Taking over an iconic spot in Ponsonby, meet Nami — the laid-back new record bar & eatery from the team behind Ockhee and Swings

“Nami is an 80s soul diva from Korea. She wants to take you on a ride you’ll never forget — sipping cocktails, eating delicious food, and dancing the night away to soulful tunes underneath a shiny disco ball,” Dan Bali tells me of Nami Record Bar, his new co-venture now occupying the coveted spot Conch called home for 26 years.

Bali and his team (Paul Lee, Lisa Lee, and Kevin Cho) have over four decades’ combined experience in hospo, and are behind two of the city’s most-loved Korean eateries — Ockhee and Swings, serving homely Seoul food and epic Korean toasties respectively. Now, the clever cohort has turned their attention to Nami — a laid-back but lively new record bar and eatery replacing the utter institution that was Conch, and in doing so, setting out to create a new kind of icon. Based on what we’ve seen, they’re well on their way to doing just that.


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Nami is a labour of love, transformed by Bali and the crew (plus a huge host of friends and family) from a charming but run-down bar to a thoughtfully designed, laid-back and modern space that instantly uplifts your mood upon entry. Taking inspiration from record bars of the 80s, here, the fit-out (which was pulled off in just three weeks) is pared-back but vibe-packed, with a series of wooden box shelves lining the walls brimming with records (of course) and all manner of tasty libations, plus low hanging industrial lights, vintage speakers, a sleek stainless bar, and 80s-esque tiles. “Our main aim was to breathe life back into the space whist maintaining the quirky character that had evolved over the years. A mix of new and old so it didn’t just feel like a brand new fit out lacking soul,” Bali tells me, and it’s clear they’ve met their mark. As you’d anticipate, records spin around the clock, as a glittering disco ball bathes the whole space in an enchanting, jewel-like glow.

Nami, at its heart, is a bar, so we were eager to discover what was on the drinks menu and what we discovered did not disappoint. “Taite, our Head cocktail man, invested a lot of time and passion into crafting our drinks menu. From his own take on the classics, to his original recipes featuring simple, well-balanced ingredients, each drink is thoughtfully crafted,” Bali tells me of the offering. And right he is. At Nami, not only do cocktails instantly transport you to far-flung places (the ‘Day Dreamer’ more so than most), there is also a really progressive and exciting wine list, with a strong focus on organic wines, alongside a number of epic collaborations bespoke to Nami — including two refreshing beers and a Nami orange wine on tap, created in conjunction with the experts at Everyday Wine.

The food, unsurprisingly, is centred on Korean cuisine — taking traditional flavours and much-loved favourites to new heights, with a menu created with love by Lisa Lee (of both Ockhee and Swings fame). There’s tasty deep-fried corn, pork and potato croquettes, deep-fried fish cake chips, Korean fries, crispy se-woo, and so much more. When asked, Bali reveals that the La Galbi is his personal favourite dish (for now), “It’s so juicy and tender and packed with flavour,” “We’re also about to launch some more items this week, and while I won’t ruin the surprise, I can confirm that tacos will make their debut.”

A spot that feels utterly nostalgic, while simultaneously instantly solidifying itself as the most hip place in town, Nami not only delivers on the food and drink front, but come sundown on Friday and Saturday, DJs take to the decks and this future institution transforms into a place to shuffle onto the dance floor as the records spin long into the evening. “We’ve partnered with our mates Sam Harmony & Frank Booker and though their company Music First, we’re bringing a roster of DJs to Nami every Friday and Saturday night from 7pm till 1am, so you can get your boogie on,” Bali tells me. “We’re not a night club, we’re a space to listen to great tunes, eat delicious food, drink tasty drinks and shuffle your feet if you feel like it.” he continues.

In essence, Nami fills a long-open void in Auckland’s hospitality scene, offering a casual but elevated spot where people over the age of twenty-something can go for great food, epic drinks, and a moment of revelry if the mood strikes. “We don’t wanna be that place you go to once every now and then, we want to be your local that you love going to every week for the good vibes,” Bali finishes on, and I expect we at Denizen will be doing just that.

Opening hours:
Thursday & Sunday, 4pm ’til late
Friday & Saturday, 4pm — 1am
Closed Monday-Wednesday

namirecordbar.com

Nami Record Bar

115a Ponsonby Road,
Ponsonby

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