Guys, I think I found the best Korean food in Auckland and I’m pretty happy about it. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that I lived in Korea for nearly two and a half years. It’s painfully obvious that I didn’t really enjoy living in the hectic and often one-dimensional culture, but one thing is for certain: I loved the food.
While I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of Korean food in Auckland, I quickly realized it comes at a high cost. Gone are the days of spending $7 USD on an amazing Korean meal. It doesn’t hurt to pay a bit more for some quality Korean food in Auckland, though.
While it’s certainly no Kimbap Cheonguk (aka my favorite Korean “fast food” joint), BannSang was a perfect Korean food fix on a chilly winter evening. Despite being a pretty sizeable restaurant, the place was totally packed! BannSang’s menu is a perfect combination of the typical cheap, quick meals one would find in a kimbap shop along with higher quality choices such as the ever-popular barbecue dishes such as pork belly and marinated beef.
I find I have intense and sporadic cravings for kimbap, which unfortunately has not been properly fulfilled since leaving Korea. It’s a shame that BannSang doesn’t offer kimbap on its menu, but I can understand it could be difficult due to the high volume of customers. There are plenty of other traditional options, though. BannSang offers three types of pajeon: seafood, spring onion and kimchi. We opted for the kimchijeon and I can honestly say it was one of the best Korean pancakes I’ve ever eaten. It was oddly fluffy and the amount of kimchi included within the batter was generous.
Cost of the kimchi pancakes: 16 NZD ($11.39 USD)
I’d been craving a warm dolsot bibimbap for months before finally making it to BannSang. If you’re reading this in confusion, I’ll break it down.
Dolsot bibimbap is a classic Korean dish combining rice, mixed vegetables, a protein (usually beef) and a fried egg. The ingredients are laid upon a bed of rice and served in a steaming hot pot. Everyone is different, but before I mix everything together I like to press on the rice a bit to get it a bit crispy. I also prefer to heat the yolk up a bit on the side of the bowl before I stir.
Although it was delicious, I’m not going to lie, it didn’t taste like Korea to me; there is something to be said about traditional vs. trendy.
Cost of the dolsot bibimbap: 14 NZD ($9.96 USD)
James decided to order budae jjigae, a dish he learned to love immensely while living there. Budae jjigae is sometimes referred to as Johnson Tang as a homage to the former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson. After the Korean war, many Koreans lived in extreme poverty and relied on reserve items from nearby U.S. military bases. From there, they were able to gather ingredients like SPAM, hot dogs macaroni and baked beans. They combined those items with more traditional Korean ingredients such as kimchi, gochujang (sugary/spicy red pepper paste), ramen noodles and fresh mushrooms, onions and garlic. PROTIP: The eclectic mixture is a well-known hangover remedy in South Korean culture. Cheers!
Cost of the budae jjigae: 15 NZD ($10.68 USD)
BannSang’s concoction didn’t disappoint and brought James back to our days in the Land of the Morning Calm. Both of our meals (and that kimchijeon ::praise hands emoji::) were definitely praise worthy and worth returning for. My only critique is that we weren’t offered kimchi as a side dish with our meals – blasphemy! With that said, if you’re on a quest for Korean food in Auckland, this place is it. I do recommend getting there a bit earlier than you plan on eating as there will most likely be a wait.
BannSang is located in the heart of Auckland’s Central Business District. Be sure to get there well before you’re hungry so you don’t get hangry while waiting in line!
Address: 1c/47 High St, Auckland 1010
Where’s your favorite foreign food restaurant? What type of cuisine is it?