Asian Food Hall Coark Collective Opens in Centennial | Westword

Global Cuisine

First Look: Eat Your Way Through This New Asian Food Hall

There are plenty of options to try.
Coark Collective is located in a former Golden Corral.
Coark Collective is located in a former Golden Corral. Molly Martin
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What: Coark Collective Food Hall

15775 East Arapahoe Road, Centennial

Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday

For more info:
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Chicken on a stick from KoCo Street Food.
Molly Martin
What we saw: The corner of Parker and Arapahoe roads is a chain-packed no-man's-land between Aurora and Parker that's technically part of Centennial. The last time I remember being in the area was over a decade ago, when I randomly decided I wanted a refresher on what eating at Golden Corral was like — a choice I immediately regretted.

But that Golden Corral is gone now, and in its place is a totally different kind of destination where you can indulge your culinary cravings. Coark Collective is the latest food hall to debut in the metro area; it opened on January 6 with eight vendor stalls, each housing an independently owned local business.

The concept was created by Coark Collective CEO James Lim, who has lived in Denver for fifteen years and also owns a number of beauty salons. The idea was inspired by the busy highways in Korea, he explains, where you can pull off and find a wide selection of food choices in one spot.
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A sandwich from Mad Toast at Coark Collective.
Molly Martin
The current lineup in the large, open space includes such offerings as croffles, a mix between a waffle and a croissant topped with options like fruit and Nutella from Croffle Haven; Korean toast sandwiches with a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce from Mad Toast; and crispy fried chicken on a stick (or in a box), in flavors like the popular soy garlic and a new cheese powder seasoning, a real standout from KoCo Street Food, which started as a food truck almost a year ago.

You'll also find bowls and subs from the Up Bop; bibimbap, katsu and udon from Bibim House; ice cream and boba from MoMo Bing; tteokbokki (rice cakes) and kimbap from TokBucki; and seafood bowls from Poke Island. A local artist is setting up a small pottery shop in one corner, as well, and plans to offer classes there.

While most of the food available right now is Korean or Korean-inspired, that could expand, but the focus is definitely on Asian cuisine, and on offering small-business owners a new avenue for sharing their food with the masses.
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Bibim House is one of eight concepts currently open at Coark Collective.
Molly Martin
What surprised us: The ordering system. While other local food halls require guests to order separately at each vendor, there is one counter near the front entrance where you order from all the concepts at Coark. This makes it super simple to mix and match, and works particularly well for families or groups whose members each want something different.

Another benefit of this ordering setup is that it saves on staffing for individual stalls. The downside, though, is the pickup system. Currently, a customer is given an order number and must listen for each vendor to call that number. The space is quite long, so vendors on the ends have to yell across the building — something that certainly won't work if (and, with luck, when) the food hall gets busier.

Lim is already considering alternate plans — maybe buzzers or television screens that will display which orders are ready, or something else entirely. And while there are some other kinks to work out, I ordered food from four different vendors and received it all within minutes. Online ordering is also coming soon.

This is Lim's first food venture, and so Coark is a bit of a work in progress — though one that's already filled with plenty of tasty temptations.
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