What started out as an obscure ethnic eatery tucked into the back of a Westminster strip mall has morphed into a minor Denver phenomenon since owner Joseph Kim added a second location on Colorado Boulevard, close to the heart of the city. With a hip, modern interior and marketing geared toward a young audience, Dae Gee manages to present traditional Korean cuisine without the intimidation factor common to other long rosters of unfamiliar food. Starting with an array of cute banchan dishes that take care of the salty, sour and spicy range of small bites and condiments — including several variations on kimchi — and moving into marinated pork and beef dishes that blend the familiarity of barbecue with the exotic allure of soy, sesame oil, fish sauce and gochujang (a pungent fermented condiment), Dae Gee's fare is at once completely accessible and excitingly novel. Warming noodle bowls, fun dumpling and pancake appetizers, and even a few challenging plates of ox tongue or beef tripe make for a menu broad enough to appeal to first-timers and experts alike. For added entertainment, head to the original in Westminster, where tables are equipped with grills for searing your own meats. With a few bottles of Hite or Cass Korean lagers, it's like a complete cookout with newfound flavors.
Readers' choice: Uncle