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Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town, Berkeley/Oakland

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David Boyk Aug 9, 2006 07:16 PM

I feel a bit guilty about this particular one, because I discovered it about 9 months ago and never got around to actually posting. Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken town is a) the owner of a remarkable name, b) where another Korean roast chicken joint used to be, c) bizarre inside, with weird tiki decor and linoleum floors, and d) delicious. Shamefully, I haven't had an opportunity to go back, or it's been closed when I've tried, but it's still in business. Basically, they have chicken, roasted or fried, with or without sauce. They have fish and some other things, but they seem beside the point. My girlfriend and I shared an order of the fried chicken with sauce, and it was fantastic. It's a quite hot red sauce along the lines of Sriracha, but more warming and sweet and sort of barbecuey.

  1. Robert Lauriston Oct 16, 2006 05:09 PM

    We went last night.

    There's a parking lot in back, and the main entrance faces it. That's why the place always looks closed from Telegraph.

    Feels like more of a neighborhood bar kind of place than a restaurant, everybody sitting in little screened booths and drinking beer and soju, all the food designed to promote alcohol consumption. Friendly, mellow atmosphere. Soundtrack of sometimes amusing Korean covers of hip-hop and soul classics, foodball with the sound off on the big flat-panel TV.

    Panchan was shredded cabbage with thousand-island dressing, pickled radish cubes, pickled jalapenos, and round tortilla chips. Not so great.

    We ordered the spiciest BBQ chicken ("extreme spicy"?), which wasn't actually very spicy. Boneless thighs, grilled, nice flavor but not exciting, I'd try a different one next time.

    Meatball satay, my friend thought they were from Costco. Tasty enough with some chili sauce.

    Best dish by far was grilled pork and squid. I'd order that again.

    1. jdm Aug 20, 2006 11:34 PM

      I tried this place during its first week in business and was sorely disappointed. The service was astoundingly disorganized. ( even for the first week of business) The food was ok. The chicken had an odd, off and overly salty flavour. It tasted more like cheap deli ham than chicken. I suspect that it was left for far too long in a brine of some sort.
      I know that I was partly disappointed because the previous restaurant was one of my faves.....
      Perhaps I should try it again.

      1. PegS Aug 20, 2006 11:20 PM

        You know, we've been there on random weekday nights and it's always been open. I suspect it really is only open for dinner.

        1. moto Aug 20, 2006 09:37 AM

          well, I can only say that I went there about 5.20 on Thurs., they appeared to be in the prep/set-up mode, and a server showed up around 5.30. Someone just driving by the street side might think they were closed, there's a little indistinct sign instructing "use rear entrance". good hunting

          1 Reply
          1. re: moto
            coolbean98 Aug 20, 2006 06:22 PM

            When we went we tried walking around and it was barred up there, too. So is it only open for dinner, then?

          2. coolbean98 Aug 18, 2006 09:45 PM

            So David (the poster) and I tried to go here for lunch this past Tuesday and they were closed, and he said he had tried the day before and they were also closed. Does anyone know what their open hours are (I couldn't find a sign in English)?

            2 Replies
            1. re: coolbean98
              d
              David Boyk Aug 19, 2006 11:38 PM

              Update: I went by today, and guess what... it was closed. This is killing me.

              1. re: David Boyk
                coolbean98 Aug 20, 2006 06:23 PM

                Arrrggghh!

            2. moto Aug 18, 2006 07:18 PM

              after a couple of re-tastes of the Chicken Town product, without the red sauce, my appreciation went up a notch or two and overcame the small deduction for the lack of dark meat. The marination and chopstick-friendly chunks that let the garlic and seasonings suffuse through the meat rather than stay on the crust, combined with the persisting moistness, give it more of a homemade style as opposed to fast food.

              1. moto Aug 18, 2006 04:22 AM

                greetings, the possibility that 'chicken town' might be doing 'buldalk' style bird motivated me to drop by and try it (across 'Telly' from a very visible Ethiopian place and opposite the KFC/Taco Bell at 61st/Telegraph).

                No, nothing close to the habanero scoville range, at least not in the fried chicken w. spicy sauce. Elsewhere on the menu was a "super spicy" grilled chicken, but they were out of take-out menus so I don't know if "buldalk" was in the Korean language caption. For 12.99 I got six wings (split into two pcs.w/o the tiplets) and eight more boneless pieces roughly the size of the drumettes, in other words, everything sized to eat manageably with chopsticks, which were provided. Disappointed by the lack of dark meat, but the flesh was plenty moist and flavorful from marination, which left pleasant, not overpowering, garlicy nuances. The coating was a variation of a light batter dip;it didn't stay crisp though I removed it from the styro box within 15 min, I think that's the nature of that type of coating. The sauce was pretty much as the OP describes, not as sweet, fortunately, as most BBQ places in Oakland use.Another option for fried chicken offered was garlic-soy sauce. Other than the sauce, an 8 oz. container of diced daikon in a sweet/vinegar marinade,and a small scoop of shredded green and red cabbage with a bit of the thousand isl.style dressing like the type used in less expensive Japanese eateries came with the chicken.

                The menu was fairly substantial for the minimalist facility, with three forms of chicken(fried,roasted<rotissiered>,grilled), a soup selection, kebobs, Korean sausage, squid, shrimp, mussels, udon w. clams and combo specials, which included three items of choice(generally in the $9-12 range a la carte) from a list for 23.99, or a half roasted +half fried chicken+2 liter pitcher of beer for something like 22, souju was an option. O.k. selection of Korean and Japanese beers in various-sized bottles, plus two kinds of draft that I could see, Pyramid Hefeweizen and some mass market American, maybe a Miller variant.

                Overall, for the fried chicken I couldn't say it surpassed La. FC (only tried the Lakeside Dr,Oakland branch which has decent fr.fries as a side), and the latter would better suit those who prefer it crisp and cut into conventional pieces on the bone. I did miss having thighs to gnaw from. Chicken Town seemed set up for people who wish to sit down with a variety of simple foods good with beer or souju in front of a huge tv with sports playing (close captioned), with rap and an urban contemp. mix coming over the sound system. cheers

                1. Melanie Wong Aug 10, 2006 06:22 PM

                  Is this a buldalk type place?
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                  1. j
                    Joel Aug 9, 2006 07:28 PM

                    I was wondering about this place.
                    It is on Telegraph in Oakland, between 61st and 62nd, next to the gas station.
                    When I pass by in the evening, sometimes the parking lot is packed.

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