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An assortment of plates at Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ on Havana Street
Ruth Tobias/Eater

Where to Eat Korean Food in Aurora

Get to know your bulgogi from your bibimbap and your jjigae from your jeongol

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An assortment of plates at Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ on Havana Street
| Ruth Tobias/Eater

Though there are a few Korean joints in Denver proper — the Stapleton outpost of famed fried-chicken franchise Bonchon, Bill Espiricueta’s Southern-inflected Injoi at Zeppelin Station, Joseph Kim’s ever-growing, newbie-friendly local chain Dae Gee — Aurora’s the heart of the kimchi-laced, soju-splashed, tabletop-grilling action. Here are nine fine places to soak it all up.

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Mr. Kim Korean BBQ

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A barbecue buff could spend days on end tending the tabletop grills without repeating a meat here — Mr. Kim’s selection goes way beyond galbi to include beef tongue and intestine, pork skin and neck, squid and delightful duck bulgogi. The scallion pancake shines on the golden-brown, crunchy end of the spectrum, somewhat reminiscent of a hash brown.

Ruth Tobias

Yong Gung

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What is Chinese-Korean cuisine? For an armchair introduction, click here. For a hands-on, face-in introduction, hit up this neighbor to Seoul (see below), where the richly earthy jajangmyeon (noodles in porky black-bean sauce) has a veritable cult following and the jjambong deserves one, especially among hotheads, who will happily swear the shellfish-noodle soup must have been ladled from a cauldron of hellfire.

Seoul Korean B.B.Q. & Sushi

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Though best-known for barbecue, this sprawling, bustling longtimer does a bang-up job of seafood too, from the simplest broiled or braised fish — hairtail, mackerel, cod — to plump snails doused in spicy-sweet chile sauce. That it happens to deliver mega-banchan for the buck is just a bonus.

Ruth Tobias

Tofu House 1962

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As the name suggests, this link in a long-running Seoul-based chain specializes in soft tofu stews (soondubu jjigae) that bubble like hot lava while bobbing with clams, oysters, and more in clay pots accompanied by sides of purple rice, crunchy fried fish, and banchan. But there’s much more to the menu, including ssambop: Sort of the Korean answer to fajitas, it centers on a sizzling plate of bulgogi or sliced pork for wrapping in lettuce leaves with more purple rice and funky bean sauce. 

Ruth Tobias

DMZ Pub

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What this strip-mall watering hole lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for with sensational bar food, Korean-style — blazing-hot and juicy wings; crispy, chewy strips of semi-dried squid for dipping in mayo (sounds strange, is awesome); deep-fried potstickers and octopus fritters (takoyaki); the tubular rice cakes called tteokbokki served like a casserole with everything from bulgogi to cream sauce to cheese; and much more. 

Plate of spicy Korean chicken wings Ruth Tobias

Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ

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It’s a bulgogi-a-go-go at this relatively mellow Havana Street retreat, which offers it not only in the form of beef, pork, chicken or duck for cooking on the grill but also in prepared dishes like the wonderfully aromatic beef bulgogi–octopus hot pot and the squid and pork belly bulgogi stir fry. Though banchan goes well beyond the basics here, the scallion pancake’s worth getting too — eggy-smooth and chock-full of green onion.

Ruth Tobias

Manna Restaurant

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Speaking of lack of atmosphere, this tiny cafe hidden without signage on the second floor of an office building leaves decoration to a few tables, a mounted whiteboard menu in Korean, and a stack of cardboard boxes. No matter. The sweet ladies who run it light the place right up as they turn out soothingly fragrant soups like samgyetang with rice-stuffed chicken, ginseng, and egg and the beef-noodle soup called seolleongtang, accompanied by dishes of seasoned salt and chile paste for flavoring to taste (as well as a rainbow of kimchi and other banchan, of course). 

Ruth Tobias

Funny Plus

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It’s all about the fried chicken, with or without sweet chile sauce, at this jumping strip-mall joint. Except when it’s about the Army soup (budae jjigae), a sort of culinary and cultural kitchen-sink concoction with sausage and other meats, dumplings, noodles, and more. Or the tteokbokki, also mixed with dumplings and noodles as well as fishcakes, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies galore. Or the popular drinking snack called corn cheese, which is just what it sounds like. Of course it’s about soju, too, especially as the night wears on. Whether or not all that’s funny, it’s certainly a plus.

Ruth Tobias

Silla Restaurant

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Though there’s plenty of protein to grill up here, the starches steal the show at Silla: giant dumplings stuffed to bursting with kimchi; chilled buckwheat noodles in tangy beef broth beneath crisp veggies; rice cakes smothered in blistering chile sauce or sliced into soothing dumpling soup laced with seaweed and egg. And speaking of rice, the browned bits at the bottom of the bibimbap pot are always worth fighting for.

Ruth Tobias

Mr. Kim Korean BBQ

A barbecue buff could spend days on end tending the tabletop grills without repeating a meat here — Mr. Kim’s selection goes way beyond galbi to include beef tongue and intestine, pork skin and neck, squid and delightful duck bulgogi. The scallion pancake shines on the golden-brown, crunchy end of the spectrum, somewhat reminiscent of a hash brown.

Ruth Tobias

Yong Gung

What is Chinese-Korean cuisine? For an armchair introduction, click here. For a hands-on, face-in introduction, hit up this neighbor to Seoul (see below), where the richly earthy jajangmyeon (noodles in porky black-bean sauce) has a veritable cult following and the jjambong deserves one, especially among hotheads, who will happily swear the shellfish-noodle soup must have been ladled from a cauldron of hellfire.

Seoul Korean B.B.Q. & Sushi

Though best-known for barbecue, this sprawling, bustling longtimer does a bang-up job of seafood too, from the simplest broiled or braised fish — hairtail, mackerel, cod — to plump snails doused in spicy-sweet chile sauce. That it happens to deliver mega-banchan for the buck is just a bonus.

Ruth Tobias

Tofu House 1962

As the name suggests, this link in a long-running Seoul-based chain specializes in soft tofu stews (soondubu jjigae) that bubble like hot lava while bobbing with clams, oysters, and more in clay pots accompanied by sides of purple rice, crunchy fried fish, and banchan. But there’s much more to the menu, including ssambop: Sort of the Korean answer to fajitas, it centers on a sizzling plate of bulgogi or sliced pork for wrapping in lettuce leaves with more purple rice and funky bean sauce. 

Ruth Tobias

DMZ Pub

What this strip-mall watering hole lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for with sensational bar food, Korean-style — blazing-hot and juicy wings; crispy, chewy strips of semi-dried squid for dipping in mayo (sounds strange, is awesome); deep-fried potstickers and octopus fritters (takoyaki); the tubular rice cakes called tteokbokki served like a casserole with everything from bulgogi to cream sauce to cheese; and much more. 

Plate of spicy Korean chicken wings Ruth Tobias

Shin Myung Gwan Korean BBQ

It’s a bulgogi-a-go-go at this relatively mellow Havana Street retreat, which offers it not only in the form of beef, pork, chicken or duck for cooking on the grill but also in prepared dishes like the wonderfully aromatic beef bulgogi–octopus hot pot and the squid and pork belly bulgogi stir fry. Though banchan goes well beyond the basics here, the scallion pancake’s worth getting too — eggy-smooth and chock-full of green onion.

Ruth Tobias

Manna Restaurant

Speaking of lack of atmosphere, this tiny cafe hidden without signage on the second floor of an office building leaves decoration to a few tables, a mounted whiteboard menu in Korean, and a stack of cardboard boxes. No matter. The sweet ladies who run it light the place right up as they turn out soothingly fragrant soups like samgyetang with rice-stuffed chicken, ginseng, and egg and the beef-noodle soup called seolleongtang, accompanied by dishes of seasoned salt and chile paste for flavoring to taste (as well as a rainbow of kimchi and other banchan, of course). 

Ruth Tobias

Funny Plus

It’s all about the fried chicken, with or without sweet chile sauce, at this jumping strip-mall joint. Except when it’s about the Army soup (budae jjigae), a sort of culinary and cultural kitchen-sink concoction with sausage and other meats, dumplings, noodles, and more. Or the tteokbokki, also mixed with dumplings and noodles as well as fishcakes, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies galore. Or the popular drinking snack called corn cheese, which is just what it sounds like. Of course it’s about soju, too, especially as the night wears on. Whether or not all that’s funny, it’s certainly a plus.

Ruth Tobias

Silla Restaurant

Though there’s plenty of protein to grill up here, the starches steal the show at Silla: giant dumplings stuffed to bursting with kimchi; chilled buckwheat noodles in tangy beef broth beneath crisp veggies; rice cakes smothered in blistering chile sauce or sliced into soothing dumpling soup laced with seaweed and egg. And speaking of rice, the browned bits at the bottom of the bibimbap pot are always worth fighting for.

Ruth Tobias

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