The New KFC: Korean Fried Chicken
Anne Fishbein the invisible restaurant critic
Dear Mr. Gold:
You seem to be writing about a lot of Korean restaurants recently. The new KFC is Korean Fried Chicken. I've tried BonChon and Kyochon. While both are good, I have to give the edge to Kyochon, although BonChon gets points for easy parking. Can you recommend another place for me to try?
--Ernesto De Jesus, via Facebook
Dear Mr. De Jesus:
It is quite true: Korean fried chicken is the new black. Or was the new black three ago when the chicken wars began to get nasty, but that's another story. Have you tried making it at home? The Kyochon-esque double-fried recipe is remarkably tasty, although lately I've been favoring David Chang's brine-steam-fry technique from the Momofuku Cookbook, which produces almost ethereal results. The first time my mother-in-law tasted it, she offered to buy me a deep-fryer, presumably because it might inspire me to make it more often. I haven't taken her up on it, but you never know.
Anyway, the Korean fried chicken wars are essentially over, although not without casualties. Of the survivors, the Koreatown edition of the Seoul-based chain BBQ Chicken is OK. They fry in olive oil -- how bad could it be? Also Chicken Day -- hey look, there's one in La Crescenta too! BonChon functions more or less as the Burger King to Kyochon's McDonald's. And any Korean bar worth its dong dong ju will have fried chicken of some kind. I'm partial to the speakeasyish Dwit Gol Mok, the post-collegiate OB Bear, and of course Dan Sung Sa, where the chicken wings are almost as good as the octopus bokkum. But Kyochon is kind of sui generis, whose only drawbacks are: 1. the 45 minutes it takes to fry your chicken; and 2. the lone panchan of moo kimchi, pickled radish, which is actually pretty good, but whose existence you will begin to despise by about minute 23.