#aucklandeats: Join Us for a Drink at NEW K-Restaurant in CBD

by Michelle Li

Ssamjang | 26 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010

It’s rare to find new Korean restaurants popping up in the Auckland CBD so when Ssamjang opened, I was rushing to find out if it has potential to be THE ‘weekend hang-out spot’! Luckily for me, Ssamjang just so happened to be the next destination for HIKOCO’s hwesik, our work dinner, after a busy start to the year. 

Instagram | ssamjang_nz

First of all, the ambience is such a vibe! The restaurant is a bit hard to miss if you’re just walking out and about. But the enticing menu displayed out in front, is food that would immediately bring you in. Walk downstairs, and Ssamjang quickly takes you to Korea, a restaurant that would belong among it's many alleyways. The space is minimally decorated, but the neon green lights adds vibrancy, a perfect setting for a night out as you drink a glass, or three of somaek (a must-drink Korean beer and soju combo)! 🍻

Zoey Lim

We started off with a plate of ‘yukhoe’ (육회) which you might know as beef tartare. It may look kind of basic and that’s what I expected, but it was served with a fried seaweed-glutinous rice snack which made the eating experience more fun. Once everyone had a bite of the yukhoe I could see the shocked faces; I guess no one expected it to be so flavourful! The yukhoe was drizzled in a LOT of sesame oil which gave it sooo much umami and savouriness. Plus the added textural crunch from the seaweed snack made this simple dish become an easy, easy favourite. 

Zoey Lim

After a delicious entree, we moved onto the shared dishes. The slow-cooked pork belly was tender and I loved how it came with chive-kimchi to add spiciness to the lightly seasoned pork. Another common alcohol-pairing is jokbal (족발) or pork trotters. When done right, the meat falls right off the bone yet the skin is nice and chewy. We went with both the spicy option and original option. Although the spicy one was way too hot for me, the original one was tender and tasty. Fun fact: Jokbal actually contains a lot of gelatin so it’s said that it helps with firming up your skin ✨😉

Zoey Lim

To finish off the meal, the HIKOCO team always orders a soup. This hwesik, we decided to go with jjampong (짬뽕), a spicy seafood noodle soup. We went with the original Jjampong and the Gogi (meat) Jjamppong. Both were delicious, with the perfect amount of spicy kick. I also loved the addition of udon noodles (my favourite) to soak up all the alcohol we were having 😅 I was also surprised just how much meat was in the Gogi Jjamppong. It was literally filled to the brim with thinly sliced pork belly! 

Zoey Lim

We also ordered a few other small dishes to complete the meal. Ssamjang’s Bibimguksu (비빔국수), literally translates to mixed noodles, is actually made with ramen noodles. The mixed-in sauce was spicy and sweet, just how bibimguksu should be. Definitely cooled us down from the summer heat (and from the alcohol). 

Zoey Lim

A personal comfort food of mine is gyeran-jjim (계란찜). It’s literally just steamed eggs, but somehow made ultra-soft and creamy 😍 The sprinkle of sesame seeds and sesame oil is what kept me reaching for more! The Korean fried chicken, both original and yangnyeom (양념) flavours, was surprisingly delicious too! I wasn’t expecting much, but it was beautifully fried to the perfect crunch while keeping the chicken tender.

You can tell just how much variety Ssamjang has to offer right? It's definitely the place fit for a night-out with friends! They have a lot of sharing platters that’s perfect for a large group. The HIKOCO team definitely enjoyed the experience as we were drinking, eating and talking the night away. 

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