Pocha isn’t your average Korean restaurant. Situated in the Chancery in the Auckland CBD, it’s housed in the shop space which once was a patisserie I visited many moons ago. The fit out resembles more bar than cheap and cheerful eatery, but that was the intention. You see, Pocha is the sort of place where Koreans (and anyone else for that matter) can come to drink, but also enjoy some delicious Korean food on the side. The interior is dark, with the bar backlit with blue gels that remind one of a night club. The K-Pop is pumping on the stereo and waiters and waitresses have secret service earpieces in situ. There is plenty of room to sit inside, but there’s also a lovely outdoor over-bridge where one can sit and bask in the overhead heating.
The menu here doesn’t have nearly the number of recognisable Korean favourites, but what they do have is good. Although, unbeknownst to Gareth and I, the dishes at Pocha are geared toward feeding large crowds, so do not be tempted to over order. We started with the ubiquitous crispy kimchi pancake ($25), which was as good a rendition as any I’ve had before. True to their intent, the pancake which arrived was large, perfectly crisp with a nice bit of heat and a tangy dipping sauce to go with it.
If we thought the kimchi pancake was large, the pan-fried pork belly and squid ($33) was nothing short of enormous. It came on a cast-iron plate the size of a large pizza dish, with barely set eggs and nori-topped rice, as well as a side of miso soup. The waiter explained that I was meant to toss the whole lot together, bibimbap style, before serving it. And oh did I take to it with my long-stemmed spoon, and with great delight too as Gareth watched on in amusement. We’ve always been told not to play with our food, but here one needs to make an exception. The dish itself was delicious; warm with gochujang, the squid was blissfully tender and the pork belly rich and moist. After several serves, Gareth and I stared at the dish and felt defeated; we’d barely made a dent in it.
In true Asian form, we took the rest of away which would easily last several meals. I’ll be arming myself with several friends the next time I come.
A11 Chancery Square
50 Kitchener St