Sure, the sizzling pork or beef is a treat.
And the seemingly endless parade of small dishes filled with spicy kimchi and other curious vegetables will ensure you leave plenty full and happy.
But for many diners, one of the best parts of Korean Barbecue is cooking that meat yourself right at your table on a red-hot grill.
It’s why the once rare eateries are so popular these days, particularly in Aurora. There’s Mr. Kim Korean BBQ at East Mississippi Avenue and South Peoria Street in the Pacific Ocean Marketplace shopping center. At East Jewell Avenue and South Havana Street there’s Dae Gee, which is Korean for pig. Several others dot Havana as well.
But even though they’re a delicious and unique dining experience, there’s one thing Korean barbecue is not: Fast.
That do-it-yourself aspect is fun for sure, but you better carve out a couple hours for your feast because it’s not an eat-and-run type experience. So if you really crave that pork belly or the beef rib eye, settle in, it’s gonna be a while.
Joseph Kim, the founder of Dae Gee, knows this well.
People these days are “so busy with work they barely have enough time as it is,” he said. And to do Korean BBQ just right, they need 90 minutes at least.
Early this year Dae Gee, which has a Aurora location on Havana as well as others across the metro area, bought the building at East Montview Boulevard and Nome Street that previously was home to the Montview Bar and Grill.
The plan, Kim said, is to turn the two-story building into a new hub of international dining and a second-floor co-working space dubbed Nora Station. The name is a play on the neighborhood surrounding the project, North Aurora.
If the project goes smoothly, he said he hopes to open in early 2019.
The eateries inside will include another outpost of Dae gee, but Kim said this one will be different.
Instead of the standard, cook-it-at-the-table style of the Dae Gee restaurants, Kim said this new one will be a “quick serve/fast-casual” concept.
Diners can get those same foods that have been popular at the other Dae Gee locations, Kim said, but they won’t have to wait as long.
Kim said he realizes some diners looking for that typical Korean barbecue experience might not be thrilled with the fast-casual concept he is trying out. But they need not fret, he said.
“They may be disappointed when they come to Nora Station but lucky for them we have plenty of outlets across the metro area and are continually expanding the full-service side,” he said.
The rest of the main floor will be a “food hall,” similar to the Stanley Marketplace, which is booming a few blocks to the northwest.
The space will be “more intimate” than Stanley, Kim said, and the eateries will be of the international variety. He said he has been in conversation with a few different restaurants interested in the space but has not yet signed leases.
Nora Station will be just a few blocks from the bustling Anschutz Medical Campus, which brings thousands of hospital and school staff as well as patients and their family to northwest Aurora everyday.
For years those Anschutz regulars were known to sort of parachute into work and generally avoid the few restaurants that ring the campus.
But that’s been changing in recent years, in no small part due to Stanley but also because of new developments directly north of the campus.
Kim, a Colorado native who grew up in Aurora, said bringing this project to his hometown is particularly exciting.
“I have a passion to see (Aurora) flourish and become a great destination,” he said.