural elements woven into the story of Tokki. Kim's even making his own sesame oil because he couldn’t find one that truly represented home.
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