korean fried chicken

brunch rut is a common phenomenon in nyc; there is a rotating cast of restaurants you like and frequent for brunch. and then, one day, you hate them all. they are boring, have long waits, have nothing you want to eat and are completely and totally uninspired. it was on one of those days a couple weekends ago that i discovered what may be the most delicious food in the world.

because there were no appealing brunch places in park slope, we piled into the car, picked up some friends, and headed to that wonderland of ethnic food, queens. if you live in nyc and you ever experience brunch rut, the fastest remedy i can prescribe is a trip to queens- a place you can find a halo-halo, sag paneer, bahn mi, and cannoli all within 70 blocks.

on this particular trip we were headed to the flushing mall, for some hand-pulled noodles. we had also decided to make a brief stop in the korean part of queens to sample the craze of korean fried chicken, which, being the fried chicken lover i am, i was embarrassed not to have already tried. luckily we had brought our friend jen along, who not only is korean, but also frequented this part of flushing quite a bit growing up. this proved to be a very wise move on our part.

upon arrival to the korean fried chicken place, the first thing i noticed was the high-design concept; multi-colored plastic chairs, an adorably mistranslated mural, and bright, bright colors. the second thing i noticed was that it was empty. this combination, frequently found in sub-par thai places, made me immediately skeptical. looking at the menu i was surprised to discover only two varieties of chicken. in my mind, i had envisioned more permutations that KFC, probably because, as national crazes go, americans like variety. jen took the lead and ordered us a large basket of half regular, half spicy chicken. immediately after taking our order, we were served two dishes: one of shredded cabbage with a thousand island dressing, and another of pickled radishes. this reminded me of why i love korean food so much in first place (in fact, it is my *favorite* cuisine)- the free banchan- little savory dishes that come before your main meal. this was a particularly lucky break for us, because hope, the other friend on this excursion, is a vegetarian and couldn’t eat the fried chicken. but she does love a radish.

soon, the fried chicken arrived. i am not kidding you when i say that i literally took one bite and a goofy grin broke across my face. you can ask my friends. i was totally, immediately smitten. i’ll break it down for you:

1. the chicken pieces were smaller, so there was a higher skin/meat ratio
2.the skin was deep fried to a thin, crispy perfection while the meat was still moist and juicy
3. the spices in the skin were not the bland ones you come to expect from normal fried chicken, instead there was a slightly sweet soy-garlic flavor explosion somehow infused in the skin

everyone knows that the true appeal of fried chicken is the crunchy skin/moist meat combo. by essentially doubling that experience with smaller pieces, this chicken also introduced a whole new element to my previous fried chicken experiences- flavor. i think this is why i like buffalo wings so much- the addition of flavor- but these were much, much better. and as much as i liked the regular flavor, the spicy was even better. only for people with a serious love for spicy foods- jen being one of these people, grace couldn’t handle it- these are *really* spicy, although still retaining flavor and not just deadeningly spicy. we must have eaten the bucket in 5 mins. flat. from now on, this is my new favorite food- hands down.

after washing up (boy, was i a mess!), we attempted to find directions to a korean grocery that jen had mentioned on the way into queens. after finding it and buying much more food than anyone needs (it all looked so delicious! and there was no way i could find this stuff in brooklyn!) we headed over to the flushing mall.

Kyedong Korean Fried Chicken

Han Ah Reum Grocery
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