When couple Lisa and Paul Minkyu Lee founded Ockhee in 2020, it was because they wanted Kiwis to experience an unadulterated version of the traditional Korean food they’d grown up with. Since then, they’ve also opened Swings, a CBD spot serving gilgeori toast (a sweet and salty street-food sandwich).

Head chef Lisa draws inspiration from her mother’s cooking, and she and the kitchen team make all Ockhee’s sauces, pickles, soups, stews and specials from scratch, adding wholesome depth to every dish.

Find the eatery on Ponsonby Road near Collingwood Street. The petite interior is pared-back, with polished concrete floors and cheeky branding on mirrored signage behind the counter. Ockhee’s mascot, designed by local artist Kevin Cho, is “a ’70s soul diva from Korea”. Her winking face adorns retractable clear awnings that shield a small amount of streetside seating, and Ockhee’s popular merch.

Pop in for lunch and you can choose from a selection of bibimbap and dubbap – the latter meaning a protein-covered rice dish. Ockhee offers beef, pork, chicken, squid and tofu versions.

For dinner, it’s sharing plates like bibim guksu (cold somyeon noodles smothered in a salty, spicy gochujang-based sauce); bul baek (hand-cut pork in a traditional Korean marinade); barbeque dak gui (sticky, smoky chicken or tofu with fried tteokbokki rice cakes); and jeon gol, or hotpots, that arrive over a flame with broth and noodles. Order the dakgangjeong (sweet and tangy double fried chicken) – the spicy version carries a good amount of kick – and the cold, mustardy and refreshing chun sa chae noodle salad. We think both are essential additions to an Ockhee feast.

To drink, there’s New Zealand craft beer and natural wine on tap. Tap beer is by Parrotdog, Hawke’s Bay’s Brave Brewing Co , and there’s Korean Cass lager, as well as house-made soju cocktails.

Thanks to Lisa’s soulful Seoul food and Paul’s almost unwavering cheer as he manages front-of-house, the duo has garnered a reputation for fostering community that’s no small part of Ockhee’s appeal.

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Updated: July 11th, 2023

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