Photographs: David Straight
We found Dak Hanmari when we went looking for Dak Galbi – a classic working-class Korean fried chicken dish: we can’t find it anywhere else. It’s a small joint up the top of Queen Street, reached a few steps down off the street: there are burners in the middle of the table – always a good sign – and a lot of neutrally coloured formica, so it looks a bit like a departure lounge somewhere in provincial Asia.
Dak means chicken: there’s a stylised chook in the window and the best dishes are poultry here, like the fried chicken ($11 for six pieces), which is luscious and tender on the inside with a beautifully crunchy, though slightly dark, batter. The Dak Galbi ($30) comes out in a frying pan, a plate of chicken thighs in chilli sauce with cabbage and egg roll. You leave it to fry and get sticky and then at some point – usually, after you’ve eaten the chicken, but here they do it as you’re eating the chicken – the waiter will add rice with nori, which then gets sticky and caramelised and sticks to the bottom: the burned bits at the end are possibly the best.
But Dak Hanmari is named after a type of “world famous” chicken soup and you really need to go and eat this. The stock arrives with half a chicken ($35) in a big pot with a side plate of noodles, cabbage, fish ball and dumplings, and you cook it all up. It starts out plain, but by the end of it, you’ve got a rich, nourishing broth: we advise you to hold off as long as possible – maybe by ordering a plate of fried chicken, say – until the chicken is falling off the bone and the potato has started to break up through the stock, adding a pleasant starchiness. Then dredge your chicken through the chilli sauce, scoop up some noodles and enjoy your soup.
HOURS Tuesday to Saturday, 11.30am to 10pm; Sundays 5pm to 10pm.
ADDRESS 490D Queen Street, ph 369-5656.
IMPORTANT DETAILS Dak Hanmari Queen Street is no relation to the buffet restaurant in Takapuna, though they’re both named after a famous Korean chain.