“ Address: 470 Queen Street / Auckland Central / Auckland 1010 / New Zealand / Tel: (09) 303 3433 „
At the end of Queen Street in Auckland, past all the main shops and offices, lies a short strip on one side of the road that has a selection of Asian eateries; Japanese, Korean and Chinese restaurants, which look like the kinds of places frequented by homesick foreign students looking for a taste of home. This area caught my attention, so myself and Ms Larsbaby managed to find time to try one of these places out. After much poking around, looking at menus in the windows and trying to peer inside, we settled upon a promising looking Korean restaurant, Restaurant Seoul.
The menu in the window looked promising, though we noted that most of the restaurants here didn't have prices on these menus, which I found a bit odd but which seemed to be the form. As you enter the doorway, there are 2 seating areas, 1 lower and a smaller one up a couple of steps, where the kitchen is also located. Above the main doorway on the inside is an arch which looks like it's in a traditional Korean style, which I liked. There were also lots of wooden fittings, which gave the place the feel of what I would assume is an Asian guest house, so quite a welcoming and somewhat informal look. The wooden tables on the dark wooden floor were mostly for 2-4 diners, with wooden chairs with red fabric seats. There was room for about 30 diners in total. Some big square prints of scenes from Korea (South, I assume, as this isn't Restaurant Pyongyang) were on one of the white wooden panelled walls, such as pictures depicting the countryside, which I thought were a nice touch. There were also some of the menu items displayed on the walls, with descriptions and prices in English & Korean. As Korean music wafted through the place, we took our seats at about 6.30pm. A couple of families of Korean looking diners were tucking in to several dishes; as it was a Monday, and thus mostly empty, I found this to be an encouraging sign.
The menu consisted of several kinds of dish. You could order pots, for 2-4 people, of things like seafood, meat and fish, which looked quite appetising from their photos. There were also normal rice and noodle dishes, and the becoming familiar to me Korean BBQ dishes. Intriguingly, there was also Korean sushi on the menu, whatever that might be. The presence of Japanese style dishes such as udon noodles & teriyaki was also noted.
I plumped for Korean BBQ Chicken, which was a large portion of chopped chicken pieces, mixed in with shredded cabbage, onion and carrot, served on a sizzling iron plate, all in a rich, reddish sauce with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Served on the side was some decent steamed rice, a bowl of miso soup and a big white dish with 4 compartments containing various sides. Some kind of pancake like pieces were nice, as was a portion of kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage), which was sharp and flavoursome with its strong, unique slightly fermented chilli taste. There were also some chunks of marinated potato, the marinade seeping through the potato, making it tender and tasty. Some lightly cooked, crunchy beansprouts and some kind of pickled green vegetable completed the impressive sides lineup, all of which provided an excellent accompaniment to the chicken.
The chicken itself was delightfully piquant; it was spicy but you only realised this after a while, when you had to drink to relieve the heat, which sneaked up on you slyly. I liked this dish a lot; it wasn't as sticky as a BBQ squid dish I'd has elsewhere, it was more saucy, spicy and tomatoey.
Ms Larsbaby went for the Eel Teriyaki, which was also served with rice and miso, again on a sizzling iron plate. The eel was nicely presented, chopped up into neatly arranged slices and topped with spring onion and some sesame seeds. This was excellent; the eel was melt in the mouth and sweet with the sauce.
Our young waitress was attentive and friendly, always seeming eager to please and asking how our meal was when we finished it with sincerity. When paying we were even presented with a Yakult each. I would say this wasn't any kind of bad reflection of the affect of the food!
This was a hunch that really paid off. The informal atmosphere, superb food and friendly service makes this a highly recommended experience. At $40 (about £20) including drinks, this was excellent value for money. Make sure you visit this end of Queen Street if you visit Auckland; you won't regret it.
470 Queen Street,
Tel: (09) 303 3433