OBar (Auckland CBD, New Zealand)
Third time is a charm! Why, if you may ask me? Well we had passed this place several time pre-Covid time but all of those instances we were drawn by the happy faces of people dining out in the cold without roof enjoying that boiling rectangular pot full of Korean spiced meat and vegetables. We tried to ask if there are some spare seats, but the waiting time was more than an hour hence, we let it pass. Right after Covid Level 3 in New Zealand where we can start to dine out again, we gave this a shot hoping that there will be less people because of the current situation, indeed it was but still there are many diners still consuming that tempting hot pot, luckily this time there was one table open but needed to be cleared out by 7:30PM as it was reserved, it was tight in terms of time hence the server told us that we can have it given that condition. It was 6:00PM, time for an early dinner and we don’t know if we can finish ordering and eating within the time period.
After looking at the menu, all portions are enormous as their servings are made for groups of four and above, how would we finish that food if there are three of us, plus the waiting time for our orders to arrive specially the place was packed but we still gambled. 6:05PM we were seated, we chose what to eat for 10 minutes as it was confusing what to get since they offer two main things, a hot pot of some sort or a big tray of Korean Fried Chicken and waffle fries, we chose the soup since it was cold so 6:15PM our orders was finalized and it was a waiting game. While waiting we were observing around and indeed the orders was big, they looked huge on the menu but in reality, it was much bigger, now can we really finish all of that up? The moment arrived, we grabbed the Pork Belly Kimchi Jjigae which they called Sizzle Kimchi and Pork Belly Soup (NZ$47.00), starting with the side salads, then the big rectangular pot, together with rice (NZ$3.00 /bowl) on the side. We checked the pot and the pork half grilled, it was meant to be finished with the tabletop stove in front of us, so adding at least 10 minutes to our time.
This bowl is quite hefty, I think there is at least 700g of thickly cut pork belly on it and a whole large block of tofu, sliced into portions, add to that the cabbage, mushrooms and other vegetables, this will definitely equate to a full tummy to say the least. It was an interactive and communal dining experience basically like a hot pot but done in a Korean way. The pork finally is cooked, it was around 7:10 and we started to eat. On our first bite, we all felt that nice comfort, warming, satisfying feeling and it was delicious and as the broth boils away the flavours continue to develop and intensify, giving it a much richer spicy, sweet and savoury taste. The grilled pork gave a nice dimension to the flavour adding a chargrilled taste not just to the meat but to the broth as well, it was really nice, really nice! Even the cabbages are full of flavour, I am not an avid fan of cabbage but this one hits the spot. I just want to drink all of that soup. Now I understood why those faces are smiling every time we pass by here, what they serve is an honest to goodness comfort dish, similar to the feeling when you mom cooks your favourite dish. I also have to mention that salad on the side specially that greens, the dressing was amazing, I am sure it is the Creamy Roasted Sesame Dressing, was a nice accompaniment to the soup, just wish the serving was much bigger as I can eat that the whole day. We did not eat the Kimchi and decided to take it home along with the leftovers (Yes, we did not finish it and managed to consume only 75% of it).
Now for the price, I know it’s quite steep for some as their offering’s averages NZ$45.00 a pop but thinking that it can feed 4 or 5 people per rectangular bowl, this is cheap. For NZ$9 to NZ$11.25, that is a steal! Really worth it, so if you happen to be near the place, give it a try specially if you love spicy food, you won’t be disappointed, and if you think there are too many Asians dining in and might not understand the menu, it is in English and everyone is much welcome.
Update: April 29, 2021
This time around we came back with a vengeance and tried different options. It was good to experience this again specially that the quality was consistent and the offerings they had was still amazing. Here was the orders on our last visit and this time we tried their Half Fried Chicken and Chilli Fried Chicken and Chips (NZ$37.00), Fried Calamari (NZ$23.00), Spicy Seafood Stew (NZ$53.00) and of course our favourite the Sizzle Kimchi and Pork Belly Soup (NZ$47.00). The price went a bit higher by NZ$2.00 since we last visited.
Address: 7 Bacons Lane, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +649 217 3524