When it comes to Korean food in the Triangle, things are certainly looking up! While there are plenty of Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese eateries, Korean has been a bit tougher to find in the area. But out in Cary you’ll find the new Aroma Korea, located off of Harrison Avenue and Maynard Road. Online reviews were glowing about the place and its Korean fried chicken so yes, it was time for a visit to this new ethnic eatery for the Triangle!
First of all, if you’re familiar with this area, you’ll recognize the location and space. Previously Aroma Indo-Chinese, Aroma Korea sits on top of a hill at the edge of a small plaza. Large patio to the side, inside Aroma Korea hasn’t changed much at all. It’s a large open dining room with and odd divider down the middle. For some reason I always imagined this place used to be one of those sushi spots with plates on a conveyor belt but I could be wrong! Aroma Korea’s dining area is neat, clean and pretty modern. I’m seated at a side booth and handed over a couple of menus.
While I’m scanning the menu, my waitress brings me over a small bowl of Korean popcorn, cool! I’ve never seen this before, it’s a small bowl of rounded popcorn kernels which are soft, fluffy and slightly sweet. A nice treat to munch on while checking out the Aroma Korea menu. The drink menu has a long list of sakes, sojus and Korean specialties to choose from. I go with the Banhari without any clue of what the drink is. Hey, I’m here to explore the menu, right? I also order up some soy-garlic KFC and bibimbop with bulkogi for my lunch. Yeah, it’s far too much food but I’m not sure when I’ll get back to Aroma Korea again!
The Korean fried chicken is brought out first and I’m warned it’s a bit spicy. Five pieces of chicken (drums and wings) on an aluminum plate along with a small portion of pickled daikon, yummy! If you haven’t had Korean fried chicken before, it’s becoming more popular in the Triangle of late (Soo Cafe, M Kokko) and Aroma Korea does an excellent job. Showing off a super crispy and crunchy crust, this chicken has the soy-garlic sauce drizzled atop along with a sprinkle of sesame seed and scallions! The chicken is well-fried and the sauce does have some heat to it! My nose is sniffling a bit but it’s all good… I’d have to say that Aroma Korea’s soy-garlic KFC goes a bit more on the savory soy side versus the sweet I’ve had elsewhere. Definitely a worthwhile choice as an app and the 5 pieces of chicken are puh-lenty! The Banhari (dry apple wine) is pretty strong but cuts through the fat and richness here.
Next up is my bulkogi bibimbop which is if you’re not familiar, is an Asian rice bowl with meat. What makes bibimbop special, however, is its thick ceramic bowl! It comes to the table, sizzling hot and steaming. The hot bowl creates a bit of crunchy crust at the bottom of the bibimbop. Along with the sizzling rice, Aroma Korea serves up their bibimbop with spinach, shredded carrot, daikon, squash and an egg on top of the bulkogi beef. It’s comfort food at its finest and I really like how they do a traditional banchan offering here with some kimchi, pickled squash and seaweed as an accompaniment. Overall it’s a very tasty and filling dish, with a lot of food for the money here.
Wow, so color me impressed Aroma Korea! I will definitely miss my Indo-Chinese food that used to be in this space but what a great option for Korean. It all feels quite authentic here at Aroma Korea. From the staff to the drink selections and the menu, you’re going to get some authentic Korean eats for not much money. Pretty much everything here is under $15 and quite affordable. So if you’re willing to make the trek out to Cary and give Aroma Korea a whirl, I think you’ll find it worth the effort. Just watch out for that Korean fried chicken and Banhari, both will hit you hard…