You may have walked right by The Kimchi Project because its narrow doorway located on Lorne Street is unassuming...but trust us, this is one new opening you don’t want to miss!
Through the said doorway is a slim cafe, lined with a living wall, tables and chairs and a window gives a sneak peak into the bustling kitchen. Walk through the space and you’ll be pleasantly surprised—The Kimchi Project boasts one hell of a courtyard. This inner-city sanctuary is undoubtedly one of Auckland’s best kept secrets.
Ok, let’s just quickly talk about this courtyard because even the best photos don’t fully do it justice. Looking skywards there’s looming buildings every which way. And yet, ample sunlight streams into the space and you’re cleverly protected from the elements thanks to a glass window that acts as a roof. There’s plush banquette seating and communal bar leaners surrounded by plenty of greenery. It’s certainly a hidden gem.
Husband and wife duo Ben and Kyung Huh have inhabited the space for some time, but recently made the move, converting it from what used to be a bar to this slick cafe and eatery. “We’ve always dreamed of owning a restaurant,” says Kyung “The Kimchi Project showcases our national cuisine of Korea, but you’ll spot flashes of other Asian cuisines throughout.”
Nanjim, which originates from Thailand, is used to season a handful of dishes including their pillowy soft-shell crab bao bun. The prawn panang curry is punchy and full of flavour and the Korean-style beef tartare is refined, the vibrant dish pops right off the plate.
Chicken and prawn dumplings are deep fried and served with soy cream and seasonal mushrooms. Fried rice features incredibly tender pulled pork, while the braised sweet and soy short ribs melt upon first bite. Make sure you order kimchi waffle fries, too. More surface area means more crunch. They’re loaded with good stuff like streaky bacon, sriracha yoghurt and of course tangy, orange-hued kimchi.
They offer a great selection of craft beers—spicy food and beer—a match made in heaven! There’s also wine and a handful of cocktails, with each featuring soju which is a distilled alcohol, and arguably Korea’s most popular choice of boozy drink.
Open from the morning serving up a selection of breakfast dishes, each with subtle Asian twists, right through lunch and into the wee hours, The Kimchi Project is nothing short of exceptional. So, what are you waiting for? Get there!
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews