Korean BBQ, Korean pizza, Korean tacos and now Korean fried chicken from KyoChon. They’re all good that I’m looking forward to Korean hamburgers and hot dogs at this point. So what exactly is Korean fried chicken? Unlike its American cousin where the emphasis is on the fried and seasoned skin, Korean style is marinated and served without the skin. It seems like heresy, especially if you are a devout fan of American fried chicken like the most excellent Honey Kettle’s. But give KyoChon a try and you might just become a new convert.
About a year or so ago, my brother and I tried visiting the KTown location. Parking was a bitch in the strip mall it was located at, and then when we reached the counter, we were told that the wait was over an hour. I liked the interior – reminded me of a Pinkberry’s. We were hungry and didn’t want to wait that long. I’m sorry, but no fried chicken is worth an hour’s wait.
So flash forward to earlier this month. I needed a dish to bring to a potluck party, and I wanted to try something different. Some Yelpers suggested KyoChon, so I decided to give the place another try. Getting to KTown is usually a hassle because of the side street traffic, but I was lucky with the parking this time around.
I ordered the 20 piece garlic soy sauce wing item, which cost $16.99 plus tax. The order took about 20 minutes. I should have called ahead to place my order. This is not a place for the impatient. They do offer complimentary green tea (self serve) while you wait, so that makes coping with the long wait a little more bearable. I did notice that they have a board of sticker stars that keeps track of customer feedback on their service. They had 3 boxes: Good, Fair and Poor. Interestingly enough, most of the stars were in the Fair and Poor section. I’m not sure if they actually even pay attention to that sticker board or if the employees laugh at it during closing time.
I had to drive all the way to Covina to the potluck party and my car ended up smelling like garlic soy sauce by the time I arrived at my destination place. The marinated chicken is highly aromatic. But it was worth the effort because it was a hit at the party. The chicken tastes as potent as it smells. You truly get a taste of the garlic and soy sauce.
Last weekend, I attended another potluck and I ordered the garlic soy sauce whole chicken item for $17.99 plus tax. The wait took over 30 minutes (again I should have called in advance). I brought an LA Times to read but after finishing it, I finally lost my patience and went to the counter and asked why it was taking so long. The problem was they forgot to call my number when my order was ready. Irritating. I was half tempted to get a star sticker and place it on the Poor Service box. I noticed that some patrons treated this place like a coffee shop – they would place their order, then start working on their laptops or paperwork.
In comparing the quantity of chicken of the 20 piece wing item to that of the whole chicken item, for a dollar more, the whole chicken is a much better bargain. It has white meat for those that prefer white over dark. I drove up the Hollywood Hills to reach the party and again my car ended up smelling like soy garlic chicken. When I placed the chicken at the dinner place, several minutes later, the host thought that something was being cooked, but I just told him it was the aroma of the chicken. Its really that potent. The hassle was worth it though since they dug into the chicken with gusto.
Over the weekend, my friend drove me around and I noticed she had a napkin box with the KyoChon label on it. I asked her how she got it, and apparently KyoChon offers frequent customer cards. If you are a frequent customer, you might as well sign up for it and get freebies. BTW, my friend told me she always calls ahead to place her order.
I have not tried the hot sweet sauce chicken or their brand new crispy rice chicken strip, so I can’t comment on how they taste.
The service isn’t rude. They are just slow. There is very limited parking in the busy strip mall, but they do offer valet service. But really, who uses valet parking to buy fried chicken?