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Federal Way Korean Fried Chicken Report

Last week, when I visited my mother in Des Moines, I decided check out Korean fried chicken. There are two KFC places in Federal Way, just about a block from each other. Cockatoo's Chicken Restaurant (33130 Pacific Highway S., No. 5) and Hanmaum's. Don't bother looking for the signs, unless you read Korean. I got to Cockatoo's first, heading south. The atmosphere is more like a bar than a restaurant, with three big screen TV's and large tables full of the Korean happy hour crowd drinking "extra" pitchers of draft beer (holding about a gallon, I'd say). The service was kind of slow, but the waiter was friendly. He brought us a bowl of popcorn and took our drink orders. The draft Hite beer (a Korean brand) was cold and fresh. We ordered the "whole" chicken for $17.95 which comes with a salad and lightly pickled daikon radish cubes. While we were waiting for our order and trying to tune out the violent Korean soap operas playing on two of the three TV's, here comes our friendly waiter with two raw eggs just starting to sizzle on a hot iron plate. My mom commented that we didn't order the eggs. The waiters comment: "Service! It's free." We didn't argue. My mom flipped the eggs to make sure the yokes were cooked and we enjoyed the appetizer. Then our order came -- a large platter of chicken with a bright red "sweet" sauce. The sauce is spicy but apparently not nearly as hot as the hotter variety which the menu calls "ultra" hot. It was a big serving for two people. More than a "whole" chicken. It was delicious. The cabbage salad with some kind of Korean dressing was good too and the daikon helped to clear the palate. We stuffed ourselves and my mom had chicken left over to take home. On our way home we drove by Hanmaum's, just a block south. It looked to be less like a bar and perhaps a little more sedate. We'll have to try it another time. There is a lot of other Korean food on the menu at Cockatoo's. The happy hour specials are only $5 a plate and happy hour runs late (8:30 if I recall correctly), and the place is open way past midnight. It's only open in the evenings. If you haven't tried the other KFC, Cockatoo's is a good place to give it a try.

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  1. Nice report on Cockatoo's! My better half and I really like this place, have been multiple times. The fried egg appetizer is a nice touch and really makes any meal there pretty high calorie! The happy hour food is a STEAL for the price.

    For some reason we have not tried Hanmaum's. The place has not been busy on the 5 or so times we've driven by, all-korean strip mall it is in is a little shady (hostess bars and pool halls and such). Anyway, I'm hoping somebody puts up a Hanmaum's report soon.

    As for Cockatoo's, it is a great joint and we highly recommend it for affordable fun food and cheap beer in a cool and unique (to non Koreans) atmosphere.

    1. Now, I got a hankerin'...

      Anyone know a place closer than Federal Way?

      1. RE: Hanmaum's. We dropped in at 6pm on a Friday night. Two groups of possibly drunk teenage kids in there, no food on the tables. There was only one person in there that worked at the joint, I asked her for a menu or a carry out menu and she spoke zero english, the best she could do is say "chicken". So we left. Apparently they serve some sort of "chicken" to possibly inebriated teenagers singing karaoke next door...was hoping for more...we went to Cockatoo's for happy hour instead and had a great time as usual.

        I tried the ultra spicy hot chicken wings at Cockatoo's this time. I've really never had ANYTHING korean that was actually really spicy. But these things are pretty damn spicy! I'd give them a 7/10 on the pain scale. They were about 6 times hotter than Franks red hot sauce and 3 times hotter than Tabasco, for some sort of reference. Gave a nice burn, but still edible without a doubt.

        We also ordered the "canned peaches." Yes, canned peaches are on the menu for 7 bucks or so. We just had to see what 7 dollar canned peaches were about.

        So out comes a clear plastic 1 gallon punch bowl, in it was poured about 1 liter of sprite, a can of sliced peaches, and about one sliced kiwi fruit. A ton of ice was mixed in. It was awesome! Something out of 1950's america in a Korean restaurant! I swear it was like getting some punch in the deep south or something in the middle of summer. What a nice treat, so goofy too. But it was welcome refreshment to my burning mouth from the ultra spicy chicken. If anybody can tell me some history on this canned peach punch and how the hell it got into a Korean cuisine let me know...I'm assuming its another influence from American troops during the Korean war.

        I like Cockatoo's more everytime we go. Also, all the waitstaff there speaks excellent english by the way, although we've never seen non-Koreans in there other than ourselves.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ligament

          LoL!!
          That punch sounds like something out of a bar near one of the military bases in Korea, minus the soju.
          Iced fruit is typical in Korea as a desert, though it's usually made with fresh fruit. In the Kingdom periods ice was brought from the mountains to mix with fruit and honey, and served to the Royalty/Nobility.
          The canned version may well be the military influence, or just a convenience rather than keeping perishable fresh fruits in supply.

          Edit: I just re-read your post and saw Sprite as an ingredient - That definately sounds more like one of the bar concoctions that can be found near the military bases.

          1. re: hannaone

            Yep the waiter told us it was Sprite and most certainly the peaches were canned and indicated as such on the menu...

          2. re: Ligament

            Great post Ligament! Sorry to hear Hanmaum's was not happening. When a reporter from the Tacoma paper went there he seemed to like it best compared to the competition:

            http://www.thenewstribune.com/ae/rest...

            Maybe you can try it another time.

            Glad to hear what the canned peaches are all about. I'd be interested to hear what else on the happy hour menu is good.

          3. Anyone been back to any of these places recently? And any more specific information as to what kind of dishes are offered for happy hour? Is the chicken part of any happy hour deal? Looking forward to checking this out!

            8 Replies
            1. re: dimsumfan

              I noticed fried chicken on the menu at a couple of places north of Seattle:
              Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari in Shoreline - specialties are pork and squid, good lunch deals.
              Ka-Won in Lynnwood - good bbq and Geh-Rahn-Jjim.
              I haven't tried the chicken at either place yet, but would like to hear from anyone who has.

              1. re: kirkj

                Re: Korean Fried Chicken in Northern Enclaves:

                I enjoyed the chicken at BCD Tofu, 22511 Highway 99
                Edmonds, WA 98026 (this address seems wrong...is this really far north enough to be in Edmonds?) The huge portion of chicken (accaurately pictured on a massive photo mural inside the restaurant) was perfectly fried with a sweet, sticky sauce, but not a cloying one.

                Although I haven't tried it, I know there is fried chicken on the untranslated bar menu at Nora Bistro Chinese, located in the same strip mall as Hae-Nam in Shoreline. Nora Bistro also serves a healthy slate of Korean-Chinese items, such as ja jang myun, black bean sauce noodles.

                1. re: equinoise

                  Are you sure about chicken at BCD Tofu? I just stopped by there tonight and the girl told me that they don't do fried chicken.

                  Looks like it's down to Federal Way for me. :)

                  1. re: phong

                    This may have to do with my confusion about the location of BCD...the place I went was on Aurora, just south of a large Asian market, which I think is 99 Ranch. But, I really don't think it is in Edmonds, but rather Lynnwood or Shoreline.

                    Inside, the place has relatively colorful decor, a TV, and some Christian proverb on a prominent sign in both Korean and English. There are some large photos of the food on the south wall, including a photo of said fried chicken. Certainly, the place was a tofu specialist.

                    Is this where you went?

                    1. re: equinoise

                      99 Ranch is officially in Edmonds, but is close to Lynnwood.

                      BCD Tofu is in the same complex as 99 Ranch but on the north side. There wasn't a menu board, only a single page laminated menu. Here's the website for BCD Tofu, including the menu:

                      http://www.bcdtofu.com/

                      Is the place you went in the 99 Ranch complex?

                      1. re: phong

                        I don't think so...the place I went was just south of the supermarket, whatever that was. I looked at google's satelite map, and the address listed on BCD's site appears in the same complex as some market, bit maybe the map isn't exactly right.

                        Inside, does BCD appear like I described it? I didn't see any menu board...just some blown up photos of the food on the wall. Also, I remember there was a self-service coffee machine near the door.

              2. re: dimsumfan

                Haven't been back to Cockatoo's recently (I live in Oregon), but there was KFC on the happy hour menu when I was there along with a lot of other stuff. Do check out Cockatoo's happy hour and report back.

                1. re: dimsumfan

                  I just went to Cockatoo's tonight as a KFC virgin. We got a game hen, and 2 happy hour items (fried dumplings and fish cake soup). As far as chicken on the happy hour menu - you can get 8 wings or 8 wings/drumsticks for $5. But we opted for the $10 game hen, which was nice. Other than the wings and drumsticks, there are various fried or souped fish cakes and things like that. Two people can easily make a meal out of 2-3 happy hour items alone. But keep in mind of what these items are - they're happy hour food.

                  Maybe it was the hype on this board, but I was actually underwhelmed by the fried chicken. The chicken was succulent and juicy, but it has the exact same taste and texture as Chinese fried chicken - so it was good, but not anything exciting or new to my tastes because it was familiar to me.

                  We tried to order the canned peaches, but they missed the order and it never came. :-(

                2. Nancy Leson reports on a chain in Lynnwood that serves Korean Fried Chicken. It's been around for a while but I had never heard of it. Can't wait to try it!

                  http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com...

                  1. Going to Cockatoo's tonight...Live in Bellevue and my friend lives in Lynnwood...Hope we're not driving all that way for Gan pung gi?

                    http://www.homecookingdiary.com/2008/...

                    Not that I don't love gan pung gi...but I can get that at several places between Bellevue and Lynnwood...Any insights?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: soypower

                      So we went to both Cockatoo's and Hanmaum in Federal Way tonight because we figured we should try both places out while we were down there.

                      Hanmaum was a little strange. The two of us thirty-something Korean girls walked in to the overly quiet, nearly empty restaurant. There was one party of older men whom we assumed to be friends with the owner since two of them walked back into the kitchen and came out with beers...And then there was one other older man eating his chicken wings and beer while reading a newspaper in the corner. There was no music and the other party wasn't very talkative.

                      We weren't sure what to do since no one greeted us, so we sat ourselves down and waited for the one woman who appeared to be serving that night. Neither of us is very good at speaking Korean so it was with some difficulty that we were able to figure out what was going on. We got the menu which was all in Korean. My friend needed a few minutes to read the menu, and the waitress came by and asked, 'chicken?' , to which we eagerly nodded in the affirmative...We ordered half-sauced and half-plain (on her suggestion) and waited. We were really there for the chicken, so we didn't order any drinks, though looking back, I wish we had. We felt sort of bad for our measley order, so we decided we would leave an extra large tip at the end.

                      After a few minutes, our order came out complete with some vinegared radishes (heavy on the vinegar)..The plain had a lovely crispness to it and the sauced was quite tasty. We only ate a few so we could leave room for cockatoo's...It did seem a little expensive for chicken wings - I think it was about 18 wings and a bowl of vinegared daikon for $17....

                      Cockatoo's - We were much happier at the more upbeat environment of this restaurant. Younger crowd, kinda kooky environment with christmas lights and multiple tv's showing korean pop music videos and espn, but a welcome change from the silence at Hanmaum's...We got there just in time for happy hour, but we still just ordered wings.

                      This time we ordered a couple of glasses of Hite beer ($3ea). Out first came the complimentary popcorn which tasted like theater popcorn complete with fake butter. Then the (also complimentary) sizzling plate with eggs. I did mine overeasy to exactly the perfect done-ness that I like. I may have to do this at home for breakfast!

                      Unfortunately, the main event was a little disappointing. Our wings came, one regular sauced and one 'ultra spicy'. The wings were definitely not as tasty or crispy as the ones at Hanmaum. And the 'ultra spicy' was barely spicy. They also seemed to need some salt. We were also served vinegared daikon (much better tasting than Hanmaum's) and some shredded cabbage drizzled with Thousand Island Dressing.

                      However the bill came out to $17 - same as Hanmaum, but with so much more service and ambience (relatively speaking, that is).

                      If you want yummy, sort of expensive chicken wings, go to Hanmaum... If you want serviceable but cheap wings and beer, go to Cockatoo's...

                      But those were just my impressions. Your mileage may vary.