Denver’s food scene has always been welcoming of new trends, but with the heightened influence of social media underlining just how small the world can be through a phone screen, some traditional foods cherished by countless generations on the opposite side of the world get a second life as one of the most sought out fares.
And the category is…Korean corn dogs. These corn dogs are not like American corn dogs found at the fair. It’s typically a chunk of mozzarella cheese, thick hot dog or both, dipped in batter that’s rolled in various toppings like potatoes, corn meal or even Hot Cheeto dust then deep-fried. The traditional cheese dogs are sprinkled with sugar and artfully decorated with drizzles of ketchup and mustard. However, some local restaurants and food trucks have taken liberty with endless flavor combinations that pair well with deep-fried cheese.
Though corn dogs were popular as Korean street food in the 1980s, the current style of outlandish coatings is credited to Myungrang Hot Dog — a chain that started in a market near Busan in 2016. This brand has now surpassed hundreds of locations and inspired so many popular brands to stem from the craze.
While Denver isn’t quite large enough to have dedicated nooks for continental foods like New York’s Chinatown, there are little spots scattered throughout the Denver Metro Area that offer delicious Korean street food and more importantly, cheese dogs.
Mukja Food Truck
Where: TBD – weekly schedule posted here
The Lowdown: Mukja is one of Denver’s most popular Korean fusion food trucks that specializes in a plethora of dishes from Kimchi French fries and Bibimbap to tater tot nachos and spicy pork bowls. But one the most popular dishes is the Korean street cheese dog served with spicy ketchup. As of late, the truck has played around with different flavor combinations from jalapeno popper with raspberry jam and Hot Cheeto dusted to crab cheese Rangoon filled to Elote topped. As a fusion truck by nature, it’s only right for these cheese dogs to get a flavor profile facelift.
Where: 14500 W Colfax Ave., Lakewood
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 12-7 p.m. and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.
The Lowdown: Located in the Colorado Mills mall in Lakewood, Colorado is Thirstea Tiger. Alongside a menu stacked with various boba teas and mangonadas drinks, a select variation of the Korean cheese dog can be found. Any battered dog is customizable with either whole mozzarella cheese or 100% beef sausage and three different coating options — traditional batter with a sugar sprinkle, rolled in fried potatoes or Flaming Hot with Hot Cheeto crumbles and spicy mayo.
Where: 2222 S. Havana St., Aurora
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Lowdown: Mochinut is newer to the Denver food scene, serving mochi donuts, boba drinks and those infamous Korean hot dogs. As a popular brand in Thailand and South Korea, the location in Aurora is the first for Colorado. Some of the street dogs found in store include both traditional whole mozzarella or original beef dog with various toppings like potato, Hot Cheeto and crispy ramen.
As this viral snack transitions from trendy to indispensable, it’s just a matter of time before more restaurants start to offer deep-fried cheese dogs. For Mukja food truck, the overwhelming response has been fanatic.
“The response from our community has been crazy. They’ve been such a hit for almost 10 months now. It has all the flavor profiles you’re looking for — savory, sweet, crunchy and gooey,” Julia Rivera, part owner of Mukja food truck, said.