Tokki is owned by Jason Kim, co-owner of Gochu the ever-popular Korean-influenced spot in Commercial Bay. “Gochu was based around Korean-inspired New Zealand cuisine, which was a way to introduce Korean food by using my western culinary skills to make people easily get into and understand our Korean cuisine,” says Jason.

Jason has gone in a different direction with Tokki though. “Tokki is based on the traditional way of Korean cooking, working with Korean produce as much as possible. You won’t see much spicy red and sizzling plates or fried chicken as in other Korean restaurants. I was inspired by Korean temple cuisine, how it subtly but elegantly highlights the produce being used.”

Jason’s favourite dish on the menu is the raw fish with Korean mustard and minari. “Minari is a Korean herb that has great fragrance and an anise flavour and is often used with roasted pork belly or raw fish. In this dish we highlight the minari with quality fresh fish from Leigh, combined with a tangy Korean mustard sauce.”

Even the kimchi at Tokki is a simpler, more refined version, made using Korean varieties of cabbage produced by Korean growers in Silverdale and only using salt – omitting the chilli flakes and fish sauce most often used.

This concept has long been on Jason’s mind, but he was waiting for the right timing. The stars seemed to align in a number of ways when he found the spot in Milford that would become Tokki. “The street number of Tokki is 87, which is the same as my birth year, and that’s the year of rabbit in Korea. That is how Tokki (which means rabbit) was born in Milford.”

Milford might not initially seem like an obvious choice, but Jason has grown up on Auckland’s North Shore and lived there for the last 20 years. He explains, “It has been my dream to build the restaurant in our community. Milford has great energy, which I can be part of, creating a bigger synergy within our community. Tokki is a neighbourhood restaurant; I just want people to come to my small house in Milford, get comfortable and enjoy Korean cuisine.” SÍANA CLIFFORD