When we think about Auckland’s hospitality greats, David Lee is one that remains at the forefront of any culinary conversation. Given his decade of service to the City’s foodies, with an impressive tenure as owner of The Candy Shop, Pōni and Gochu (to name a few), Lee’s name has become synonymous with greatness, and for very good reason.
Now, Lee is returning to the purpose with which he entered Auckland’s dining scene in the first place — a desire to put Korean cuisine on the mainstream map in Auckland — joining forces with Tom Hong and Jaeho Cho (both from The Candy Shop) to open a delicious new noodle spot on Ponsonby Road, with Kevin Choi as head chef. Called, Aigo, this exceptionally delicious new destination is an intimate and relaxed space, where diners can expect immensely good Korean food that borders on ‘fusion’ without falling into the well-trodden trope. Instead, it is a unique and exciting take and officially opens its doors next Tuesday.
Translating to the Korean common phrase for ‘oh my’, the name Aigo is the first indication of just how damn delicious the food is here. Comprising a succinct (yet totally epic) menu, we’ve already earmarked dishes we expect to be immediate favourites. On the lighter side, dishes like tuna on crispy rice cakes (an inspired plate that surely has to be shared) will satisfy, or for something more indulgent, the soondae with caviar (a Korean blood sausage, sans blood, deep-fried and topped with caviar) or the yangnyeom chicken (Lee’s take on Korean fried chicken, because he just does it so so well) will hit the perfect spot.
For those seeking something more substantial still, or a meal they can savour on their own, don’t go past the cacio e pepe tteokbokki, a hybrid dish of chewy rice cake noodles alongside a decadently cheesy sauce infused with truffle paste. Although if authenticity is what you’re craving, look no further than the bibim naengmyeon. There’s nothing nothing fusion about this dish — just utterly tasty, traditional Korean food. It is a dish of cold buckwheat noodles, typically enjoyed while having BBQ, emulated with a skewer of pork.
Ultimately, although it’s hard to call, we think that Aigo is shaping up to be the crown jewel of Lee’s career thus far; a nod to his humble beginnings, an ode to his beloved cuisine, and a look forward to the future of Auckland’s dining scene. As he tells us, he feels “Auckland is ready for a place like Aigo.” And we happen to agree.
Tuesday — Saturday, 12pm until 10pm.
Closed Sunday & Monday.
168 Ponsonby Road,
Ponsonby, Auckland Central