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Restaurants & Bars

Where You Can Try the Best Korean Food in Dallas

From traditional rice rolls and kimchi-stuffed mandu to a bombardment of all-you-can-eat barbecue, we dive deep into the Korean food scenes of Dallas, Carrollton, and beyond.
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Koryo
Koryo is one of only a few restaurants that are allowed to grill over charcoal indoors, their permits grandfathered into city code. Elizabeth Lavin

Dallas’ Korean food scene is one of the four or five largest in the United States, and one of the two most important between the coasts. (The other is Atlanta’s.) The reason is North Texas’ community of Korean Americans, around 100,000 in the Dallas area, who have built a decades-long legacy in local commerce and food.

There are two primary Koreatowns in our area: on Royal Lane in Dallas, and on Old Denton Road in Carrollton. Though the newer Carrollton area convinced many businesses and residents to move northward as the original Dallas neighborhood endured issues with crime and a reputation for disreputable businesses, Royal Lane is finally undergoing a renaissance. New businesses have moved in, and H Mart, the national Korean grocery chain, is building a store in the heart of the old Koreatown.

A few years ago, I counted Korean restaurants in Dallas, Carrollton, and Plano and came up with a total number around 50. It’s much larger now—Korean food is one of our fastest-growing dining scenes. But as good and readily available as our Korean food is, the sector has its limitations. Most restaurants fall into one of two categories: ultra-traditional mom-and-pop shops with quiet settings and early closing hours, and glam late-night barbecue and fusion food spots with insistent beats and drinks by the pitcher.

I’ve included a few of both in this list, but our Korean food scene is still waiting for a little bit more diversity. If you’re looking for the kinds of thoughtful Korean fine dining experiences that exist in New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles, we don’t have those. (The upcoming opening of Nuri in Uptown may change that.) But what we have is delicious.

This guide does not rank the best Korean restaurants in order, nor does it crown one “best.” Instead, we’ve grouped restaurants by category so you can find one that best fits the style you’re looking for.

A little bit of everything

Koryo Korean BBQ

Although the reborn version of longtime favorite Koryo Kalbi has barbecue stations at every table, a dry-aging cabinet for steaks, and a permit that allows them to use charcoal for all those grills, you can also stop in for traditional soups, stews, and noodles. The hot stone bowl bibimbap is one of the better examples in the area, with generous julienned veggies and your choice of grilled meat. The banchan are some of the best and most numerous in Dallas, sometimes including three kinds of kimchi. Koryo is one of our favorites because you can use it so many different ways—and they’re all good. 2560 Royal Ln., Ste. 105

Seoul Garden

Just around the corner from Koryo Korean BBQ, Seoul Garden has been Koryo’s rival for decades. When Koryo advertised its heavier emphasis on barbecue, Seoul Garden did too, changing the sign out front. The banchan are good, bibimbap comes in generous portions, and there are an amazing 24 different options on the weekday lunch special menu. (That’s when I go.) 2502 Royal Ln., Ste. 103

Dumplings and noodles

Arirang Korean Kitchen

The specialties here are noodles, dumplings, and soups containing both of those items. The kimchi dumplings are plump to bursting and full of flavor, and there’s a super-generous platter of 20 dumplings for sharing. We especially love coming in wintertime to slurp up a comforting noodle soup with sesame broth. If an item is advertised as spicy, they’re not kidding. 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 556, Carrollton

Hong Dumpling House

This quiet restaurant on the far western end of Royal Lane’s Koreatown specializes in plump, beautifully pleated dumplings with colorful dough. Though all the mandu are good, we especially like the shrimp versions. You may even find specials like “rolled mandu”—dumpling filling rolled tight and served without the skins. 1901 Royal Ln., Ste. 105

Hampyong Noodle

This Carrollton spot specializes in cold spicy noodles made with gochujang. It’s become a summertime staple in Korea, where the chilled noodles feel ever so refreshing—until the spice catches up to you. 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 464, Carrollton

Ultra-traditional spots

Dduk Bae Gi Hot Stone

This quiet, traditional restaurant is the kind of place where a smiling ajumma sits at the counter, customers return their own trays, and the stereo plays songs like “Rock the Casbah” and “We Are Family.” But you may well feel like family after you’ve tried comfort foods like the kimchi and tofu soup, bibimbap, and grilled mackerel. Many combo meals are available that let you try multiple dishes, including a group-sized “School Food Combo” that brings together Korean cafeteria classics. 2330 Royal Ln., Ste. 300

Damasita

It doesn’t get much more traditional than Damasita, where gimbap (oversized Korean sushi-like rice rolls) are a featured specialty. A roll may be only $5 or $6, but it is hearty and filling. The japchae are some of Dallas’ very best, too, although we prefer the kimchi dumplings at Arirang. Notice that the kitchen closes at 6 p.m., so this is more of a lunch destination or a spot to grab takeout gimbap on your way home from work. 2564 Royal Ln.

Ajumma Kimbob Deli

Gimbap (or kimbob) is in the name here, and it’s one of two specialties of this calm traditional spot. Those light, fresh rice rolls couldn’t be more different from the other dish that Ajumma does well: blood sausage. You can get it in all kinds of ways, including spicy stir fries. 2240 Royal Ln.

Gomonae

This soup and stew specialist in the heart of Dallas’ Koreatown sticks resolutely to old-school preparations of hot soft tofu soup, beef broths, and the like. Expect no-frills mom-and-pop service. 11407 Emerald St.

Bar foods

Dal Dong Nae

This nights-only spot starts getting busy after many American restaurants’ dinner services are winding down. Although the drink list isn’t much, the menu is ideally suited to soak up a night of alcohol, especially the Korean army stew, kimchi pancake, and enormous platter of jokbal (marinated pig’s trotters, cooked, sliced, and served with lettuce wrap makings and sauces). 11445 Emerald St.

DanSungSa

This karaoke bar’s kitchen specializes in huge platters of fried chicken and fusion foods like the (very fun) bulgogi quesadillas. During the daytime, it also plays host to the Laotian foods of Nalinh Restaurant. Note that this review only covers the Dallas location of DanSungSa, which has different ownership from the Carrollton business. 11407 Emerald St.

Ddong Ggo

This bar gained notoriety for its indulgent bar food—like Cheese Island, a mound of fried chicken piled onto a skillet full of molten cheese—and for its name, which translates to “chicken butthole.” Yes, the logo is a chicken with a red X over you-know-where. Yes, Ddong Ggo is a loud, over-the-top, lively experience. But it’s better than it has any right to be, even though Korean diners are sad that it got “discovered” by the rest of Dallas. (That would be my fault. Sorry!) 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 322, Carrollton

Specialists

Maht Gaek

The specialty here is ox bone soup with cloudy, meaty broth, available in a variety of kinds using different parts of the animal or a combo. We also like Maht Gaek as a source for cold buckwheat noodles tossed with a spicy red pepper sauce and topped with a few slices of the restaurant’s brisket. Seafood pancake batter has the crunch and heft of some drive-in onion rings. Note that the Plano and Carrollton menus may be slightly different. 151 W. Spring Creek Pkwy., Ste. 519, Plano; 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 540, Carrollton

No. 1 Plus Chicken

Among the dozens of Korean fried chicken spots in Dallas, Plano, Carrollton, and the rest of North Texas, No. 1 Plus Chicken stands out for a few reasons. First, it’s locally owned, unlike some of the big chains that have arrived directly from Korea or California. Second, the menu offers a wide variety of choices. Want a spicy sauce, or honey garlic, or an even crispier batter, or all boneless tenders? They can take care of you. All three locations are ever-reliable.

Another local chicken spot to know: Bbbop Seoul Kitchen, also conveniently located on the opposite side of Dallas from the rest of our Korean options. Major chain BBQ Chicken recently made a splash by opening on Lower Greenville. 2240 Royal Ln., Ste. 103; 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 812, Carrollton; 2115 E. Belt Line Rd., Richardson

Unicorndog

You’ll remember the setting—a bright yellow drive-up-only kiosk in a parking lot in Irving, the size of an ice hut—as much as you’ll remember the tricked-up corn dogs with batter that might include bacon or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. 3048 N. Belt Line Rd., Irving

Baro Baro Kimbap

Like Damasita, Baro Baro specializes in kimbap (or kimbab). But here it’s to the exclusion of almost everything else. (There are some snacks, too.) Because every individual roll is so plump with ingredients, lunch here is one of the biggest bargains in Dallas. We’re talking about a filling meal for $4.50. 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 606, Carrollton

Zzizim Korean Kitchen

The signature dish here is fried savory pancakes full of scallions, seafood, or beef. Skip the sample platter of premade pancakes and order one made fresh from scratch, served sizzling (thus the name) and crisp. 2625 Old Denton Rd., Ste. 586, Carrollton

LA Burger

Kimchi belongs on cheeseburgers and hot dogs, and it meets that happy fate at LA Burger. The local mini-chain was designed to be an introduction to Korean flavors for outsiders, and it succeeds admirably in that respect. Multiple locations in Carrollton, Grapevine, Irving, Keller, Plano, Richardson

Korean barbecue

I have to be honest. I’ve only been to a handful of our local Korean barbecue options, which now number more than a dozen. I’ve enjoyed them all, but don’t have a lot of detail for you about which to choose. Differences are limited—Koryo offers dry-aged meats and charcoal rather than propane, for example—but otherwise the business models are very similar and even the atmospheres can strongly resemble each other.

A lot of people seem to like Ari Korean BBQ the best, but my best advice is to find a barbecue spot you enjoy and stick to it, blocking out the fear that you might be missing out on an experience that is, in some way or another, 2 percent better. That fear outweighs the possible gain.

Recommended barbecue spots: Koryo Korean BBQ, Ari Korean BBQ, Seoul Garden, Sura Korean Bistro, Moodaepo Korean BBQ

Newcomers

I haven’t been to these new restaurants yet, but feel that you should know about them. They’re listed alphabetically.

Gold Spoon. This looks like an all-around restaurant with a long menu, from tofu stews and hot pot to dumplings and bulgogi. 3040 Old Denton Rd., Carrollton

Ilinja Gamjatang. A specialist in spicy pork broth soups and pork hot pot. 1012 MacArthur Dr., Ste. 112, Carrollton

Onedon. On the border between Korean and Japanese cooking, Onedon specializes in katsu dishes, Japanese curries, and omurice. 11434 Emerald St., Ste. 108

Author

Brian Reinhart

Brian Reinhart

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Brian Reinhart became D Magazine's dining critic in 2022 after six years of writing about restaurants for the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Morning News.
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