Denver’s Korean barbecue scene has remained authentically communal with a grill centered in the table, thinly sliced meat and an abundance of pickled vegetable sides. With seemingly no spinoff in sight, Chilgogi in Greenwood Village chose to the break the mold by offering the same Korean barbecue flavors in a bowl.
Similar to a fast-casual style restaurant like Chipotle, the bowls are a build-your-own format starting with white or brown rice, choice of five different proteins, four sauces and additional toppings including kimchi, fried eggs and seaweed salad.
Chilgogi officially opened in November 2019, with the hopes of filling a hole in the Korean barbecue market. By utilizing the same authentic flavors of Korea, owner Tony Jin chose to create an on-the-go option to Denver.
Jin’s background may be in software engineering but his passion for innovation led to this long-waited business venture. The authentic name is a conjunction of two languages. Chil, a shortened version of chili, and Gogi, Korean for meat, come together to make up the unique restaurant’s name.
Jin’s focus on vibrant flavors have been put to work in the menu’s four different sauces — a spicy Chilgogi (Korean gochujang chili paste with rice vinegar and yuzu juice), creamy Chilgogi (mayo and gochujang), teriyaki (infused with premium sake) and a tonkatsu (a sweet vegetable and fruit sauce). All of which are available to drizzle over any of the five signature bowls.
“We are focused on our vivid flavors and especially our sauces, some of which feature a well-known Korean chili paste called gochujang. Korean barbecue is traditionally focused heavily on the meats, and that’s why we’ve made it an important part of our name and brand,” marketing manager, Winnie Jin said.
Some of this restaurant’s most notable dishes include the beef bulgogi bowl ($9.95) with thin-sliced beef, choice of white or brown rice, specialty sauce and toppings while the spicy pork bowl ($8.95) comes with a spicy barbecued pork and same choice of Korean sauces and fillings.
While the barbecue bowls are the highlights of the menu, the appetizers are also stacked with authentic Korean street food like lightly breaded and fried potato croquettes, fried octopus balls, sauteed vegetable dumplings and Korean fried chicken wings.
Though Chilgogi is a quick-service concept, the menu still manages to pack the same authentic Korean barbecue flavors that a traditional sit-down restaurant would offer — lending to a new and exciting way to discover Korean barbecue in Denver.
Chilgogi is located at 9666 E Arapahoe Rd, Greenwood Village, CO 80112. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
All photography by Heather Fairchild