Wok N Noodle Bar is a popular noodle bar serving an array of tasty, healthy, fresh and fast delicious meals.
Lee Chang Woo arrived in New Zealand from Korea in 1997. He set up the Wok N Noodle bar in 2005 in Mt Eden, Auckland. which he says Is successful due to its value, fresh Asian tastes and Lee’s enthusiastic engagement with customers. He has opened a second Wok N Noodle at in Auckland’s CBD, and will franchise the brand next year.
I always wanted to learn English and asked my Dad if I could come to NZ to study and learn English. After three years I decided I did not want to go back, I was working in restaurants and bars here. I also studied for a diploma in business from AUT and in 2004, and with my family’s help I bought a cafe at 61 Normanby Road, Mt Eden.
I ran it as a cafe for a year and it was pretty painful. One day we did just $280. But I learned a lot that year and I got to know lots of people in the area, people living and working around here too. There were plenty of other hospitality businesses around here too so I had a good time.
Then in 2005 I set up Wok N Noodle, following the trend for noodle bars.
My friends from the restaurant trade helped me find staff. In the early days I was in the kitchen but I made way for the professionals and now I spend my days in the front having fun with the customers. I live in the CBD and wanted to open a restaurant on one of the main streets in town. I opened my Shortland Street city branch, across the road from the Vero building, three months ago.
I was always interested in Thai food, Korean food was too strong in taste for New Zealanders, so the idea was a Thai noodle food concept, using fresh egg noodles. I looked for Thai chefs who would understand my idea.
My dream is to take the brand to Australia and I’d like to open a Wok N Noodle in Korea. They don’t have this sort of fusion noodle Thai restaurant there. I go back once a year to Korea and my family come over once a year to visit me here.
I haven’t had a lot to do with the Korean community in Auckland – my friends in Auckland are mostly Kiwis and other nationalities. I prefer living in New Zealand than Korea. I can’t drink much wine in Korea, here I love both red and white NZ wine. I am doing Crossfit training at Rapid Crossfit Sandringham which I enjoy.
I love my business and my life here. If I had stayed in Korea, I would be a salary man, working for a company. I’d be married with two kids. Instead I have lots of adventures here.