Global Cuisine

Short Stop: The Pork-Let Steals the Show With Photo-Friendly Korean Cooking

The Pork-Let's tornado fried rice makes for great social media fodder.
The Pork-Let's tornado fried rice makes for great social media fodder. Mark Antonation
Denver's dining scene is making a big comeback — and we're hungering to go out. With so many new ventures and old favorites to visit after more than a year of restaurant shutdowns and restrictions, the choices can be overwhelming. So we're serving up Short Stop, with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary short list. This week, dig into the Pork-Let, one of Aurora's newest — and trendiest — Korean eateries.

What: The Pork-Let

Where: 12201 East Mississippi Avenue, Unit 123B, Aurora

When: Open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to  3 p.m., and for dinner from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.


For more info: Visit theporklet.com

click to enlarge The crunch pork cutlet comes on its own metal grill. - MARK ANTONATION
The crunch pork cutlet comes on its own metal grill.
Mark Antonation
The place: Aurora's Pacific Ocean Marketplace serves as a magnet for shoppers looking for all manner of Asian groceries — from live seafood to handmade dumplings — at the northeast corner of South Peoria Street and East Mississippi Avenue. And the surrounding shopping center is a kind of outdoor food hall, with Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese eateries drawing a diverse Aurora population.

The space that the Pork-Let now occupies was previously home to Chinese Noodles, a specialist in Luosi and Guilin noodles, rarities outside of their home regions in China, and now unfortunately missing in the metro-Denver dining scene. Fortunately, the menu at the Pork-Let also offers unique dishes that may be popular on social media but are otherwise hard to come by here.

The dining room is small, with only a few tables and a bar-height counter along the front window so you can look out onto the vast parking lot while enjoying your meal. Order at the counter and then grab a seat until your number is called. The Pork-Let makes takeout easy, too, and much of the menu travels well if you don't live more than fifteen to twenty minutes away.


What you're eating: The restaurant is named for breaded and fried pork cutlets, so of course that's the main attraction. The namesake dish ($14.95) comes with macaroni salad and coleslaw drenched in a tasty black-sesame dressing, and the cutlet itself sits atop a mini grill so that the underside stays crispy. Whether you opt for pork, chicken or the tempting Cheeselet ($16.95) — pork oozing a generous helping of mozzarella cheese — the result is a tender slab of meat coated in a crunchy panko crust, with a mild, tomato-based sauce for added flavor.
click to enlarge The Pork-Let's wings get points for flavor and texture, even if they aren't as showy as other dishes. - MARK ANTONATION
The Pork-Let's wings get points for flavor and texture, even if they aren't as showy as other dishes.
Mark Antonation
If a social media-worthy lunch or dinner is your goal, look no further than the tornado fried rice ($12.95), a showy omelet blanketing flavorful fried rice that is a variation on Japanese omurice. Choose bacon or Spam, then behold the glorious swirl of glossy tornado omelet, made by twisting the thin sheet of egg with a pair of chopsticks as it cooks in a nonstick pan. The Pork-Let's version of this dish rests in a pool of tomato-based sauce, which looks great but doesn't pack as much of a punch as you'd expect from such a bold presentation.

While the cutlets and tornado rice steal the show visually, the Korean fried chicken wings here could be the best bet. The enormous, meaty wings ($12 for six) are coated in a crunchy, sticky jacket best enjoyed straight from the kitchen rather than to go. You have several sauce options to choose from, but none hit spice levels even marginally fiery. Our choice of the "black and white" barbecue wings was balanced on the sweet-tangy scale, and the meat beneath the thick coating was shockingly juicy. But compared to many other Korean restaurants in Aurora, the Pork-Let's sauces stay on the mellow end of the spectrum, so if you're looking for a mouth-searing blast, this isn't the place for you.

It is, however, definitely the place for something new and fun, especially if you tack on appetizers like sweet potato sticks (kind of like long, skinny egg rolls), pan-fried dumplings or the Chicklet sandwich (fried chicken on fluffy white bread).

Take pictures, make videos, pig out!
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation