Gangnam Chicken, Royal Oak [DTW]
Based on a comment from gan911 http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9709... , I tried the Korean Gangnam Chicken joint north of downtown Royal Oak. I will return within two months. https://www.facebook.com/gnchicken
Why? Casual atmosphere with a funky inviting sign, easy parking, BYOB (sweet!), crispy wings and tenders, good banchan (complimentary accompaniments to dinners), and nice family ownership. BTW, the daughter or niece who works the counter is a “ten” on the cuteness scale, but that would not be a reason for me to return…just saying for the young unaccompanied lads who savor scenery.
Some may also perceive imperfections at this place, such as long wait times; a gumminess to the spicy dressing (applied in kitchen after the frying) which is why I instead suggest starting with the soy garlic dressing (regardless, I shamelessly pigged out on BOTH…please shoot me); arguably frugal potions (not complaining!, just saying don’t expect a cheap pig-out, because Mr. Lee wants to stay in business); and, some apparent losers here and there elsewhere on the menu...I don’t want to get into details at the moment. Too, there always is a tradeoff between dark super-crispy batter, versus juiciness of meat. I personally feel they get the balance right.
Interestingly, they plan to add some Korean barbecue meats, etc., to the menu late this month. Stay tuned. The owner is a previous long-time chef from New Seoul Garden, thus perpetuating the almost unbreakable link between nearly every Korean restaurant in the Detroit burbs. If Gangnam Chicken Restaurant isn’t a foodie destination, it sure is an enjoyable add to the “just for kicks” rotation. Thanks gan911.
Oh, my. Mercy me. I am honestly annoyed with myself that I haven't tried this place sooner.
What I've just gotten done eating is perhaps the best version of fried poultry I've ever been exposed to. Both the soy/garlic *and* the spicy chicken from this place are extremely good, with the spicy edging out the soy/garlic by a bit. However, please understand: it's like picking between your children. I am absolutely *taken* with this chicken. It's that good: very crispy and yet not dried out (what *great* texture this has!), very nice portion size (I had the 4 wings and 4 drums for $12.72 out the door, and would pay that any day of the week), and the soy/garlic marinade penetrates the chicken to provide a wonderful, salty goodness that's just lovely. The spicy chicken, though? Oh, jeepers crappers, is that fantastic. It's just the *perfect* sauce for the chicken, and honestly, the sauce is so stinking good that I chewed on the freaking paper in the takeout package when it was gone! LIKE AN ANIMAL!!!!!
Sure, I tried some of both on the spot when the nice gentleman served me my takeout box, and both were terrific there when they were blazing hot from the fryer. The heat held up, too, driving from Royal Oak to Ferndale (avoiding Arts, Beats, & Eats, mind you), and I was in heaven eating this simple chicken at home accompanied by some green grapes and some canned Squirt. Simple. Exquisite. Refreshing to the Nth degree.
Did I mention the very nice pickled radish that's thrown in as a refresher for the mouth? That, *too*, is very good, and enjoyable. It also does what it sets out to accomplish: it acts very well as a nice, biting cleanser between bites of wonderful chicken.
I cannot wait to go back, honestly. As for the complaints about wait times and such things: I had no issue asking on the phone how long the order would take (I was told 15 minutes), and receiving an honest response which he was able to deliver on. It was dead-on 15 minutes. As well, he was willing to email me a copy of the menu beforehand for me to peruse online, since there's no website, and the pictures of the menu online aren't too clear. This was a very welcome touch.
I cannot think of a single issue with anything I had tonight, from taste, texture, service...anything. It was an absolutely stellar experience, raising the bar on fried poultry for me, period. I'm 42, and I don't believe I've ever had better.
This is what I call "A" territory, folks. It's rare, but when it happens, rejoice. It makes me wish that there were some house-prepared side dishes I could try out to take with me as an add-on, but that's the absolute closest I can come to a quibble.
Went with a friend this eve and tried the Tofu Kimchi Bokkeum (fried pork belly). Not cheap ($15.95), and I can't say whether or not it is "authentic," but it was FANTASTIC! Damn.
How can this place be so empty these days? It sets itself apart from the 95% of silly places in Royal Oak, and deserves better.
I think it's a great place for that wonderful chicken that I've had, but I'm afraid the place suffers from its online reputation of having horrifically stretched-out service and major delays. Again: I, myself, have not experienced any of these delays or lacking service, but the reviews are there.
My experiences have been fantastic, though I've always gotten my orders to go. Each time, the orders were ready when I was told they'd be ready over the phone, the gentleman was kind enough to email the menu the first time, and I absolutely *loved* the chicken. Perhaps it's a little spendy, but it takes quite something special to get me to chew on the paper the chicken came on. The sauce was that good.
I totally agree with you contrasting this place with the "Royal Oak scene". Gangnam Chicken might not be hoity toity at all, but the food that I've enjoyed really rocked.