Wednesday, August 18, 2010

KyoChon Chicken - Koreatown, NYC

We had to make a trip out to the city a few Mondays ago to pick up something for Kevin's office. It's been a while since we took the PATH to 33rd St (we would usually take it to the WTC Station), so it was a nice change. After running that quick errand, we decided to head over to Koreatown to have dinner.
It's been over a year since we were last in Koreatown (we try to avoid Midtown as much as we can, too many tourist and traffic), and we were pleasantly surprised when we saw that the whole street was all lit up and nicely decorated with bright lights. It felt a little bit like Christmas! :P It must be Christmas in July in K-Town! Hahaha! Anyways, since we didn't really have a particular restaurant in mind, we just decided to walk along 'Korea Way' and hope to find something good.
After passing what seemed like thousands of Korean BBQ restaurants, we finally saw something that stood out. KyoChon!!! I remember reading somewhere that KyoChon serves one of the best (if not, the best) Korean fried chicken in NYC. The tag phrase of KyChon is "Chicken like you've never had before!". Wow! Really? Boy, THIS we gotta try! So, in we went.
I love the decor of KyoChon. Very funky and modern. Definitely not your regular fried chicken joint. The ground floor is dedicated to take outs and there are a few tables and chairs for customers to sit and wait for their order. All dine in customers are led upstairs. It was about 8pm on a Monday night and the place was packed! There wasn't any individual tables left (unless we wanted to wait for about 45mins or so), so we had to sit at the long bar/counter with other people. It actually felt more like a bar than a restaurant, with large LCD TV screens showing music videos and ambient lights that changes color ever so often.
I later learnt from my 'walking Korean dictionary' sister than KyoChon is actually a very famous Korean Fried Chicken chain. It seems Super Junior (my sister's all time favorite band) is the spokesperson for Kyochon and it's the number one fried chicken brand in Korea. Founded in 1991, Kyochon Chicken pioneered the double-frying and special hand-brushing techniques, as well as invented the signature Soy Garlic and Hot & Sweet sauces, which is popular in all Korean fried chicken places today. In short, they are the founding fathers of Korean fried chicken! Ahhh, I guess we lucked out by walking into this restaurant :D
Apart from food, they also have quite an extensive drinks menu. There were all kinds of suju, flavored suju, interesting suju cocktails as well as Korean beers available. We were tempted to try some of thier suju cocktails but finally decided against it (a lil bit too heavy for a Monday night). So, Kevin just ordered a 500cc glass of Hite beer ($5). Both Kevin and I have never tried Korean beer before and I must say, it's really good. Now, I am not much of a beer drinker but I like the taste of Hite. It's very light and easy to drink. Nice!
After placing our food order, our waiter brought out a plate of pickled radish. He said that it's on the house. Again, both Kevin and I are not big fans of pickled stuff but this is good. Really good. We both polished it off in a few minutes :P You could also order the pickled radish as a side dish if you like ($1.29 - regular, $2.49 - large). We just might have to order that the next time we are there.
Since it's our first time in Kyochon, we didn't know what's good. So, we decided to go with a sampler. This way, we can try a little of everything that's on the menu. There are four different samplers to choose from and we went with the largest, the KyoChon Sampler 4 ($26.99). The sampler consist of both fried and grilled stuff. In the fried platter, there was the signature soy garlic wings, spicy wings, honey wings, soy garlic drumstick, spicy drumstick, chicken croquette and sal sal strips. Sooo, was the wings really that good? OMG, yes!!! Crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside....totally awesome! Not only are the wings yummy, they are relatively healthier compared to American wings. Because of it's special double frying technique, there is no more fat left under the skin, thus leaving only a nice thin crispy layer of skin. Also, KyoChon uses 100% trans fat free canola oil for frying and all of their chicken are hand trimmed and never frozen. No wonder it's so goood! The sauces are amazing too. Oh and before I forget, apart from the super awesome wings, the chicken croquette is also to die for. Minced chicken and mashed potatoes, sauteed with peppers and onions, battered and then fried. Good stuff!
The second part of the sampler is the grilled plate. It comes with soy grilled wings, spicy grilled wings, a large piece of chicken steak with lots of onions, peppers and a slice of pineapple. Now, this is yummy too! Kevin loved the chicken steak to bits. I love it too. Very nicely marinated and uber yummy. One word of caution though, the spicy chicken wings and drumsticks are reallllllllly spicy. Do not attempt to try it if you have a low tolerance for heat. I tried the drumstick and my mouth was burning like crazy. Even the waiter warned us beforehand about the spiciness. However, if you like spicy stuff, then this it right up your alley.
We also ordered the Rice Ball 'Duo' ($9.99) to share. We could pick two out of three different types of Rice Balls and it comes with a side of ginseng soup (for dipping). The flavors were Green Tea Bulgogi, Spicy Bulgogi and BiBimBap. Since they were out of the Green Tea Bulgogi that day, we went with the Spicy Bulgogi and BiBimBap. The Spicy Bulgogi rice ball was spicy chicken wrapped in a mixture of black rice, sweet rice and white rice. The BiBimBap rice balls was a mixture of chicken, rice and vegetable. I have never tried Korean rice balls before and I really didn't know what to expect. I thought that it would taste somewhat like the Japanese onigiri but it tasted more like the Chinese 'bak chang'. Really filling but it didn't really taste that great. We'll probably give this a skip the next time we are there. Overall, I'm really glad that we found KyoChon. Seriously, just like their tag phrase says, it's "Chicken like you have never had before!". Mannn, the wings are just so awesome...I can't wait to return for more!!!

KyoChon Chicken - Koreatown, NYC
319 5th Ave
New York, 10016
Tel: (212) 725-9292

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