A Traditional Izakaya Is Coming to Aurora in the Spring

March 28th, 2023

Lee Izakaya is the brainchild of long-time Japanese and Korean chef/restaurateur, Jong Wook Lee.
Traditional Japanese bento box dinner

Jong Wook Lee has come a long way since he began culinary training under Japanese sushi chefs in his native Korea at 18-years-old. Now 50-years-old with experience bringing Korean food to California, Chicago, New York City, and Denver, Lee will open an ode to his roots in spring 2023. Currently under construction, Lee Izakaya at 2710 S. Havana St. in Aurora will bring traditional Japanese izakaya foods to an area in need, according to Lee.

“In Aurora, we don’t have any traditional Japanese dining environments. There should be really good demand,” Lee said.

Where there are a few sushi restaurants in Aurora, Lee is going for the whole shebang. For lunch and dinner, the restaurateur plans to serve traditional “izakaya” food — casual Japanese bar food. This will include sashimi (bit-sized raw fish), yakitori (skewered meat), grilled meat and seafood, salads, pickled vegetables, fried dishes, regional delicacies, hot pot plates, and rice and noodle bowls. Later into the evening, Lee aims to switch over to a lighter sushi and sashimi fare to accompany live music under dim lights — morphing from izakaya to Japanese jazz lounge. While this is an ambitious vision, Lee has over three decades experience in the business along with the dynamic network that comes from his time on the line

“Starting as a chef in a Japanese restaurant in Korea, I have a lot of chef connections, especially izakaya. I hope to bring in some excellent talent,” Lee said.

There is no set menu, no website, and no social media for Lee Izakaya yet as Lee focuses on major renovations to what was an old restaurant building at the intersection of Yale Ave. and S. Havana St. Watch for developments and news as Lee Izakaya’s spring opening creeps closer.

2710 S. Havana St., Aurora, CO 80014

Matthew Denis

Matthew D. Denis is a Bend, Oregon-based freelance reporter with a predilection for existential expression. Be it art, backcountry exploration, overland road rallies, or Zimbabwean beats, Matt is there to describe the culture and expression that defines our humanity. You can find his work in ArtNews, The Register-Guard, The Manual, U.S. News & World Report, and more. When Matt’s not typing on keys, he’ll likely be exploring books, creative writing, or endless Western wilds.