Korean Fried Chicken
The New York Times has a tantalizing story that rhapsodizes about Korean fried chicken.
Unlike American southern-style fried chicken, this has a thin crust and it is seasoned after it has been fried with either a sweetish garlic-soy glaze or a hotter red-pepper sauce.
The article says it's available in the New York/New Jersey area and in California. Naturally this gave me chicken-envy and I'm dying to try it. Anyone know of this being prepared or sold in the Chicago area?
There are at least three places which prepare it:
1. VIP Chinese
3254 W Montrose
2. Great Sea
3254 W Lawrence
3. Hourglass Bar
3658 W. Lawrence
Great Sea and Hourglass are the board favourites. Personally, I find Great Sea's version overly sweet, so I always go to Hourglass. And, at Hourglass, I am sure to order the "hot" version offered, and not the "mild." By American Buffalo Wing-standards, the "hot" version at Hourglass is not particularly spicy/hot.
re: Erik M
I went to the Great Sea last night for some chicken wing takeout. It's crazy in there. There are only about 12 tables in there and EVERY table had an order of wings on it. While I was waiting for my food, no less than 7 takeout orders going out the door.
I don't quite understand, though: the place labels itself as Chinese. Are the wings there Korean style? They were wings, trimmed to be little drummettes, fried, and heavily sauced in a General Tso's type sauce. It was very good, but it didn't look ANYTHING like the discription in the NYTimes article.
BTW: they were about 15 for $11.
"I don't quite understand, though: the place labels itself as Chinese. Are the wings there Korean style?"
"There are only about 12 tables in there and EVERY table had an order of wings on it. While I was waiting for my food, no less than 7 takeout orders going out the door."
The chicken appears to be the reason why most people go to Great Sea. IME, at least, the rest of the menu is pretty forgettable.
"It was very good, but it didn't look ANYTHING like the discription in the NYTimes article."
If you look in the extreme foreground of the first photo in the NYT article linked above, you will see the Korean glazed wing variant (Mae Woon Dak Nal Gae) which can found at places like Great Sea, here, in Chicago. But, I don't know of any place in Chicago which serves the Korean UNglazed wing variant (Dak Nal Gae) shown in the middleground of same photo.
At any rate, I hope that you try the wings at Hourglass sometime. It's the General Tso-like character of the wings you describe at Great Sea that has me choosing Hourglass every time.
NB Hourglass is a bar, first and foremost. The hours of operation roughly mirror an American-style night club. And, just like its American counterparts, the place is really all about the booze. With the exception of the chicken, the stir-fried rice cakes, and perhaps the seafood pancake, the food should be given a wide berth. ;)
I think almost any Korean market will have these to take home too. They all make sort of appetizer'y foods, so my mom would always get the garlic&sesame&soy glazed fried chicken wings, korean style squid tempura, etc. Though I think a lot of the Korean markets on Lawrence, Lincoln, Touhy are closing after that huge Korean MegaMart, who's name I forget, opened up in Niles...
My parents think its hilarious that ssams and korean fried chicken are being written up n the NYTimes as like trendy foods, or whatever..
I've tried several chicken joints in the NY area mentioned in the article above.
Ive also been to Great seas and Hourglass bar; both of these restaurants serve a style of chicken that is completely different.
If you want something truly korean, try cheo gajip. It's relatively new in the Chicago area (Niles, IL at milwaukee and golf)
It's a bit different from the bon chon style mentioned in the article, but it is very authentic and something you'd find in Korea.
Cheo Gajip Chicken
8273 W Golf Rd
Niles, IL 60714
Just went there over the weekend. Not bad but I do agree with NYT that there was too much sauce. Next time, I will get the sauce on the side (I don't mind paying for it.) The real problem was the quality of the cuts of chicken, a lot of small broken up bones. I was picking small bones out of my mouth for a third of the time I was eating. Very annoying. I am willing, though, to give it another try. I like the interior. It's a nice change from what you see at a lot of American joints, but it's a little tough squeezing into those small booths. Otherwise, the chicken is, in fact, dissimilar to Great Seas (haven't been to Hourglass yet). There is a light batter coating and it takes about fifteen minutes to prepare. Therefore, it's nice to see that they are taking their time in preparing the chicken. However, the sauces and condiments that come on the side are obviously mass produced in a factory. Not my favorite. There is a pickled hicama with a chemical-like finish and a shredded cabbage with a mayo-based spicy red pepper dressing drizzled on.
Lastly, I spoke with some Korean friends regarding the name of the chain. It has something to do with Mother-In-Law's home/comfort. Apparently, in Korean culture, the mother-in-law is viewed as a generous and nurturing figure (fellow 'hounders may need to comment on this to help me out).
I would recommend this place if you would like to try something different. Just get the chicken on its own. Oh yeah, I didn't try the pizza. The place is located behind the Panera.
re: u.of.c. eddie
Chicago Kalbi House, 3752 W Lawrence Ave near Pulaski, has on their menu the following:
Karaage Deep-fried, seasoned chicken wings (appetizer section) and
Dak - Bokum Chicken wing in a spicy marinade
The karaage is similar to what is described here, dry and sauceless. The Dak Bokum is similar except with a sauce poured over.
Try this place:
4811 N Rockwell St
It's a tiny place, more of a hangout for older Korean men who drink and talk and kareoke, run by one little lady who keeps the door locked (you have to ring the bell and if you don't look shady she'll buzz you in). She doesn't speak much English; be nice to her. Everything I've tried that she makes is fabulous, just like mom's. Her seafood soup will scorch your mouth. Don't expect lots of panchan or even rice unless you ask. Do tip well.
The chicken is served whole but snipped into pieces at the table. It has a thin crust, no sauce.